None of us expect to be hit by a car while walking on a sidewalk, crosswalk, or side of the road. And yet all of us face the possibility of this happening every time we walk along a road. The injuries involved with such an accident are often very serious, and even if not, the experience is terrifying and extremely disorienting. Consequently, because you may one day face such an event, you need to be prepared as to what to do at the scene of the accident. This is a guide for what to do at the scene, and also what needs to be done after the injury.
What to Do At the Scene
- Get to Safety
Should you be struck by a car while you are on a crosswalk, it is very important that you get out of the road. If you are able to move, get yourself to the sidewalk. If you were hit while on the sidewalk or some other theoretical place of safety, stay there and collect yourself. The main point is to not be vulnerable to a second hit.
- Documentation is Vital
Immediately call the police or have someone call them for you. Getting the police to the scene as soon as possible will ensure that the bad driver is identified and interviewed. Important point: Many drivers hit people in crosswalks and say “she darted out in front of me”, “she wasn’t in the crosswalk”, “it was dark and she was wearing dark clothes”, etc., the excuses are infinite and insurance company lawyers are well trained in blaming you for the driver’s wrongdoing. What can you do about this? Make sure you personally talk to the police. Ensure that their report contains your story and not just the defendant’s version of events. Tell them where you were walking, where you were hit, what traffic was like, what the traffic lights were doing—no detail is too small.
Many pedestrian accidents will involve immediate medical and police attention in the form of police officers and emergency medical responders. Thusly, these incidents should be well documented by police. However, sometimes there are details left out and it is the injured individual who is pinned with the blame. Unfortunately, even though you may be injured, it is up to you to make sure proper documentation of the accident is recorded.
- Take Pictures
Take pictures of everything. The defendant’s car, driver’s license, license plate, yourself, your injuries, the scene, where you were hit—it is impossible to have too many photographs. This is not something to feel embarrassed about, it is just being responsible and will make you prepared for the inevitable claim.
What To Do After the Accident
- Medical Treatment
Your priority is to get to the emergency room a soon as possible after the accident. Even if you have no visible injuries, there may be hidden damage that needs to be detected. The next step is to make an appointment with your primary care provider. Your family doctor or clinic knows you best and will guide you on the path to recovery.
- Hire a Lawyer
Set up a consultation with an attorney. Why? Because the other side has hundreds of them and you need one too. The back and forth of insurance claims are fierce and you will have powerful leverage if you have legal representation. Furthermore, the insurance company for the driver will call and send letters to your attorney, not to you. This means you can have peace of mind knowing your case is being taken care of, while you focus on seeing your doctor and getting better.
- Straighten Out the Insurance Situation
In Washington State, responsibility for your initial set of medical bills often falls on the insurance policy of the bad driver. This kind of coverage is called, “Personal Injury Protection.” Hiring an attorney means that they can ensure your medical bills are taken care of and that you are able to maximize all your available insurance benefits.
- Be a Good Medical Patient
It is important that you listen to your doctor and follow their orders. This protects your body and your claim. Insurance companies, defense attorneys for insurance companies, juries, and arbitrators, all expect the injured person to be a good patient. They argue, “Why should we give you money if you won’t help yourself?” This is why it is critical that you obey your medical provider, don’t push your health, and show the insurance company you are as serious about your case as you are about getting well.