I Was a Pedestrian Hit by a Car – What Should I Do?
If a car struck and injured you or a loved one, you may find yourself focused on two major things: your physical injuries and seeking compensation. Pedestrian accidents often cause serious injuries that can affect you and your family now and in the future. This is not a process that you should be dealing with alone. Here are some things that you should do after a car accident.
Get Medical Help
The fact is that most people will suffer some sort of injury when they get hit by a car. These are machines that weigh well over 2,000 pounds, and the human body simply cannot withstand the impact without any damage. Many pedestrian accident victims will require treatment at the scene of the accident and head straight to a hospital. Even after a discharge from the emergency room, it is crucial to get the follow-up care that you need, including a full evaluation.
Even if you do not seem seriously injured at the time of the accident, you still need medical attention in the days after the accident. Some pedestrian accident injuries can start to show symptoms in the days after an accident. For example, you may have a brain injury such as a concussion that is not apparent immediately. This injury can grow worse without any medical treatment. The same goes for a neck or back injury that you may not know about right away.
In addition, the basis of any claim or lawsuit that you file is that you have suffered an injury. In a personal injury case, this is usually a physical injury (along with possible damage to your property). You need it down on paper exactly how you suffered injuries and what you face in the future as a result of being hit by a car. Almost every single line item of damages in your claim depends on your injury and prognosis.
Follow The Doctor’s Recommendations
It is vital to closely follow your treatment plans and recommendations that the doctor makes. First, this will help speed your recovery to the greatest extent possible. Your doctor outlines a course of treatment to help you get better as much as you can. Even if you will not make a complete recovery, your life can still improve somewhat. Medicine has advanced to the point that many catastrophic accident victims can make recoveries that they would not have made in the past.
It is also important to do what the doctor says because it can impact your claim. In every personal injury case, you have a legal obligation to do what you can to lessen your damages. This includes following doctor’s orders and any treatment plan. Otherwise, the insurance company could argue that you deserve less money because there are things that you can do that you are not.
Not only should you be prepared to do what the doctor says, but you should have documentation of what you have done about your health situation. This can prove your side if the insurance company questions the steps that you have taken to recover.
Know Your Legal Rights
If someone else is responsible for your injury, they will be required to pay you financial compensation. If they have followed the law, they will have an auto insurance policy that could pay damages. It is the driver who hit you that is liable for your injuries. Filing an insurance claim is one way that you can receive money, but it is not the only way to receive the compensation that you legally deserve.
You have the legal right to file a lawsuit in court against the driver. Whether you explore the insurance claims process or file an immediate lawsuit is up to you (in consultation with your lawyer). Filing a lawsuit does not close the door to a settlement at some point. You can always keep talking right up until the time when a jury issues a verdict in your case, and this is what usually happens.
The important thing is that you begin the legal process as soon as possible after the accident. While you can file a lawsuit, this right does not last forever. Instead, you will need to file it within the statute of limitation to preserve your right to compensation. This is why you want to begin the claims process now to give yourself time to negotiate before you need to file a lawsuit.
Hire A Lawyer
It is crucial to have an attorney working for you as you seek financial compensation after your pedestrian accident. The legal process is not something that you can or should do on your own. First, if you are filing an injury claim, it means that you have suffered physical injuries. This will occupy your time and your mind, especially when you are getting the medical treatment described above.
Your lawyer will know how to get to the bottom of your accident case quickly. This is important because you will need evidence that can prove your case when you go to seek financial compensation. This is not something that you can do on your own, especially when you and your family are focusing on your injuries.
An attorney is also a must when you file a claim or a lawsuit. Dealing with an insurance company on your own, especially in a larger claim, is not recommended. They have adjusters, actuaries, and attorneys who work to limit your recovery, so they can make more money. They have all sorts of methods that they use to avoid paying out the full value of claims. Without an attorney, you do not have protection, and you risk your legal rights. The insurance company is more than happy to save some money at your expense, and you should not make it easy for them.
