Nearly every child is taught to stop and look both ways before crossing the street. Unfortunately, even those who cautiously heed this advice are still at risk of being involved in a motor vehicle-pedestrian accident.
The Governors Highway Safety Association reports that over a recent ten year period, pedestrian traffic fatalities in the United States increased by 53 percent. In the most recent year, pedestrian fatalities accounted for 17 percent of total traffic deaths, accounting for a 12 percent increase from the first year of the study. For comparison, during that same period, all other traffic-related fatalities increased by only 2 percent.
While advancements in motor vehicle safety features provide additional protection to vehicle occupants, pedestrians remain vulnerable to serious injuries in traffic accidents.
As a pedestrian, after experiencing an accident involving a motor vehicle, you need to take immediate action to protect your health, safety, and legal rights.
Keep Calm, but Spring Into Action
Of course, some individuals may sustain serious injuries in a pedestrian accident that prevent them from taking action at the scene. Immediately following an accident, it is most important for pedestrians to preserve their health and safety. If you have suffered serious injuries, remain calm and still until emergency responders arrive.
You should call the police immediately or, if you cannot do so, ask a companion or bystander to contact law enforcement. Ensure that the other driver remains on the scene of the accident until the police arrive. Allowing the driver to leave the scene of the accident may make it difficult to reconstruct the circumstances of the accident when providing information for a police report.
When the police respond to an accident, they are required to compile an official police report that should cover all relevant accident details. However, you may also want to gather additional evidence at the scene that may support a later claim for damages, should you decide to pursue legal action.
Helpful evidence may include photos of the scene of the accident, including vehicle damage, street signs, traffic signals, crosswalk markings, and other helpful landmarks. You should record notes summarizing your recollection of the events leading up to the accident. Locate any security or surveillance cameras that may have captured the incident.
Seek out eyewitnesses, and obtain their contact information. Ask the driver for his or her identification, registration, and insurance information.
However, you should limit your communications with the driver to simply gathering their contact information. Refrain from making statements that may be construed as admissions of fault—your words or actions following an accident may be used to undermine a claim for damages. Do not apologize for talking on your phone or not noticing that the vehicle had a green light when you stepped off the curb. Save these details for a conversation with your lawyer at a later date.
In the aftermath of an accident, many victims experience an increase in adrenaline that may mask serious injuries. Avoid making statements that indicate you are not injured. Even if you feel that your injuries are only minor, be sure to seek a medical evaluation.
Some serious and even life-threatening injuries may not immediately exhibit symptoms, and internal injuries may require a professional diagnosis. By seeking medical attention as soon as possible, medical records can serve as documentary evidence of any injuries resulting directly from the accident.
When a driver flees the scene of an accident before the police arrive, you may not obtain their contact or insurance information. According to the American Automobile Association, hit-and-run accidents accounted for almost 20 percent of all pedestrian fatalities in the United States in a recent ten-year period.
If you are the victim of a hit-and-run accident, try to record as many details as you can remember about the vehicle. The vehicle’s make, model, color, and license plate number will be helpful for later attempts to identify the driver. investigation of the accident. Witnesses’ observations may also help gather information about a driver who fled the scene.
Maximize Your Recovery by Maintaining Complete Records
Thorough recordkeeping is a useful tool for helping to establish the value of a victim’s claim for damages.
Economic damages are accident-related impacts that have a specified dollar amount. For example, ambulance rides, emergency room visits, and hospital stays. Medical bills, including physicians’ fees, X-rays, medications, physical therapy, or chiropractic treatment may also be included in a claim for economic damages.
Even if your health insurance covers your initial medical expenses, keep receipts for any health care costs you incur. Injured victims may be entitled to seek reimbursement for covered medical expenses from the driver’s insurance company.
Economic damages may also include lost wages if accident injuries prevent a victim from working during their recovery. If your injuries require you to miss time from work, be sure to record the hours you couldn’t work and the wages you missed out on. If you own a business, note any economic opportunities that you cannot capitalize on while recovering from your injuries.
Injured victims may also be entitled to non-economic damages to account for other impacts the accident has on their lives. Noneconomic damages serve to compensate victims for the consequences of an accident that affect their quality of life.
Accidents, especially those resulting in injury, may cause emotional or mental distress that remains long after the accident is over. Severe injuries that cause long-term disability or permanent disfigurement may warrant an award of noneconomic damages. Record any hardships that interfere with your day-to-day activities and well-being.
How Can an Experienced Pedestrian Accident Lawyer Help?
As you recover physically, mentally, and financially from an accident, you should consider consulting with an experienced pedestrian accident lawyer. A lawyer can help injured victims identify impacts of the accident, calculate costs incurred, and estimate future expenses. Attorneys can be instrumental in identifying additional potentially liable parties.
For example, perhaps the driver’s steering wheel locked up, which caused the accident to occur. In these circumstances, victims may have a claim for damages against the vehicle’s manufacturer or a mechanic who improperly repaired the vehicle. On the other hand, maybe another driver made an unsafe maneuver, causing the driver who hit you to take evasive action, which led to the crash. The other driver may share liability for the accident.
Victims who are entitled to file a pedestrian accident claim are subject to the statute of limitations. Individuals must file a claim within a specified time period, or they risk losing their right to seek compensation. Experienced pedestrian accident attorneys can ensure victims meet the procedural deadlines required by law, ensuring they preserve their right to file a claim.
In addition to the childhood advice of looking both ways before you cross the street, the National Safety Council provides the following pedestrian safety tips:
- Focus your attention on walking. Do not use your phone or headphones while walking along city streets.
- Avoid walking along roadways while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
- At night, stay visible to drivers by wearing bright clothes and using a flashlight or reflectors.
- Observe traffic rules applicable to pedestrians. Use the sidewalk, pay attention to traffic signs, and cross at marked crosswalks if possible.
If you follow these safety tips but still end up in the path of a careless motorist, by following these steps, you can protect yourself. Proactively collect accident information, keep thorough records of your out-of-pocket costs and other losses, and contact our experienced pedestrian accident attorney.