Pedestrian accidents can happen in the blink of an eye. Unfortunately, when a pedestrian is struck by a motor vehicle, the outcome can be devastating.
At Nelson Personal Injury, LLC, we understand the overwhelming challenges you may face if you or a loved one has been involved in such a tragic event. Our experienced St. Cloud pedestrian accident attorneys work to offer the support and representation you need to navigate these difficult times.
Understanding Pedestrian Accident Laws in St. Cloud, Minnesota
Pedestrians and drivers must understand the laws and rules in the state when it comes to pedestrians to help keep everyone safe and avoid accidents.
Right of Way Rules
In St. Cloud, pedestrians have the right of way in most situations, particularly at intersections and crosswalks. Vehicles must stop for crossing pedestrians within a marked crosswalk or at an intersection without traffic-control signals.
However, pedestrians must not enter a crosswalk if a vehicle approaches so close that the driver can’t yield. Failure to obey these laws may result in the individual responsible for the infraction being fully or partially liable for an accident.
Duties of Drivers and Pedestrians
Drivers must exercise due care at all times when operating their vehicle, which includes slowing down, honking the horn, or taking other necessary precautions to avoid harming pedestrians. On the other hand, pedestrians must adhere to traffic control devices and cannot suddenly leave a curb or other safe place to walk into the path of a vehicle. It’s a shared responsibility to ensure safety on the roads.
No-Fault Insurance State
If you are injured as a pedestrian, you may be surprised to learn that you will seek no-fault insurance coverage through your own car insurance company. This is true even though you were not in your vehicle at the time of the accident. If you did not own a motor vehicle, you would then look to the car insurance policy of any family members that you live with that own a car. If you do not live with any family members who own a vehicle, you can obtain no-fault coverage through the policy of the vehicle that hit you. Under this no-fault coverage, they will pay for the first $20,000 in medical expenses and mileage, and $20,000 in wage loss and replacement services. This coverage is available regardless of fault. This coverage is also known as Personal Injury Protection (PIP), a required policy feature for Minnesota drivers.
In cases where the fault is shared, Minnesota follows a modified comparative fault rule. This means that the amount of compensation you are entitled to receive will be reduced by an amount that is equivalent to your percentage of fault. However, if you are over 50% at fault, you are unable to recover any compensation for your injuries.
By understanding these laws and regulations, our experienced St. Cloud pedestrian accident attorneys strive to help our clients navigate the complexities of their pedestrian accident claims with diligence and expertise. If you’re dealing with the aftermath of a pedestrian accident, knowing your rights is the first step towards getting the support you deserve.
Common Causes of Pedestrian Accidents
Pedestrian accidents are distressingly common and can have a multitude of causes. Understanding these can help prevent and determine fault and liability in such incidents.
At Nelson Personal Injury, LLC, we frequently encounter the following common causes:
One of the most prevalent causes of pedestrian accidents is distracted driving. When drivers are not entirely focused on the road — perhaps due to using a cell phone, eating, or other distractions — they may fail to notice pedestrians, especially in busy urban areas like St. Cloud.
Failure to Yield
Drivers who fail to yield the right of way to pedestrians at crosswalks create significant risks. Minnesota law requires drivers to stop for crossing pedestrians at crosswalks, whether the crosswalk is marked or unmarked.
Speeding reduces a driver’s ability to react to pedestrians. The higher the speed, the greater the risk and the more severe the potential injury to the pedestrian. Speeding in residential areas, school zones, and areas where foot traffic is high is particularly dangerous.
Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs severely impairs a driver’s judgment, coordination, and reaction times, making it one of the leading causes of pedestrian accidents. Impaired drivers are less likely to observe posted speed limits, traffic signals, and the presence of pedestrians.
Pedestrian accidents occur more frequently in conditions of poor visibility. This includes nighttime, fog, heavy rain, or other weather conditions that make it difficult for drivers to see. This is compounded if pedestrians are not wearing reflective or light-colored clothing.
Disregarding Traffic Controls
Accidents often happen when drivers run red lights or stop signs or when they turn without looking for pedestrians. Pedestrians have the right of way when they have a walk signal at an intersection, and drivers must always look for pedestrians when navigating any traffic control devices.
Intersections without clearly marked crosswalks can be hotspots for accidents. Drivers may not be as vigilant in looking for crossing pedestrians, and pedestrians may falsely assume vehicles will stop for them.
Design of Roadways
Sometimes, the design of roadways contributes to pedestrian accidents. This includes a lack of sidewalks, poorly timed walk signals, and inadequate pedestrian crossing signs or signals.
