I was a pedestrian hit by a car. What do I do next?
Walking can be a fun and relaxing activity, especially in a beautiful state like South Carolina. But a driver’s careless actions can turn your pleasant walk into a nightmare if you’re hit by a vehicle. In many cases, we meet pedestrians who were walking safely on a sidewalk or in a crosswalk when a negligent driver crashed into them, causing serious injuries.
What Should You Do After Being Hit By A Car (Or Other Vehicle)?
The two most important things to do are to figure out if you’re injured and see if you’re still in danger of being hit again – if you’re still on the road, that could be a serious concern. We have, unfortunately, met some people who were hit by one car, then struck by another while trying to get their bearings. If you can, try to check yourself for injuries while keeping an eye out for other approaching vehicles. If you’re not in too much pain, try to get up and get out of the roadway as soon as you’re able.
Ideally, the driver who hit you should pull over, stop their car, turn on their flashers, and get out to see if you’re all right. Unfortunately, we don’t always live in an ideal world. Sometimes drivers panic and speed off, leaving you to fend for yourself. If this happens, try to get the car’s license plate number, or at least as much of a description of the car as you can.
Call 911 and report the accident right away, even if you think other people might be calling. Request an ambulance so you can get your injuries checked out. This is a good idea even if you don’t think you were hurt very badly – sometimes the extent of your injuries doesn’t become clear until later.
While waiting for the police and ambulance, exchange contact information with the driver who hit you, and get their insurance information. If you can, try to take pictures of the crash scene, as well as your injuries, in case you need them later. If you spot other witnesses, make an effort to get their contact info as well.
Be careful what you say when discussing the crash, as sometimes your words can be used against you later. Avoid saying you think the accident was your fault, even if you do. We meet people all the time who think it was their fault a car hit them, and in many cases, they’re wrong. Also, it’s not your job to decide who was at fault while dealing with your injuries. You should, of course, tell the police what you remember about the accident and how it happened. They will eventually produce a police report, which you should obtain a copy of.
Does the police report say who was at fault? Not necessarily. Sometimes the officer will issue a citation to the driver if they feel there is enough evidence to do so, but not always. In some situations, the officer may not be sure whose fault it was so they may not issue a ticket. This does not mean no one was at fault, it just means more investigation is needed.
Now, if you’ve been hurt, you will probably end up with some hospital bills, and you may have to miss work because of your injuries, too. You can file a claim with the driver’s insurance policy. However, it’s a good idea to talk to a lawyer first.
If you’ve already filed a claim, you may get a denial letter listing some reason or reasons the insurance company isn’t going to pay your claim. Frequently they may say they don’t have to cover it because the accident was your fault. If this happens, there are three things to keep in mind:
- Just because the insurance company says the accident was your fault when they don’t want to pay your claim, doesn’t mean it was actually your fault.
- Fault is not always a simple one-or-the-other situation. In some accidents, both parties contributed to causing the accident. South Carolina uses modified comparative negligence statutes that actually allow for the injured party to collect damages, even if they are partly at fault. There are some limitations – you have to be less than 51 percent responsible for the accident, and your award will be cut by whatever percentage you are found to be at fault.
- Although both parties may share responsibility, the majority of pedestrian accidents are caused by negligent drivers. You have no idea what the driver told their insurance company. However, you can be certain that the insurance company is inclined to avoid paying claims to save themselves money. If the driver says you recklessly jumped in front of their car, the insurer may think that’s a fine reason to deny your claim.
There are other reasons insurance companies may deny claims. Sometimes they may say that a certain circumstance isn’t covered by the policy, or some of your bills aren’t covered. Regardless of why you’re claim was denied, the best thing you can do is seek experienced legal advice before you do anything else. In many cases, a skilled attorney may be able to reason with the insurance company and convince them that paying your claim is a better option than going to court.
On the other hand, the insurance company may make you an offer instead of denying the claim. Frequently, accident victims think their problems are over when this happens. But be careful – when an insurance company quickly makes you an offer, they may not have your best interests at heart. Remember that they want to pay as little as possible. Often the initial offer is for less than your claim is actually worth. Have they taken into account not only your current healthcare bills related to the accident but also any future costs? What about your lost income from missing work, your pain and suffering, or the possibility that you may develop chronic pain or a permanent disability from your injuries?
Slow down and don’t agree to anything immediately. If the insurance adjuster is pressuring you to accept the offer right away, tell them that you are still dealing with your injuries, but you will look it over and get back to them soon. Then, you should contact a South Carolina personal injury attorney right away. They will be able to advise you on how much your case should be worth, and whether the insurance company’s offer is adequate. Unfortunately, in many cases, it isn’t. But don’t worry – an offer is just that, an offer. You have the right the ask for more compensation for your injuries, but you shouldn’t have to do so yourself.
