As a pedestrian, you expect a certain level of security when you travel on local sidewalks—or even when you walk on the road in areas without sidewalks. Cars should give you a wide berth as they travel through the area
Unfortunately, some drivers do not exercise adequate care. Whether they blast through a crosswalk or ignore you walking at the side of the road, they may end up hitting you. You could suffer severe injuries before you even have a chance to react.
What do you do next? The steps you take following a pedestrian accident may have a bigger impact than you realize. By taking steps to protect yourself, you can increase the odds of making a full recovery and improving your ability to recover compensation for the injuries you sustained.
1. Report the accident.
Hit and run? Report the accident. The police may have access to traffic camera footage or other information to help them find the driver that caused the accident. Did the driver who caused your accident stop? Do not let that driver talk you into failing to report the accident immediately.
Drivers may have any number of reasons why they do not want to report the accident. Most notably, they may not want to deal with the points on their licenses or the potential legal impacts of reporting an accident. Sometimes, you may have an accident with a driver who drove while inebriated. That driver might worry about the possibility of losing their license or even going to jail for causing an accident while intoxicated. You might have an accident with a distracted driver who already has more than enough points on their license.
You might even get a sob story about a driver in an absolute rush who simply has to leave the scene of the accident immediately due to other responsibilities or needs.
Regardless of why the driver does not want to report the accident, make sure that you call 911 to summon the local police to the scene of the accident.
Accurately report what you observed.
Did the car speed around the corner? Did a speeding vehicle bump into you after driving too close to the sidewalk or a crosswalk? Did a driver ignore the pedestrian right of way in a crosswalk, resulting in your accident? You can share what you observed with the officer that responds to the scene.
Do not make guesses or cast the driver in a negative light when you did not actually observe something. Instead, give the responding officer a reasonable idea of what you feel happened at the time of the accident.
Avoid accepting liability for the accident or brushing off the actions of the liable driver.
Sometimes, people seriously injured in an accident will try to brush off what happened. You may not want the other driver to feel guilty for something that they did not do on purpose. You might worry that you will seem abrasive if you leave liability resting on their shoulders.
If, however, the driver caused your accident, you need to leave liability where it belongs. Brushing off liability for the accident, even to “make the other driver feel better,” can leave you facing or sharing liability for the incident, which may ultimately result in a loss of the full compensation you deserve.
Collect evidence for yourself, if you can.
After a pedestrian accident, you should not do anything that might put you in further danger or worsen the injuries you have suffered. You may, however, want to collect some basic evidence.
The police officer that arrives at the scene will collect some evidence related to the incident. However, that officer may feel more concerned about identifying the liable party quickly, getting you medical attention, and clearing the scene so that traffic can continue to flow smoothly. To help protect your right to a claim later and ensure that you have the evidence you need, consider collecting some photo evidence from the accident scene.
You may want to include:
- Identifying information from the driver who caused the accident: a photo of their vehicle, license plate, insurance card, and driver’s license
- A photo of the scene of the accident
- Photos of your injuries
- Contact information for witnesses who saw the accident, including anyone who may have responded to help you
2. Get medical attention promptly.
You have several options for seeking medical attention following a pedestrian accident. You may need to go straight to the emergency room, especially if you have obviously serious injuries.
On the other hand, if you have less-serious injuries, you may choose to:
- Go to a local urgent care center
- Follow up with your primary care physician
Regardless of whether you feel fine immediately after the accident, do not give in to the urge to ignore your need for medical attention. If you wait to get medical attention, you could end up suffering from severe injuries that could impact you later, often more than you expect. Failure to seek proper medical attention could actually lead to worsening your injuries. By seeking prompt medical care, you can raise the odds of making a full recovery.
Furthermore, seeking medical attention provides you with a clear record of when the accident took place and what injuries you sustained as a direct result of that accident. You may, for example, need to prove that back and neck injuries or brain injuries actually occurred during the accident, especially if you have pre-existing injuries or previous injuries that the accident has made worse.
Work with your doctors to develop a care plan and follow it carefully.
Talk to your doctor about what you need to do to maximize your odds of making a full recovery after your pedestrian accident. Your care plan will lay out specific steps you may need to take: procedures you need to have, for example, or things you need to avoid doing while recovering to allow your body to heal.
