Who can I sue if I am injured in a motor vehicle-pedestrian/bicycle accident?
The analysis for determining who is liable for a motor vehicle-pedestrian/bicycle accident is the same as in any other injury case. For someone to be held liable for any injury, the injured party (pedestrian/plaintiff) has the burden of demonstrating they have been the victim of negligence as a result of the conduct of the offending party (driver of the motor vehicle/defendant). It must be shown that the offending party had a duty of care to the injured party, that duty was breached, an injured party was harmed and that harm was a direct result of the breach of duty.
In a motor vehicle-pedestrian/bicycle accident, the most obvious defendant is the driver of the motor vehicle involved in the accident. That driver has a duty to insure the vehicle he is operating is driven in a safe and reasonable manner. The fact that the vehicle was involved in an accident with the pedestrian is evidence that a breach of that duty to the pedestrian most likely occurred. Any accident related physical injury to the pedestrian supports the position that the injured party was harmed, and the fact that, but for the driver’s failure to operate his vehicle in a safe and reasonable manner the pedestrian was injured demonstrates the breach of duty caused the harm to the pedestrian. Clearly, the driver of the motor vehicle could be held liable if negligence is proven. The driver is not the only party that may be held responsible for injuries sustained by the pedestrian.
Owners of motor vehicles have a duty to insure that their vehicles are operated in a safe and reasonable manner, too. If someone loans their motor vehicle to another person they have a duty to be sure the person they entrust the operation of their vehicle to will exercise due caution and good judgment when operating that vehicle. If the person who the vehicle has been loaned to injures someone as a result of negligent driving, that negligence is imputed on the owner of the vehicle and the owner becomes responsible as well for any injuries that may result from the driver’s conduct.
While the parties that own and operate a vehicle may have liability for injuries resulting from a motor vehicle-pedestrian/bicycle collision, the list of potentially liable parties does not stop there. Municipalities many times may be equally responsible for injuries resulting from such accidents. Many intersections in both urban and rural areas have trees and bushes near traffic devices and crosswalks. Failure to properly maintain areas around such areas can result in obstruction of traffic devices and intersections, preventing pedestrians and motor vehicle operators alike from have proper visibility. That reduction of visibility increases substantially the likelihood of motor vehicle operators and pedestrian/bicyclists from being able to see each other and the areas that they approach, resulting in potentially greater frequency of collisions. Additionally, defective traffic devices and poorly designed intersections pose additional hazards to those encountering them. If a municipality is aware of particularly dangerous intersections that frequently are the sites of motor vehicle-pedestrian/bicycle accidents, and they fail to modify those intersections to reduce risks to those passing through them, they may have breached their duty to keep the public safe and be liable for any damages that may result from that breach.
Additionally, there may be individuals who may not be directly involved in the accident, but whose conduct contributed to the collision, and could be held liable for injuries. If another driver’s negligence causes someone to strike a pedestrian, that other driver could be held responsible for any injuries suffered by either party involved in the crash. If a third party pushed a pedestrian into an intersection, or motioned the driver of a motor vehicle to proceed through an intersection when it was not safe to do so, their conduct could cause an accident and they may share in any liability.
When involved in a motor vehicle-pedestrian/bicycle accident, it is important to have the assistance of an experienced, aggressive attorney to identify all potential parties that may have responsibility for the accident and protect your rights and insure you get all the benefits you may be entitled to. Dan Newlin & Partners are exactly those types of attorneys, always fighting for everything our clients are entitled to. Our experience of handling over 10,000 personal injury cases, and dealing with most major insurance companies, allows us the ability to answer all of your questions in a timely and professional manner and to maximize the value of your case, insuring that you receive all the benefits that you are entitled to. If you have any questions about what rights you may have as a result of being involved in a motor vehicle-pedestrian/bicycle accident, or any other type of accident, please call Dan Newlin & Partners at (407) 888-8000.