What damages are recoverable in a pedestrian accident case?
An injured pedestrian may recover damages for past and future medical expenses, past and future wage loss, and past and future pain and suffering. If the defendant's conduct is extreme in causing the accident (for example, driving drunk with a high blood alcohol), punitive damages may sometimes be awarded. Punitive damages are a dollar amount intended to punish the defendant for his conduct and are not related to actual expenses.
What if I was partially at fault for causing the accident?
California follows what is called "comparative fault". Comparative fault is a rule to divide responsibility and damages between the pedestrian and the driver causing the accident. If the pedestrian is partially at fault for causing the accident, the recovery for damages is reduced by the percentage of his or her own fault. So for example, if the pedestrian is found to be 25% at fault then the ultimate award of the monetary damages would be reduced by that same percentage. A judge or jury determines the percentage of fault attributable to each party. This rule may also be used by a defendant to reduce his percentage of responsibility in cases where there are multiple defendants. For example, in a multi-defendant case, if a particular defendant was only 20% responsible for causing the injury, they will be responsible for only 20% of the damages received by the plaintiff.
What responsibility is placed upon pedestrians to avoid accidents?
Every pedestrian has the duty to obey traffic laws and to reasonably observe traffic conditions.
What if my accident was a hit and run ?
If the driver who hit you fled the scene, that is considered a "hit and run", and if the driver is later located, they can be charged with a criminal offense. Obviously, if the driver is never located, then they can't be held civilly responsible for the injuries they caused. However, if you or a family member has auto insurance with "uninsured motorist coverage", called UIM coverage, then you may be able to make a claim with your own insurance company. However, there are very strict requirements for this, and you should talk to a lawyer immediately to get specific advice unique to the facts of the accident. Generally, the requirements are: 1) There must be actual physical contact; 2) There must be a report of the accident to the police within 24 hours. See Insurance Code §11580.2(b)(2); and 3) You must report the incident to your insurance company within 30 days after the incident. See Insurance Code §11580.2(b)(2). The reason for these requirements is to avoid insurance fraud. IMPORTANT: Even if you have missed one of these deadlines you should still immediately report the accident to the police and your insurance company (the insurance carrier may decide to allow coverage anyway) and contact an attorney immediately.