When a pedestrian is hit by a car, it can typically result in two types of legal cases: criminal cases and civil lawsuits.
Pedestrian Car Accident Legal Cases
Criminal cases against a driver in a pedestrian-versus-car accident scenario are of course initiated by state authorities. Typically, if the accident is caused by the driver’s negligence but which is not an ‘outrageous’ one (running well above the speed limit in a highly congested area, driving under influence of drugs or alcohol), the driver will not face any criminal lawsuit.
DUI Conviction and Involuntary Manslaughter
However, if he is found to be driving under influence, he will be booked for a DUI/DWI arrest and conviction. If the accident results in the death of the pedestrian, he may face an Involuntary Manslaughter charge—but only if his conduct is judged to be ‘extremely reckless’ under the circumstances. However, how one defines ‘extreme recklessness’ or something such as an ‘aggravating situation’ depends largely on the ‘legal fault doctrine’ used in the particular state the accident took place in.
Another situation where a driver may look forward to criminal charges brought against him is when he hits a pedestrian and then flees the scene of the accident. In that case, it will be considered as an incidence of ‘Hit and Run’ and the driver at fault will potentially face a prison sentence for his behavior.
However, even if the situation does not warrant any criminal actions against the driver, the latter still makes himself open to facing civil actions such as an insurance claim, a personal injury lawsuit or a wrongful death lawsuit.
Insurance Claim or Personal Injury Trial
When a driver strikes a pedestrian resulting in severe injuries to the latter, the injured party may file a personal injury lawsuit against the driver and seek compensation for the losses he had to face due to the accident. As with all personal injury claims, the ‘damages’ estimate will take into account both monetary losses (medical expenses, lost wages, and so on) as well as non-monetary ones (mental trauma and suffering, impaired ability to enjoy life, etc.).
If the claim goes to the court, the plaintiff will need to prove that the driver was the at-fault party and the accident resulted from the driver’s failing to observe his ‘duty of care.’ If and when this is established, the jury will decide on a fair settlement taking into account the nature and extent of the losses suffered by the plaintiff.
Normally, however, a majority of cases like these are resolved out-of-court via the motorist’s insurance carrier. A settlement is reached through negotiations between the attorney or law firm appointed by the injured party and the insurance company of the at-fault motorist. Insurance company, however, is not liable to pay any claim if the accident was caused not by simple ‘negligence’, but due to reckless driving such as Driving Under Influence and the like.
Wrongful Death Lawsuit
Finally, if a pedestrian/vehcile accident results in the death of the pedestrian, the family of the deceased person can bring a Wrongful Death Lawsuit against the responsible driver. In a civil lawsuit like this, the plaintiff will typically make a compensation claim taking in account the losses the death of the person has caused to his survivors. These typically include funeral expenses, lost companionship, loss of the deceased’s income/support and any other harm the death has caused to the family.
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