Do I Have a Claim if I Was Hit by a Car as a Pedestrian in North Carolina?
Pedestrian accidents can occur suddenly and leave you severely hurt. Broken bones, head trauma, and spinal injuries are just some of the medical issues accident victims face. The road to recovery is often long and expensive. If you have medical bills piling up following your accident, you may wonder if you can file an insurance claim to recover damages. A helpful North Carolina personal injury attorney can explain what you need to know about car insurance and pedestrian accident claims and the potential challenges victims face when attempting to regain financial stability after being struck by a negligent driver.
How Do Pedestrian Accidents Happen?
It is estimated by the North Carolina Office of State Human Resources (OSHR) that over 3,000 pedestrian accidents occur in the state yearly. Although pedestrians cannot control the motorists’ actions, remaining vigilant regarding possible risks may help prevent some accidents.
While each incident is unique, certain factors can increase the likelihood of an accident between a vehicle and a walker, including:
- Distracted driving.
- Not accounting for weather conditions.
- Driving a car under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
- Not yielding the right of way at a pedestrian crossing.
- Failing to stop at traffic signals or stop signs.
- Not checking for pedestrians before backing up.
- Poorly designed crosswalks and roads.
Does Car Insurance Cover a Pedestrian Accident Claim?
If you’ve been struck by a negligent driver while walking, you should be able to file a claim against the at-fault driver’s insurance. However, the policy will only pay up to the maximum amount specified in the coverage. The minimum liability coverage required is $30,000 for bodily injury and $25,000 for property damage. Unfortunately, if you have serious injuries or need long-term treatment, you may have more expenses than the insurance policy will cover. There is also the possibility that the insurance company will deny your claim or attempt to offer you a lowball amount for your damages.
In these situations, the services of an experienced North Carolina pedestrian accident attorney can prove invaluable. They can accurately calculate the value of your claim, help you explore your options for recovering compensation, and ensure that your rights are being upheld so you can recover a fair amount for your pedestrian accident injury.
What if the Driver is Uninsured or Underinsured?
All North Carolina drivers are required to maintain car insurance. However, some individuals violate the law and drive without adequate insurance. If you are struck by one of these motorists, you may have to look to your own car insurance to cover your damages.
If your policy has uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage, you may be able to file a claim for your pedestrian injuries. Your lawyer can help you understand the process for these complex cases and will investigate if there are other means of recovering compensation from the at-fault party, such as a lawsuit.
What Compensation May I Receive From My Insurance Claim?
Insurance policies usually only pay for economic damages caused by the accident. Economic damages are tangible financial losses that you’ve suffered because of your injuries, such as:
- Lost wages.
- Costs for surgeries, ER care, doctor visits, physical therapy, and other medical expenses.
- Bills for in-home care or medical devices.
- Costs for necessary accessibility updates to your home or vehicles.
What Damages Will an Insurance Payout Typically Not Cover?
When considering whether an insurance claim will be enough to cover the full extent of your losses, you should consider the impact of non-economic damages on your life following the accident. These damages may be less evident than economic damages but can sometimes be even more disruptive to your well-being. Unfortunately, insurance policies generally do not provide compensation for non-economic damages.
If you have experienced any of the following, it may be worthwhile to speak with a personal injury lawyer to determine whether it could be in your best interests to file a lawsuit to recover compensation for these losses:
- Pain and suffering.
- Scarring and disfigurement.
- Loss of consortium (the loss of family benefits such as companionship, physical relations, and care experienced by those close to the injured party, such as their spouse).
Another type of damages that can be awarded in a personal injury lawsuit that cannot be included in an insurance claim is punitive damages. These damages are relatively rare but may be possible in certain situations. The court may award punitive damages as a punishment in cases where the defendant’s actions were malicious or showed a complete lack of disregard for human life.
What is Contributory Negligence and How Can It Impact My Case?
One factor that can complicate North Carolina pedestrian accident claims is contributory negligence. North Carolina is one of only four states following this strict fault system. Under the state’s pure contributory negligence rules, a victim is barred from recovering any compensation for their damages if they were even one percent at fault for the accident.
While this standard may seem daunting, you should never automatically assume that you will be unable to collect damages. Only a lawyer can provide legal advice on the viability of your claim.
How Can a Skilled Pedestrian Accident Lawyer Assist You?
Sadly, North Carolina’s contributory negligence system can make it challenging for victims to hold the at-fault parties liable for their losses. Strong legal counsel is often necessary to ensure you are not unfairly blamed for your accident and prevented from financial recovery by the insurance company. We recommend contacting a skilled lawyer promptly after your accident for guidance to make certain that you do not say anything to an insurance adjuster that could jeopardize your claim.
For a free case evaluation with a Charlotte pedestrian accident lawyer, call Harman Law at (704) 286-0947.