Pedestrian accident – how can you claim compensation?
Pedestrians injured due to a traffic accident in Israel will generally be entitled to claim compensation from the driver’s insurance company. If the driver’s identity cannot be found, it may be possible to file a compensation claim with the compensation fund for road accident victims established by the state. In cases where pedestrians were injured by electric bicycles or scooters, they will not be able to file a claim for compensation due to a traffic accident, but in many cases they will be able to sue the cyclist or scooter rider.
A was on his way home, after a fun evening spent with friends. But when he crossed the road at a crosswalk, right next to the street where he lived, A was hit by B’s vehicle. A suffered severe body injuries following the accident, and remained confined to a wheelchair. Unfortunately, this is not just a fictional scenario. Cases like this happen to thousands of pedestrians every year. According to the data of the National Road Safety Authority, approximately one third of the pedestrians who are injured in traffic accidents each year are injured at the crosswalk. In addition, pedestrians account for a third of the fatalities in road accidents every year, with many of them being children, teenagers and the elderly. As much as it is unpleasant to think about these hard data, it is important to understand that pedestrian accidents can happen to each and every one of us. Accordingly, it is important to take all possible precautions, as well as to know what can be done legally in cases where an accident actually occurs – that is, who can be sued for compensation and how the process is carried out.
How is a claim for a car accident involving pedestrians handled?
Pedestrian injury caused by a vehicle, such as a car, truck or motorcycle, and which caused bodily harm or mental harm, will generally be grounds for filing a claim for compensation according to the Road Accident Victims Compensation law. The advantage of these lawsuits is that there is no need to prove the responsibility of the offending drivers for actually causing the accident damages. This is in light of the rule of absolute liability in car accidents. The claim will usually be filed against the offending drivers insurance policy. To the extent that the identity of the drivers is unknown (usually, in cases of hit-and-run accidents) or when the vehicle that caused the accident is not insured with mandatory insurance, it will be possible to claim a fund established by the state to compensate victims of road accidents, called Karnit.
It should be noted that not infrequently, drivers may themselves be considered pedestrians, for example when they stand outside their car and are hit by a passing vehicle. If, for example, a person stands near the trunk of his car in a parking lot and loads bags of products he bought at the supermarket, and a car that is reversing in the parking lot hits him, the victim would be considered a pedestrian, in a way that would allow them to file an insurance claim from the driver of the offending vehicle, rather than their own insurance.
Why don’t the same rules apply to hitting pedestrians from bicycles or scooters?
All of the above is relevant regarding cases of injury from a vehicle, as defined in the road accidents victims compensation law. To the extent that the pedestrians were injured by a bicycle, electric bicycle or electric scooter, this will be grounds for claiming compensation as well, but not by virtue of the road accidents law. This is because the court ruled in a series of rulings that these two-wheeled vehicles do not meet the definition of a motor vehicle, according to the Torts law. The law does not apply an insurance obligation to these two-wheeled vehicles. Accordingly, the claim in cases of a scooter or bicycle accident will be filed according to the tort ordinance. Such claims may be more complex, for a number of reasons. First, the accident victims will not always know the identity of the driver who hit them. Second, it will be necessary to prove that the damages caused to the pedestrians in the accident are the responsibility of the offending drivers, and this will not always be easy to prove. Accordingly, in such cases, it is recommended to seek the advice of a tort lawyer as close as possible to the accident.
What is the amount of compensation that can be received for a pedestrian accident?
The answer to this question depends greatly on the circumstances of the accident, the types of damage caused to the pedestrians and the severity of these damages. You can find an extended explanation on the types of damages for which compensation can be claimed in pedestrian accidents in a comprehensive guide published on our office’s website on the subject of calculating compensation for victims of road accidents. From our experience in representing victims of car accidents, we know that in cases of significant damage, the courts may award compensation in the amount of hundreds of thousands of shekels, and sometimes even more. For example, in a ruling from 2021 (in civil case 33020-10-15) the Haifa Magistrate’s Court awarded compensation in the total amount of approximately NIS 186,500 to a pedestrian who was run over by a vehicle at a crosswalk, and suffered severe bodily injuries, permanent disability as well as severe mental distress and post-traumatic stress disorder.
Even in bicycle and scooter accidents, which have become a real scourge in recent years, the courts tend to award compensation in similar amounts. For example, in 2022 the Magistrate’s Court in Bat Yam (in civil case 30256-02-20) awarded compensation in the amount of 120 thousand NIS to a pedestrian who was hit by an electric bicycle at a crossing in Ramat Gan, and suffered a broken shoulder and other severe injuries.
Pedestrian accident – contact a lawyer specializing in tort law and traffic accidents
For any additional questions regarding pedestrian accidents or compensation for traffic accident victims, you can contact our office and we will be happy to help. Our office, in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, specializes in tort and traffic law. The lawyers from our office have extensive and proven professional experience in representing compensation claims for bodily harm, mental harm and property damage due to traffic accidents, before all legal courts.