Follow your doctor’s advice carefully. Do not ignore the restrictions your doctor places on you, even if it seems frustrating. In some cases, if you do not follow your care plan, the insurance company that covers the driver may try to claim that you have limited your own recovery and that, therefore, you bear liability for any limitations or additional complications you sustain as a result of ignoring those instructions.
Suppose, for example, that you break your leg in the accident. Your doctor tells you that you cannot bear weight on the leg for at least six weeks following surgery, but you choose to start trying to walk around early. As a result, you do more damage to your leg, which requires further surgery.
The insurance company may refuse to pay for those additional procedures, the extra time off work, and any permanent limitations you suffer from the accident. Furthermore, it may result in you having a permanent limp or more pain than you would have had if you had given your leg time to heal before trying to put weight on it.
Likewise, suppose that you suffer a head injury, and your doctor recommends avoiding sporting activities while you recover from those injuries. You may ignore those instructions and go back to playing touch football with your friends, assuming that you can keep yourself safe enough. Unfortunately, in the course of a game, you suffer further trauma to your head. Your traumatic brain injury symptoms last longer than anticipated, and you find yourself with new gaps in both short-term and long-term memory. The insurance company may substantially limit what it will willingly pay out after discovering that you, however inadvertently, worsened your own injuries.
On the other hand, if you suffer complications and setbacks as a natural progression of your recovery, through no fault of your own, the insurance company may need to provide compensation for those related expenses in addition to the medical bills you have from your initial medical treatments and those immediate injuries.
Check into what your health insurance coverage includes as you develop your care plan.
As you work with your medical care providers to develop an effective care plan for your injuries, take a look at your medical insurance and what it might cover. Your injuries do not obligate the insurance company to pay your medical bills directly. Rather, you will need to make arrangements to pay your medical bills yourself, though you can pursue compensation through a personal injury claim after your pedestrian accident.
Your health insurance can make it easier to manage your immediate medical bills. In addition, your health insurance will help pay for your longer-term medical expenses, if you have lingering injury symptoms that last long after the initial accident. Dealing with those impacts can prove just as costly as the immediate medical bills after the accident. Knowing how much coverage you have, and what it includes, can make it much easier to manage many of those challenges.
Make sure, in particular, that you check into what your health insurance covers with regards to specific types of care you may need.
For example, you may want to take a look at:
- Physical or occupational therapy coverage
- Coverage for durable medical equipment
- Whether your insurance will cover in-home care or a stay in a long-term care facility
- In-network versus out-of-network providers, especially specialists who focus on the areas of care you need
- Whether you need prior approval from your insurance company for specific procedures
Knowing what your insurance will cover can make it easier to decide exactly what procedures will work best for your specific medical needs. You may also find that the more you know about your insurance coverage, the better you can shape your decisions about the care you need or where you pursue it.
3. Contact a lawyer as soon after your accident as possible.
Do not wait to contact a lawyer after a pedestrian accident. You may find yourself with many questions about your legal rights, including how you can best pursue compensation for the expenses you faced after your accident. The insurance company that covers the liable driver may not provide you with a reasonable settlement offer—or might even try to prove that you caused the accident. A lawyer, on the other hand, can help fight for you.
A lawyer can help investigate the pedestrian accident.
Did you know that in some cases, more than one party may bear liability for a pedestrian accident? You may, for example, discover that a driver on the clock caused your accident, which may mean that the driver’s employer shares liability for the accident. You might discover that a mechanical problem caused the accident, which could leave the vehicle manufacturer liable.
A lawyer can investigate all those critical details, giving you more information about exactly what caused your accident and, therefore, who bears liability for the injuries you sustained and the losses you faced.
A lawyer can help break down the full compensation you deserve.
Insurance companies often try to get by with issuing low settlement offers that do not really reflect the compensation the injured victim deserves. On the other hand, a lawyer can help take a look at your real expenses and losses and put together a claim that more accurately reflects your real rights.
A lawyer can represent you through the negotiation process or if you have to go to court.
You do not want to have to handle those interactions with the insurance company on your own. Often, they seem to do little but cause a high degree of stress. A lawyer can take over those interactions for you, allowing you to focus on the important elements of your medical recovery.
Dealing with a pedestrian accident can prove difficult. However, by working with a personal injury lawyer, you can increase the odds that you will get the compensation you deserve.