5 Steps To Follow After Your Pedestrian Accident
As a pedestrian, you have a right to expect that drivers will yield to you when you cross or walk on the side of a road. Unfortunately, drivers do not always exercise appropriate care around pedestrians and in pedestrian-heavy areas. When they fail to exercise that care, accidents happen, and pedestrians suffer severe—even fatal—injuries.
Did you get hit by a car as a pedestrian? Following some simple steps immediately after your pedestrian accident can help protect your health, your legal rights, and your finances. Read on to learn more from our experienced pedestrian accident lawyers today.
Step One: Report the Accident
Call 911 to report the accident immediately. If you cannot do so, ask someone nearby to make the call. 911 operators will dispatch a police officer and first responders to the scene. Reporting the accident ensures you will have access to emergency medical treatment that could save your life. It also ensures that you will have an important police record of when and how the accident took place, and of the names and contact information of the parties involved. Knowing how to get a police report after an accident can always be helpful in proving/determining liability.
Step Two: Make Medical Care Your Top Priority
Always seek appropriate medical care immediately after getting hit by a car as a pedestrian. Allow an EMT to check you over, take a ride in the ambulance to the emergency room if the EMT recommends it, and always follow up within 24 hours with your primary care doctor or at an urgent care clinic.
Seek medical care even if you do not believe that you suffered serious injuries. Some potentially life-threatening injuries do not show immediate or noticeable symptoms. The adrenaline your body releases in the wake of a pedestrian accident can also mask severe pain. Doctors can spot any injury you suffered and take steps to treat it before it worsens.
Pedestrians struck by cars often suffer a traumatic brain injury, for example. Though quick action, doctors can often take steps to minimize the harm done by that injury, saving you from potentially life-altering health complications and other difficulties. Similarly, a pedestrian who suffers severe road rash in a collision may need immediate treatment to protect against dangerous infection and permanent, discolored scarring.
Seeking medical treatment also creates a potentially crucial record of exactly when your injuries occurred, how severe they were, and what a doctor recommended as a treatment. These records can prove vital in seeking compensation for your injuries from your own insurance company, or the at-fault party.
Finally, follow all recommendations you receive from doctors and physical therapists following any pedestrian accident. Your doctor may, for example, recommend rest for a few days, or staying off of an injured limb while it heals. You may need extensive physical therapy as you rebuild strength and flexibility in the impacted parts of the body. Some pedestrian accident victims, such as those with spinal cord injuries or who lost limbs as a result of pedestrian accidents, may need to go through substantial occupational therapy to learn how to live with the limitations caused by their injuries.
Following medical recommendations to the best of your ability accomplishes two key goals. First, it increases your odds of making as full a recovery as possible from your injury. Second, it protects you against an insurance company or defense lawyer claiming that you made your own injuries worse.
for more information about specific types of injuries review some of our other resources from our experienced personal injury attorneys.
Step Three: Take Pictures and Get Contact Information, If You Can
Never put your personal health or safety at further risk after getting hit by a car as a pedestrian.
However, if you can move safely around the accident scene or ask questions, then you can help yourself by taking some simple steps to collect and preserve important on-scene evidence, such as:
- Photos (or video) of the accident scene, including the driver’s vehicle and license plate, the road surface, the surrounding area, and any road signs or traffic signals. There is no such thing as too many accident scene pictures.
- Photos of your injuries.
- Names of and contact information for any witnesses.
- A photo of the driver’s license and insurance card of the driver that hit you.
Keep in mind that the police officer who responds to your pedestrian accident will also collect evidence, including witness statements and information about the driver’s insurance, so you have a backup in case you cannot take these steps yourself. Again, your health and safety take priority.
Step Four: Contact Your Insurance Company
If you carry personal injury protection (PIP) insurance as a registered vehicle owner, then that insurance may cover you against your pedestrian accident injuries (even though you did not suffer them as a driver or passenger in a vehicle). If you do carry PIP insurance, then notify your carrier right away of your injuries. Likewise, if you carry health insurance, then you may want to contact your health insurance carrier to let it know about the accident and your injuries.
Calling your insurance company has two purposes: to give them timely notice of your injuries, and to refresh yourself on your insurance coverages. In telling your insurer about the accident, stick to the facts. Do not get into a discussion of assigning blame for the accident on anyone. Leave that discussion to your lawyer.
While you have a representative of the company on the phone, you may want to ask questions about:
- How your insurance company will handle payment while you pursue a pedestrian accident claim. Some insurance companies will expect you to pay for your non-covered portion of medical bills even if someone else has legal liability for your injuries. Virtually all insurance companies will also expect reimbursement of any costs they pay that you later recover from a legally liable party.
