We get questions like this one a lot, and not just in the context of car-versus-pedestrian accidents. We see them across all kinds of personal injury claims, and it’s only human nature for this kind of concern to crop up. If you’re filing a claim and asking for compensation for an injury, you want to at least get a ballpark idea of what kind of settlement to expect.
Unfortunately, injury settlements are typically kept confidential, so this kind of information isn’t available, at least not on any scale that would provide a decent sample size.
In any case, if you were hit by a car as a pedestrian and you think you have a valid injury claim, the only settlement you need to be concerned with is your own. Every case is different, with as many different variables as you can imagine -- from degrees of fault for the accident to the seriousness of the claimant’s injury, and everything in between. So, let's look at the different factors that will likely carry the most weight when it comes to the value of an injured pedestrian's claim.
The statistics (from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) tell the story:
There's no data on how the vehicle drivers fared in these accidents, but it's safe to assume that many, if not most, drivers walked away from the incident without injury.
Due to the obvious disparities between a motor vehicle in motion and a human being on foot, one thing that tends to be true in car-versus-pedestrian settlements is that they almost always involve significant (meaning, more than minor) injuries to the pedestrian. That means the claimant has probably made at least a few doctor visits and has likely incurred a fair amount of medical bills. And, if the adjuster is using some kind of settlement formula in valuing an injury claim, bills for medical treatment are often the focal point against which other factors are weighed (including the nature and extent of the claimant's pain and suffering in connection with their injuries). So that means you’re probably more likely to receive a larger settlement in this kind of case than you would if you were driving a car that was in a minor "fender bender."
A pedestrian usually has the right of way when it comes to vehicle-pedestrian interactions. That's certainly true in a crosswalk, and when a traffic signal says it's okay for the pedestrian to cross an intersection.
But a note of caution: Some people assume that if they were hit by a car, the driver’s insurance company will just cut a quick check. As we've discussed, it’s true that many pedestrian accidents are the clear fault of the vehicle driver, but it’s not always cut and dried. A pedestrian can share some (even most or all) of the blame for causing an accident. For example, and especially in urban areas, pedestrians have been known to cross against the light (enter a crosswalk while the signal shows a red hand), or even dart out into the middle of a busy street in a pretty risky form of jaywalking. In these situations, there may not be much the driver can do to avoid an accident, and the pedestrian may be deemed at fault for their own injuries.
If you've been injured as a pedestrian, you might be thinking about handling your own claim against the at-fault driver. That's certainly an option, but keep in mind that while you might be convinced that the driver was clearly (and solely) at fault, the insurer may not be so quick to accept financial responsibility. Especially if your injuries are significant, it may be a good idea to discuss your situation with an experienced personal injury attorney, to make sure your rights are protected.