Statistics show that one person dies from a pedestrian accident roughly every 75 minutes. When pedestrian accidents aren’t fatal, they can often leave victims with serious injuries.
If you’ve been hit by a car, it’s imperative that you receive compensation to cover your injuries. You might also need to seek compensation for pain and suffering, lost income, trauma, or lost quality of life.
Unfortunately, just compensation isn’t always a given. To make sure you’re adequately compensated for the accident, you might need to take steps to protect your legal rights.
Read on to find out what to do as the pedestrian in a car accident.
Get Medical Assistance Quickly
As we said above, a car accident involving a pedestrian can result in severe injuries. Common car accident injuries can include:
- Soft tissue wounds
- Broken bones
- Spinal cord injuries
If you’ve been badly hurt, you must seek medical assistance as soon as possible. Delaying treatment could trigger complications and compromise healing.
If you’ve suffered more minor injuries, it’s still important to get medical attention right away. There are two reasons for this.
Firstly, you may have suffered an injury that has yet to manifest symptoms. For instance, some spinal cord injuries and forms of concussion might not be apparent right away. If you’re in shock, adrenaline might also mask the effects of these types of injuries.
Secondly, getting prompt medical assistance isn’t just important for your healing—it can also play a critical role in your car accident claim.
If you’re part of the 30 million Americans without healthcare coverage, it might be tempting to forgo treatment, especially if you’re not in severe pain. But, this can compromise your injury settlement.
If you delay getting medical assistance, the insurance company or defendant can use this against you in an attempt to minimize your settlement. They may claim that your injuries aren’t severe, because you didn’t require immediate treatment.
Or, they might dispute whether your injuries were caused by the accident. A prompt medical examination can provide an important piece of evidence in your case.
Report the Incident to the Authorities
Another important step to take after an accident is to report the incident to the police. If yours was a bad accident, the police might arrive on the spot and take your statement.
If the police don’t come to the scene of the accident, you must file a police report at your local police station.
The police report is a critical piece of evidence in any car accident case.
Swap Details With the Driver
Besides alerting the authorities you should also swap personal and contact details with the driver of the vehicle. Make sure you take down their name, ID number, physical address, phone number, and email address.
You should also get their insurance details.
Get the License Plate Number
Along with asking the driver for their contact information, you should also get their license plate number. This is critical, both for your police report and for your claim.
If the driver isn’t forthcoming with their personal info, it’s doubly important that you get their plate number. If you’ve been the victim of a hit and run, it’s even more critical to try and find out the license number of the vehicle.
If you were unable to at the time, there is still a chance it can be retrieved, either through witness statements or CCTV footage.
Speak to Any Observers
Another thing you should do while at the scene of the accident is to speak to any available observers and witnesses, providing you’re in a condition to do so. Ask them for their names and contact details so you can get in touch with them should you need witness statements to support your case.
Along with speaking to any witnesses, you can also gather evidence to support your claim by taking pictures of the scene of the accident and your injuries. Photograph the area where it happened, where you were when the vehicle hit you, etc.
File a Claim Promptly
It’s also essential that you file a claim promptly with the other party’s insurance. The sooner you file your claim, the quicker you can receive compensation.
If you delay filing your claim, the insurance company or defendant might also try to use this as “evidence” that the accident wasn’t serious. They may insinuate that if you really had a strong case, you would have opened the claim earlier.
Leaving your claim to the last minute can also cause you to run up against important deadlines. Most insurance companies have filing windows for claims. The exact deadline will depend on the carrier, but one thing’s for sure. The sooner you file, the less chance you’ll have of missing the window.
Additionally, if the car accident left you with severe injuries, you might need to seek out an injury settlement via a personal injury claim in court. If this happens, you will need to abide by that state of limitations in your state. Here in California, plaintiffs have two years in which to file a personal injury lawsuit.
Don’t Make an Inadvertent Admission of Guilt
If you want to protect your rights after being hit by a car, be careful not to make an inadvertent admission of guilt. Car accident cases involving pedestrians are often the driver’s fault, but liability can also fall on pedestrians if they were breaking traffic laws.
Unfortunately, even if you weren’t liable for the accident in any way, the opposing party can frame certain statements from you into supposed admissions of guilt.
For instance, if you say “I’m sorry, I didn’t see you coming,” the defendant could manipulate this to infer an admission of partial guilt.
Don’t Delay Follow-up Treatment
Another thing you should avoid to protect your rights to a fair injury settlement is delaying follow-up treatment.
One of the biggest mistakes accident victims make is to assume they should only seek certain treatments after they receive their settlement. For instance, let’s say you need physical therapy to support healing from a spinal cord injury after a car accident.
Instead of getting treatments done immediately, you’re waiting for your injury claim to finalize so you can use the settlement money to cover the costs.
This is very understandable, given how cost-prohibitive medical care can be. Survey results show that one-third of US adults report that they or one of their family has not pursued a recommended treatment due to financial reasons.
Foregoing important medical care is never a good idea, but it can have two-fold repercussions when it comes to injury claims. If you postpone therapies and follow-up treatments, this will rob you of important evidence. It can lead the opposing party to claim that your injuries aren’t as severe as you say, which can lower your injury settlement amount.
Don’t Let the Insurance Company Twist Your Statement
After you file your claim with the driver’s insurance company, an adjuster will most likely reach out to you, either with a settlement offer or with further questions on the accident.
When this happens, you mustn’t let them infer guilt through tactics like leading questions. You also shouldn’t allow them to take a recorded statement, as they can use this against you.
Ideally, the best thing to do is refer the insurance company to your attorney. We will cover why hiring an attorney is a wise move below.
Don’t Accept a Lowball Offer
Another way you can protect your rights after being hit by a car is by not falling for a lowball settlement offer. Many people make the mistake of thinking they have to accept the first offer the insurance company gives them. This is not the case.
Insurance companies’ primary aim is to generate a profit. Paying out high settlement amounts is not going to boost their balance sheet. Therefore, their initial offer is likely to be on the low side.
Hire an Attorney Who Specializes in Auto Accidents
Hiring a lawyer is the most surefire way you can protect your rights after a car accident. If you’ve been hit by a car, you might not have the physical, mental, or emotional reserves to go up against a big insurance company that wants to pay you out the lowest settlement possible.
Most insurance carriers have entire legal teams at their disposal. Unlike consumers, they’re also versed in injury claims, and they know how to handle personal injury cases to their advantage.
If you hire a good accident attorney, you can relax knowing they will examine every detail of your case to ensure you get the compensation you deserve. They also know exactly how to negotiate with insurance carriers, and can take your claim to court if need be.
If you’re worried about the potential cost of hiring legal help, you can look for an attorney firm like Sweet Lawyers that operates on a contingency fee structure.
Have You Been Hit by a Car?
If you’ve been hit by a car, it’s critical that you get the right medical attention, file a police report, and gather what evidence you can. You should also be wary of making inadvertent admissions of guilt, either to the driver or to their insurance company.
However, the most powerful way you can protect your rights after being hit by a car is to hire a lawyer.
Here at Sweet Lawyers, we truly care about our clients and you don’t pay a dime unless we win.
If you want to give your case the best chance of success, contact Sweet Lawyers today for a free consultation.