I Was Hit by a Car: What Do I Do Now?

The Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) predicts that over 6,500 pedestrians were killed on U.S. roads in 2019. Deaths involving pedestrians hit by a car rose by 67% at night and 16% during the daytime in the last decade. 

"In 2019, according to GHSA, pedestrian deaths were up 5 percent compared to the year prior, with 6,590 pedestrians killed, the highest number since 1988. That total translates to 2.0 deaths per 100,000 people, which is the highest since 1997," states Car and Driver

Whether you or a loved one were hit by a motor vehicle while walking, biking, skateboarding, or waiting for the bus, the immediate steps you take are some of the most important. 

Immediate Steps to Take If Medically Possible 

There are steps you should take if you're in a pedestrian accident, but if you're severely injured, skip seeking medical assistance. When possible, do the following: 

  • Move out of the street to a safe location. 
  • Keep the driver at the scene of the accident, or jot down their license plate number if the driver leaves the scene. 
  • Call the police and remain at the scene.  
  • As a pedestrian, it's important to make your voice heard with the police. Give the officer(s) that respond to the scene a complete account of the accident. 
  • Take photos and/or videos of the accident scene. 
  • Collect all of the driver's information (the police report can help). 

The immediate steps following your accident are the most important, but these are just the start of the steps to follow when hit by a car. You'll want to follow four additional steps to ensure that you are made "whole" after the accident. 

4 Steps to Take if You or a Loved One was Hit by a Car

1. Seek Medical Assistance

If you're injured in the accident, seek medical attention immediately. The immediate steps listed above should only be followed if you're medically stable. If moving or taking the steps above can lead to further injuries, call an ambulance. 

Your health and well-being are a top priority. 

Even if your injuries aren't severe, you'll want to go to your primary care provider as soon as possible. 

Insurance adjusters will check to see if you received medical attention for your injuries. If you don't see a doctor for your injuries, they will assume you weren't "that hurt." 

2. Document Your Injuries

As a pedestrian, you're unprotected in an accident. Pain and suffering come from the injuries you sustain. Seeking out medical attention is important because it allows you to start to heal, but you'll also be creating a record of your injuries. 

The emergency room or your doctor will document your injuries, providing proof that the accident was the cause of your injuries. 

You should also take a personal inventory of your injuries: 

  • Write down where you feel pain and what you're feeling 
  • Document visual injuries with pictures or videos 
  • Document any clothing that has been torn with visual evidence and keep the clothing as evidence 

You'll want to make notes of your injuries and report them to the medical staff as soon as possible. If your injuries are long-lasting, be sure to write down and document the difficulties you have as a result of the accident. 

Ask for copies of your medical records, keep all medical receipts, and be sure that there's a paper trail of your injuries. You can provide this information to your lawyer to strengthen your lawsuit if you do pursue legal damages.

3. Contact the Insurance Company and File a Claim

Even if you walked into the middle of traffic, do not discuss fault with the police or the insurance company. Depending on the state you live in, you may need to contact your own health insurer if you reside in a non-no-fault state. 

Claims may need to be filed against multiple persons or municipalities. 

You may need to file a claim against: 

  • The driver. In nearly every case, when a motorist hits a pedestrian, it's the driver's fault. You can file a claim against the driver's insurance company. 
  • Local municipality. In some circumstances, the local city or town may be responsible, at least in part, for the accident. A broken traffic light or a street layout may be used to file a claim against the insurer. 

Due to the complex nature of a pedestrian accident, you may want to seek legal counsel.  

4. Seek Out a Pedestrian Accident Lawyer

Either before or after filing your claim, you should contact a lawyer. The lawyer can help build a case against the driver or the municipality, or they can help from the very start in determining negligence. 

Lawyers will take on the burden of proving fault and determining which party or parties to file a claim against. 

If you or a loved one was hit by a car, call a pedestrian accident lawyer as soon as possible. 

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