Voted Best Personal Injury Law Firm By Georgia Lawyers
Marietta Pedestrian Accident Lawyers
Matt Wetherington with Wetherington Law Firm,P.C. is the hardest working attorney I have ever worked with. He went above and beyond our expectations. Calls and emails are returned promptly and by Mr. Wetherington himself.
5 Stars is nowhere near enough to rate how awesome Matt and his colleagues were. They took my case even when I didn’t think there was anything we could do. I was in a bad situation at the time and Matt, Robert, and Sarah were there for me every step of the way.
I’m so grateful to Ben Levy and everything he did for me. He was truly dedicated to helping my case. Throughout the process, Ben was very thoughtful, responsive, organized, and made sure I was fully informed along the way.
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Pedestrian accidents can happen in a flash but change lives forever. When walking by roads, people can get hit by cars for all sorts of reasons. Sometimes drivers aren’t watching out, they’re speeding, or they just ignore the crosswalk signals. This can leave someone hurt really bad, unable to work, and stuck with big doctor bills.
Georgia law knows how tough this is on folks. Under O.C.G.A. § 51-1-6, if the driver was in the wrong, the person hit (the pedestrian) may have the right to money to help with medical costs, lost pay, and the pain they’re going through. It’s important to get started on this quick, ’cause in Georgia, you only have two years to make your compensation claim (see O.C.G.A. § 9-3-33).
At Wetherington Law Firm, we’ve got your back if you’ve been hit while walking. We know the law, and we know how to fight to get you the money you need to heal and move on. Our team is really good at dealing with insurance companies and we don’t give up until justice is served for you. So, if you or someone you love got hurt as a pedestrian, reach out to us. Let’s work together to make things right.
Understanding Your Rights After a Pedestrian Accident in Marietta
If you’ve been involved in a pedestrian accident in Marietta, it’s crucial to understand your rights to ensure you’re fully protected and can pursue the compensation you may be entitled to. Here’s a breakdown of what you need to know:
Right to Safety: Pedestrians in Marietta have the right to expect a safe walking environment. Drivers are required to yield to pedestrians in crosswalks and adhere to traffic signals and speed limits.
Right to Compensation: If you’re injured due to a driver’s negligence, you have the right to seek compensation for your injuries. This includes payment for medical expenses, lost wages, rehabilitation costs, and potentially, pain and suffering.
Right to Legal Representation: You have the right to consult with and hire a personal injury attorney to represent you. A legal professional can provide guidance, handle negotiations with insurance companies, and represent you in court if necessary.
Right to Report the Accident: You can and should report the accident to local law enforcement. A police report can be a valuable piece of evidence when making an insurance claim or pursuing legal action.
Right to a Timely Claim: In Georgia, you generally have two years from the date of the accident to file a personal injury lawsuit (O.C.G.A. § 9-3-33). It’s important to act within this timeframe, known as the statute of limitations, to maintain your right to compensation.
Right to Refuse Quick Settlements: Often, insurance companies may offer a quick settlement. You have the right to refuse this initial offer and negotiate for a better one, especially if it doesn’t cover all your expenses and damages.
Right to Privacy: You are not obligated to share your medical records or details of the accident with the at-fault driver’s insurance company without legal counsel.
Common Causes of Pedestrian Accidents
Pedestrian accidents can happen for various reasons, often leaving individuals with serious injuries. Here are some common causes:
Distracted Driving: When drivers are not focused on the road due to texting, talking on the phone, or other distractions, they may fail to see pedestrians, leading to accidents.
Speeding: Drivers exceeding the speed limit may have less time to react to pedestrians crossing the street, especially in urban areas or near schools and parks.
Failing to Yield: Pedestrians are often hit by vehicles when drivers ignore yield signs at crosswalks or traffic lights.
Impaired Driving: Alcohol or drug use can severely impair a driver’s judgment and reaction time, increasing the likelihood of accidents with pedestrians.
Poor Visibility: Accidents are more likely to occur at night or during bad weather conditions when drivers have a harder time seeing people walking.
Ignoring Traffic Signals: Pedestrians can be endangered when drivers run red lights or stop signs or turn without paying attention to crossing pedestrians.
Backing-Up Accidents: Drivers who don’t check their rearview before backing up may hit pedestrians, particularly in parking lots.
Lack of Sidewalks: When sidewalks are absent or in disrepair, pedestrians may be forced to walk close to or on the road, raising the risk of being hit.
Turning Vehicles: Pedestrians may be struck by vehicles that are turning at intersections, particularly if the driver is only looking for other vehicles and not for people walking.
The Legal Process of Filing a Pedestrian Accident Claim
Filing a pedestrian accident claim can be a complex process, but understanding the key steps can help you move forward with confidence.
