There are many causes of pedestrian accidents in Los Angeles. Accidents often occur when vehicles fail to yield way to pedestrians and when vehicles drive on the sidewalks. If you suffer injuries in a pedestrian accident due to another person's negligence, you could file a personal injury claim and seek compensation. With the help of a personal injury attorney, you can be able to recover damages for lost wages, medical bills, and pain and suffering. The LA Personal Injury Law Firm assists victims of pedestrian accidents in seeking compensation.
You should seek compensation for injuries suffered in a pedestrian accident even if you are not sure about the party responsible for the accident. As long as the accident occurred due to the negligence or recklessness of another person, you should seek compensation. Sometimes, you might be partially at fault. However, California is a comparative fault state. The law apportions fault, depending on the degree of negligence. Therefore, even if you are partly to blame for the accident, you can receive less of your degree of fault.
To recover damages in a pedestrian accident, you need to prove the negligence of the defendant. For instance, if the accident occurred due to a vehicle driver’s negligence, you need to prove certain elements. It should be evident that the driver owed you a duty of care. A vehicle driver owes a duty of care to all road users, including pedestrians. You also have to prove that the vehicle driver breached his/her duty of care by acting negligently. It should be evidence that the defendant's breach of duty of care was a substantial factor in causing your injuries.
How to Deal With Insurance Companies
When you suffer injuries in a pedestrian accident, you may have to submit a personal injury claim to the relevant insurance company. The process of seeking compensation is often long and confusing. The process can be even more difficult if you have suffered injuries, and you are still focusing on recovery. Many insurance companies perform their operations as required by the law. However, not all insurance companies are reliable. Some companies might attempt to use deceptive measures to deny you the compensation you deserve. It is important to understand the tactics that you should follow when dealing with insurance companies. It is important to have an attorney who can guide you through the process of substantiating an insurance claim. Some of the tips that you should follow when dealing with an insurance company are:
Take the Right Steps After an Accident
The steps you take immediately after a pedestrian accident will go a long way in determining the outcome of your claim. Immediately after an accident, it is advisable to move to a safer location like a sidewalk to avoid exposing yourself to further harm. You might feel an urge to vent your anger at the driver who hit you. However, you should suppress this urge.
Ensure that you call the police and report the pedestrian accident immediately. Even if you think that your injuries are not serious, the injuries could turn out to be more complicated when the numbness wears off. You should not leave the scene of the accident until the police arrive. When the police arrive at the accident scene, ensure that you explain what happened to the police. You should not leave out any detail because the police report will matter when filing a claim. Ensure that you get the police’s names and, if possible, request a copy of the police report. The police report will help your attorney in building a compelling case to seek compensation.
It is common for motorists to drive off after a pedestrian accident, especially if the pedestrian appears to be okay. You should request the vehicle driver to remain at the accident scene until the police arrive.
Do Not Make the Insurance Adjuster Your Friend
After a pedestrian accident, the insurance company will assign an insurance adjuster to handle your case. An insurance adjuster might seem friendly and approachable. However, it is important to note that no matter how good an insurance adjuster is, he/she is not your friend. Insurance adjusters often befriend the victims as a strategy to make the victims trust them. After trusting the adjuster, you will feel comfortable to talk to him/her and disclose sensitive information. When you become too friendly to the insurance adjuster, you might end up saying something that could damage your case.
It is important to understand that the insurance adjuster has the interests of the insurance company at heart and not your interests. The insurance adjuster is not interested in compensating your injuries but resolving the claim and offering as little settlement as possible. Do not fall for the adjuster's trick, no matter how helpful the adjuster seems. The adjusters have the aim of reducing the amount of money paid on each claim. The lower the settlement amount, the more profit the insurance company makes. Therefore, you should be alert and prove to the insurance adjuster that you understand your case’s full value.
Act Promptly and Clearly
When dealing with insurance companies, it is advisable to act promptly. Most importantly, you should ensure that you handle all communications promptly. Some insurance companies have some policies that require early claims reporting. Therefore, claimants have to report and submit claims within a specified period and must also avail certain information within a set timeline. Failing to act promptly may seem like you are not interested in the claim. You should ensure that you file the personal injury claim within the as provided for in the Statute of Limitations. If you fail to submit the claim within the Statute of Limitations’ time frame, you could miss on compensation.
Ensure that you communicate clearly with the insurance adjuster. The insurance adjuster can use anything you say during the negotiations against you. The insurance adjusters could use any wrong or unclear information to deny coverage or alter your claim’s value. Unclear communication could also give the insurance adjusters a room to prove your negligence and deny you compensation. In each conversation you have with the insurance adjuster, you should ensure that you communicate all the relevant facts.
