After any kind of accident or injury where an insurance claim or lawsuit is filed, one of the first questions on most people’s minds is "How much can I expect to receive in a settlement?" It’s no different for pedestrians who have been injured after being struck by a vehicle. If anything, the question might have some added urgency and indignation behind it in these cases, because of the disparity of the parties involved in the accident -- the person driving the big bad car, and the defenseless pedestrian. Pedestrians rarely walk away without injury.
But there are two things to keep in mind when it comes to settlements in car-pedestrian accident cases. First, it’s nearly impossible – and not helpful -- to come up with an "average" settlement amount. Every case is different and there are far too many variables at play. Second, liability may not always be as cut-and-dry as you might assume. In some cases, a pedestrian might bear some or all of the fault for an accident.
Having said all that, here are some of the key factors that will influence the amount you can expect to receive in settlement of your car-pedestrian accident claim:
- The severity of your injuries – "hard" injuries tend to fetch larger settlements.
- The amount of time you have missed at work – lost income is reimbursed.
- The nature and extent of your medical treatment – treatment by non-physicians, like chiropractors and acupuncturists, carries less weight.
- The impact of your injuries on your daily life and routine – compensation for pain and suffering is the hard part to negotiate.
- Your prospects for a full recovery – if you suffer long-term, or permanent serious injury, settlement value goes up very quickly.
- The presence or absence of clear fault for the accident – more often than not, the driver is clearly liable.
- Any lost opportunities attributable to your injuries – see the "Lost of Normal Life" section here.
- Any impact your injuries will have on your ability to earn a living in the future – when an injury prevents you from working at the same level, profession, or at all, the law requires that you be compensated for that lost future income.
How An Insurance Adjuster Might Approach Settlement
Pedestrians injured by motor vehicles will almost certainly need to make a claim with an insurance company to get compensation for all these losses, so it’s helpful to understand how an insurance adjuster will approach a settlement.
Some insurance adjusters will take your quantifiable losses (medical bills, lost income, and other definitive dollar amounts which together are called "special damages") and multiply that total by a number between one-and-a-half and four (or five) to arrive at your "general damages," which include pain and suffering and the emotional impact of your injuries This second number (the multiplier) will depend on the severity of your injuries, the nature of your medical treatment, and the length of your recovery. So, for severe injuries with extensive medical treatment and a prolonged period of recovery, the adjuster might use a multiplier closer to four or five.
Alternatively, a daily rate may be used to determine the settlement for your pain. In either case, the special damages and general damages are then added up to arrive at a settlement figure. This usually opens the door for back-and-forth negotiations where both sides of the case -- the driver and the pedestrian, usually through their insurers or attorneys -- present arguments and evidence for bringing that number up or down.