Pedestrian accidents are especially deadly due to the nature of a car hitting an unprotected individual. Attorneys Robert Mazow and Kevin McCullough, with Mazow McCullough law firm, discuss the steps to take after a loved one is killed in a wrongful death pedestrian accident.
John Maher: I’m John Maher and I’m here today with Robert Mazow and Kevin McCullough of the law firm Mazow McCullough, a personal injury law firm with offices in Massachusetts and New Hampshire. Today, we’re talking about wrongful death cases involving pedestrian accidents. Robert and Kevin, welcome.
Robert Mazow: Thank you, John.
Kevin McCullough: Thanks, John.
John: How common are fatal pedestrian accidents in Massachusetts and New Hampshire?
Robert: As far as common, we see a lot of them. I can’t give you numbers necessarily, but most of us are driving around, many are distracted, certainly a lot more cars on the road these days than there used to be, so we’re seeing a lot . . . unfortunately, we’re seeing a lot of pedestrian motor vehicle wrongful death crashes. Thankfully in Massachusetts and New Hampshire, there are very strong state police accident reconstruction teams that are able to go onto the scene and to work on these cases, but the unfortunate fact is that we’re seeing a lot.
John: And certainly with pedestrian accidents where a person is hit by a car, it’s much more likely that there’s going to be a death in that type of accident than if it was a car and another car.
Robert: Of course. Obviously the pedestrian, either they’re walking or on a bicycle or in no position to be able to protect themselves from whatever tonnage happens to be striking them. We’re either seeing very severe injuries or many times, unfortunately, death when a person is struck by a vehicle.
Determining Fault in a Pedestrian Accident
John: Who is usually at fault in a pedestrian accident?
Kevin: John, determining “at fault” can be extremely difficult after the fact, as Rob alluded to a moment ago. With wrongful death claims in Massachusetts and New Hampshire, the state police gets involved and does a thorough investigation, a reconstruction, and a crash analysis. But, it’s all after the fact and they do the same investigation whether there were multiple witnesses or no witnesses and there are so many different factors that can come into play when you’re assessing responsibility, whether it was on a main roadway, a side street, a speed limit involved, if we can calculate or determine how fast the vehicle was going at the time of the incident, weather conditions, what people are wearing for clothing.
When you’re involved in a case like this and you’ve lost a family member and you’re considering who to hire as an attorney or a law firm, you want to make sure you go to the law firm that not only knows what they’re doing and how to do it, but they’re willing to go through those steps — as many steps as necessary — to conduct that investigation and to make a good assessment of who’s at fault and who’s responsible in order to pursue that client.
Investigating a Pedestrian Accident
John: You mentioned that the police do their own assessment and investigation into the accident. Do you as attorneys also do a separate investigation?
Robert: We actually — if we can, if we’re on notice soon enough — we have our own group of experts that we work with. We try to get them to the scene of the crash so they can take their own measurements, so they can look at the vehicle, crash data information, so they can speak to witnesses, because we need to gather information just like the state police need to gather information, because the family is counting on us to provide them with information. Sometimes, [with] the state police, it takes many, many months sometimes for them to come to a conclusion, so we want to make sure that we can have as much information as we possibly can, and yes, we do have excellent, top-notch experts that we send out to the scene on occasion.
Pedestrian Wrongful Death Lawsuit Considerations
John: Okay. What are some of the things that make a pedestrian wrongful death lawsuit different from other types of lawsuits?
Kevin: Certainly the emotional aspect that goes into it from the initial meeting with the clients and the family members of the pedestrian who was hit, and walking through the handling of an estate, whether it’s at the probate court or working with other attorneys to be able to move forward with a claim and have a legal entity to move forward with a lawsuit against the at-fault driver, up through establishing and calculating the damages. These are horrific, horrific crashes and incidents involving death, sometimes there’s more suffering involved than other cases depending on how the collision occurs or how the person passes. There are so many different levels of investigation to help prove the claim, but also when you’re calculating the different components of damages and how to pursue those damages and present those damages on behalf of the estate and the family members.
Insurance Coverage of Pedestrian Wrongful Death Accidents
John: Rob, can you talk a little bit about insurance coverage and how that comes into play in these types of pedestrian wrongful death lawsuits?
Robert: Sure. When a pedestrian is killed as a result of being struck by a motor vehicle, the motor vehicle’s insurance becomes the primary layer of insurance. It would be the one responsible for paying for any burial, funeral expenses up to a certain point, medical bills if there are any for ambulance transportation. If the pedestrian had some opportunity to live and receive treatment before they passed, there would be certain medical bills that would be taken care of, and then if we’re able to establish that the motor vehicle was at fault, there would be a layer of coverage available to pay for the compensation for the pain and suffering, for the actual wrongful death benefits.
If the pedestrian themselves has certain insurance coverages available, things like what’s called ‘underinsurance motor vehicle coverage’, we could then look to that insurance policy to provide any excess insurance. If the vehicle that struck the pedestrian and killed them was uninsured, we can look at the pedestrian’s own insurance coverage uninsured coverage to look for coverage in that aspect as well.
John: So even though as a pedestrian you’re not driving a vehicle, your own car insurance can come into play.
Robert: That’s correct.
John: Okay. That’s really great information, Robert and Kevin. Thank you again for speaking with me today.
Robert: Thank you, John.
Kevin: Thank you, John.
John: For more information on personal injury cases, visit the firm’s website at helpinginjured.com or call (855) 693-9084.