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What Considerations Go Into a Motor Vehicle Accident Involving a Pedestrian?

Pedestrians often suffer extreme injuries when struck by a motor vehicle. In this video blog, I discuss the various legal considerations that one should be aware of concerning a pedestrian who is involved in such an accident in Massachusetts.

One general consideration is the perspective of the opposing insurance company. The insurance company will attempt to defend against the pedestrian’s claim by invoking a Massachusetts statute that requires a pedestrian to cross in a crosswalk if one is available within 300 feet. However, whether or not the pedestrian was actually crossing in the crosswalk is not dispositive, as there may be valid reasons. The issue will then become whether the pedestrian was exercising reasonable care in crossing the street.

The easiest way to determine exactly where the pedestrian was is to rely upon percipient witnesses and expert witnesses. There is rarely a witness more capable of recreating the details of an accident for a jury than a percipient witness, one who perceived the accident as it unfolded. Such a person saw it happen with his/her own eyes. This testimony will trump that of expert witnesses because experts must rely upon statements and data that were given to them after the occurrence of an accident rather than witnessing the event firsthand.

However, certain accident data can be enhanced by expert testimony, such as site lines. For example, I once hired an aerial photographer to show the surrounding area of the accident path for one of my clients. However, with advancements in technology, such as Google Maps, aerial experts may not be as necessary as they once were because we can still get the same visual at little to no cost.

Other considerations such as the pedestrian’s clothing, the time of day, the driver’s visibility and the driver’s rate of speed as matched against the posted speed limit all will factor into the pros and cons of the pedestrian’s case. Experts can be hired to clarify some of these factors but percipient witnesses will likely provide the best overall narrative of the accident.

The last consideration is the interplay among the insurance companies. A pedestrian receives up to $8,000 in Personal Injury Protection (PIP) coverage for lost wages and medical bills from the automobile that struck him/her. However, additional coverage for medical payments must come from the pedestrian’s own automobile insurance. This situation is similar to that of a passenger in a third party’s vehicle who is injured as a result of a motor vehicle accident. As discussed in previous blogs, there are uninsurance and underinsurance considerations as well. There are other blogs on this website that specifically deal with insurance issues.

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