The fact is accidents happen. If this happens, you should know what to do and what steps to take next. This is especially important if you are involved in a pedestrian accident.
Consider the following – you go out for a morning walk, and suddenly, a vehicle jumps the curb and sends you flying across the road. Your body impacts the pavement, and you know – you’ve been hit. The next thing you know, there are people around you, sirens in the distance, and chaos.
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The Growing Issue of Pedestrian Accidents
According to information from the NHTSA, more than 4,700 people will pass away due to pedestrian accidents every year in the U.S. While this is shocking, over 66,000 pedestrians suffer injuries that require treatment from medical professionals each year.
While there are several causes for these potentially fatal pedestrian-related accidents, some of the most common reasons that the accidents are fatal occur when the following happens:
- Pedestrians failing to walk in the non-driver areas
- Time of day (walking during the night rather than during the day)
- Hazardous weather conditions
- Age (very young and very old people are at higher risk of a pedestrian accident)
- Walking or driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol
Other statistics related to pedestrian accidents are worth mentioning too, which illustrate how big of a problem this is. These statistics include:
- Pedestrians account for around 14% of all traffic fatalities around the country
- Drunk driving and the use of alcohol are considered contributing factors in almost 50% of all pedestrian accidents that result in a fatality
- About a fifth of pedestrian accidents are also considered a hit and run accidents
- Around 75% of pedestrian fatalities occur in the dark and at night
- 20% of all pedestrian fatalities occur at crosswalks or intersections
- Most pedestrian accidents take place in urban areas or cities (particularly areas that don’t have automated crosswalks or sidewalks)
- Almost half of all pedestrian deaths involve a car or vehicle that is traveling at 40 miles per hour or less
- 25% of pedestrians who are involved in a car accident at speeds of 25 miles per hour or less will still suffer serious injuries
The total number of pedestrian deaths and injuries around the country is steadily growing. Several factors contribute to the increase in pedestrian injuries, including the fact that there are more pedestrians on the road. Increased cases of distracted driving and even distracted walking can also contribute to increased pedestrian injuries.
Who Is Considered Liability in Pedestrian Accidents?
The vehicle’s driver that strikes the pedestrian is typically liable for the accident. Pedestrians and drivers are required to exercise reasonable care when they are on the road. For drivers, this will include remaining alert and watching for pedestrians who are crossing the road, especially if they are near a crosswalk. Drivers also must take special care when driving around children, who are people who are physically smaller and not expected to fully understand the rules of the road. This duty of care for pedestrians includes making sure they look both ways before crossing the street and using crosswalks properly, at the right time.
Usually, if you are a pedestrian and are struck by a vehicle, the driver’s car insurance or your own will cover the cost of medical bills or other expenses. While not driving when the accident occurred, your car insurance policy will typically cover the damages.
Keep in mind, though, that this all depends on the type of insurance policy you have and who is determined to be at fault for the accident. You can purchase no-fault insurance or a traditional fault-based policy. The rules that go along with each of these can be somewhat confusing. Because of this, it is always in your best interest to get in touch with a pedestrian accident attorney before you file an insurance claim.
In some situations, the driver will be considered at fault for the pedestrian accident. But this doesn’t mean that this is always the case. In some situations, a pedestrian who isn’t paying attention may be just as much at fault as a driver who isn’t paying attention. Because of this, it’s important that you always pay attention to your surroundings, no matter if you are a pedestrian or a driver.
Steps to Take After a Pedestrian Accident
What you do at the accident scene and the hours and days after can impact what happens in the long run. Keep reading to know what steps to take and what to do to protect yourself and your ability to recover compensation after a pedestrian accident.
Remain Calm and Assess Your Injuries
After being struck by a vehicle, staying calm is important. While this may be challenging – after all – you have just been hit by a car – it’s an important step that you must take. Remaining calm will help you determine if you have been injured and allow you to take stock of the accident scene.
Once you have collected yourself, you should figure out if you are injured. Are the injuries preventing you from moving? You should be able to tell quickly if you can move. Try to get out of harm’s way (the street) if you can. If you cannot move, ask someone nearby to contact the authorities and wait for help to arrive.
Contact the Authorities
There’s a good chance that people who saw the accident have already contacted the authorities. In some cases, the driver who hit you will do this. If no one has called the police, ask them to do this.
