The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reported a staggering statistic – 6,205 pedestrians lost their lives in traffic accidents in the United States in one year alone. The number is a stark reminder of the importance of road safety and the devastating impact of accidents involving pedestrians.
If you find yourself in a situation where you have accidentally hit a pedestrian, it’s crucial to know the appropriate steps to take to minimize further harm. To help guide you through the process, here’s a guide on the do’s and don’ts to follow after hitting a pedestrian.
What to Do After Accidentally Hitting a Pedestrian
The shock and panic that come with a pedestrian accident can make it difficult to know what to do next. Learn about the immediate steps you should take if you hit a pedestrian below.
Seek Immediate Assistance
After the accident, prioritize the safety of everyone involved. Move your vehicle to a safe location and switch on the hazard lights to alert other drivers.
Check yourself, any passengers in the car, and the pedestrian for injuries. Once you’re done, seek medical attention immediately if necessary. Even if the injuries appear minor, it’s important to get a professional medical evaluation.
Cooperate with Authorities
Don’t forget to call 911. When law enforcement arrives at the scene, provide them with accurate details about the incident. Give a detailed account of what happened, including any relevant information about:
- Road conditions
- Your perspective leading up to the accident
Ensure you remain calm and composed throughout the process.
Gather Relevant Information
After receiving the necessary medical attention, exchange information with the pedestrian. Give out your name, contact information, driver’s license, and insurance information. Also, obtain their information, including their name, phone number, and address.
Gathering evidence after an accident is essential, especially if the case goes to court. Take photos of the scene, including any damage to your car and the surrounding area.
You can write down the events leading up to the accident. Doing this is vital since your mind can become a blur and lose important details over time. Also, note down the time and date of the accident.
If there are any witnesses, get their contact information and ask if they can be willing to provide a statement.
Keep the Documents Relevant to the Pedestrian Accident Safe
Ensure you keep any documents related to the accident, including the police report, car damage estimates, and repair bills. These documents can help support any insurance claims or legal actions that may be necessary.
Ask the officer who responded to the scene to give you the report. You may need to pay an administrative fee.
Contact Your Insurance Company
After you’ve gathered all the necessary information and evidence, contact your insurance company. Provide them with all the information you’ve collected, including the:
- Pedestrian’s information
- Details of the accident
- Any photos or witness statements you obtained
Consider Hiring an Attorney
Legal complications may arise in pedestrian accidents. This is why you should consider hiring an experienced personal injury attorney. They will help you gather evidence, interview witnesses, and review police reports.
Hiring a lawyer can also help you determine liability. If you want to know who is liable in a pedestrian accident, learn more here: https://alphaaccidentlawyers.com.
Get Emotional Support
Being involved in a pedestrian accident can be emotionally traumatic. This is why you should be prepared for the impact it may have on you.
You may also experience a range of emotions, including guilt, shame, anger, and fear. Remember that these feelings are normal and valid. But don’t let them overwhelm you.
Take care of yourself both physically and emotionally. You can seek out support from friends, family, or a therapist if necessary.
What You Should Not Do After Accidentally Hitting a Pedestrian
While getting involved in a car accident can be a traumatic experience, it is crucial to handle the aftermath responsibly. Learn more about what not to do after accidentally hitting a pedestrian below.
Don’t Leave the Scene
One of the biggest mistakes you can make is leaving the scene after hitting a pedestrian. Even if you didn’t cause the accident, leaving the scene can be considered a hit-and-run.
What’s more, fleeing the scene of a car accident is illegal. As a result, you may be subject to criminal prosecution. You should stay at the scene and wait for law enforcement officers to arrive.
Don’t Move the Injured Pedestrian
Moving the injured pedestrian isn’t advisable. It can cause further injuries and may complicate their medical treatment. Let the EMS team assess the situation and move the pedestrian.
Unless the pedestrian is in immediate danger, such as being on a busy road, don’t move them. Stay with the pedestrian until help arrives. If possible, try to keep them calm and reassured.
Don’t Admit Fault
While it is important to cooperate after a car accident, it’s important not to admit fault. Even if you believe you were at fault, remain silent. Admitting fault prematurely can be used against you later.
Ensure you keep the conversation minimal. Only provide the necessary information to the police when they arrive. Let the police and your attorney gather the necessary evidence and determine fault.
Don’t Argue with the Pedestrian
After a pedestrian accident, emotions may be running high. Some pedestrians may become confrontational and start an argument. Arguing with the pedestrian can only make the situation worse.
When you get involved, you may say things they don’t mean. These can make it more challenging to resolve the case in a fair and just manner, hurting your case.
Ensure you remain calm and collected. Focus on cooperating with the authorities and seeking legal representation.
Don’t Offer Compensation
Never offer compensation to the pedestrian immediately after the accident. This can be seen as an admission of guilt. They can also use it against you in any legal proceedings.
If you offer compensation without fully understanding the legal implications, it may compromise your case. It can also put you at a disadvantage when negotiating a settlement. Avoid any discussions about compensation until you have spoken to a lawyer.
Don’t Discuss the Accident on Social Media
Sharing issues on social media has become a norm these days. If you hit a pedestrian, avoid discussing the accident or posting any details about it online.
Insurance companies and opposing attorneys often scour social media platforms for any evidence they can use against you. You may end up sharing unrelated content that contradicts your claims. This can harm your case.
Refrain from social media activities related to the accident until the legal process is complete.
Don’t Speak to Insurance Companies Without Legal Representation
Insurance companies are businesses. Their main goal is to make a profit. After a pedestrian accident, the insurance company will contact you and try to settle the case fast.
They may even try to make you sign a waiver releasing them from liability. To avoid these issues, don’t speak to insurance companies without legal representation.
Establishing Fault in a Pedestrian-Car Accident
Driver fault isn’t always automatic in a pedestrian accident. While most car accidents involving pedestrians are due to driver negligence, the driver’s liability isn’t usually absolute.
For instance, if you hit a pedestrian who’s crossing an intersection in a designated, you are certainly at fault for the accident. But here are cases where liability becomes more complicated:
If a pedestrian is crossing the street outside of a designated crosswalk or against a traffic signal, the driver may not be at fault. The pedestrian also must exercise reasonable care.
You may not be responsible for a pedestrian accident if the pedestrian was distracted by their phone or other electronic device. All road users have a shared responsibility to exercise caution.
If a pedestrian is under the influence of alcohol or drugs, they can behave recklessly on the road. This includes darting into traffic.
Poor visibility as a result of fog or heavy rain can also minimize your liability. If you have not reasonably seen the pedestrian due to poor visibility, you may not be entirely at fault for the accident.
In case the accident was caused by a mechanical failure in the vehicle, such as faulty brakes, the driver may not be entirely responsible for the accident.
In these situations, the pedestrian may end up bearing some share of legal responsibility for the accident. Your state’s shared fault rules— either comparative or contributory negligence—may come into play here.
How to Avoid Pedestrian Accidents
As a driver, the best way to avoid pedestrian accidents is to practice defensive driving. This means you need to be aware of other road users.
Pay close attention to older adults and young children. They’re usually less aware of drivers on the road and the traffic signals. What’s more, they’re likely to stray outside crosswalks.
Do You Need to Hire a Pedestrian Accident Lawyer?
If you’re a driver who’s been involved in an accident hitting a pedestrian, you need to hire an attorney. Even if you believe it isn’t your fault, it’s good to have a legal professional by your side.
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