What Are Your Legal Options After Being Hit by a Car in Salt Lake City?
Every year, hundreds of pedestrians are hit by cars in Utah. Most Utah pedestrian accidents happen in Salt Lake County, especially in the crowded streets and intersections of Salt Lake City. As the weather gets warmer and people spend more time outside, opportunities for collisions multiply. Unfortunately, most crashes involving a vehicle and a pedestrian result in serious pedestrian injuries, or cause wrongful death. Salt Lake City personal injury attorney Darwin Overson explains what your legal options are after you have been hit by a car while walking, jogging, or running in Utah.
Salt Lake City Pedestrian Injury Statistics
Utah car accident statistics are published annually by the Utah Department of Public Safety. The statistical reports include data on pedestrian injuries and pedestrian fatalities. The following statistics are from the 2015 report, which is the most recent version currently available. In 2015…
- 901 pedestrians were injured in traffic accidents.
- 49 pedestrians were killed in fatal accidents.
- By comparison, only 90 pedestrians were uninjured by their accidents. While it’s more likely for a pedestrian to go uninjured than to be killed, it’s significantly more likely that the pedestrian will suffer a non-fatal injury. About 10 times more pedestrians sustained non-fatal injuries than no injuries at all (901 versus 90).
- Pedestrians are more likely to be in fatal accidents at night than during the day, especially between the hours of 6:00 P.M. and 9:00 P.M.
- Most pedestrian accidents occurred in Salt Lake County by a wide margin (528), followed by Utah County (134) and Weber County (104).
- In many cases, the drivers who hit pedestrians were between the ages of 20 and 24 (121 crashes), followed by drivers age 30 to 34 (99 crashes).
- Some of the leading factors in pedestrian crashes were drivers failing to yield right-of-way (287 crashes), hit and run (116 crashes), and distracted driving (74 crashes).
Should a Pedestrian Hit by a Car Accept a Settlement or File a Lawsuit?
After a pedestrian is hit by a car, truck, van, or other vehicle, his or her first action should be to seek medical care. Because vehicles are so much larger and heavier than humans, injuries unfortunately almost always occur, a fact reflected in the statistics above.
Even in cases where the injuries seem minor, it is still critical to see a doctor to before ruling out the possibility of serious tissue damage. The pedestrian is likely to be in a state of shock, and could have sustained internal injuries without initially realizing it.
Once the pedestrian has been treated for injuries, he or she should contact a car or truck accident lawyer to discuss how best to proceed with the insurance claims process. When it comes to auto insurance, Utah belongs to a minority of no-fault states. In no-fault states, fault does not need to be determined before the injury victim can receive compensation. Instead, victims initially file claims with their own insurers.
In Utah, pedestrians are treated like vehicle passengers for legal purposes following an accident. A type of insurance known as “Personal Injury Protection” (PIP), which helps pay for injuries in collisions and other types of accidents, will cover the first $3,000 of the pedestrian’s medical bills.
Unfortunately, there are many cases where the pedestrian’s medical expenses exceed $3,000 –sometimes by wide margins. Depending on the severity of the victim’s injuries, the medical costs could be ten times that figure, or even higher.
In this type of situation, it is especially important to speak with a Salt Lake pedestrian injury lawyer, because the victim may have grounds to pursue non-economic damages (general damages), or in other words, compensation for pain and suffering. It may be possible to settle the claim outside of court, which eliminates the time, uncertainty, and expense that can be involved in going to trial.
However, it is unwise to approach this process without the support and guidance of a Utah car accident lawyer who knows how to negotiate aggressively with insurance adjusters. Unfortunately, it is a common tactic for auto insurance companies to make lowball settlement offers, and until an attorney has calculated your current and anticipated losses in detail, it is very difficult to know just how much the injury has and will truly cost. An offer may sound reasonable when it is actually far too low, which is precisely what the insurance company is counting on.
While somewhat unlikely to occur, it could become necessary to go to trial if the insurance company is unwilling to settle. At trial, a jury or judge will examine the evidence presented by the plaintiff and defendant to make a determination about which party was at fault and, if the plaintiff prevails, how much compensation should be awarded. The amount of compensation may be reduced if the plaintiff is found to be partially at fault.
Contact a Salt Lake City Pedestrian Accident Lawyer
If a you or a loved one was hit by a car in Salt Lake City, West Valley City, Sandy, Layton, Provo, Orem, or any other location in Utah, financial compensation could be available for medical bills, lost income, pain and suffering, and other losses. To start discussing your legal options in a free and confidential consultation with a personal injury attorney who has more than 33 years of experience, contact Darwin Overson at (801) 895-3143 as soon as possible. Darwin has helped numerous pedestrians obtain settlements that were substantially larger than the initial offers, and will fight for the same outcome in your case.