Here’s what to do, and how to determine fault, if you hit a pedestrian.
Significant injuries may result from traffic accidents involving pedestrians, and although the driver’s negligence is often obvious, there are certain circumstances in which the pedestrian has some responsibility. What you need know right now is this:
On the road, pedestrians are in a particularly dangerous position. 6,205 pedestrians died in highway incidents in 2019, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. (Take note that bicycle and electric scooter-related traffic accidents are not included in these statistics.)
It’s critical for drivers to know what to do right away after a collision with a pedestrian.
Additionally, drivers need to understand the fundamental principles of culpability, the methods used to recompense victims for their losses, and most crucially, how to prevent collisions of this kind in the first place.
What to Do Right Away Following the Pedestrian-Car Collision
Any mishap might cause you to feel sad, and that’s normal. Breathe deeply and concentrate on the following:
Priority one is safety. Get any wounded persons to a secure location right away. Unless there is a clear emergency scenario and you are well trained, avoid attempting to offer medical care.
Speak with a doctor. Next, call local law police and medical professionals. Give any first responders honest accounts of how the event occurred.
Mostly just exchanging contact information. Information should be exchanged with all accident participants. Exchange names, phones, emails, and insurance information if the pedestrian is not injured. Don’t engage in lengthy conversation with the pedestrian or others. Be cautious what you say since admitting culpability or saying words like “I feel so awful” might have an impact on future claims or lawsuits.
assemble evidence related to the accident. Take photographs of everything that can assist explain the circumstances around the collision, such as traffic signal equipment, crosswalks, and car damage. Identify and get in touch with any witnesses who may have observed what occurred. Find out more about gathering evidence after an automobile accident.
Keep any records that pertain to the incident. This contains any crash-related police reports, as well as any estimates or costs associated with car damage.
You may want to speak with a criminal defense lawyer right away if you believe you might be charged with a crime for the accident for a crime like drunk driving.
Who Is to Blame?
It should come as no surprise that major injuries and even deaths may occur when a car strikes a person at a faster speed. However, even at 10 miles per hour, a car may gravely hurt a pedestrian. The most important issue in these types of instances might be muddied by the imbalance inherent in these accidents—vulnerable pedestrian against huge, powerful truck. Who was at blame here? Typically, the law of negligence is used to assess culpability. In simplistic words, someone may be deemed “negligent” if they fail to use reasonable care given the circumstances.
In a collision between an automobile and a pedestrian, a driver may be at blame if they:
ignoring a stop sign or red light and striking a pedestrian at a crosswalk
failure to recognize or yield to a pedestrian who is in a crosswalk before impacting that individual
failure to reduce speed or stop in time to avoid striking a person crossing a road where foot traffic is allowed, and
driving too quickly in a parking area and/or failing to stop for a pedestrian in a parking area before running them over.
When a pedestrian is involved in a collision with a vehicle, they may be partly to blame if, among other things:
walking on a bridge or road, for example, when foot traffic is forbidden by law, or
unlawfully crossing the street.
What if both the pedestrian and the driver are at fault?
In a traffic collision, both the motorist and the pedestrian may be at blame. For instance, the pedestrian can be crossing the street against the stated speed limit while the motorist is doing so. Various nations approach this situation in various ways.
There are several states that adhere to what is known as a “pure contributory negligence” law, including Maryland and Virginia. This implies that the pedestrian cannot sue the motorist (or the driver’s car insurance company) for damages if they even somewhat contributed to the collision.
Some states adhere to the “comparative fault” principle. This implies that a pedestrian may be able to collect some damages even if they were partially at blame; but, if the pedestrian was more at fault than the driver, it may not be feasible to claim damages from the driver.
Keep in mind that an insurance adjuster will take the state’s shared blame laws into account when evaluating an injury claim and negotiating a settlement, even though contributory and comparative negligence statutes only apply in court.
Find out more about comparative and contributory negligence in vehicle accidents.)
Reports from the police and the insurance provider
A police officer is likely to arrive at the site of a pedestrian vs automobile collision, particularly if there are serious injuries. The responding officer will sketch the scene of the accident, speak with the affected individuals, speak with witnesses, and take into account other pertinent facts before writing a police report.
The police report may include the officer’s views or early conclusions about how or why the accident occurred, if any traffic offenses may have been related to the collision, and other elements that might affect who was at responsibility.
The insurance company will undoubtedly get a copy of the police report, but it will also carry out its own investigation into the accident, including how it occurred, the types and severity of the injuries sustained by people involved, the degree of the property damage, and other factors. Find out more about the process the insurance company uses to look into an automobile accident.
What Should I Do If I Don’t Agree With the Insurance Company’s Decision?
There are many actions you may take if you think the insurance company erred in finding you entirely at blame for the car-versus-pedestrian collision or in assigning you an improper amount of responsibility.
First, request a thorough explanation of the insurance company’s methodology. Make your own counterargument with as much evidence as you can gather to back it if you believe that their choice was based on inaccurate or insufficient information.
If the insurance company’s conclusion might subject you to a great deal of personal financial liability or if you just want assistance making things right, you might want to think about speaking with an expert attorney about your case. Later, more on this.
