In 2021, more pedestrians and cyclists were killed in traffic accidents in the U.S. than in any previous year, with 7,342 pedestrian deaths. The injuries that you might sustain if you are hit 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 their loved one. The law protects innocent victims of road accidents and makes at fault drivers legally and financially liable.
If you have been hit by a vehicle on Delaware roads, you may be entitled to compensation for the harm that you have suffered. The personal injury lawyers at Morris James advise victims on their rights after an injury to ensure that they recover all of the compensation that they are entitled to by law. Contact us online or by calling 302.655.2599 today.
Compensation is different in every accident
Not even the most experienced lawyer in the country can, nor should, guarantee you a definite dollar amount of compensation. It is not possible (and it is a breach of a lawyer’s ethical standards.) Every accident and every victim is different, and all of this matters when calculating compensation. An experienced personal injury lawyer may be able to give you a general idea of 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 that you receive include:
- The extent of your injuries and your future prognosis
- Your salary and the amount of work you miss
- Your leisure activities before and after the accident
- Physical disfiguration
- Your emotional distress
- Your record/evidence of expenses and losses
- A victim’s family life and responsibilities
- Modifications and equipment for daily 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 every case and some factors may not even be relevant for some victims. It is important to realize that the amount of compensation that a victim is entitled to can 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 an attorney. There are a number of reasons for this: Lawyers know the law. It may sound obvious but lawyers have spent years studying and practicing the law as it relates to personal injury, motor vehicle accidents, and compensation. They can and should focus on the facts and evidence that are crucial to your case. Lawyers are also experienced in identifying ALL of the costs and expenses that should be included in your compensation so that none are left out. This includes properly estimating the costs of your future medical care and lost wages, which unrepresented victims often undervalue. In settlement negotiations or at trial, lawyers are trained advocates who use their skills to argue the strongest case for their clients.
Categories of compensation
There are certain types of compensation that a victim is legally entitled to when they are injured at the hands of another person. If a person brings a legal claim, these are the kinds of compensation that will be considered when negotiating a settlement or, if the case goes to trial, when a court is determining compensation. It is worth remembering, however, that the majority of road accident cases are settled before they ever get to the courtroom.
Medical expenses: This would cover the bills you receive from the ambulance, hospital, physician, physical or occupational therapist, lab, counselor or therapist, and pharmacy, as well as costs of medical equipment or other miscellaneous medical expenses.
Future medical expenses: Compensation should not only include the medical costs that you have already incurred, but also any future medical expenses as a result of the accident. This is a very difficult valuation that requires the skills and experience of an experienced personal injury lawyer. A lawyer will analyze your medical prognosis, the care that you are expected to need, and the cost of that care in the future, and will utilize economic experts to translate that information into a present day dollar amount.
Lost wages and benefits: If you have missed work because of your injuries from the accident including missed work for medical appointments, you are entitled to be compensated for your missed wages and benefits.
Future loss of income: You may have sustained injuries in the accident that affect your ability to work in the job that you previously held. If your income has been reduced as a result of your injuries, this should be included in your compensation. As with future medical expenses, this is a technical calculation that unrepresented plaintiffs often undervalue. A personal injury lawyer can help to ensure that this is properly calculated in your case.
Pain and suffering: Compensation for a personal injury includes an amount for your physical discomfort and emotional distress. This is not the same as your medical bills. It is an additional amount that is an attempt to put a dollar amount on your pain. An experienced personal injury lawyer understands how this is valued by a jury and knows which facts of your case are relevant to getting you the maximum amount for your pain and suffering.
Wrongful death: If your loved one died as a result of injuries sustained when they were hit by a car, there are certain losses that are unique to this situation and may be included in a compensation award. These include financial support that the victim would have provided, lost companionship, and loss of marital, parental, or household 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 bike or golf cart, there may be property damage to it. Any expenses or losses as a result of the accident could be eligible for compensation.
The role of insurance
In an accident between a pedestrian or rider and a vehicle, multiple different insurance policies may be relevant. When you are 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 some insurance coverage under a homeowners, renters, or other insurance policy. Some people have specific riders on their homeowners insurance for items such as bicycles, or have a stand-alone insurance policy for bicycles or golf carts. The car, truck, motorcycle, or SUV driver should have auto insurance (though that is not always the case.)
If you have been hit by a car and the driver is at fault, their auto insurance will likely be liable for the expenses of the accident. You may have to prove that the driver is at fault, and enter negotiations, or even bring a legal claim to prove this. In Delaware, the PIP portion of their auto insurance policy (which by law must be at least $15,000) should be applied toward medical expenses and lost wages as a result of the accident. If they are uninsured or your medical bills and lost wages exceed their PIP coverage limits, you can look to the PIP benefits in 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 under auto insurance or other policies mentioned above. A personal injury lawyer can help you to determine who is liable after your accident, and advocate for you with the insurance companies and other parties involved to ensure that you are not denied compensation that is your legal right.
If you have been injured in an accident as a pedestrian, cyclist, or golf cart rider, you may be hurting and overwhelmed with questions. At Morris James, our attorneys have been standing up for victims since we opened our doors in 1932. If you have questions about pedestrian, cyclist, or golf cart accidents, contact us online or call us at 302.655.2599 to speak to one of our experienced Delaware personal injury lawyers.