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Pedestrian & Vehicle Accident Facts

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Mixing pedestrians and vehicles can often be a dangerous combination. The well-known rule that the pedestrian has the right of way is most often accurate, but there are certain times when it’s not. In the event of a car accident with a pedestrian, determining who is at fault depends on the details of the incident.

All drivers have a duty of care. This means that the “driver is held to the same standard of what a normal, careful and prudent person would do in the same circumstances.” For example, drivers being cautious and responsible operate their vehicles with extra precaution when a pedestrian is nearby. A person may be driving the speed limit, but if he or she sees a toddler coming into the road, duty of care should lead the driver to slow down and come to a stop.

A pedestrian can be held liable for an accident when the vehicle is driving at the speed limit and the pedestrian acts in a careless way that makes it impossible for the driver to avoid hitting the individual. A pedestrian jumping out in front of a moving vehicle or walking the street at night wearing dark clothing are both examples of pedestrian carelessness. In these circumstances, a driver may be unable to prevent an accident, and therefore the fault would lie with the pedestrian.

There are times when a judge or jury may decide that the pedestrian and driver are equally at fault in an accident, indicating that both parties acted with negligence. Guidelines for accident liability differ from state to state, as does the amount in damages that each party is responsible for paying.

According to statistics gathered by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, over 60,000 pedestrians are injured in traffic accidents each year. 

Many pedestrian accidents lead to wrongful death or even vehicular manslaughter cases if the person who was hit died in the collision. But even those who survive typically deal with pain, suffering, and debilitating medical expenses for months, if not years.

If you are a pedestrian who is hit by a car, follow these steps after an accident has occurred to protect your health, your safety, and your legal rights.

1. Call the police.
Just like any type of accident, it is crucial to contact law enforcement as soon as possible. For one, calling the police will also notify emergency medical personnel to be dispatched to the scene of the accident, so any injured persons involved can begin receiving treatment immediately.

Contacting the police is also necessary from a legal standpoint. Once an officer arrives, all parties involved in the crash will be able to present their sides and get it documented. You will also have to fill out a police report there at the scene of the accident, or later at a nearby police station.

2. Gather general information.
After the authorities have been notified, and if you have determined that no one is seriously injured, try to gather as much basic information as possible about the crash. General information should include:
• Names and contact information of the people involved in the accident, and any bystanders or eyewitnesses (Note: Do not apologize to or discuss fault with the other party involved in the accident. What you say and how you act—even politeness—can be used against you in a future claim)
• Pictures of the accident site and any injuries or damage sustained
• Keep the clothes and other items present at the scene of the accident to be used as future evidence

It is also a good idea to write a brief summary or description of the events that led up to and occurred after the accident. Over time, the memory of the accident can get muddled or lost, so it is imperative to record what occurred as soon as you can in order to accurately recall the incident in the future.

3. Seek medical attention immediately.
Whether you were struck by a car, or were in the car when the accident occurred, it is important to seek the help of a medical professional right away. Even if you believe no serious injury occurred, seeing a doctor or physician is important for both your overall health and in making a compensation claim.

Oftentimes, symptoms of dangerous conditions, like internal bleeding or a concussion, are not evident at first, and get overlooked. Only by seeking medical attention can you be sure that you sustained no serious injuries.

And be sure to keep all paperwork and medical records to be used in the lawsuit.

4. Contact your insurance company.
If you were the driver involved in a pedestrian accident, then contact your insurance carrier immediately to inform them of the incident. They will guide you on what steps to take next.

If you were the pedestrian hit by the vehicle, be ready to answer questions from an adjustor from the driver’s insurance company. Again, do not discuss fault, make any statements, sign any forms, or agree to a settlement without first obtaining legal counsel. Also, request the name, address, and phone number of the insurance company.

5. Obtain legal representation.
Insurance companies frequently try to sidestep compensating victims of pedestrian accidents by claiming negligence, or proposing an unjustly low settlement offer. It is virtually impossible to ensure that you are getting fair compensation for your injuries without the help of a lawyer who has experience in dealing with insurance companies and pedestrian accident cases.

Contact LDM Law for a no-risk, no-cost consultation. For over 40 years, we have worked with our clients to ensure they receive the justice and compensation they deserve.