Pedestrian Accidents: What You Should Do to Protect Your Legal Prospects
May 16, 2017
Many people think they know what to do if they’re in a car accident. However, do you know what you should do if you’re involved in an accident as a pedestrian?
Taking the correct action when you’re a pedestrian in an accident can greatly increase your chance of a good legal outcome. Hopefully, you will never find yourself in this dangerous situation. However, it’s better to be prepared and know what to do after the accident.
1. Protect yourself from further harm
If you’ve been hit by a car while walking or riding your bike, more than likely you were in a street or crosswalk at the time. It’s important to get out of the way of traffic to prevent further injury to yourself and others.
However, you should only move if you can do so safely. If you suspect you have a serious injury–like a broken bone–it’s best to stay put until you can get someone to help you.
2. Stay calm
Being in any sort of accident can feel incredibly stressful, jarring, or upsetting. At first, you might experience shock. Gradually, the pain of your injuries and the trauma of what just occurred may seem overwhelming.
Do your best to stay calm. Take deep breaths to reassure yourself. It’s important for you to communicate with the driver. You will also need to talk to the police when they arrive.
Even if you’re feeling very angry, it’s not a good idea to yell at the driver. Try to rein in your emotions as much as possible. You will need a clear head for what comes next.
3. Call the police and insist that the driver stays at the scene
You might think that you’re not hurt very badly. In the aftermath of the accident, some pedestrians even feel that they are the ones at fault.
However, you cannot file an accident report after the accident has happened. Call the police at the scene and wait for them to arrive. Insist that the driver waits too.
An accident report is simply the documentation of an accident. If you need to pursue legal action against the driver, an accident report is necessary to a good outcome.
4. Collect information and photo evidence
Just as you would for an accident between two cars, you will need to collect the driver’s information including his license and insurance information. If a bystander helps you, be sure to get his name and contact information too.
Then, use your phone to take plenty of pictures of the accident scene. Snap pictures of the intersection, signs, crosswalk, and anything else you can see. With the rapid rate of growth in some areas, the location may not look the same in a few days. Even if you don’t need the pictures later, it’s best to capture these images right after the accident.
However, you shouldn’t share these pictures yet or post to social media. Keep them saved in your phone until you have a chance to talk to a lawyer.
5. Make a statement
When the police arrive, the situation might suddenly feel hectic again. The officers may interview the driver first while you’re examined for injuries. If you’re hurt, the police may insist that you go to urgent care or the hospital immediately.
However, it’s important that your statement is recorded as part of the accident report. If your injuries aren’t severe, take a moment to talk to the officer in charge of the accident report. Share your perception of the events and ask to verify what is recorded.
If you’re concerned about the content of the accident report, be reassured that it can be amended after the fact. Your lawyer can help with this later.
6. Seek medical attention
Once the accident report has been complete, you should go see a doctor right away. Even if you don’t think you are badly hurt, you need to be checked out.
Why? First of all, adrenaline masks pain. Your body may be covering up damage that will surface painfully in a few hours or days. Second, if you are injured you will need the doctor’s evaluation for insurance claims and possibly your case.
Remember, the most important thing at this point is to make sure that you are okay. Even if seeing a doctor feels unnecessary, you need a thorough medical examination.
7. Contact the driver’s insurance company
After you’ve sought help from a physician, it’s time to call the driver’s insurance company. At this point, do not give them more than the basic information until you have talked to a lawyer. The only information the insurance company needs to know is the name of the driver, the time and location of the accident, and that you were hit as a pedestrian.
Again, the insurance company will probably want to hear the full story. Don’t give it to them yet. Once you’ve started your claim, you can move on to the final, most important step.
8. Contact a lawyer
You might think that you can handle the insurance company on your own, but this is a much more difficult task than many people think. Even if you haven’t decided whether or not to pursue legal action, it’s essential to contact a lawyer to understand your rights.
Sadly, too many pedestrians involved in accidents try to make claims on their own and wind up getting less than they deserve.
At Dreaden & Cox Attorneys at Law, we have experience advocating for people who’ve been in this tough situation. If you were in an accident as a pedestrian or want to learn more, please contact us.