1. Seek Medical Attention: Your health is paramount. Always get a medical evaluation immediately after an accident, even if you feel fine, as some injuries may not be immediately apparent.
2. Report the Accident: Report the accident to the police. A police report provides an official record of events and can be crucial evidence for your claim.
3. Gather Evidence: Collect as much evidence as possible. This includes taking photos of the accident scene, your injuries, and getting contact information for any witnesses.
4. Contact a Lawyer: Our experienced pedestrian accident lawyer can guide you through the process, deal with insurance companies on your behalf, and help you understand your rights.
5. File an Insurance Claim: Your lawyer will likely start by filing a claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance company, outlining the extent of your injuries and the damages sought.
6. Negotiation: Your lawyer may negotiate with the insurance company for a fair settlement. If an agreement isn’t reached, the case may proceed to litigation.
7. File a Lawsuit: If necessary, our lawyer will file a lawsuit against the at-fault party. The discovery phase will follow, where both sides exchange evidence and information.
8. Pre-Trial Motions and Mediation: Before going to trial, there may be pre-trial motions and mediation attempts to settle the case without a court hearing.
9. Trial: If no settlement is reached, the case will go to trial, where a judge or jury will decide the outcome based on the evidence presented.
10. Settlement or Judgment: If you receive a settlement or favorable court judgment, the compensation awarded will help cover medical expenses, lost wages, and other related costs.
At each step, legal representation is critical. Our lawyers will work to ensure your claim is accurately valued, and your rights are protected, leaving you to focus on your recovery.
Georgia’s Pedestrian Laws and Statute of Limitations Explained
In Georgia, pedestrian laws are designed to keep walkers safe and outline the responsibilities of both drivers and pedestrians. For instance, drivers must stop and stay stopped for pedestrians in a crosswalk (O.C.G.A. § 40-6-91). Pedestrians, however, are also expected to obey traffic signals and use crosswalks where available (O.C.G.A. § 40-6-92).
It’s important for pedestrians to not suddenly leave a curb or other safe area to walk or run into the path of a vehicle that is close enough to be a danger (O.C.G.A. § 40-6-91). On roads without sidewalks, pedestrians should walk on the opposite side to traffic (O.C.G.A. § 40-6-96).
If a pedestrian is injured due to a driver’s negligence, Georgia law allows for compensation claims. This process often starts with filing a claim with the at-fault party’s insurance, and if a satisfactory agreement can’t be reached, it can escalate to a lawsuit.
However, under Georgia’s statute of limitations, a person has a limited time frame to file such a lawsuit. For personal injury claims, this limit is generally two years from the date of the accident (O.C.G.A. § 9-3-33). It’s crucial to take action within this period to maintain the right to seek legal recourse for damages suffered.
What Compensation You Can Expect After a Pedestrian Accident
After a pedestrian accident, the types of compensation (also known as “damages”) you may be entitled to can include the following:
1. Medical Expenses: This covers costs for emergency services, hospitalization, surgery, doctor visits, prescription medication, physical therapy, and any other medical treatments related to the injuries you received.
2. Future Medical Expenses: If you have long-term or permanent injuries, you may be compensated for future medical care, including rehabilitation, ongoing treatment, and any anticipated surgeries.
3. Lost Wages: If your injuries forced you to miss work, you might be reimbursed for the wages you lost during that period.
4. Decreased Earning Capacity: This applies if your ability to work and earn a living has been impacted long-term, reducing your potential future earnings.
5. Pain and Suffering: This non-economic damage is intended to compensate for the physical pain and emotional distress resulting from the accident.
6. Emotional Distress: Compensation for the psychological impact of the accident, which may include anxiety, depression, and trauma.
7. Loss of Enjoyment of Life: If your injuries prevent you from enjoying activities or hobbies you once did, you might receive compensation for this loss.
8. Punitive Damages: In rare cases where the at-fault party acted with egregious negligence or willfulness, the court could award punitive damages meant to punish the offender and deter similar behavior.
9. Wrongful Death: If the pedestrian accident resulted in a fatality, the deceased’s family might seek damages for funeral and burial expenses, loss of consortium, and the potential earnings the deceased would have provided.
The Role of Insurance in Pedestrian Accidents
Insurance plays a significant role in the financial aspect of pedestrian accidents, both for the injured party and the at-fault driver. Here’s how insurance typically functions in such situations:
1. Auto Insurance: If a pedestrian is hit by a vehicle, the driver’s auto insurance policy is usually the first resource for compensation. Most states require drivers to carry at least a minimum amount of liability coverage that helps pay for bodily injury and property damage caused to others.
2. Personal Injury Protection (PIP): In some states with no-fault insurance laws, or in states where drivers can select PIP coverage, medical expenses and lost wages for the injured party (including pedestrians) are covered regardless of who is at fault for the accident.
