August 21, 2023

Subrogating Pedestrian/Crosswalk Accidents and Deaths

kid hit by a car lying on a crosswalk after traffic accidentCrossing the street at a designated crosswalk, trusting that the painted lines on the asphalt offer safety. The unthinkable happens—a vehicle strikes, leading to injuries or worse, a loss of life.  Who’s responsible, and who pays the bills?

Understanding Pedestrian/Crosswalk Injuries and Deaths

Pedestrian/crosswalk injuries and deaths refer to incidents where individuals walking or crossing a street are physically harmed or killed due to a collision with a moving vehicle. These events can happen at intersections, marked crosswalks, unmarked crosswalks, or any other portion of the roadway where pedestrians and vehicles intersect.

Approximately 76,000 pedestrians suffer injuries each year in the U.S. Nearly 6,000 pedestrian deaths were reported in the U.S. in 2017. Pedestrian deaths now account for 16% of the total U.S. traffic deaths.

Here are some of the contributing factors related to drivers…

  • Distracted Driving
  • Speeding
  • Impaired Driving
  • Failure to Yield
  • Aggressive Driving

Here are some of the contributing factors related to pedestrians…

  • Distracted Walking
  • Ignoring Traffic Signs
  • Unmarked Crossings
  • Dark Clothing
  • Impaired Walking

Who is Responsible for Pedestrian Accidents?

Determining who is responsible for a pedestrian accident can be a complex process, often involving “negligence.” Both the driver and the pedestrian have a legal duty to exercise a reasonable degree of care.

In many cases, liability can be shared between the parties based on their respective degrees of negligence. This can also depend on the jurisdiction’s approach to shared fault, such as contributory or comparative negligence models.

Legal and Subrogation Aspects in Texas

In Texas, as in many other states, subrogation laws allow an insurance company to recover expenses it has paid on behalf of its insured for injuries from the party at fault. Given the rise in pedestrian accidents, understanding the nuanced liability laws concerning pedestrians and crosswalks is crucial for insurance and subrogation professionals.

Pedestrian cases often present numerous challenges that can make subrogation efforts complicated and, at times, unsuccessful. Here are some of the key challenges…

Mixed Fault

  • Comparative and Contributory Negligence: Different jurisdictions apply different rules for dividing fault between the pedestrian and the driver, as explained earlier. This impacts the subrogation potential because insurance companies may find it harder to fully recover their payout if their insured party (the pedestrian or the driver) shares some degree of fault.
  • Burden of Proof: Demonstrating who is more at fault can be challenging, especially when both parties claim the other is responsible. This is often further complicated by the absence of neutral witnesses or concrete evidence.

Local Traffic Laws

  • Variability: Laws governing pedestrian rights and responsibilities can vary significantly from one jurisdiction to another, and even within different parts of the same city.
  • Recent Changes: Traffic laws are subject to change, and an outdated understanding of these laws can affect the subrogation process adversely.

Financial Considerations

  • Cost-Benefit Analysis: Subrogation involves legal costs, and the insurer will weigh these against the potential recovery amount. In cases where the potential recovery is small, the insurer may decide that pursuing subrogation isn’t financially justifiable.
  • Underinsured or Uninsured Motorists: If the at-fault driver lacks sufficient insurance coverage, successful subrogation becomes more challenging, and often, the victim or their insurer has to bear the loss.

Legal Challenges

  • Statute of Limitations: There is often a time limit within which subrogation must be initiated, failing which the right to subrogate may be lost.
  • Legal Complexity: Sometimes, establishing fault might require in-depth legal knowledge or expert testimony, adding to the complexity and cost of the process.

How Can a Subrogation Attorney Help?

Pedestrian and crosswalk accidents are complex, emotionally draining, and rife with legal intricacies. Subrogation is the path that can lead you towards reclaiming not just financial stability, but also justice. At The Fusselman Law Firm, P.C., we are committed to offering the kind of legal support that counts when it counts the most.

Take the first step toward securing your future by seeking out a subrogation lawyer. Remember, legal mastery can make all the difference when you’re walking the tightrope of insurance law.

If you are looking for a subrogation law firm, reach out to The Fusselman Law Firm, P.C. for a consultation. Let us navigate the labyrinth of subrogation law on your behalf.

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