Do not make accusations or admit fault during the negotiations. You should not provide information unless you are sure that the information is correct. You should never base the communications on speculations but verified facts. If the adjuster requests any information you are not sure about, you should refer him/her to your personal injury attorney. Clear communications prove to the adjuster that you understand the facts of your case. The insurance adjuster will not try to take advantage of you.
Gather Enough Evidence
The evidence that you can gather regarding your pedestrian accident case will go a long way in proving your case to the insurance company. After the accident, you should ensure that you gather details regarding the exact location of the accident. Ensure that you take photos of the accident scene, including your bruises and the vehicle involved in the accident. If the pedestrian accident involved a vehicle, ensure that you record the vehicle's registration number and the license plate. You should get the contact information of all the parties involved in the accident.
If you seek medical care after the accident, you should continue gathering information. For instance, you can take pictures of your bandaged wounds as proof of the injuries suffered in the accident. Request your doctor for a detailed report outlining the details of your injuries.
When a pedestrian accident occurs, witnesses are likely to gather at the accident scene. When the police come to the accident scene, the crowd will disperse, and you might not be able to contact the witnesses. It is advisable to obtain the contact details of all the witnesses who are present at the accident scene. Your injury attorney will have an easy time contacting the witnesses, who can provide valuable information to support your claim. If you have enough evidence supporting your personal injury claim, the insurance company is likely to cooperate and give you fair compensation.
Let Your Attorney Negotiate for You
You should not try to negotiate a claim on your own after suffering injuries in a pedestrian accident. You should note that insurance agents have experience in handling claims. The agents handle numerous accident claims, and they understand the tactics to use. Often, insurance agents are quick to offer a settlement to entice the claimant. Even if the insurance agent offers you a seemingly good offer, the chances are that your claim is worth much more. You should hire an experienced personal insurance attorney to negotiate with the insurance adjusters on your behalf. Just like the insurance adjusters, personal injury attorneys are experienced in handling accident claims. By having a good attorney, there will be a lower risk of claim denial or receiving less compensation than you deserve.
A personal injury attorney will handle most of the tasks pertaining to the negotiation. The attorney will handle the necessary paperwork and advise you on the legal procedures. People who work with personal injury attorneys while seeking compensation get higher compensation than people who choose to go it alone. Hiring a competent attorney helps to create a level playing for the insurance company and the victim. If an accident victim tries to handle an insurance company, the insurance company may try to deceive the victim. It is common for insurance companies to withhold information from victims or to fail to inform victims about their rights. It is always good to have an attorney to defend your interests.
Determine the Recoverable Damages
You should not initiate negotiations with an insurance company until you understand all the damages for which you should seek compensation. With the help of an attorney, you can determine the extent and the value of your damages. You could incur property damage after involvement in a pedestrian accident. For instance, valuables like your phone and other electronics could suffer damages in the accident. You should consider the total medical expenses incurred to handle the injuries suffered in the accident. While determining the applicable medical expenses, ensure that you consider all hospital bills, prescription medication costs, follow-up treatment like physiotherapy, and other costs incurred while seeking treatment. You should not leave out costs associated with rehabilitative care and expected future medical expenses.
You should also calculate the value of compensation related to lost wages for the time spent out of work after suffering injuries. Compensation for lost wages will be based on your hourly rate of pay and the total period spent out of work. Even if you manage to resume work after injuries, you may not be as effective as before. Therefore, you might not be able to earn ample income as you did before the accident. In some instances, you might not be able to work in the future, especially after suffering catastrophic injuries. Your attorney can help you to seek compensation for loss of earning capacity. Other damages to consider include emotional distress, pain and suffering, and loss of enjoyment of life. Your spouse could also seek compensation for the loss of consortium.
After identifying all the damages that you have suffered because of the accident, you have to seek relevant documents to support the damages. For instance, to support your medical expenses claims, you should have valid medical records. To support lost wages and loss of earning capacity, you can acquire employment details from your employer. The employment details will indicate your earning history. Your employer can also give you a printout indicating the time you have spent out of work.
Present all the relevant documents to your attorney for review. The documents will also help the attorney in writing a demand letter to the insurance company. Failing to understand all your damages means that you will not be able to negotiate for what you deserve. However, by understanding all the damages, you will have a better bargaining power; the insurance company will not take advantage of you.
