Can a pedestrian hit by a vehicle claim compensation?
With the tragic recent news of pedestrian deaths and injuries on our city streets, you should know that a pedestrian hit by a car may also make a claim for compensation. TGB senior associate Olla Kutieleh explains.
Tragically, Adelaide has been the scene of a number of pedestrian deaths in recent weeks. In the first case, an 80-year-old man was hit by a car while walking on North Tce in the city. He later passed away in hospital. Following this, four female pedestrians were struck by a motor vehicle while waiting to cross the busy intersection of Pultney St and Rundle St in the heart of the city.
Anyone in these circumstances should be aware that compensation is available to either the victim, or their dependent family members should the victim not survive.
What can be claimed?
Pedestrians are always more vulnerable on the road and suffer from considerably more severe injuries following a motor vehicle accident. This is for the obvious reason that pedestrians do not have the same level of protection that those within a car, bus or truck do have. The injuries that can be suffered by a pedestrian vary depending on factors including the force of the impact, where the impact occurs, the size of the motor vehicle etc. However, for a pedestrian struck on the road, it is not uncommon to be left with broken bones, head and neck injuries, internal injuries and often psychological injury.
Pedestrians who are involved in a motor vehicle accident may make a claim against the third party insurance held by the driver. Even where the driver is unknown (for example a hit and run accident) or if you were partly at fault for the accident, you may still be entitled to a payment for compensation. Furthermore, if the accident occurred after 1 July 2013 and the injuries are catastrophic then access to support and care is available irrespective of who was at fault for the accident.
Usually, a claim can be made for hospital and medical expenses, rehabilitation expenses, travel expenses, pain and suffering, economic losses and domestic support. Legal costs associated with the compensation claim may also be covered.
What if the victim passes away due to the accident?
A dependency claim may be available, where the victim has not survived the motor vehicle accident and loved ones who were financially dependent on that person are left behind. Dependents are often the spouse or children of the deceased, but can also be other persons depending on the circumstances.
The compensation payable from a dependency claim will vary in every case as it depends on the specific circumstances of the individual making the claim and also the extent of the dependency that was had on the deceased. Factors that may be taken into account include the deceased’s contribution to everyday expenses, the loss of income, the length of the relationship, the level of the dependency and future expenses that would have been incurred (e.g. school fees).
What should I do if I want to make a claim?
Firstly, you should make sure you get the medical treatment that you or the victim requires.
Where possible, you should also try and get the details of the driver and any witnesses to the accident. You should also report the accident to the police as soon as possible following the accident.
The next step of making a claim is understandably difficult particularly when you are dealing with injury or the loss of a loved. However, there are time limitations that apply to such claim and often insurance companies can be difficult to deal with. Therefore, when you are ready, it is recommended that you speak to a lawyer for their support throughout the process, their expertise and to ensure that you don’t miss out on your entitlements.