According to the US Department of Transportation, as many as 4432 pedestrians were killed in 2011 in traffic accidents across the country. Children and older adults, particularly, are more likely to become victims of car-pedestrian accidents. On an average, there’s one pedestrian injured every 8 minutes and one death occurs every two hours. With the growth in number of cars, pedestrians certainly face more risk of becoming accident victims. One of the main reasons why such accidents happen is either the driver or pedestrian is alcohol-impaired. No matter what the cause is, car-pedestrian accidents can be actually very complex to deal with because determining who’s at fault is not easy. So, let’s understand what all the things one needs to know if he/she is involved in such an accident.
Car-pedestrian accidents can be really nasty especially if the car hits a person at 30 miles per hour speed. This can actually result in permanent disability or sometimes death too. Car drivers must therefore, know what he/she should, ideally, do when encountered with such a situation. Instead of fleeing the accident scene, it’s better to take control of the situation and focus on the following.
- Make sure the person hit in the accident is safe. Immediately get in touch with any of the medical services provider to ensure that the injuries are not severe. Safety always comes first.
- Don’t hesitate to call the police and auto insurance provider. If you are likely to be charged with a criminal act, don’t forget to consult your attorney. Be very honest and give a true account of how the accident happened.
- Furthermore, never give any public statements and avoid too much of an interaction with the pedestrian including his/her family members. Never say things like, ‘I am guilty’. It could lead to a personal injury lawsuit. Also, don’t make any statements to the injured party’s insurance service provider. All you need to do is just exchange the required contact information.
Who is to be blamed?
Many of us still believe that if a car hits a pedestrian, it’s always the driver who’s at fault. However, this is not always the case. In such cases, the law of negligence helps decide who’s at fault. Generally speaking, a person who failed to exercise reasonable care when the accident happened may be termed as negligent. In many circumstances, both the parties can be negligent. Consider this situation. A driver is driving at a speed more than the stipulated limit and a pedestrian illegally crosses the street and meets with the accident. These cases are very complex and handled in a different manner. Laws, too, differ state by state.
There are states which follow the ‘Comparative Fault’ rule wherein even if the pedestrian is to be blamed partly for the accident, he/she is entitled for compensation from the driver and his insurance services provider. For instance, let’s say if a pedestrian is 30% at fault for the accident, then he/she will be compensated for only 70% of the damages. Furthermore, there are states that follow the ‘modified comparative fault’ rule.
Herein, let’s say a pedestrian is more than 50% at fault for the accident. In such cases, he/she will not be able to recover the damages. Then there are states such as Virginia and Maryland which follow the ‘Pure Contributory Negligence’ rule. Herein, a pedestrian is not entitled to recover damages if he/she contributed to the accident slightly. Learn more about the contributory and comparative negligence here.
Here are some instances, when the pedestrian can be blamed for the accident
- Crossing the road and not following the traffic control signals
- Jaywalking/crossing outside the cross walk
- Walking along bridges, highways, and freeways where pedestrians are not allowed
- Crossing roads without traffic controls
If you have injured a pedestrian in a car accident, you can be charged with both civil and criminal liability. When it comes to civil liability, the injured party has full rights to sue you for recovering damages which includes lost wages, medical expenses, pain & suffering, etc. Criminal liability includes the rights of the injured party to sue you for driving under influence, hit and run etc. It is important to remember that, if you are held for criminal charges, the consequence can be very serious. It includes paying hefty fines and serving a jail term as well.
An injured pedestrian has full rights to claim payment against your auto liability insurance policy. Majority of the states in US make it mandatory for car owners to have liability insurance in order to cover injuries/damages to third parties. The recovery, however, to a large extent depends on the party who was at fault. What’s more, the payment can also be made under the No-Fault Coverage.
There are some states in the US that make it necessary for insurance services providers to make payments for lost wages and medical bills of their policyholders. This is often called as Personal Injury Protection or PIP. In these states, laws require a driver’s insurance services provider to make payment for the pedestrian’s injuries up to the PIP limit even though it was the pedestrian who was at fault.
Furthermore, there might be exceptions to this payment option as well. For instance, if an injured pedestrian resides in New Jersey, he/she might get paid for the damages and injuries out of Unsatisfied Claim and Judgment Fund, a state-mandated fund.
Car-pedestrian accidents, sometimes, can be very difficult to handle. Therefore, it’s always recommended for you to consult an experienced attorney in your area before making any statements. It is important to gather as much evidence as you can at the time of accident and document the entire events that took place. It is equally important to co-operate with law enforcement officials rather than involving yourself in a brawl. So next time, you are involved in such an accident do consider the above discussed points.