3. Health Insurance: If the driver’s insurance coverage is insufficient or if litigation is pending, the victim’s own health insurance may cover medical expenses initially. Subsequently, the health insurance company may seek reimbursement from the at-fault driver’s insurance through a process known as subrogation.
4. Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage: If the driver who hit the pedestrian does not have insurance or has inadequate coverage, the pedestrian’s own uninsured/underinsured motorist policy (if they have one) can provide compensation for injuries.
5. Homeowner’s or Renter’s Insurance: In certain cases, if the at-fault party does not have sufficient auto insurance, their homeowner’s or renter’s insurance may cover additional liabilities.
6. Umbrella Policies: Both pedestrians and drivers might hold umbrella insurance policies, which provide an extra layer of liability protection above the limits of their auto, homeowner’s, or renter’s insurance policies.
What should I do if I’m involved in a pedestrian accident in Marietta?
If you’re involved in a pedestrian accident in Marietta, Georgia, it’s crucial to take certain steps to protect your health and legal rights. Here’s what you should do:
1. Seek Medical Attention: Your wellbeing should be your top priority. Call 911 or have someone call for you to ensure that you receive immediate medical assistance, even if you believe you haven’t been seriously injured, as some injuries may not be apparent right away.
2. Contact Law Enforcement: Request a police officer come to the scene of the accident. The police will create an official accident report, which can be important later for insurance claims or legal action.
3. Document the Scene: If you are able, take photos or videos of the scene, including your injuries, the vehicle involved, any skid marks, the surrounding area, and street signs or traffic signals.
Try to collect contact information for the driver and any witnesses.
4. Do Not Negotiate: It’s common for the at-fault party to want to resolve the issue on the spot. Do not accept any offers or admit fault. Only discuss the details of the accident with law enforcement and your attorney.
5. Notify Your Insurance Company: Even as a pedestrian, you should inform your own auto or health insurance company of the accident, especially if you have PIP or uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage.
6. Keep Records: Start a file with all your documents related to the accident, including medical records, bills, communications from insurance companies, and any other relevant information.
7. Follow Up on Medical Treatment: Follow your doctor’s treatment plan closely and attend all follow-up appointments. This demonstrates your commitment to your recovery and helps document the impact of the accident.
8. Consult With a Personal Injury Attorney: Before engaging in any detailed discussions with insurance companies or accepting any settlements, contact a personal injury attorney with experience in pedestrian accidents. An attorney can offer advice on your legal options and handle communication with insurers and other parties on your behalf.
9. Don’t Delay: Be aware of the statute of limitations in Georgia, which is generally two years for personal injury claims (O.C.G.A. § 9-3-33). Starting the legal process as soon as possible can help ensure that you don’t forfeit your right to seek compensation.
How long do I have to file a pedestrian accident claim in Georgia?
In Georgia, the statute of limitations for personal injury claims, which includes pedestrian accident claims, is generally two years from the date of the accident (O.C.G.A. § 9-3-33). This means that if you have been injured as a pedestrian in an accident, you typically have up to two years to initiate legal proceedings against the at-fault party.
However, there may be exceptions that could alter this timeframe. For example:
- If the claim is against a city, county, or the state government, the time limits for giving notice of the claim can be much shorter (often just six months).
- For minors, the limitation period generally does not begin until they reach the age of 18.
- If the injured person is mentally incapacitated, the time may be extended until the incapacity is removed.
Will my pedestrian accident claim go to court?
Whether your pedestrian accident claim will go to court depends on a variety of factors. The majority of personal injury claims, including those involving pedestrian accidents, are settled out of court. Going to trial is generally a last resort if the following occurs:
- Settlement Negotiations Fail: If the insurance company or the at-fault party refuses to offer a fair settlement that covers your damages, then your attorney might advise going to court to seek adequate compensation.
- Dispute Over Liability: If there is a significant dispute over who is at fault for the accident, or if the insurance company denies their policyholder’s liability, it may be necessary to have a court determine liability and award damages.
- Large Damages Sought: In cases where the injuries are severe and the amount of compensation sought is substantial, the insurance company may be more resistant to settling and more willing to take their chances in court.
- Complex Legal Issues: Sometimes, the legal issues involved in the case are complex and require a court to interpret the law or legal precedents.
If you were involved in a pedestrian accident and need guidance on the next steps, don’t wait another moment. Securing the compensation you deserve is crucial for your recovery, and time is of the essence. Call us today to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation with a seasoned personal injury attorney who understands the complexities of pedestrian accident claims.
Take control of your future by getting the expert legal support you need to navigate the claims process and fight for the justice you deserve. Act now to ensure your rights are protected and your peace of mind is restored.