I hit a Pedestrian, Now What?
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, fatal traffic accidents involving pedestrians are on the rise, with 6,283 pedestrian deaths in 2018. Pedestrian deaths in 2018 are up 3% from 2017. Additionally, these pedestrian statistics do not include bicyclists or those riding electric scooters.
When a vehicle hits a pedestrian at higher speeds, it’s no surprise that serious injuries and fatalities can result. However, serious injuries may result from a vehicle traveling at only 10 miles per hour.
What to do Immediately After the Accident
First, get any injured people to a place of safety including pedestrians as well as any injured passengers. For the pedestrian, make sure they are not in danger of being further injured. If they have head or back injuries, it would be best not to move them.
If you can, remove your vehicle from the line of traffic. Administer care to both the pedestrian and any other injured parties. This care would include applying pressure to bleeding wounds, calling 911, and ordering an ambulance.
Exchange contact information with everyone involved in the accident. If the pedestrian is not incapacitated, exchange names, phone numbers, email addresses, and insurance information. Avoid talking extensively with the pedestrian, their friends or family members. Admitting fault, or making statements such as “I feel so guilty” could expose you to a personal injury lawsuit, so be careful of what you say. You should also avoid speaking directly to the pedestrian’s insurance company or attorney.
If you are facing possible criminal charges for the accident for a violation such as driving under the influence, you might want to contact a criminal defense attorney soon after the accident.
Who is at Fault?
When a driver hits a pedestrian, often the biggest question is : Whose fault was it? Generally, the law of negligence determines fault. In oversimplified terms, a person who fails to exercise reasonable care under the circumstances may be considered negligent.
However, both the driver and the pedestrian can be at fault in the same accident scenario. For example, the pedestrian may be crossing the street illegally while the driver is traveling in excess of the posted speed limit. Depending on the state, this scenario may receive a different outcome.
Some states, such as Maryland and Virginia, follow what’s called a pure contributory negligence rule. This means that if the pedestrian contributed in the slightest bit to the accident, then he or she cannot recover damages from the driver and his auto insurance company in court.
Other states follow a comparative fault rule. This means that a pedestrian can recover some damages even if he or she was partly at fault.
Police Reports and Insurance Company Findings
The police will take statements from the driver, pedestrian, and witnesses to determine who was at fault. They may make a preliminary finding on the spot or conduct a detailed investigation.
The police report from the accident could indicate which party the law enforcement officer saw as being at fault. Auto insurance companies, however, may dispute any such finding. Insurance companies typically send an adjuster to the scene of the accident, to view the damage to persons and property soon after the accident has occurred. If you believe that your insurance company will unfairly assign you a greater percentage of fault, consider obtaining a personal injury attorney who will fight for you.
Insurance Coverage for Pedestrian Accidents
Injured pedestrians may receive coverage from their health and disability insurance policies, or worker’s compensation coverage (if the accident occurs on the job). They may also receive coverage under one or more auto insurance policies.
Payment Under Auto Liability Insurance
The injured pedestrian can usually file a claim against the driver’s or vehicle owner’s auto liability insurance policy. Almost all states require that vehicle owners and drivers carry liability insurance to cover personal injuries to third parties and damage to third parties’ property. Recoveries are dependent on who caused the accident and insurance policy details.
Payment Under No-fault Coverage
A dozen or so no-fault states require insurance companies to pay for the medical expenses and lost wages of their own policyholders, regardless of who is at fault. This is also known as personal injury protection.
When it comes to coverage for injuries to pedestrians in no-fault states, laws between the states vary. In some states, the driver’s insurance company pays the amount of the pedestrian’s medical expenses up to the PIP limit, even if the accident is the pedestrian’s fault. There are exceptions to this payment scheme. For example, in New Jersey, if a pedestrian is not insured, she or he may be paid out of a special state-mandated fund called the unsatisfied claim and judgment fund.
Avoiding Pedestrian Accidents
The best way to avoid pedestrian accidents is to understand that ‘defensive driving means being aware of people who walk, use a bicycle, operate a wheelchair, rollerblade, rollerskate, ride an electric scooter, and play in the road’. Pay particular attention to young children and older adults, who may be less aware of drivers on the road, more likely to stray outside crosswalks, and not pay attention to traffic signals.
Traffic accidents between vehicles and pedestrians result in pedestrian death about every 1.6 hours on our nation’s roads and highways.
After a car-pedestrian accident in which the vehicle driver is at fault, a number of civil and criminal consequences may loom for the driver, depending on the specifics of the crash.
Hit and Run
When a driver accidentally strikes a pedestrian but the driver also stops at the scene to follow proper post-accident protocol, the harshest consequences might be a personal injury lawsuit and a higher car insurance premium. But a driver who strikes a pedestrian and then flees the scene will likely face criminal charges. Potentially, this driver may even face a felony arrest for hit and run, and jail time.
After a car-pedestrian accident in which the driver is under the influence of alcohol or drugs, the driver will likely face a DUI arrest and conviction.
Pedestrian deaths caused by car-versus-pedestrian accidents account for 11 percent of all traffic accident deaths. If a pedestrian dies as a result of a traffic accident in which the driver is at fault; that driver may face criminal charges. However, this may only occur under very specific circumstances; such as driving 100 miles per hour in a school zone or driving while intoxicated for example.
Were you or someone you know involved in a recent auto accident? Call Auto Accident Care Network now at 801-683-1948 to be connected with a live care advocate. Our team at AACN can connect you to trusted attorneys and doctors to schedule a free legal consultation, a free thirty-minute massage, and a no-cost medical exam!