What compensation can I get if I am hit while walking, biking or golf cart? | Morris James LLP

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In 2021, more pedestrians and cyclists were killed in traffic crashes in the United States than in any previous year, with 7,342 pedestrian fatalities. The injuries you could sustain if you are struck by a vehicle as a pedestrian, cyclist or golf cart user can be catastrophic and life-changing. Many victims face physical and emotional trauma, medical bills, lost wages and other expenses. Some families are faced with the loss of a loved one. The law protects innocent victims of road accidents and makes at-fault drivers legally and financially responsible.

Compensation is different for each accident

Even the most experienced attorney in the country cannot and should not guarantee you a specific amount of compensation. This is not possible (and it is a violation of the ethical standards of a lawyer.) Each accident and each victim is different, and all of this counts in the calculation of compensation. A experienced personal injury lawyer may be able to give you a general idea the amount that other victims have received in similar cases, but they should never guarantee that you will get a certain amount of compensation.

Some of the factors that could affect the amount of compensation you receive include:

  • The extent of your injuries and your future prognosis
  • Your salary and the amount of work you miss
  • Your hobbies before and after the accident
  • Physical disfigurement
  • Your emotional distress
  • Your record/proof of expenses and losses
  • Family life and the responsibilities of the victim
  • Modifications and equipment for everyday life after injuries
  • Whether or not you have legal representation
  • Insurance coverage for you and other drivers
  • Whether or not you go to trial, and the jury if you do

These will be different in each case and some factors may not even be relevant for some victims. It is important to realize that the amount of compensation a victim is entitled to may be different. A reputable personal injury lawyer should explain this to you and work to get the best result for you.

It is well known that unrepresented victims generally receive lower settlement amounts and compensation than victims who have a lawyer. There are several reasons for this: Lawyers know the law. It may seem obvious, but attorneys have spent years studying and practicing the law as it relates to personal injury, motor vehicle accident, and compensation. They can and should focus on the facts and evidence that are crucial to your case. The attorneys are also experienced in identifying ALL costs and expenses that should be included in your compensation so that none are overlooked. This includes correctly estimating the costs of your future medical care and lost wages, which unrepresented victims often underestimate. In settlement negotiations or at trial, attorneys are trained advocates who use their skills to make the strongest case for their clients.

Remuneration categories

There are certain types of compensation a victim is legally entitled to when injured by another person. If a person takes legal action, these are the types of compensation that will be considered when negotiating a settlement or, if the matter goes to trial, when a court determines the ‘compensation. However, it should be remembered that the majority of road accident cases are settled before they even reach court.

Medical fees: This would cover bills you receive from ambulance, hospital, doctor, physiotherapist or occupational therapist, laboratory, counselor or therapist and pharmacy, as well as medical equipment costs or other miscellaneous medical expenses.

Future medical expenses: Compensation should not only include medical costs you have already incurred, but also future medical costs as a result of the accident. This is a very difficult assessment that requires the skills and experience of a experienced personal injury lawyer. A lawyer will analyze your medical prognosis, the care you will need and the cost of that care in the future, and use economic experts to translate this information into a current dollar amount.

Lost wages and benefits: If you were absent from work due to your injuries resulting from the accident, including missed work for medical appointments, you are entitled to be compensated for your missed wages and benefits.

Loss of future income: You may have suffered injuries in the accident that affect your ability to work in the job you previously held. If your income has been reduced due to your injuries, this should be included in your compensation. As with future medical expenses, this is a technical calculation that unrepresented claimants often underestimate. A personal injury lawyer can help ensure that this is calculated correctly in your case.

Pain and Suffering: Compensation for bodily injury includes an amount for your physical discomfort and emotional distress. It’s not the same as your medical bills. This is an additional amount that attempts to put a dollar amount on your pain. A experienced personal injury lawyer understands how this is assessed by a jury and knows what facts of your case are relevant to getting you the maximum amount for your pain and suffering.

Wrongful death: If your loved one died from injuries sustained when hit by a car, certain losses are unique to that situation and may be included in compensation. These include financial support the victim allegedly provided, loss of companionship, and loss of spousal, parental, or domestic services.

Other expenses: You may incur other miscellaneous expenses if you or your loved one are hit by a car or other vehicle. Some injuries require modifications to your home or vehicle. If your loved one is fatally injured, you may have funeral and burial expenses. If you are hit while riding your bicycle or golf cart, there may be property damage. Any expense or loss resulting from the accident may be eligible for compensation.

The role of insurance

In the event of an accident between a pedestrian or cyclist and a vehicle, several different insurance policies may be relevant. When you’re walking, biking, or riding in a golf cart, you may still be covered by your auto insurance policy, if you have one. You may also have insurance coverage under a home, renters or other insurance policy. Some people have specific endorsements on their homeowners insurance for items such as bicycles, or have a standalone insurance policy for bicycles or golf carts. The driver of the car, truck, motorcycle or SUV must have car insurance (although this is not always the case).

If you were hit by a car and the driver is at fault, their car insurance will likely be responsible for the costs of the accident. You may need to prove the driver is at fault and start negotiations or even take legal action to prove it. In Delaware, the PIP portion of their auto insurance policy (which by law must be at least $15,000) must be applied to medical expenses and lost wages as a result of the accident. If they are uninsured or if your medical expenses and lost wages exceed their PIP coverage limits, you can view the PIP benefits of your own auto insurance policy. Expenses that are not medical or lost wages, such as property damage, are not covered by PIP benefits, but may still be covered by auto insurance or other policies mentioned above. A personal injury lawyer can help you determine who is liable after your accident and defend you with insurance companies and other affected parties to ensure that you are not denied the compensation that is your legal right.

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