You need the authorities there, no matter if you are hurt or not, so they can create and file an official report about the accident and situation. Contacting the police usually means that emergency services will also be notified, which means there will be someone on the scene to check you for injuries and provide emergency treatment. In some situations, you may be injured and not realize it because of shock, so be sure to get checked out no matter how you feel. In many cases, the adrenaline in your body will mask any pain or injuries you have sustained.
Collect Information from the Driver Who Hit You
Even if you don’t think you have been injured, you shouldn’t let the driver leave. Be sure you get their name, contact information, and other information that may be beneficial down the road. It’s a good idea for everyone involved in the accident to stay at the accident scene so that they can speak to the authorities.
Even though this requires you to speak to the driver who struck you with their vehicle, you don’t have to discuss fault. Also, never apologize or say anything that may shift your blame. Keep things polite but professional.
While it may seem unlikely that you would accept fault after being struck by a vehicle, even saying something like “It’s fine” or “it may be my fault, too,” can be taken as an admission of fault. All this can be used against you down the road if your case ever goes to court.
Collect Evidence Related to the Accident
It’s important to gather as much evidence as possible after a pedestrian accident occurs. Part of this involves taking pictures. Be sure to take pictures of the site of the accident, where the vehicle hit you, speed signs, and other signs that may be nearby that could be used as evidence if your case goes to court. It is also smart to get the names and contact information of anyone who saw what happened. This will ensure your attorney (if you hire one) can get in touch with them at a later date and get a statement or have them testify on your behalf.
Make sure that you don’t throw out or wash the clothes you had on when you were hit by a car. These can be used as evidence to show how you were hit and the severity of your injuries. It’s also important to keep other items that may be used as evidence, like a phone or another device damaged by the accident.
Sometime soon after the accident, try to write down or even record yourself speaking about all the accident details. This includes the moments leading up to the accident, when it happened, and the aftermath. Doing this as soon as possible is important since your memory may fade and you may forget important details. Make sure that you are as detailed as possible when you describe what happened because even if something seems insignificant to you, it can have a huge impact on the decision the court makes down the road.
Be Evaluated by Medical Professionals
In most cases, an ambulance will be dispatched to the accident scene. This is going to allow you to get evaluated right away. However, if this does not happen, you should go to the hospital to seek medical attention.
Be sure that the doctor you visit notes any bruises, scrapes, shock, or cuts, along with any other condition you sustained because of the accident. This is invaluable evidence that is needed to prove an accident claim.
Dealing with Insurance Companies
If the driver of the vehicle that struck you did not have insurance, then your own uninsured motorist policy may kick in. In either case, you will be questioned by the insurance adjuster regarding what happened. Be sure that you are truthful when answering questions regarding the pedestrian accident, but never discuss issues related to the fault. You shouldn’t make recorded statements or agree to a settlement without talking to a lawyer first.
Stay Organized to Help Your Case
It’s important that you remain organized. This will help you get the best possible outcome for your case and situation. When creating a file of all accident-related documentation, be sure it includes:
- The police report: A police report is invaluable evidence that carries a lot of weight when it comes to an accident claim. The report will include the opinion of the investigating officer regarding who was at fault, a visual diagram of the accident, statements from witnesses, and citations that the driver was issued.
- Witness statements: It doesn’t matter if witness statements are derived from your own efforts or the police report; they are invaluable when it comes to determining fault.
- Driver statements: Be sure that you record anything the driver says that may be an admission of fault.
- Medical records and costs: Your medical records, including admission to the emergency room, are considered important evidence. You can use copies of your medical bills to verify your injuries and related costs.
- Lost wages: You can request that your employer provides you with a written statement of the amount of time you lost from work.
- Clothing: As mentioned above, you should hold on to the clothing you wore during the accident. Don’t wash it and keep it as-is to use as evidence in your case.
Hire an Attorney to Help with Your Pedestrian Accident
If you have been injured in a pedestrian accident, it’s a good idea to hire an attorney who has prior experience with these types of cases. They can review the facts and help determine what needs to be done to help you recover compensation. This is invaluable and something that you should not overlook.
Take the time to find a pedestrian accident attorney who has handled similar cases in the past. This is going to give you the best chance of a successful outcome and recovering the compensation you deserve. Each case is unique, so you need to find an attorney who will take the time to learn about the details of your case to help build a defense strategy that will ensure you get the most compensation possible.