According to the CDC, more than 7,000 pedestrians were killed in 2020 on US roads in accidents involving a motor vehicle. That’s one death every 75 minutes. There were also more than 100,000 emergency room visits of pedestrians involved in non-fatal auto accidents. If a serious accident were to occur, an exposed pedestrian doesn’t have the same safety protections in place as someone inside a vehicle, but they do have strong legal rights. Because pedestrian accidents are such a common occurrence, it’s important to know what to do if you or a loved one is hit by a car while walking.
Preventing a Pedestrian Accident
There are some things that a pedestrian can do to help prevent a serious accident with an automobile. They can use crosswalks, wait for walk signals, be aware of their surroundings, wear highly-visible clothing, and make eye contact with the drivers before crossing the road. But, despite taking these precautions, many serious accidents involving a pedestrian and a vehicle is the driver’s fault. Crashes occur because the driver wasn’t paying attention or because they were violating a traffic law at the time of the accident.
If you’ve been hit by a car while walking, your first step should be to call 9-1-1. You want to call the police to the scene as soon as possible and have a medical team evaluate any injuries. If you are unable to call for help on your own, ask someone nearby to call 9-1-1 for you. An officer will prepare a police report that details what happened, who was involved, if there were any bodily injuries or property damage, any conditions that led to the accident, and who was at fault. Be sure to record the police officer’s badge number and the police report number as you’ll need that information later.
Ask the Driver to Stay at the Scene
One of the most common mistakes that pedestrians make after a serious accident is to let the driver leave the scene. If you can, ask the driver to stay while you call 9-1-1. Take down their license plate number as well as the make and model of the car, just in case they leave before the police get there. And of course, hit-and-run is a crime. Witnesses might take photos or be able to identify a hit-and-run driver.
Seek Medical Attention
If you’ve been hit by a car while walking, you should always see a medical professional. Even if you think that your injuries are not that serious, you could be suffering from internal injuries or head trauma that won’t materialize until hours after the crash. Adrenaline can cover up any pain that you’re experiencing, making you think that you’re okay – when you’re not. Injuries that pedestrians most commonly suffer in a serious accident with an automobile include:
- Cuts, scrapes, bruises
- Sprained and torn ligaments
- Fractures to the arms, legs, ribs, hips, or pelvis
- Broken bones
- Organ damage
- Spinal cord injuries
- Traumatic brain injuries
If the paramedics do not take you directly from the scene of the accident to the hospital, go to urgent care or see your doctor as soon as possible.
Take Photos at the Scene
It’s a good idea to take photos and videos of the accident scene. These will be used as evidence in your personal injury case. If you are not able to take pictures, ask someone nearby to help you. You should capture the location of the accident, any road signs or traffic signals, the weather and traffic conditions, as well as any injuries or property damage. Make sure you take photos of the vehicle that hit you and anything else that can show what happened and who was at fault.
Ask For Information
The police officer at the scene should include the driver’s license number, contact information, and insurance details in their police report. But it’s still a good idea to get these details for yourself. If you’re able to, ask the driver for their name, address, and phone number. Take down the information from their insurance card. Be sure to record their license plate number, the vehicle identification number, as well as the make, model, and color of their car. If there are any witnesses to the accident, ask for their contact information, as well. You can also check nearby homes and businesses to see if they have security cameras; they may have captured the accident on camera.
Don’t Post About Your Accident on Social Media
After a serious accident, you may be tempted to share your photos or your story on social media. But don’t do it! Insurance companies and opposing law firms will go through your social media accounts. They’re looking for any information that can be used against you in court. They’re trying to take the blame off their client or make your injuries appear less serious than they are.
Hire an Experienced Pedestrian Accident Attorney
If you’ve been in a serious pedestrian accident, it’s important to act quickly to preserve your legal rights. An experienced pedestrian accident attorney can help you understand the legal options available. An attorney can gather evidence, file a claim, and communicate with the driver’s insurance company while you focus on recovering from the accident.
Pedestrians who are hit by a car can suffer physical injuries, mental harm, and major financial losses. An attorney can help you receive compensation for any economic or non-economic loss you have endured.
If you’ve been in an accident in California, our experienced team of San Franciso-based pedestrian accident attorneys at Bostwick & Peterson can help you build your case and reach a successful resolution. Contact our San Francisco offices today for a free consultation by filling out this online form or calling 888-831-8448.