Common Injuries in Pedestrian Accidents
Pedestrian accidents can lead to a wide range of injuries, ranging from minor to severe. At Nelson Personal Injury, LLC, we understand that each injury can significantly impact our clients’ lives. Some of the most common injuries we see in pedestrian accident cases include the following:
Soft Tissue Injuries
Soft tissue injuries include sprains, strains, and tears to muscles, tendons, and ligaments. These injuries may not be immediately apparent at the accident scene but can result in lasting pain and disability.
Head and Brain Injuries
Traumatic brain injuries (TBI), ranging from concussions to severe brain damage, are common when pedestrians are struck by vehicles. The symptoms can be immediate or delayed, affecting cognitive function, physical abilities, and emotional well-being.
The impact force on a vehicle or the ground can cause various fractures. The most common are the legs, arms, hips, and pelvis. Recovery may require surgery and prolonged physical therapy.
Spinal Cord Injuries
Injuries to the spinal cord can be particularly devastating, potentially resulting in partial or complete paralysis. These injuries can have lifelong consequences, including needing long-term care and medical equipment.
Lacerations and Abrasions
Pedestrians may sustain cuts and scrapes from the collision or from being thrown to the ground. While some of these injuries heal with time, they can sometimes lead to significant scarring or infection.
The impact of a pedestrian accident can cause internal bleeding and organ damage, which might not be immediately noticeable but are life-threatening if not treated promptly.
In addition to physical injuries, pedestrian accidents can lead to psychological issues such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety, and depression, which can be as debilitating as physical injuries.
At Nelson Personal Injury, LLC, we take every injury seriously, understanding that each has the potential to alter the course of a life. Our firm is committed to helping victims of pedestrian accidents recover the compensation they need to cover medical treatment, rehabilitation, and counseling for emotional trauma. If you or a loved one has been injured, we are here to offer the compassionate and comprehensive legal support you need.
What to Do After a Pedestrian Accident
If you are involved in a pedestrian accident, your actions immediately following the incident can be crucial. We advise you to:
- Seek Medical Attention: Your health is the top priority. Even if injuries seem minor, they could be more serious than they appear.
- Report the Accident: Contact the police immediately. A legal report can be a valuable piece of evidence.
- Gather Information: If possible, collect contact information from witnesses and the driver involved. Take photos of the scene if you can.
- Contact Us: Before speaking to insurance companies or accepting any settlements, contact us. We can help protect your rights and ensure that any offer is fair.
Your Rights as an Injured Pedestrian
As an injured pedestrian, you have rights that need to be protected. In Minnesota, if someone else’s negligence resulted in your injuries, you have the right to seek compensation. This compensation can cover medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other damages.
It is also essential to note that Minnesota is a no-fault insurance state, which means that your own Personal Injury Protection (PIP) coverage may cover some of your medical expenses and lost income, regardless of who was at fault for the accident.
How We Can Help
At Nelson Personal Injury, LLC, we have extensive experience dealing with pedestrian accident cases. We can help you:
- Navigate the Legal System: We’ll guide you through every step, from filing insurance claims to pursuing a lawsuit if necessary.
- Investigate Your Case: We will gather evidence, talk to witnesses, and work with experts to establish evidence and show negligence to prove your case.
- Negotiate with Insurance Companies: We have the negotiation skills needed to deal with insurance adjusters and advocate for a settlement that meets your needs.
- Represent You in Court: If a fair settlement cannot be reached, we’re prepared to represent you to fight for the compensation you deserve.
Time Limits for Filing a Claim
In Minnesota, the statute of limitations for personal injury claims based on negligence is generally six years from the accident date. This means you must settle your claim or file a lawsuit within this timeframe, or you may be barred from recovering any compensation.
How Compensation is Determined
The compensation you may receive after a pedestrian accident can vary. It depends on the circumstances of the accident and the nature and extent of your injuries. Factors include:
- Medical Expenses: The cost of medical care you have received and may need in the future.
- Lost Wages: If your injuries have affected your ability to work, you may be compensated for lost income.
- Pain and Suffering: This covers the physical pain and emotional distress you’ve experienced.
- Loss of Quality of Life: If your injuries have had a long-term impact on your lifestyle.
Contact Nelson Personal Injury, LLC Today
At Nelson Personal Injury, LLC, we stand ready to support and represent you during this challenging time. We are committed to providing personalized and effective legal assistance to ensure you receive the justice and compensation you deserve.
If you have been involved in a pedestrian accident in St. Cloud or the surrounding Minnesota areas, please do not hesitate to contact us. Let our expertise and dedication work for you as you recover and rebuild after an accident.