Auto accidents that involve pedestrians are a serious and all-too-common problem in North Carolina, and when these collisions occur, they usually result in severe injuries that lead to enormous medical bills and other costs for the pedestrian involved.
So, when injured pedestrian victims face these massive costs, who pays for them? In this article, we’ll answer that question and explore some of the options available to help pedestrian auto accident victims get financial compensation for their injuries.
What Do I Need to Successfully File a Claim Against the Driver Who Hit Me?
To receive financial compensation for your injuries by filing a personal injury claim, you’ll need to show that the driver who hit you did so because they were negligent.
“Negligence” in a court of law isn’t the same as the everyday sense of the word. An average person might say they were being “negligent” if they forgot to pay a credit card bill on time or let a pot boil over on the stove, but the legal concept of negligence is more complicated and specific (like most things that involve the court system).
Under North Carolina Law, you have to prove four things to show that the other driver was being negligent:
- The driver owed you a duty to keep you from harm. (This might sound lofty, but it’s usually simple to prove. Drivers who take to the road generally have an inherent duty to drive safely and avoid causing harm to others.)
- The driver acted in a way that violated their duty.
- The driver’s actions led to your injuries.
- You sustained ”damages” such as physical, mental, or emotional injury, economic losses (medical bills, lost wages, etc.), and/or pain and suffering.
If you can successfully show that the other driver was negligent in their actions, then North Carolina law allows you to recover damages to compensate you for any or all of the following:
- Medical bills
- Lost wages
- Other expenses (in-home care, home renovations to accommodate the limitations from your injuries, etc.)
- Pain and suffering
- Punitive damages (damages intended to punish the defendant for extremely reckless or malicious behavior, which are usually only available in extraordinary circumstances)
Unfortunately, North Carolina is one of a handful of states that applies a legal rule called “pure contributory negligence.” It is very unfair toward injured victims. Essentially, this rule says that if the defense in your case can successfully argue that you were even slightly at fault for your injuries, you aren’t allowed to receive any compensation.
To successfully get compensated for your medical bills and other losses, then, you’ll need to prove that the driver who hit you was completely at fault for the collision.
To learn more about pure contributory negligence, how it can affect your personal injury claim, and how an attorney can help when the defense tries to take advantage of this rule, read our previous blog article on this subject.
Understanding Insurance Coverage for Pedestrian Accidents
The court can order the driver who hit you to pay tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars in damages, but if they’re an average person, they won’t have that kind of money. That’s why insurance coverage plays an extremely important role in personal injury claims.
Generally, insurance coverage will be your main source of compensation after a pedestrian accident, and the limits of any relevant policies will effectively determine how much of the total damages you can recover. The most effective way for you to receive compensation is to file a claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance company. If the insurer denies your claim or refuses to pay you fair compensation for your injuries (which is very likely), you should consult an experienced personal injury lawyer and explore whether it’s in your best interests to file a lawsuit and try to force the insurance company to pay you fairly.
What If I Was Hit by an Uninsured or Underinsured Driver?
But what happens if you were hit by a driver who’s carrying an insurance policy with very low limits, or who isn’t carrying auto insurance at all? Even though the law requires every driver to carry some amount of auto insurance, some people will always risk the consequences and drive uninsured. In fact, recent research from the nonprofit Insurance Information Institute shows that almost one in seven drivers in the U.S. has no car insurance whatsoever.
This disturbing fact is exactly why uninsured/underinsured motorist (UM/UIM) insurance coverage exists. UM/UIM coverage is a special type of insurance coverage that can kick in and provide compensation when the at-fault driver’s coverage limits aren’t high enough to pay for all the damages in your case or when the at-fault driver doesn’t have any insurance at all.
Understandably, you might think that underinsured motorist coverage only applies when you’re driving a car. But UM/UIM coverage can help compensate you for any injuries that are caused by an at-fault uninsured or underinsured driver — even if you were on foot or riding a bike at the time of the crash.
This is one of the many reasons why we recommend that most drivers carry additional UM/UIM coverage beyond North Carolina’s state-mandated minimum coverage limit of $30,000.
Contact Myers Law Firm if You’ve Been Injured in a North Carolina Pedestrian Accident
If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident due to someone else’s negligence, Myers Law Firm is here to help. We fight for and support injured victims through difficult times, and we’ll use our resources, legal experience, and knowledge of the local courts to advocate relentlessly on your behalf until your case reaches a resolution.
Call our offices today at 888-376-2889 or fill out the contact form on our website to schedule your free consultation with an experienced personal injury lawyer from Myers Law Firm. We’ll use this time to listen to your story, learn about your case, and inform you about your legal options so you can go forward with confidence.
Facts and statistics: Uninsured motorists. (2017, August 1). Insurance Information Institute. Retrieved from https://www.iii.org/fact-statistic/facts-statistics-uninsured-motorists
The content provided here is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject.