What Do I Do If I’m Hit By a Car As a Pedestrian?
By Chris Dixon
In 2015, 5,376 pedestrians were killed in traffic crashes in the U.S., and another 129,000 were treated for injuries because of accidents involving motor vehicles. In some cases, the driver is at-fault because of distracted driving and other negligent behaviors. Other times, it isn’t entirely the driver’s fault. Some pedestrians seem to come out of nowhere and can’t be avoided in time. In situations where it is unclear who caused the accident, both parties can be held at-fault.
When a car accident with a pedestrian happens, those involved need to take immediate action, know what to do, and know how it can be prevented in the future. Traffic laws vary from state to state, so the law of negligence rule that each uses when a pedestrian is hit by a car is not the same. While most states use the “comparative fault” rule, others elect to follow “pure contributory negligence”. If you are hit by a car as a pedestrian, your personal injury lawyer will know which rule your state follows, what grounds your case will likely have, and if they think that your case is worth pursuing or not. Realistically speaking, not every victim is entitled to damages. If you think you have a valid case for being hit by a car as a pedestrian, the right personal injury attorney can be the difference in winning a high or low settlement.
What to Do After the Accident
After being hit by a car it’s natural to feel panicked, but it’s important to stay calm and focus on what needs to be done immediately after the accident. Seek urgent medical attention. Cars weigh thousands of pounds, and the impact of a person being hit by one can be severe. Even if you’re content with shrugging off cuts or bruises, damage can be done internally that won’t be visible to the naked eye. It’s vital to seek prompt medical attention to make sure that serious damage hasn’t been done. Though your injuries from the accident might prevent doing this yourself, be sure to document the scene. If you can’t personally do so, have a friend or family member do it for you. Not documenting the scene allows for the details of the crash to be altered and potentially be falsified. Swap information with witnesses to the accident. They are an unbiased source of information and can help prove what happened in the accident.
One of the biggest things that you need to do after being hit by a car is to file a police report. and a claim with your insurance company immediately. Do gather information from the other driver including contact information, insurance information and their license plate number, but other than that, your insurance provider will handle talking to the other driver’s insurance company for you. The at-fault driver’s insurance company will still attempt to contact you to get a statement about the accident, but you should stay silent. Making a statement too soon after the accident without proper legal representation means that you might make a mistake and accept a lower settlement amount than your case deserves.
Selecting the right legal counsel is crucial in winning your case against the driver who hit you. personal injury lawyers know the ins-and-outs of the legal system, and will make sure that you receive the maximum amount of damages that your case is entitled to. Legal fees can certainly be costly and financially difficult to deal with, but most lawyers will be open to making payment arrangements for the amount you owe. Some attorneys utilize a contingency plan which means that unless they win damages for your case, you won’t have to pay for anything. If they do win damages, you’ll pay them a certain percentage of the money you receive from the settlement.
How to Prevent Car Crashes with Pedestrians
There is an estimated one pedestrian car crash every 1.6 hours in the U.S. One of the leading causes of these accidents involved alcohol consumption from either the driver or the pedestrian. It is impossible to prevent every car accident, but staying aware and informed on road safety and pedestrian tips can help cut down on the number of preventable accidents that happen.
- Stay focused while driving – Each day in the U.S., approximately 9 people are killed and an estimated 1,000 people are injured because of distracted driving. Avoid texting, talking on the phone, reading articles and fidgeting with things while driving.
- Use pedestrian walkways and be aware of surroundings – Stay on sidewalks and designated pedestrian areas while walking, and in areas where there isn’t a designated area, make sure that you’re clearly visible and easy to notice by drivers.
- Don’t drink and drive – If you’ve been drinking, avoid driving. One in every three fatal pedestrian crashes involves drunk driving, 15% of which were over the legal BAC limit. Of pedestrians, this percentage rose to 34%.
- Don’t jaywalk – 72% of the 5,376 pedestrians who were killed in pedestrian car crash were not using proper walkways. Be cautious when crossing the road, and with areas that have walk signs, wait until it is your turn to cross the road.
- Follow the speed limit – 30% of deaths on the road are caused by speeding. If a pedestrian jumps out of nowhere, you won’t have time to break and avoid hitting them. Or, if a pedestrian is walking in a crosswalk while you are speeding and you don’t see them in time, the outcome is similar.
Who is At-Fault When a Pedestrian is Hit By a Car?
Determining who is at-fault when a pedestrian is hit in a car crash is not always easy to do. The Law of Negligence is used to determine this and states that the careless person in the accident is the legally liable party for any damages or harmed. For a negligence claim to be valid, the following four things must be proved with evidence:
- The person who is allegedly at-fault for the accident must have done something to break a traffic rule. Was the driver speeding? Did the pedestrian jump in front of the car? Did the driver run a stop sign?
- It must be proved that the person acted negligently. The court will determine whether or not this happened by comparing their actions with that of a “reasonably prudent person.” In other words, would the average person have handled the situation the same way?
- It isn’t enough to claim that the driver caused the pedestrian’s injuries. This claim must be backed up by tangible evidence that shows that the accused person acted negligently and that this is what caused the pedestrian to be injured in the accident.
- The court must be able to award the pedestrian with damages for the accident. This can include compensation for medical expenses, pain and suffering, lost wages, loss of affection and other damages that occurred because of the accident.
Know Your State’s Traffic Laws
Most states use the ”pure comparative fault rule”, but others follow the “pure contributory negligence rule.” The rule of pure comparative fault states that parties can collect damages even if they are 99% at-fault for the accident. The amount that the negligent party receives if they are at-fault is determined by how much they are at-fault for the accident. Is it more likely than not that they caused the accident, or is it less believable? Pure contributory negligence states that parties cannot collect damages if they are found to be responsible for even one-percent of the accident. Most laws follow the rule of comparative fault, but others do not. Consult with a personal injury lawyer about which category your state falls in. This advice goes for both drivers and pedestrians. Consulting with a lawyer about the state’s laws on fault gives a clearer idea of how much they can expect to realistically receive in damages, if anything at all.
What Can a Lawyer Do if I’m Hit By a Car As a Pedestrian?
If you are filing a lawsuit for being hit by a car as a pedestrian, the best thing that you can do for your case is to talk to a personal injury attorney about your case. An experienced lawyer who specializes in personal injury will know the rules on traffic and pedestrian laws, and will help you decided if your case is worth fighting for in court or better off settled outside. The right legal counsel will protect you from large insurance companies, fight against them if they offer you less money than your case deserves, and will make sure that you are fully compensated for any damages that happened because of the negligent driver. If you are ready to talk to an attorney about having been hit by a car as a pedestrian, contact the Dixon Injury Firm to see what your options are for your pedestrian car accident case.