Page Reviewed / Updated – February 25, 2010

Pedestrian Accidents and the Elderly

It is not uncommon for elderly or disabled individuals to be injured in a pedestrian accident. This most frequently occurs in pedestrian crosswalks on city streets or when exiting public buses or taxis. In addition to reckless driving, a common cause is when drivers do not realize an individual is elderly or disabled and therefore fail to take into consideration their reduced mobility and reaction times. Other causes include malfunctioning traffic lights and poorly designed intersections.

Even safe drivers sometimes experience slow speed accidents with pedestrians that result in falls which would not injure a younger individual. However, with elderly persons due to their fragility, these low impact crashes result in hip fractures, broken wrists, legs and concussions. In addition to an increased likelihood of injury, seniors recover from injury more slowly, require more care during the recovery process and sometimes never fully regain their previous capabilities. All of this can result in high medical and care expenses and sometimes the need for medical equipment. Aging individuals should not be held responsible for these additional out-of-pocket costs simply because they are elderly.

When is Compensation Due

Generally speaking, the elderly and disabled are due compensation for injuries sustained in pedestrian accidents when those injuries occurred through no fault of their own.  In most states, if an individual crosses with the light in a crosswalk then they are not at fault. In other cases, the pedestrian might be partially at fault. For example, if an elderly individual begins crossing the street with the light but is unable to complete the process before the light changes, they may be at partial fault and the city might also be responsible for failing to provide adequate time for individuals to cross.  In these situations, most attorneys will provide a free consultation to determine if they feel there is reason for a settlement.

Types of Expenses Due Compensation

Persons injured in pedestrian accidents can be compensated for their total out-of-pocket care costs (including medical care and personal care). In the elderly, this could include recovery time spent in a nursing home or the cost of a home care aide to assist them in performing their activities of daily living such as dressing, bathing and eating.

In the case of permanent injury resulting from pedestrian accidents, individuals can be due compensation for medical equipment and home modifications to accommodate for the medical equipment such as wheelchair ramps and bathroom accessibility re-designs. Finally, there are the general damages due for pedestrian accidents for the major disruption to the individuals’ lives, their pain and suffering. These can be two or three times the complete medical and personal care costs incurred.

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Working with an Attorney

Attorneys are only paid if they win, therefore most will not accept a case unless they are confident.  Approximately 80% reach a settlement.

Attorneys that work on pedestrian injury case do not charge directly for their services instead they take a percentage of the settlement amount. This model of payment is referred to as a contingency fee and if attorneys are not successful, they do not charge the individual for their services. This can be a great advantage for seniors with fixed and moderate incomes. When a settlement is reached, typically the attorney’s fee will be approximately 30% of the settlement amount.   An estimated 80% of pedestrian injury cases accepted by attorneys result in a cash settlement for the victim.

While compensation for pedestrian accidents does not solve a family’s financial challenges with long term care, fair compensation can be a considerable help and should an individual be injured in a pedestrian accident, this source of funds should not be ignored.