Car Accidents Involving Pedestrians: What You Should KnowLast updated on: September 6, 2022
After being involved in an accident with a car, a pedestrian or the driver who hit them may not know what to do next. Further, most people do not know how to negotiate with insurance companies to get injury compensation. Our experienced car accident lawyers have dealt with car insurance companies, getting compensation for victims of accidents involving pedestrians or bicyclists.
If you or a loved one were injured in one of these kinds of car accidents, we may be able to help. Our personal injury attorneys are nationwide and have the experience necessary to guide you through each step of the legal process.
How To Determine Who’s at Fault After a Car Accident Involving Pedestrians
You may have heard the saying, “The pedestrian always has the right of way.” While drivers should be vigilant and always yield when they see pedestrians walking, pedestrians can sometimes be at fault for accidents with cars.
If the pedestrian does not follow the state’s crosswalk and pedestrian laws, the driver typically has the right of way. In those cases, pedestrians can be held liable for the accident and owe the driver damages. In some cases, pedestrians can be partially at fault and receive less compensation from the driver.
Motorists are at fault when they fail to yield to pedestrians using crosswalks. They may not have seen the pedestrians because they were distracted or in a hurry. In other cases, motorists might be distracted and cause a car to negligently swerve onto the sidewalk and hit a pedestrian.
Finally, a motorist might hit a pedestrian because he or she failed to use backup cameras or rearview mirrors, or otherwise neglected to check behind the vehicle before backing up. The motorist would be at fault in such cases.
What to Do After a Car Accident Involving Pedestrians
If you have been in a car accident involving a pedestrian, the first thing you should do is ensure that the other parties involved do not require emergency medical attention. If they do, call an ambulance.
Do not admit fault for the accident. Even if you are merely trying to calm the situation, the other party might use your words against you later.
Call the police. A reporting officer will come, gather the names and contact information of everyone involved in the accident, and include his or her interpretation of how the accident happened. The crash report will become public record in a few days, and you can request it online.
Speak with people who saw the accident and gather their names and contact information. You might be able to use their testimony later.
Take pictures of the accident scene, including the location and anything unusual such as construction sites. Also take pictures of the vehicle damage and any crash injuries.
Contact an attorney. An attorney can help you determine who was at fault for the accident and how to proceed. If the attorney encourages you to file your claim, he or she can help you through the process of litigation.
What Potential Penalties Could I Face for Hitting a Pedestrian?
If you hit a pedestrian, you might face criminal and/or civil consequences, depending on the circumstances. Potential criminal penalties can include jail time, probation, fees, suspension of your driver’s license, and compensation for the pedestrian.
Potential civil penalties include the pedestrian’s damages. Damages in civil cases include economic damages, non-economic damages, and sometimes punitive damages.
Economic damages cover the victim’s medical expenses, missed wages from time off work, and other easily calculable expenses. Non-economic damages cover the victim’s pain and suffering from the crash. In extreme cases, courts award punitive damages to punish the person who caused the accident and deter them from causing similar accidents in the future.
Can I Sue the Pedestrian for Damages If They’re at Fault?
If the accident is the pedestrian’s fault, you could potentially sue the pedestrian for the damages they caused. However, this is rare, since the pedestrian is usually the party injured in an accident with a vehicle.
If the pedestrian was injured and was partially at fault for the accident, then you may not have to compensate them for 100% of their damages. You should only be responsible for the pedestrian’s injuries in proportion to the amount of fault you must take for the accident.
For example, suppose the pedestrian was 80% at fault for the accident, you were 20% at fault for the accident, and the pedestrian suffered $100,000 in damages. You should only pay $20,000 of those damages.
What If I Hit a Pedestrian with My Car and They Had No Injuries?
In order to sue someone, the victim must have suffered an injury. This is one of the main elements of a legal claim for negligence. If the pedestrian truly did not suffer an injury, then they do not have a basis for a legal claim and cannot sue you.
However, even small injuries count as compensable injuries, and someone who suffered a cut or bruise could file a claim against you. If the pedestrian is justified in going to the doctor to ensure that he or she has not suffered more serious injuries, then you may have to cover that expense.
Additionally, someone who was hit by a car might experience an adrenaline rush and feel fine the moment after being hit. Then, later, the pedestrian might realize that the injury was more serious than it immediately appeared. In those cases, the pedestrian might file suit against you later.
What If I Hit a Pedestrian with My Car and They Walked Away?
If the pedestrian was able to walk after the accident, that does not necessarily mean that he or she was not injured. Even if the pedestrian did not stay to file a crash report or exchange contact information, he or she may still be able to file against you for injuries you caused.
What Should I Do If I Disagree with the Insurance Company’s Findings?
Insurance companies do not typically want to provide pedestrians and drivers with the compensation they deserve for their injuries. These companies have learned many defenses that may resonate with juries in court. For example, they may say that the pedestrian should have seen the motor vehicle, the car could not have possibly seen the pedestrian, or the pedestrian did not have the right of way or was not using the crosswalk.
If you were the driver in the accident, the insurance company might try to argue that you were distracted or should have seen the pedestrian even if the pedestrian did not have the right of way or crossed suddenly in front of or behind you. These defenses can be particularly difficult to navigate if the pedestrian is seriously injured.
Zinda Law Group personal injury lawyers have seen these kinds of defenses, and we know how to prove the facts. If you have been involved in a pedestrian-auto collision, contact us today to discuss your case.
Need Help? Contact Zinda Law Group Today!
The legal process may be a daunting experience, but Zinda Law Group personal injury attorneys have the knowledge and experience to help you with your unique case. We may be able to investigate your case, negotiate with insurance companies on your behalf, and fight for you in court if a settlement cannot be made.
Meetings with attorneys are available by appointment only.