I Was a Pedestrian Hit by a Car—What to Do Now?Personal Injuries
A car can inflict severe, lasting trauma when it collides with a pedestrian. People on foot who get hit by cars can suffer severe injuries that disrupt their lives, destroy their finances, and leave them in debilitating pain.
If a car hit you or someone you love, you may recover significant compensation.
Here’s a summary of what to do to protect your rights and why it pays to hire an experienced pedestrian accident lawyer immediately.
The Unexpected Dangers of Walking Near a Road
You shouldn’t have to put your life on the line every time you go for a walk. But the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration’s (NHTSA’s) most recent annual report tables and Traffic Safety Facts demonstrate that crossing or walking along a street can put you in significant danger.
In one recent year:
- An estimated 54,769 pedestrians sustained nonfatal injuries when a car hit them.
- Car accidents left an estimated 6,516 pedestrians with fatal injuries.
- Eighty-two percent of pedestrian fatalities occurred in urban areas.
- Eighteen percent of pedestrian deaths occurred in rural areas.
- One out of four pedestrian fatalities involved a hit-and-run driver.
By any measure, these are troubling statistics. Most people consider walking the safest way to get around. But as the data reflect, careless motorists and other hazards put pedestrians at risk of severe and fatal injuries far more often than you might imagine.
Seek Immediate Medical Attention
The top priority for any pedestrian who gets hit by a car should be seeking immediate medical care. In many cases, that will happen automatically — someone will call 911, and an ambulance will take the victim to the nearest hospital.
But sometimes, a pedestrian might initially believe they’re okay after a car knocks them down. Still, that’s no reason to refuse medical care. The body’s stress response to a violent trauma can mask severe pain. And some potentially life-threatening injuries may not show immediate symptoms. Skipping care in those situations can lead to catastrophic — and entirely preventable — health consequences.
The only safe option after getting hit by a car is to seek medical attention immediately, no matter how you feel. Do not ignore aches and pains or try to tough them out. To avoid severe (and even fatal) worsening of your condition, ask a qualified medical professional to examine you and begin treatment of your injuries as soon as possible.
Do What Your Doctor Says
Preserving your right to maximum compensation requires taking care of yourself. That means not just seeking immediate care, but also following your doctor’s orders and taking reasonable steps to heal.
So, remember to:
- Keep your follow-up appointments.
- Schedule physical and psychological therapy and any other treatment your doctor recommends.
- Request timely prescription refills.
- Recuperate at home until the doctor says you can go back to work.
- Avoid activities your doctor believes may delay your recovery.
- Share information with your physician about any pain, functional or emotional problems, or impairments.
No one expects you to be Superman. But you can’t ignore your treatment plan if you want at-fault parties and insurance companies to pay for your losses.
Hire a Pedestrian Accident Lawyer
After addressing your immediate medical needs, hire a lawyer as soon as possible. You don’t have to wait until you heal from your injuries or begin struggling financially to call a lawyer for help. It’s never too early to have a pedestrian accident attorney advocating for your interests. As discussed below, the sooner you hire a lawyer, the greater your odds of recovering maximum compensation.
There’s no need to worry about whether you can afford a lawyer. Pedestrian accident attorneys offer free consultations to people in your situation. They also routinely represent their clients on contingency, meaning their fee consists only of a percentage of the money they succeed in recovering. You pay nothing upfront and nothing unless the lawyer gets you results.
Carefully Report the Accident to Your Insurance Company
Your insurance — particularly any auto, health, or long-term disability policy — may cover some of your losses after a car hits you. If so, you’ll likely need to give your insurer prompt notice of what happened to preserve your ability to file a claim. A pedestrian accident attorney can review your policies to determine what you must do to keep your insurance company informed.
You may need to satisfy the notice requirements for your insurance if a hit-and-run accident or an uninsured or underinsured driver injured you. In those circumstances, your auto insurance policy’s uninsured/underinsured motorist (UI/UIM) coverage (if you have it) may serve as the primary source of compensation for your losses.
If you notify your insurer of the accident before you’ve hired a lawyer, keep in mind that an insurance company will seize on any reason you give them not to cover your losses. Stick only to the bare-bones facts. Do not get drawn into discussing how you might have avoided getting hit. And be careful not to say something that could jeopardize your eventual claim.
- Never say the accident was your fault (even if you think you should have seen the car coming). People often blame themselves when bad things happen, but your insurer will hear any acceptance of fault — even an inaccurate one — as a reason to deny your claim. Let a skilled lawyer address questions of legal responsibility with the insurer on your behalf.
- Never say, “I’m okay” or “I’m fine.” People often downplay their injuries to avoid worrying others. Still, your insurer could take any statement like that as an admission that you’re not as badly hurt as your medical records reflect or that you don’t deserve full compensation. Leave it to your lawyer to explain your injuries and other damages to an insurance company.