Find out more about denying responsibility for an automobile accident.
Accidental Injury Insurance for Pedestrians
If a pedestrian accident happens while they are at work, they are often covered by their worker’s compensation insurance, health and disability insurance, or both. Additionally, they can be protected by one or more motor insurance plans.
Auto Liability Insurance Payment
Typically, the motor liability insurance coverage of the driver or owner of the vehicle will cover claims made by injured pedestrians. Almost all jurisdictions mandate that drivers and vehicle owners have liability insurance to cover third-party property damage and personal injury. Recovery amounts depend on the accident’s cause and the specifics of the insurance coverage.
No-Fault Coverage Payment
Insurance companies are required to reimburse the medical costs and lost income of their own policyholders and certain other insured persons, regardless of who is at blame for the underlying, under the roughly a dozen “no-fault” jurisdictions. The term “personal injury protection” also applies to this (PIP).
In most no-fault jurisdictions, unless the pedestrian has their own auto insurance policy, the driver’s PIP insurance will also cover a pedestrian struck by the covered vehicle.
What Repercussions Might I Experience if I Hit a Pedestrian?
Your possible culpability, if you’re at blame, should be restricted to financial responsibility for the pedestrian’s injuries and other losses as long as you stop at the accident site and follow correct process thereafter (including when it comes to reporting the collision). And if you have enough auto insurance, it should kick in and cover the pedestrian’s medical expenses, lost wages, “pain and suffering,” as well as any accident-related damages. Find out more about the possible repercussions of running into a pedestrian.
What Would Happen If I Hit a Pedestrian with My Car but They Weren’t Hurt?
After a collision, there cannot be an insurance-related injury claim for the pedestrian and no grounds for a personal injury lawsuit against the motorist if the pedestrian is really unharmed. A personal injury claim needs proof of genuine damage.
But keep in mind that even minor bumps and bruises may be cause for an insurance claim for injuries, particularly if the pedestrian feels the need to visit the ER (or their doctor’s office) to ensure that nothing more severe is going on.
The most crucial thing to remember in this situation is that even if a pedestrian first seems to be alright after a collision with a vehicle, you can’t always count on that to be the case. Endorphins and adrenaline are often released by those involved in auto accidents, which may temporarily dull pain.
What if someone I hit with my car walked away?
The validity of whatever injury claim the pedestrian ultimately makes won’t likely be impacted by the fact that the pedestrian left the scene.
Endorphins and adrenaline, as mentioned above, may mask pain. As a result, a pedestrian who first seems unharmed and even flees the scene may later have severe agony. Learn more about when and why injuries from accidents don’t manifest themselves straight away.
In case you were wondering, depending on your state’s laws, a pedestrian may be required to stay at the site of a collision, exchange information, and do other actions. However, if you or another motorist was at fault for the collision, the pedestrian’s inability to do these things, even when required by the law, is unlikely to have any bearing on their ability to file a personal injury claim.
Is the Pedestrian Liable for Damages?
Even if the pedestrian broke the law at the time of the accident and was entirely (or mainly) to blame, it’s uncommon for the driver of a vehicle to pursue legal action against the pedestrian. That’s because, even when there is severe car damage, a pedestrian nearly invariably emerges from these sorts of collisions worse off than the driver.
If a motorist swerved to avoid striking a person who was jaywalking but caused significant damage to their car when they went off the road, it could make sense (and may be worth the effort and money) to pursue legal action against the pedestrian. Here, the motorist may have suffered serious injuries and thousands of dollars in property damage, while the pedestrian, who was most certainly at fault for the collision, escaped harm.
The following are the primary negatives to any scenario in which a vehicle may sue a pedestrian:
Even if the case is successful, it may be difficult to collect any judgment since it may be difficult to establish that a pedestrian was more at fault for an accident than the motorist and because the pedestrian may not have many assets or insurance options.
Pedestrian Accident Prevention
Understanding that “defensive driving” include being aware of persons who walk, ride a bicycle, use a wheelchair, rollerblade, rollerskate, ride an electronic scooter, and play in the road is the greatest approach to prevent pedestrian accidents. Young children and elderly people should get special care since they can be less aware of other cars on the road, more prone to wander outside crosswalks, and less likely to pay attention to traffic signals. Visit the NHTSA’s Pedestrian Safety webpage to learn more.
Do I Require a Car Accident Attorney?
Even if it’s very obvious that you caused a vehicle accident in which a pedestrian was injured, as long as you have auto insurance, you usually won’t need to employ your own attorney. That’s because your insurance provider will look into the collision and handle the claim without getting in touch with you if the pedestrian files an injury claim with them.
Additionally, in the event that the pedestrian sues you for damages, your insurance provider has a “responsibility to defend” you against any lawsuit stemming from an accident that is covered. This obligation includes paying for legal representation in court; of course, the attorney also represents the insurance company’s interest in settling the claim for the wounded pedestrian for the least amount feasible.
You’ll have to pay for any attorney you retain if you struck a pedestrian and don’t have automobile insurance; often, this means retaining a personal injury defense attorney who bills by the hour. Find out more about how personal injury attorneys are compensated.
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