Accidents can catch us off guard, leave us disoriented, and make it difficult for us to figure out what to do next. You may be walking home when a vehicle comes speeding by, and suddenly, you’re the pedestrian hit by a car.
We cannot stress the importance of taking the right course of action in that scenario enough. Failing to do so could lead to you facing danger or potentially missing out on the compensation you deserve.
In this article, we’ll discuss what you need to do if you are the pedestrian hit by a car. Keep the following tips in mind because they could end up helping while you’re in a tough spot.
The Prevalence of Pedestrian Accidents
One might assume that pedestrian accidents are rare. Sadly, recent trends have indicated that they have become more common.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 6283 pedestrians were killed in traffic accidents back in 2018. That’s the highest number recorded since 1990.
The National Safety Council puts that number into context further. They note that 79 percent of those fatalities took place in urban settings. Out of those, 76 percent happened at night, and knowing that will strike fear into the hearts of many pedestrians.
There is no such thing as being too cautious if you’re a pedestrian. If you’re moving close to powerful machines such as cars, you must always protect yourself.
The reality, though, is that accidents can still happen no matter how careful you are. That’s why you need to know how to react if you are a pedestrian hit by a car.
The Steps to Take if You Are a Pedestrian Hit by a Car
Things can unfold quickly if you are involved in a car accident as a pedestrian. You can easily lose track of what happened and wind up putting yourself in greater danger by making the wrong moves. Ensure that you don’t make any mistakes by following the steps we’ve included in this article.
Step 1: Safety First! Get Out of the Road as Soon as You Can
Going back to those statistics provided by the National Safety Council, they noted that 74 percent of the incidents involving cars hitting pedestrians took place on open roads. An additional 25 percent of those accidents happened along intersections.
What all that means is that there’s a high likelihood that you’re still in grave danger following the initial accident.
As soon as you can move, start heading to the side of the road. Don’t worry about anything else at that point, and only focus on getting out of harm’s way. Crawl if you need to because your injuries may prevent you from physically getting up and walking away from the road.
Step 2: Call 911
If you can, call 911 for assistance from the police and medical personnel. The police will document the incident (more on speaking with the police below). The emergency personnel will assess your injuries and determine whether you need to be transported by ambulance to the hospital. Follow the advice of the medical personnel. You may be worried about the bills, but car insurance–known as Personal Injury Protection or PIP insurance–will cover expenses such as ambulance rides and emergency department treatment.
Victims of accidents sometimes avoid contacting services because they haven’t detected any serious injuries. You may feel relatively fine right after the accident, but that can change later following the adrenaline dump. It’s better to contact the first aid providers now so that any potential injuries can be looked at and addressed as soon as possible.
Step 3: Assess Your Injuries
Some pedestrian accidents will result in serious injuries. You should not do anything that might increase the severity of your injury. You may just need to hold still until emergency assistance arrives. If you are able to move about, then you should take the steps below to the extent that you can to gather evidence. You may need to rely upon others to do these tasks for you.
Find the Driver
Next up, you need to find the driver of the vehicle that collided with you. The problem here is that you are not in complete control of the situation. If you can, have a witness or bystander assist you.
Spooked by what happened, the driver may speed away from the scene while you’re still trying to figure out what happened. They may not care about your injuries.
At that point, it will be difficult to catch up with them. Tracking them down will need to be done through other means.
Now there’s also a chance that they didn’t flee the scene. In that case, approach them and tell them that they need to wait with you.
Whether or not you find the driver, you must proceed to the next step.
Step 4: Contact the Police and Emergency Responders
Some may believe that calling the police is unnecessary, and they can handle matters if they weren’t hurt from the accident. We recommend against that line of thinking. Tell the driver you’re calling for help because you believe you’re hurt and leave it at that for now.
Failing to call the police in that situation means you miss out on the valuable assistance they can provide.
The police can preserve the scene of the accident and make it easier to gather evidence. They can also investigate the scene and piece together what occurred.
Later in the process, the authorities may also generate their own report detailing their findings related to the accident. You will likely end up needing that report when you seek compensation.
There is no scenario where you fail to get the police involved makes sense especially if you were the pedestrian. It will be easier to get things in motion with the police assisting you.
Not calling the police could also lead to them being unable to help you out in the future.
Step 5: Obtain Essential Information from the Driver
While waiting for help to arrive, you should talk to the driver and ask for important information. If your smartphone is still functional, pull that out and use it to record the details the driver is providing.
Specifically, ask them about their name, contact number, address, and their insurance information. Ask for those details right away so you have real information to go by if the other driver decides that they would rather risk getting hit with stiffer penalties instead of facing the police officers at that moment. Take pictures of the driver’s license, insurance information, registration, and license plate.