Check What You Post on Social Media
When seeking compensation for injuries suffered in a pedestrian accident, you should be careful with the information you share on social media. Insurance adjusters are often on the lookout for any information that they can use to reduce or deny your claim. It is common for insurance agents to check a victim's social media platforms. Any information you post on social media platforms could determine the outcome of your claim.
It is advisable to avoid posting any information regarding the accident and the injuries suffered. You should take a break from social media until the conclusion of your claim. Some of the precautions that you should take include maintaining private social media accounts. If possible, avoid accepting new friends or connection requests until the conclusion of your case. You should also request your friends and family to avoid posting any information related to your accident on social media.
If you have suffered certain injuries in a pedestrian accident, ensure that you do not post contradicting information or photos on social media. For instance, if you suffered leg or muscle injuries, it would be questionable to post photos of yourself engaging in fun activities like hiking after the accident. The insurance agents might accuse you of faking injuries to be able to get compensation. You should always know that someone could be watching you at all times. Avoid scenarios that could compromise the integrity of your accident claim.
Do Not Accept the First Settlement Offer
After suffering injuries in a motorcycle accident, you could face time away from work and hefty medical expenses. The insurance company understands that you need money as soon as possible to help cater for the damages. Therefore, the company may persuade you to accept a settlement that might seem reasonable. However, the initial settlements offered by insurance companies are usually not enough to cover your injuries and your long-term needs. Some injuries, which might seem minor at first, might require extensive treatment and rehabilitation. The injuries might also make you spend an extended period away from work.
You are under no obligation to accept the first offer that the insurance company gives. Insurance companies understand that immediately after an accident, victims are usually vulnerable and ready to accept any form of settlement that they may offer. Therefore, the companies are always quick to offer a lowball claim settlement immediately after an accident. You should not fall for the insurance company's trick of trying to settle your accident claim quickly. Instead, you should contact a personal injury attorney and allow the attorney to handle the negotiations on your behalf. Immediately after an accident, you may not realize the full effects of your injuries yet. If you accept the first offer, you might be surprised when the bills keep piling up and end up exceeding the amount offered by the insurance company.
Do Not Panic If the Insurance Company Ignores You
When you refuse to accept the first settlement offered by an insurance company, the insurance company may begin to ignore you. The companies use the delay tactic to make victims panic and accept the first settlement. The insurance company might even pretend to have lost your paperwork and could even refuse to return your calls. The company might also transfer you to a different agent other than the agent you are used to dealing with. All these actions aim to make you give up or miss exceeds the Statute of Limitations. However, you should not let these tactics scare you. Your attorney already understands these tactics; he/she will make all calls to the insurance company on your behalf.
If you feel that you are not free or are not getting along with the insurance adjuster or agent assigned to your case, you can request a replacement. You are not obliged to deal with the same insurance adjuster until the conclusion of the case. Some adjusters might be rude and unapproachable, and this could complicate the negotiation process. You should also note that if the insurance company makes a final offer, which you are not comfortable with, you could appeal. Your attorney can challenge the insurance company’s offer and argue to a better offer that accommodates all your needs.
Never Give a Written or Recorded Statement
After involvement in a pedestrian accident, the defendant's insurance company could reach you on the phone or in-person and request for a statement of what happened. You should never give a written or a recorded statement to the insurance company. The insurance adjuster will try to implicate you or make you agree to their version of the accident. It is important to remember that anything you say can and will be used against you. You should not agree to any allegation that the insurance agent or adjuster makes. You should also avoid signing any agreements or making any recorded statement before consulting your attorney. Even if an insurance company offers you a settlement, which seems fair, avoid giving any information until you speak to your attorney.
Some insurance agents will go to the extent of requesting your medical documents and your employment documents. You should not sign any authorization or agreement to allow the insurance agent to obtain any of your medical or employment records. If you give insurance agents this chance, they will dig out sensitive information that could compromise your claim. For instance, if you had pre-existing medical conditions before the accident, the insurance agent could be adamant about meeting your medical expenses. The agent may claim that your medical complications resulted from the pre-existing medical condition and not from the accident.
On the other hand, if you had work issues like poor performance or pending disciplinary issues, the insurance agent might argue that you deserve less compensation for lost wages. The agent might argue that you were on the verge of losing your job or receiving a pay cut due to poor performance. Insurance agents would do anything to save some money for the insurance company.
Find a Personal Injury Attorney Near Me
You should not try to deal with the insurance company on your own after suffering injuries in a pedestrian accident. It is important to have a competent personal injury attorney by your side. The LA Personal Injury Law Firm can evaluate your case and guide you in seeking compensation in Los Angeles. Contact us at 310-935-0089 and speak to one of our attorneys today.