- Your out of pocket maximum. How much should you expect to pay out of pocket for your medical expenses in a worst-case scenario? Your insurance policy may have a set maximum amount that you will have to pay annually. Keep in mind that this amount usually covers a specific calendar year, so depending on when you suffer your injuries and how long your medical treatments last, you may have to pay that out of pocket amount each year. Knowing this amount can help you plan for those costs (such as by setting money aside in a health care savings account).
- What coverage your insurance company will offer for specific aspects of your care. Does your insurance offer coverage for durable medical equipment? If you faced amputation, for example, you might need to know how much coverage your insurance company will offer for prosthetic devices or what you need to do to get those devices approved by the insurer. Keep in mind that prosthetic devices come in a wide range of options: many have much greater technological advancement than others, but they often cost a great deal more than less-advanced devices. Does your insurance company limit the number of physical therapy sessions you can have in a year? Does it provide coverage for occupational therapy? What about psychological therapy? Ask what coverage your insurance offers for various scenarios based on your doctors’ estimate of your future care needs. A solid understanding of that coverage can help you prepare for upcoming medical bills.
- How much should you expect to pay in copays and deductibles? In addition to understanding the coverage your insurance company will offer, take the time to ask about your copays and deductibles, if you do not already have a solid understanding of those numbers. You need to know how much you can expect to pay for your medical bills over time. If you have a percentage-based copay, make sure you prepare for those bills as you consider the procedures you need.
Step Five: Get in Touch with an Experienced Pedestrian Accident Injury Attorney
An experienced pedestrian accident injury attorney’s job is to help you understand and enforce your legal rights to compensation for your injuries. The sooner you get in touch with an attorney, the better your chances of preserving important evidence and of recovering the maximum compensation you deserve.
The specific services a pedestrian accident injury attorney may provide for you can vary depending upon the circumstance of your accident and injuries. However, as a general proposition, an attorney can:
Identify all parties who have a potential legal liability to you. Chances are good that the driver of the car that hit you has a legal liability to you for your injuries. However is not necessarily the only party with potential liability. Other individuals, companies, or even government agencies, may share liability for your injuries and losses.
- Did you get hit by a commercial vehicle? If so, then the driver’s employer may have legal liability for any injuries you suffered, especially if the employer failed to train or supervise the employee.
- Did a mechanical failure cause the accident? The owner of the vehicle, if different from the driver, may share liability for injuries you suffered if the owner did not properly maintain the vehicle. The manufacturer of any vehicle part that failed may also have legal liability for your injuries if that part had a defect that contributed to the cause of the accident.
- Did a vehicle strike you at an intersection known as a hotspot for accidents? If so, then the government agency responsible for designing, constructing, and maintaining the intersection may face legal liability to you for injuries and losses.
Experienced pedestrian accident injury attorneys know the importance of conducting a thorough evaluation of your accident to identify all parties that may have contributed to its cause. After all, the greater the number of parties that have a legal liability to you for your injuries and losses, the more potential sources of payment your attorney may have to pursue on your behalf.
Collect evidence to prove liability. You need evidence to prove a legal claim for compensation after a pedestrian accident. Experienced pedestrian accident lawyers understand the type and amount of evidence you need, know where to find it, how to get their hands on it, and how to use it to your best advantage. Attorneys for pedestrian accident victims often work with skilled investigators and accident reconstruction experts who know the little details about an accident that can help you prove your case.
Handle negotiations on your behalf. Attorneys for pedestrian accident victims spend a significant portion of their time negotiating with defense lawyers and insurance companies over settlements. A settlement is an agreement between an injured party (you) and a party with legal liability (say, the driver), in which the injured party receives a payment in exchange for releasing the liable party from further financial obligation. Most pedestrian accident injury cases end in a settlement (the rest generally go to trial), but that does not mean it is easy to negotiate a top-dollar settlement.
Trust your claim to an experienced pedestrian accident injury attorney who has the skill and street smarts to get you the best financial outcome possible for your claim.
Steer you clear of potentially costly mistakes. Did you know that the insurance company that covers the liable driver may contact you immediately after the accident? The insurance company may offer you a settlement in those early days, before you fully understand what your medical expenses will look like or what limitations you will face as a result of your injuries. Or, the insurance company may ask you lots of questions, hoping you will say something that undermines the value of your legal claim.
An attorney protects you against making the mistake of jumping at an offer of “easy money” (which is almost always far less than what you actually deserve), or of falling for insurance company tactics designed to get you to say something unhelpful to your legal rights.
Following the steps above can help you protect your legal rights, financial future, and health after suffering injuries in a pedestrian accident. To learn more about your legal rights to compensation after a car hits you as a pedestrian, contact an experienced pedestrian accident injury attorney today for a free case evaluation.
The Levin Firm
1500 John F. Kennedy Blvd,
Two Penn Center, Suite 620
Philadelphia, PA 19102