Pedestrian Accidents

Car Accidents With Pedestrians

This is what you should do and how to determine responsibility if you collide with a pedestrian.

Accidents where pedestrians are involved can result in significant injuries. While it’s often clear that the driver is at fault for such accidents, there are instances where the pedestrian might also bear some responsibility. Here’s the initial guidance:

Pedestrians are particularly susceptible when on the road. In 2019, a total of 6,205 pedestrians lost their lives in traffic accidents, as reported by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. (It’s important to note that these statistics don’t encompass accidents with bicycles or electric scooters.)
For drivers, understanding the immediate steps to take after a pedestrian accident is crucial.
Drivers should also familiarize themselves with the fundamental principles of assigning blame, how compensations are determined for injuries and damages, and most importantly, how to prevent such accidents from occurring in the first instance.

What to Do Immediately After the Pedestrian-Car Accident

Feeling distressed following any accident is normal. Take a moment to breathe deeply and pay attention to the following steps:

Prioritize safety. Begin by moving any injured individuals to a safe location. Refrain from providing medical treatment unless there’s an obvious urgent situation and you possess appropriate training.

Seek medical assistance. Proceed to contact medical professionals and inform local law enforcement. Provide accurate descriptions of the accident’s circumstances to any first responders.

Exchange contact details, but avoid excessive interaction. Share information with all parties involved in the accident. If the pedestrian is physically able, exchange names, phone numbers, email addresses, and insurance particulars. Limit conversations with the pedestrian or others. Making admissions of fault or expressing guilt might impact potential claims or legal actions, so exercise caution with your words.

Collect evidence about the incident. Capture photographs of pedestrian crossings, traffic signals, vehicle damage, and any other relevant elements that can help reconstruct the accident’s narrative. Obtain names and contact data of potential witnesses who observed the event. Explore more about the types of evidence to gather following an automobile accident.

Preserve any pertinent documents linked to the accident. This encompasses any police reports generated in connection to the collision, as well as estimates or invoices for vehicle repairs.

If you potentially face criminal charges due to the accident, such as driving under the influence, it might be wise to consult a criminal defense attorney shortly after the incident.

Who Is at Fault?

When a vehicle collides with a pedestrian at higher speeds, it’s not surprising that severe injuries and even fatalities can occur. However, a pedestrian can sustain significant harm even when a vehicle is traveling at just 10 miles per hour. The inherent contrast in these types of accidents, pitting a vulnerable pedestrian against a large and powerful vehicle, complicates the primary question in such cases: Who bears the responsibility?

Typically, the determination of fault relies on the principle of negligence as defined by the law. In simplified terms, an individual who fails to exercise reasonable caution in a given situation could be labeled as “negligent.”

In a car-versus-pedestrian accident, a driver might be deemed negligent (and thus at fault) for actions such as disregarding a red light or stop sign and colliding with a pedestrian within an intersection, neglecting to notice or yield to a pedestrian in a crosswalk and subsequently striking them, failing to decelerate or stop within a reasonable timeframe before hitting a pedestrian who is crossing a road where pedestrian traffic is allowed, or driving at excessive speeds within a parking lot and not yielding to pedestrians.

On the other hand, a pedestrian could share some degree of fault (at least partially) in a car-versus-pedestrian accident if they were, for instance, walking in an area where pedestrian access is prohibited by law, such as a bridge or freeway, or illegally crossing the street.

What If the Driver and the Pedestrian Are Both at Fault?

Both the driver and the pedestrian can bear responsibility for a traffic accident. For instance, the pedestrian might be crossing the road illegally while the driver is exceeding the posted speed limit. This situation is approached differently in various states.

Certain states, like Maryland and Virginia, adhere to a principle known as “pure contributory negligence.” This implies that if the pedestrian even slightly contributed to the accident, they are unable to seek compensation from the driver (or the driver’s car insurance provider) through legal action.

In contrast, other states follow a “comparative fault” principle. Under this, a pedestrian can obtain partial damages even if they were partially responsible. However, if the pedestrian’s portion of fault surpasses that of the driver, recovering damages from the driver might become challenging.