Hiring a car accident attorney helps you both when you try to prove who was at fault and when you negotiate compensation. The most important thing when you are trying to negotiate a settlement is to know what your claim is worth. If not, you cannot receive the full value of your claim. Your attorney routinely works with complex and large claims and will know how much you could recover.
Further, a lawyer will give you advice on whether to accept a settlement offer. There are times when it makes financial sense to reject a settlement offer because you could get more if you negotiate. You are never obligated to accept a settlement offer, especially when it is not enough to fairly compensate you for the injuries that you suffered.
Save Any Evidence
It is unlikely that you will be able to gather evidence at the scene of your accident. After all, most pedestrians struck by a car are injured and need medical attention. However, you may have other evidence in your possession. For example, someone may give you the contact information for witnesses who saw the accident. You need to save any accident evidence that you have in a safe place to give to your attorney. This also includes writing down any recollections of the accident that you may have. You can also later obtain the police report that might include important information.
Document Your Injuries
Your settlement check or jury award will depend on the damages that you suffered from the accident. Each damage award is individualized based on your circumstances. The principles of personal injury law mean that two different people would receive different settlement checks because the extent of damages varies between people.
For your part, you will need to prove your damages to the insurance company or a jury to receive payment for them. The insurance company will certainly not infer anything in your favor to give you an extra penny. You will need to have documentation that you include as part of your claim.
This includes things like:
- Pay stubs to prove what you lost in wages
- Medical bills
- The medical records that detail your prognosis and injuries
- Proof of what your life was like before your pedestrian accident injuries
- A journal of your experience since the accident to help document your pain and suffering
Establishing your entitlement to damages is not enough. You will also need proof of your damages as a required part of your claim. An attorney will help you assemble the information that you need for your claim. Do not throw anything away, and keep everyone in one place. If you cannot do this on your own, have a family member gather the information for you.
Speaking about your injuries to anyone is not in your interests. You can always assume that anything that you post or speak in public will be known to the insurance company. They are always looking to cut the amount that they pay you. If you say anything that could contradict your insurance claim, they may use it to reduce their settlement offer. It is worth it to take any risks. You should certainly not post anything on social media. All it takes is one picture or statement taken out of context to damage your interests.
In addition, you should certainly not speak to the insurance company, with or without a lawyer. You have no obligation to talk to them, even though they want to talk to you. Nothing that you say will likely persuade them to pay your entire claim. Instead, they may use your statement, whether you intend to or not, to cut your compensation offer or deny your claim.
If the insurance company tries to contact you, refer them to your attorney. If you do not have one yet, politely decline to speak with them. Be very careful about who you are talking to about your accident, especially if you do not know them.
This piece of advice is easier said than done. You are likely dealing with financial difficulties, and you need the money that a settlement check or jury award can give you. However, the claims or lawsuit process can take some time to resolve. You are likely looking at close to a year or even longer before you have an idea of what you may receive.
In the meantime, remember that you have legal rights that the insurance company cannot take away from you. They can deny your claim or try to reduce your payment, but they do not have the last word. Even though you would need to go through the lawsuit process, the legal system can decide your case if necessary.
While the legal process is happening, know that you have hired an experienced attorney who knows how to handle your claim. They also know how to deal with the insurance company because this is what they do every day. Put your confidence in the person that you hired to fight for you.
Focus on Yourself And Your Family
This is one of the most difficult and trying times that an individual or family can have. Being injured in an accident is hard enough, even when it is not someone else’s fault. There is so much that you need to focus on when you or a loved one is recovering from a catastrophic injury.
Make this the main thing that you deal with. If someone injured your family member, you should be there for them and provide all the support that you can. If someone injured you, you should worry about your recovery and treatment instead of stressing about the details of the legal process.
This is why you need to hand as much responsibility off as you possibly can. This certainly means that you should have a lawyer handling the claims or lawsuit process. Hire an experienced pedestrian accident attorney and let them deal with the legal back-and-forth and the paperwork.