What Should You Do If You or a Pedestrian Is Hit by a Vehicle?
- Seek Medical Assistance Immediately
- Document Your Injuries
- Call the Police
- Do Not Discuss Fault on the Scene or to the Motorist's Insurance Company
- Contact Your Insurance Company
- Seek Professional Legal Assistance
Nothing beats a long, brisk walk. Whether it's an integral part of your exercise routine, getting from point "A" to point "B" or simply a relaxing stroll to collect your thoughts, walking has many benefits. Unfortunately, we sometimes forget that walking can be just as dangerous as driving a vehicle. You must always be on the lookout for potential hazards in your path, especially cars being driven by inattentive motorists.
Pedestrian Fatalities: Alarming numbers
According to a research study conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration for the years 2000 - 2009, an average 11% of all fatal traffic related accidents involved pedestrians. A total of 4,092 pedestrians were killed in traffic accidents in 2009 alone. The full text of this study can be found at: http://www-nrd.nhtsa.dot.gov/Pubs/811394.pdf
While there are a number of causes for these fatal pedestrian related accidents, the most common fatalities can be attributed to the following:
- Pedestrians not walking in non-motorist areas
- Hazardous weather conditions
- Time of day (walking at night versus the day)
- Age (the very young and the very old)
- Driving and/or walking under the influence
In many cases, the motorist is at fault in a pedestrian related accident. However, this is not always the case. An inattentive pedestrian can be just as much at fault as an inattentive driver. You should always follow safety precautions when walking. Some great pedestrian safety tips can be found on the Highway Safety Research Center's website at: http://www.hsrc.unc.edu/safety_info/pedestrian/safety_tips.cfm
As a pedestrian, I was hit by a vehicle. What should I do?
There are few things in life that can be more traumatic than being a pedestrian involved in a vehicle related accident. The struck pedestrian will not only suffer the obvious physical injuries, emotional and psychological issues may arise as well. In many cases, time off from work resulting in financial hardships may also be experienced if the injuries are severe enough. Being struck by a motor vehicle also inherently interferes with your ability to carry out your normal daily self-care tasks such as sleeping, eating, dressing, bathing, or caring for your home or family.
Many pedestrians that are involved in vehicle-related accidents are knocked unconscious upon being struck while others may be simply dazed. However, if you are conscious after being struck by a vehicle, you will most likely be in physical or mental shock. Regardless of the situation, as soon as you are able to think clearly, there are certain steps you must follow post-accident to ensure your legal rights.
The list below includes some common sense steps to follow once you have realized you have been struck by a vehicle. These steps should be followed immediately to protect yourself, your legal rights, and your future.
Seek Medical Assistance Immediately
If you have been struck by a vehicle and are unconscious, this responsibility falls on the motorist or witnesses (if available). However, if you are conscious after being struck, the responsibility is yours. The physical and emotional shock that your body will most likely be suffering post-accident may cloud your judgment and your ability to recognize pain and injury. Call 911 for immediate assistance and receive a full medical evaluation even if you think you feel fine.
Document Your Injuries
Upon contacting medical services, take a personal inventory.
- What areas of your body are in pain?
- Are there any visual injuries?
- Are any of your clothes torn? If so, torn garments may indicate an area of the body that is injured but may not be in pain at this time.
- Feel your face, head and extremities. Is there any blood? You may be bleeding but your body may not be able to "process" the accompanying pain due to shock.
Make note of all injures and pain. Report them to medical staff (paramedics) as soon as they arrive.
Call the Police
It is advisable to make notes that list the events that led up to the accident. However, the likelihood that you'll be able to emotionally or physically recall information is low. Even if you're able to create a chain of events you may not have paper or pen to write them down.
While your insurance company or attorney may require a police report that documents the accident, this is also the perfect time to explain exactly what happened prior to being struck. Memories may fade due to injury or the simple act of naturally forgetting specific details. Documenting each step that led to you getting struck as soon as possible with a police officer is extremely important.
Do Not Discuss Fault on the Scene or to the Motorist's Insurance Company
Regardless of the facts that show the events that led to you being struck by a vehicle were the fault of the motorist or yourself, you most likely are not fully aware of the law when it comes to pedestrian accidents. Anything you say on the scene or to the motorist's insurance company will be used against you if possible should legal proceedings commence post-accident. You should only discuss your version of the accident with your attorney, medical personnel, and your insurance company. These are the only two entities that are looking out for your best legal interest.
It is also worthwhile to note that you should not speak at length with the motorist's insurance company, as they do not have your best interests in mind. Do not sign any documents that they may send you or accept any settlement offered. Simply request the name, address, phone number, and claim number from the company. Only offer the contact information for yourself, your attorney and your insurance company (if applicable) to the motorist's insurance company.
Contact Your Insurance Company
If you currently have car insurance, contact them immediately. Even though you were a pedestrian in the accident, most car insurance policies cover these types of accidents. You will need to do this to ensure that you'll be able to make medical or disability claims "post-accident".
Seek Professional Legal Assistance
A pedestrian that is struck by a vehicle will most likely have more severe injuries than occupants in a car. These injuries may lead to physical, emotional and financial difficulties that will seriously impact your life. The motorist's insurance company will most likely attempt to place fault on you and deny any claims you file. If they do offer you a settlement, it will most likely be grossly undervalued and not take into account any difficulties that you may encounter in the future. By acquiring a qualified personal injury attorney you will be ensuring the protection of your legal rights and livelihood.
If you or a loved one is the victim of a pedestrian / vehicle accident, contact the lawyers at Sweeney Law Firm to learn your legal rights and see if you have a case. There is no cost or obligation for us to evaluate your case. The Sweeney Law Firm works on a contingency fee basis. There is never a fee unless a recovery is made for you.