Atlanta, GA Pedestrian Accident Lawyer
If you, a family member, or a friend have been hit by a car or truck and injured in a pedestrian accident anywhere in Georgia, The Millar Law Firm can help. One of our friendly attorneys will review your case and explain your legal rights at no charge. Call or email us for a free consultation.
The Value of Pedestrian Accident Cases
If you or your loved-one has suffered serious injury during a pedestrian accident, you may be wondering what your case may be worth. A pedestrian hit by a car who suffers from broken bones or internal injuries will usually have a much larger claim than someone who was injured while they were driving and became involved in a more typical car accident case.
The value of a pedestrian accident case is based on several things. These include: the severity of the injury, whether it is clear who was at fault (the pedestrian or the vehicle), the amount of the medical bills and lost pay, and how long the victim will continue to experience pain and suffering.
Determining Who Has the Right of Way
The pedestrian often has the right of way, but not always. Although our common sense tells us that the driver is almost always at-fault, insurance companies and negligent drivers frequently try to place the blame for an accident on the pedestrian. Sometimes, tragically, the incident is the pedestrian’s fault. Many times, however, the accident happened because a driver was inattentive yet unfairly blames the pedestrian.
The law in Georgia is that if a person is using a crosswalk and has the traffic signal in his or her favor or a pedestrian is lawfully in the road and seen by a driver, vehicles must always stop and yield to the pedestrian. O.C.G.A. 40-6-91 and O.C.G.A. 40-6-92. On the other hand, it is also illegal for a pedestrian to suddenly step off the curb or into the roadway so close to an oncoming car or truck that the driver has no time to yield. O.C.G.A. 40-6-91(b). These laws mean that if the driver or the insurance company can blame the pedestrian for darting-out into traffic, they may try to do so. But a thorough investigation into what happened may also show that a reasonably careful driver should have been able to see and avoid hitting the victim.
Pedestrians NOT in Crosswalks
Georgia law requires a pedestrian attempting to cross a road outside of a marked or unmarked crosswalk to yield the right of way to oncoming cars unless he or she has already safely entered the roadway. In an area where there are traffic-lights with marked crosswalks, pedestrians are required to use the marked cross-walk. O.C.G.A. 40-6-92(a) and (c).
On the other hand, according to the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety in Georgia, it is not illegal in most places in Georgia for persons to “jaywalk,” meaning to cross a road or highway outside of a crosswalk. The law also requires that drivers of cars and trucks must exercise due care to avoid hitting pedestrians on any roadway, even if there is no crosswalk. O.C.G.A. 40-6-92. Drivers in our state are required to anticipate that people may lawfully be in the roadway, and to be careful not to hit them after the driver is or should be aware that the pedestrian is there.
So, the person who is at-fault when a person is hit outside of a cross walk depends upon whether a driver could have seen and avoided hitting that pedestrian in the road, or whether the pedestrian stepped out into the road at the last moment. The pedestrian may have been at-fault if they were doing something unsafe, like walking out from between parked cars or walking in the road wearing dark clothing at night.
Proving a Pedestrian Accident Case
Sometimes the victim of a pedestrian accident case is severely injured or killed and unable to tell the officer what happened. When this happens, the officer may only hear what happened from the driver, who might not want to accept responsibility for what happened. Many questions need to be answered and the incident needs to be investigated to determine the just outcome of a case in which the pedestrian cannot tell the police what happened.
Did the pedestrian suddenly walk or run into traffic or the roadway without looking both ways? Was the driver being inattentive because he or she was talking on a cell phone or distracted by an electronic device? Did the driver make a right turn at a crosswalk without looking for or seeing pedestrians crossing the street? Police reports in these cases are often poorly written, confusing, or inaccurate.
Fortunately, it is usually possible to learn what happened in other ways. Immediately after an accident, witnesses often call 911. There are sometimes recordings describing what happened. Some intersections or nearby businesses have surveillance cameras and the recordings can be obtained and reviewed. In some cases it is even possible to have accident reconstruction experts analyze what happened based on physical evidence gathered or measured at the scene or from electronic data taken from the car or truck.
A Georgia Pedestrian Accident Case Timeframe
It can take from several months to a few years before most accident and injury cases reach a settlement or return a verdict requiring that the victim be paid. If the at-fault driver and his insurance company accept fault for what happened and do not question that your injuries came from the accident, a case may settle out of court after you heal from your injuries or medical reports can show the extent of the injuries.
A case can take much longer if the insurance company refuses to pay or make a fair settlement offer. Often the only way to know is to begin getting the necessary medical care and to fully investigate the case as quickly as possible. Any lawyer or law firm that tries to tell you exactly how long your case will take is probably not being honest with you or is not doing all of the work necessary to help you get the full and fair value of your case.
Specialized Knowledge Ensures Better Representation
Pedestrian and vehicle accidents present special challenges due to the severity of the injuries suffered. The tendency of at-fault drivers to blame pedestrians for suddenly stepping into the road in front of them makes it difficult to win a favorable verdict.
Although some pedestrian accident cases in Georgia are clear-cut, many of them require investigation. Greater success comes when the one who investigates is someone who has specialized knowledge about how to uncover sources of information that may not seem obvious or that do not require experts to obtain, such as black-box data. Before hiring an independent lawyer or retaining the services of a law-firm, ask them what types and level of experience the attorney or lawyers have in handling or investigating pedestrian accident claims.
Insurance companies know that these can be challenging cases, and adjusters often make unreasonably low (or no) settlement offers to unrepresented claimants. Studies have shown that accident victims who retain a good personal injury attorney receive, on average, two to five times as much as people who attempt to represent themselves.