Arguing with an insurance adjuster can not only prove stressful but also difficult. Most people aren’t experts on insurance or personal injury law and simply don’t have the knowledge to negotiate with an insurance company. Keep in mind that the insurance company employees are usually well-versed in their policies and will seem to have all the answers. The best thing you can do is acquire the services of an experienced pedestrian accident lawyer. They will have the skillset and knowledge to go one-on-one with the insurance company and fight to secure the settlement you need to get on with your life.
What Kind Of Compensation Can You Get For A Pedestrian Accident?
Sadly, pedestrian accidents often result in very serious injuries. When you get in an accident while riding in a car, you will have protective features like a seat belt, an airbag, and the fact that you’re surrounded by the heavy metal of the car’s body. You might get hurt anyway, but these things do reduce the risk of severe injury.
Unfortunately, a person walking down the street doesn’t have any of these protective options. So if you get hit by a car, your injuries may be extensive. Common injuries include broken bones, soft tissue injuries, head injuries including concussion and traumatic brain injury (TBI), internal bleeding or bruising, and lacerations.
You should discuss this with your attorney, but here are some possible damages you may seek compensation for:
- Cost of medical care, including hospital stays, doctor visits, follow-up care like physical or occupational therapy, costs of traveling to medical appointments, assistive devices like crutches, prescription medication, etc. Again, it’s important to take into account the need for future care if you are not yet fully healed from your injuries.
- Lost wages from the time you couldn’t go to work after being hurt.
- Pain and suffering. It’s hard to know how to put a dollar amount on what may be a large amount of pain and discomfort, but your attorney can help you arrive at an appropriate amount to ask for.
- Loss of companionship, if a loved one was killed in a pedestrian accident.
Common Causes of Pedestrian Accidents
There are many factors that can contribute to pedestrian accidents. Here are some things to be aware of when walking:
- Be extra cautious of drivers making left turns. They’re about three times more likely to hit a pedestrian than those turning right, most likely due to the fact that their attention is divided – they’re looking both ways, and in the case of intersections, trying to see if they have the light. It’s easy to miss a pedestrian in this situation.
- Distracted drivers are a threat to pedestrians in general. Left-turning drivers are distracted by trying not to hit other cars, but other motorists may just be looking at their phones, digging in a fast-food bag, fixing their hair, or otherwise not paying attention. The only thing you can do about this as a pedestrian is to stay alert and on the lookout for vehicles heading in your direction.
- Distracted pedestrians can also contribute to these accidents, and this is a factor you can do something about as a walker. Just as you wouldn’t want a driver staring at their phone while going down the road, you should also leave your phone in your pocket and pay attention to your surroundings, especially at intersections or any time you cross or get close to a roadway.
- Unmarked crosswalks at intersections can also increase the risk of a driver striking a pedestrian. These are common in many of the smaller towns and rural areas in the state that may not have a large budget for road maintenance. Although the intersection itself should remind drivers to slow down and look for walkers, having a marked crosswalk seems to serve as a further reminder. Again, the lights or signs at an intersection may remind motorists of the need to look for other cars, but the crosswalk reminds them to look out for people on foot.
- Impaired driving also increases the risk of pedestrian accidents. Motorists are advised to choose a designated driver or take a ride-share to help reduce this problem, but it’s also a good idea to be extra vigilant when walking in areas around bars or clubs.
- Speeding, rolling stops, and other situations where drivers disregard traffic laws can all contribute to pedestrian accidents. Children are more likely to be hit by cars due to their small size, and motorists who don’t slow down in school zones are more likely to strike someone.
- Malfunctioning traffic lights are another potential issue. Sometimes the fault lies not with the driver or the pedestrian, but with the traffic signals they both rely on to know when to go. In some cases where a faulty light is an issue, an accident victim may be able to seek compensation from the part manufacturer or maintenance company.
- Finally, remember that while most pedestrian accidents are the fault of a negligent driver, sometimes the walker’s negligence is actually to blame. Pedestrians can cause accidents by darting into traffic or choosing to walk on the road when there is a convenient sidewalk or pedestrian area nearby. Sometimes these are not available, as in the rural or small-town areas we discussed earlier. But if there is a sidewalk or pedestrian area handy, try to spend most of your time there when you’re not crossing a street.
If you or a loved one have been injured as a pedestrian, don’t wait – please contact Auger and Auger right away for a free consultation. We’ll look over your case and explain your options for seeking compensation. There’s no obligation. If you do choose to let us represent you, we have a zero fee guarantee – if we don’t win your case, we won’t charge you any fees. Call 855-969-5671 or contact us online today.