Most people accept that driving a car brings with it a certain risk. In the main, though, we’re happy to accept that risk, on the basis that most cars have safety features designed to protect us in all but the worst circumstances and a feeling that, unlike when flying on a plane, our fate is largely in our own hands. The same cannot be said when you’re a pedestrian, of course. Not only are you far more at the mercy of other people, namely those driving cars, but in the event of any kind of accident the injuries you suffer will be exacerbated by your unprotected state.
If the accident in question was caused by you failing to pay due care and attention then you’ve really nobody else to blame, but many such accidents occur because drivers fail to notice pedestrians, at least until it’s too late.
If you’ve been involved in an accident of this kind then the effects may well have been extremely drastic. A person hit by a car, or even a motorcycle, even at relatively low speeds, can suffer catastrophic injuries of the kind which mean life for them and their family is never the same again. If the driver of the car in question was behaving in a negligent manner, then it’s surely not too much to ask that you should be able to make a claim for compensation?
According to statistics collected by the Government, around 24% of the total number of fatalities caused by Road Traffic Accidents (RTA) in Great Britain can be accounted for by the number of pedestrians killed. In the 12 months between 2019 and 2020, the number of pedestrian fatalities on the road went down by 26%, from 470 to 346 (mainly due to covid-19 lockdowns). In addition, 14,404 pedestrians were injured in road accidents.
If you’ve been injured by a driver of a vehicle who was behaving in a negligent manner, then you’ve every right to make a claim for compensation. The laws governing the responsibilities of drivers are clear and detailed, as set out in The Highway Code, with reference to the relevant pieces of legislation such as:
The Highway Code stipulates that drivers must ensure their vehicles meet the standards set out in the lighting and construction regulations set out above (Rule 89), that the driver must be fit to drive and should report any conditions likely to adversely affect their driving to the DVLA (Rule 90), that they must be able to read a vehicle number plate, in daylight, at a distance of 20 metres (Rule 92) and that they must not drive under the influence of alcohol or drugs. If the driver of a vehicle which caused your injury failed in any of these stipulations, or was negligent in any other aspect of their road use, then you have every right to consider making a claim.
If your injury was the result of an accident caused by poor road conditions, then any claim for compensation will be made against the Local Authority with responsibility for the upkeep of the road in question. The legislation covering this area is contained within the Highways Act of 1980 and states that the Local Authority must make ‘reasonable efforts’ to keep the road surface safe. This covers the removal of obstructions, the repair of damage and the treating of snow and ice.
Find out more about making a snow and ice slip claim.
The fact that the efforts of the authority have to be ‘reasonable’ means that a successful claim will depend upon showing that they knew about the problem in question and had reasonable time to deal with it. Establishing these facts may require a Freedom of Information request to gather information on how often the road in question had been inspected, and whether any reports of the fault had been made. This, together with the fact that there is no strict legal definition of a pothole, means that the assistance of an expert lawyer will prove invaluable in both building your case and ascertaining whether it has a strong chance of success.
Children are amongst the most vulnerable of all pedestrians, and the general principles surrounding a compensation claim for a child are the same as for an adult. Parents and guardians can make a claim on behalf of an injured child younger than 18 under the auspices of the Mental Capacity Act 2005, with the main difference in other claims being a shift in the time limit. In the vast bulk of personal injury cases claims have to be made within 3 years of the accident taking place. In the case of a claim on behalf of a child, however, such a claim can be launched at any time up to the child’s 18th birthday. Or, when the child turns 18, they can bring a claim themselves within 3 years.
A successful claim for compensation in a case like this will depend on two things. The first is that you can demonstrate that you have suffered an injury. In many cases this may seem extremely obvious, but medical opinion will still be required to make the manner and severity of the injury a matter of official record. The second and, perhaps, more complicated part of the claim will involve demonstrating that the driver of the vehicle was operating it in a manner which didn’t meet their duty of care to you. In many cases the driver will deny responsibility, so it’s up to you to prove show that they’re wrong.
Find out more about making pavement accident claims.
Making a personal injury claim like this on your own is a daunting prospect, particularly if you’re simultaneously trying to recover and get used to living life with your injuries, so it’s vital to employ the services of a personal injury lawyer who will know exactly how to go about building a convincing case.
If you think you’ve been injured in an incident of this kind, then call a trained legal adviser on 0800 234 6438 and they’ll tell you truthfully whether it’s worth pursuing a claim. Their advice will come free of charge and without obligation, and if they do take on your claim they’ll pass you on to a no win no fee solicitor, which means that you don’t have to pay any money up front whatsoever.
There are certain steps you can take in the aftermath of an accident of this kind which will bolster your claim when you come to make it. The first of these is to contact the emergency services. An ambulance will provide any treatment needed immediately, whilst the police will note down all of the details of the accident. The written records of medics and the police can then later be used to help build your case.
It’s also vital that you get the details of everyone involved and any witnesses, taking down relevant number plates to be doubly sure. In the weeks and months following the accident, keep any receipts pertaining to expenses which you wouldn’t otherwise have incurred, as these will form a part of your claim, as will any earnings lost through time spent off work.
If you made every effort to cross the road safely, but ended up being hurt because a driver was somewhat less conscientious then it really shouldn’t be down to you to pay the price. Getting your life back on track may be a long, slow process, but receiving the compensation you deserve will be the first step in the right direction.
Nicola is a dual qualified journalist and non-practising solicitor. She is a legal journalist, editor and author with more than 20 years' experience writing about the law.
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