Step 6: Proceed Carefully as You Talk to the Driver
You must be careful while you’re talking to the driver. If that person knows what they’re doing, they could try to lead the conversation in such a way that you admit to being at fault for the accident.
They may ask leading questions that go in the direction or point out certain things that supposedly highlight how you are responsible. They may end up making a compelling case as well.
In that scenario, you’re better off not talking. Tell the other driver that you want to wait for the police to arrive. If they continue talking about the case, instruct them to share their story with the police instead of you.
The driver may also call their lawyer or their insurance provider and ask you to talk with them. Decline that opportunity and let the driver know that you’ll only talk after you’ve spoken to the police and your lawyer.
Step 7: Collect Evidence at the Scene of the Accident
If you can move around, you can spend some time collecting evidence while waiting for the police – take photos of the scene to document it. Make sure you get some shots of the car as well.
Look for security cameras around the area. If you spot any, refer them to the police so they can collect footage of the accident. Tell your own lawyer about any cameras you observed. It is important to collect video evidence quickly, because some systems overwrite or delete videos after just a few days.
There may also be witnesses to the accident who are nearby. Interview them and record their statement if they’re willing to provide one. You should also note their contact details so you, your attorney, and the authorities can get a hold of them in the future.
Step 8: Undergo a Complete Physical Examination
The emergency responders have likely arrived and taken you to the hospital. You can now undergo a complete physical examination.
We urge you to get fully examined because not all injuries are easy to detect. Certain brain injuries may not start to make their presence felt until hours, days, or even weeks following the accident.
Doctors have a better chance of accurately diagnosing your condition early on if you agree to a full examination.
You should also be cognizant of the symptoms linked to brain injuries.
According to the Mayfield Clinic, common symptoms of brain injuries include dizziness, headaches, memory loss, and vision problems. Inform your doctor right away if you start to experience any of those symptoms.
Step 9: Consult with a Lawyer
Staying in the hospital for an extended period may be necessary so you can recover from your injuries. That is perfectly fine, but during that stay, you should get in touch with your lawyer.
Your treatment could end up being costly. It wouldn’t be fair if you were saddled with those medical expenses if you are not to blame for the accident. What you need to do is to get the driver to take responsibility.
Contact your lawyer and tell them what happened. From there, your lawyer can reach out to the authorities to get an update on their investigation. Your lawyer can also use the details you provided to track down the person who hit you with their car, and to contact their insurance company.
Also, remember that these cases tend to be time-sensitive. It would be best if you get your case started right away, so the odds of the other party being held accountable remain high. If you wait too long, there may be no legal avenue for you to seek compensation from the other party.
Step 10: File a Claim against the Driver
We can now move forward to filing a claim against the driver in your case. Your lawyer will contact them and let them know of your intentions so they can compensate you properly.
Don’t be surprised if things aren’t easy. The driver may deny responsibility for what happened, and their insurance provider may refuse to deliver a bodily injury payout because of that. Insurance companies don’t make money by constantly providing payouts, after all.
You will likely need to prove that the driver was at fault for the accident, and this is where all that evidence you gathered earlier will come in handy. Use that evidence to show that you were following the rules of the road when the other party struck you. Video evidence is strong, and it may be something that the other party cannot dispute.
Witness testimony can also help you. The witnesses may share that the car was violating traffic laws, which is why they were unable to stop in time. They can also testify that you were careful while you were crossing the road.
The police may have completed their investigation as well. Use their findings to bolster your case and demonstrate to the other party that you share no responsibility whatsoever for the accident that occurred.
Proving you were not at fault should not be that difficult if you were following the law when the accident took place.
Understanding What Insurance Applies
In Massachusetts, every car is required to have insurance. Applicable insurance coverage includes Personal Injury Protection insurance, known as PIP, which affords up to $8,000 in coverage for medical bills and lost wages. It is a no-fault coverage. The driver will also have bodily injury coverage of at least $20,000.
The driver may have more coverage from other household vehicles. The driver might be in the course of their employment, so the employer may be responsible. And the cars in your own home may also provide coverage that can be used in a pedestrian accident. Read more about car insurance here.
You should also provide health insurance information to every medical provider. Medical providers are keen to motor vehicle accidents, and will try to collect PIP and my attempt to recover from your bodily injury claim. But your health insurance is primary after the initial PIP payment. Use your health insurance as much as possible. Many co-pays and deductibles will be reimbursed by PIP.
Finding yourself in the role of the pedestrian hit by a car is far from ideal but remember that you have the power to hold the driver responsible for the accident. Partner up with us at Breakstone, White & Gluck if you need expert legal assistance. Contact us today and let us help you during your time of urgent need.