It can be especially important to exercise caution about what you say if you have a potential UM/UIM claim. In that situation, your insurer essentially becomes the at-fault driver’s liability carrier and your adversary. From the moment you notify them of the accident, they’ll scour the evidence for any reason to refuse payment. They may even pressure you to disclose information you don’t have to give them.
Immediately hiring a lawyer can protect you from getting drawn into difficult and risky conversations with your insurer. An attorney can take over all communications with your insurance company, shielding you from their tactics and eliminating the possibility of you saying something inadvertent that damages your claim.
Beware of Talking to Someone Else’s Insurance Company
The driver who hit you should carry liability insurance to cover your losses. So might others who could face liability for your injuries. If so, a representative from someone else’s liability insurance company may call you, knock on your door, or visit you in your hospital room, asking to chat about the accident.
It may seem like a reasonable request, but be careful. If a representative from someone else’s liability insurer wants to talk to you, it means they recognize they could owe you compensation and are looking for ways to avoid paying. They will ask you loaded questions, record your answers, and try to use anything you say to them against you.
The safest course of action is usually to decline to speak with an investigator from the at-fault driver’s or someone else’s insurance company until you have a lawyer representing you. They may pressure you to talk immediately, but that’s because they know their chances of getting you to say something harmful to your claim will vanish once you have an attorney watching out for your interests.
Never Agree to a Quick Settlement Without Consulting a Lawyer
The driver who hit you or a liability insurance company may quickly offer to pay for your losses. Do not agree to an offer or sign anything until you’ve consulted an experienced pedestrian accident lawyer. Any offer made directly to you by a party who may have liability for your losses will almost certainly fall short of the amount the law entitles you to receive and that a lawyer could get for you.
Liability insurers make lowball offers in hopes you’ll agree to them before you realize the value of your claim. They condition payment on you signing away your right to sue for more money later. Saying yes to a quick offer could leave you without the funds to pay your expenses and rebuild after your accident.
Act Quickly to Preserve Your Rights
Your legal rights as a pedestrian accident victim have an expiration date called the statute of limitations. It’s your deadline to take legal action against parties who owe you compensation. You will lose your right to make a claim if you miss it.
The length of the statute of limitations for a pedestrian accident claim varies from state to state and may depend on who has liability to you. Sometimes, the deadline for taking legal action can expire just months after the accident, and it’s rarely more than several years.
The most reliable way to ensure you meet all deadlines applicable to your pedestrian accident claim is to consult an attorney immediately. Lawyers know how to preserve your rights and keep your claim on track.
What a Pedestrian Accident Lawyer Can Do for You
A pedestrian accident lawyer’s job is to get you as much money as possible for your losses. You may have valuable rights to compensation after getting hit by a car.
Through an insurance claim or lawsuit, a knowledgeable attorney may secure payment for your:
- Medical and other accident-related expenses
- Lost earnings and job benefits
- Future financial losses due to temporary or permanent disability
- Physical pain and discomfort
- Emotional suffering
- Diminished quality and enjoyment of life
Lawyers representing pedestrian accident victims can take various steps to protect and advance their clients’ rights.
Depending on your case, a skilled lawyer can:
- Investigate the accident to determine how it happened and who should pay you damages.
- Analyze insurance coverage to identify all potential sources of insurance payments you could claim, including coverage under your policies and those of a liable party.
- Handle all dealings with insurance companies so that you don’t have to worry about paperwork, feeling pressured, or saying the wrong thing.
- Evaluate your losses to ensure that any action taken on your behalf seeks the maximum compensation allowed by law.
- Negotiate settlements of your claims with defense lawyers and insurance adjusters to get you full payment whenever possible.
- Go to court to pursue your claim before a judge and jury.
A pedestrian accident lawyer can also serve as your trusted advisor during this difficult time. While you focus your energy on healing and rebuilding, an attorney can watch your back, guide your decisions, and ensure you get fair treatment and the maximum compensation possible.
Contact a Pedestrian Accident Lawyer Today
A pedestrian accident often inflicts significant physical, emotional, and financial difficulties. Pedestrians who get hit by cars frequently struggle with lasting pain, disabilities, and crushing expenses. The law entitles them to compensation but doesn’t always make getting it easy.
Taking the steps outlined above can protect your rights and put you in the most favorable position to secure payment for your losses. Crucially, hiring a lawyer immediately shields you from aggressive insurance tactics and prevents you from making potentially costly mistakes. So don’t delay. If you or your loved one recently sustained injuries as a pedestrian who got hit by a car, contact a pedestrian accident lawyer for your free case evaluation.