It’s important to note that while contributory and comparative negligence laws apply only in court proceedings, insurance adjusters consider the state’s rules on shared fault when assessing injury claims and participating in settlement negotiations.

Police Reports and Insurance Company Findings

It’s highly likely that a law enforcement officer will arrive at the site of a car-pedestrian collision, particularly if significant injuries have occurred. The attending officer will create a visual representation of the accident’s location, engage with the parties involved, take statements from witnesses, and consider other pertinent information, all of which will be documented in a police report.

This report from the police might encompass the officer’s initial observations or provisional conclusions regarding the circumstances and reasons behind the accident, whether any traffic regulations were potentially violated in relation to the incident, and other factors that influence the determination of fault.

The police report will be acquired by the insurance company, which will additionally initiate its own inquiry into the accident’s details, its sequence, the extent of injuries sustained by the individuals involved, the specifics of property damage, and more. To delve further into how insurance companies investigate cases of car accidents, you can access additional information.

What If I Disagree With the Insurance Company's Ruling?

If you hold the belief that the insurance company’s determination of you being entirely at fault for the car-pedestrian collision is erroneous, or if you contend that the insurer has inaccurately assigned a specific percentage of fault to you, there are specific measures you can undertake.

Initially, inquire with the insurance company to furnish you with a comprehensive rationale for their conclusions. Should you suspect that their decision rests on faulty or incomplete data, construct your own opposing argument fortified by substantial corroborative evidence.

In instances where the insurance company’s verdict could potentially leave you liable for considerable personal financial obligations, or if you simply seek assistance in rectifying the situation, it could be prudent to contemplate discussing your circumstances with a seasoned attorney. More details regarding this aspect will be elaborated upon subsequently.

Insurance Coverage for Pedestrian Accidents

Pedestestrians who have sustained injuries are typically encompassed by their health and disability insurance plans, or by worker’s compensation coverage if the incident transpired during work-related activities. Additionally, coverage might extend to them through one or multiple automobile insurance policies.

Payment Under Auto Liability Insurance

A pedestrian who has been injured commonly has the option to initiate a claim against the automobile liability insurance policy of the driver or owner of the vehicle involved. Virtually every state mandates vehicle owners and drivers to possess liability insurance, which addresses personal injuries to external parties and harm to their possessions. The extent of recoveries hinges on the party responsible for the accident and the particulars of the insurance policy.

Payment Under No-Fault Coverage

Around twelve or so states operating under the “no-fault” system mandate that insurance companies cover medical expenses and lost earnings for their own policyholders and specific other covered individuals, regardless of who bears responsibility for the underlying incident. This arrangement is commonly referred to as “personal injury protection” (PIP).

In the majority of no-fault states, a driver’s PIP insurance will extend to include coverage for a pedestrian struck by the insured vehicle, unless the pedestrian has their own auto insurance policy.

What Could Happen if I Hit a Pedestrian?
As long as you stop at the accident scene and adhere to proper procedures afterward, including reporting the collision, your potential legal liability should generally be restricted to the financial obligations for the pedestrian’s injuries and any other resulting losses, provided you are found at fault. If you possess adequate car insurance coverage, it should come into effect to cover the pedestrian’s medical costs, lost income, “pain and suffering,” and other damages resulting from the accident. For more information regarding the potential consequences of striking a pedestrian, you can acquire further insights.

What Could Happen if I Hit a Pedestrian?

As long as you stop at the accident scene and adhere to proper procedures afterward, including reporting the collision, your potential legal liability should generally be restricted to the financial obligations for the pedestrian’s injuries and any other resulting losses, provided you are found at fault. If you possess adequate car insurance coverage, it should come into effect to cover the pedestrian’s medical costs, lost income, “pain and suffering,” and other damages resulting from the accident. For more information regarding the potential consequences of striking a pedestrian, you can acquire further insights

What If I Hit a Pedestrian With My Car and They Had No Injuries?

If the pedestrian emerges from a traffic accident without any actual injuries, there isn’t a basis for an insurance-related injury claim, nor can they file a personal injury lawsuit against the driver. An authentic personal injury claim necessitates some form of tangible harm.

Nevertheless, it’s crucial to note that even minor injuries like scrapes and bruises might warrant the submission of an injury-related insurance claim. This is particularly relevant if the pedestrian deems it necessary to undergo an examination at the emergency room or their healthcare provider’s office to rule out any underlying severe issues.

It’s paramount to remember that immediately appearing unharmed after a car-pedestrian accident doesn’t guarantee that this condition will persist. Individuals involved in traffic accidents often experience an influx of adrenaline and endorphins, which can temporarily mask pain.

What If I Hit Someone With My Car and They Walked Away?

The pedestrian’s ability to leave the accident scene without visible harm is unlikely to impact the validity of any injury claim they might eventually pursue.

As mentioned earlier, the presence of endorphins and adrenaline can mask pain. Consequently, a pedestrian who initially appears unscathed and even walks away from the scene could experience significant discomfort a few hours or days later. For more insights into instances where injuries resulting from accidents aren’t immediately apparent, you can access additional information.

It’s worth noting that state regulations might necessitate the pedestrian to remain at the accident site, exchange information, and complete certain other actions. However, even if the pedestrian fails to fulfill these obligations, which might be legally required, it’s improbable that this would hinder their entitlement to file an injury claim related to the accident, provided you or another driver were responsible.

Can I Sue the Pedestrian for Damages?

Instances where the driver involved in a car-pedestrian collision pursues legal action against the pedestrian are quite uncommon, even if the pedestrian violated traffic laws during the accident and was predominantly or completely responsible. This is largely due to the fact that pedestrians typically suffer more severe consequences from such accidents compared to drivers, even when considerable vehicle damage is involved.

One scenario where taking legal action against a pedestrian could be reasonable (and could warrant the investment of time and money) is when the driver swerved to avoid hitting a jaywalking pedestrian, resulting in extensive vehicle damage as they left the road. In this case, the pedestrian is likely to be at fault for the collision and may have emerged unharmed, while the driver might have incurred substantial property damage costs and potentially endured significant injuries.

  • However, there are notable disadvantages to situations where a driver might decide to sue a pedestrian:
    Establishing that the pedestrian was more culpable for the accident than the driver can be challenging.
  • The pedestrian might lack significant assets or accessible insurance coverage. As a result, even if the lawsuit is successful, collecting any awarded judgment might prove difficult.

Avoiding Pedestrian Accidents

To effectively prevent pedestrian accidents, it’s essential to grasp the concept of “defensive driving,” which involves being attentive to individuals who walk, bicycle, utilize wheelchairs, rollerblade, rollerskate, ride electric scooters, and engage in road activities. Give special consideration to young children and elderly individuals, as they might possess a diminished awareness of vehicles on the road. They could be more prone to wandering outside designated crosswalks and might not consistently adhere to traffic signals. For additional insights, you can explore the Pedestrian Safety portal provided by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

Do I Need to Hire a Car Accident Lawyer?

If you’re a driver who has been engaged in a car-pedestrian collision, even if it’s fairly evident that the accident was caused by your actions, you typically won’t have to seek out your own attorney, provided you have car insurance. This is because if the pedestrian lodges an injury claim with your insurance company, the insurer will handle the investigation and settlement process without your direct involvement.

In the event that the pedestrian initiates a legal lawsuit against you due to their injuries, your insurance company bears a “duty to defend” you against any claim stemming from a covered accident. This responsibility encompasses the provision of a lawyer to represent you in court. However, it’s important to acknowledge that the lawyer’s role also involves safeguarding the insurance company’s interests, which often entails minimizing the compensation awarded to the injured pedestrian.

If you collide with a pedestrian and lack car insurance, you’ll be responsible for hiring and covering the expenses of any attorney you enlist. Typically, this would involve a personal injury defense lawyer who charges hourly rates for their services. Contact us and we will connect you to an approved lawyer

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