A car accident can cause serious injuries. But, when a defenseless pedestrian gets hit by a moving vehicle, those injuries can be even more devastating. The lightest car on the road weighs roughly 2,000 pounds. In comparison, a Chevy Tahoe weighs more than 5,600 pounds. So, a pedestrian has little to no chance of avoiding injury in an accident against a moving vehicle.
1. Causes of Pedestrian Accidents
In order to make a pedestrian accident claim against a driver who strikes a pedestrian, one needs to prove that the driver was negligent, i.e. careless. In most cases, a driver is careless because:
• The driver took his or her eyes off the road in order to change the radio, look for directions, text, read a text or talk on a cell phone;
• The driver failed to yield the right-of-way to a pedestrian, resulting in the pedestrian accident;
• The driver was speeding and was unable to stop in time when approaching a pedestrian;
• The driver did not see the pedestrian when entering or exiting a driveway;
• The driver failed to adhere to traffic signs or signals;
• The driver was under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol.
2. At-fault Insurance v. Uninsured Motorist Coverage
A pedestrian struck by a car can seek compensation against the insurance company of the driver. Such compensation includes recovery of medical bills and loss of wages (past and future), and pain, suffering, inconvenience, etc.
However, what happens if the driver is uninsured or flees the scene (hit-and-run)? This is yet another reason to have “uninsured motorist” coverage on your own auto policy because in most cases, your “uninsured motorist” coverage will cover you in a pedestrian accident where the driver is not insured or flees the scene of the accident. In fact, we have had many clients who had to use their uninsured motorist coverage because the at-fault party did not have enough insurance.
3. Possible Injuries
Having proper coverage is important because injuries can be serious, including:
• Head injury. This may include serious injuries, such as traumatic brain injury, concussion, or a fractured skull, or could be less serious such as cuts, abrasions and scrapes;
• Broken bones: A pedestrian hit by a moving car can suffer broken legs, ankles, knees, hips, arms, elbows, wrists or ribs, particularly if they are thrown to the ground;
• Spinal cord injuries: If the crash is severe enough, it can damage a pedestrian’s spinal cord, resulting in paralysis, even paraplegia or quadriplegia;
• Torn ligaments: The result of being knocked to the ground could cause rotator-cuff injuries, torn meniscus, etc., which may require surgery to repair;
• Bulging disks: Impact from a moving vehicle that results in being thrown to the ground can cause bulging disks in the lumbar (lower back), thoracic (mid back) and/or cervical (neck) spine. Depending on the severity of the bulges, treatment can range from conservative treatment (chiropractic and physical therapy) to surgery;
• Soft tissue injuries: Very commonly, injuries may include whiplash, back pain, shoulder pain, arm and leg pain;
• Laceration and bruises: A car hitting a pedestrian resulting in the pedestrian being thrown to the ground can result in lacerations and bruises. The laceration may require stitches, and the victim may end up with permanent scarring and/or disfigurement.
4. Best Course of Action Following a Pedestrian Accident
As a pedestrian struck by a motor vehicle, your actions depend on the severity of your injuries. If you are conscious, but are in serious pain and/or cannot move, stay in place and call 911. If you have serious injury or internal bleeding, you may make the injury worse by moving. If 911 is called, then law enforcement and paramedics should be called to the scene. Under this scenario, law enforcement will gather information about the accident and the responsible party’s information.
Of course, if you safely can and if possible, you should try to get information from the at-fault driver, including his or her name, insurance information, address and phone number. Best practice would be to simply take a picture of the at-fault driver’s license and insurance information card with your cell phone. However, be careful not to endanger your health or exacerbate your injuries.
If the injuries are less severe, such as soft tissue (whiplash, back pain, etc.), then conversative treatment, typically, would be indicated. This often includes chiropractic and physical therapy. If the pain persists, you may then need pain management, a consultation with an orthopedic surgeon or even a neurologist, and imaging, such as an MRI.
5. What is Our Job?
Where do Personal Injury and Accident attorneys (such as The Mason Law Firm) come into play? Our job is to help and protect you from the beginning, including initiating a claim against the at-fault driver’s insurance company, getting you the proper medical and emotional care you need, and working toward closing out this matter for you, whether it’s by reaching a settlement with the insurance company or going to trial. Simply said, we will guide you through the entire process, and be at your side at every step.
6. How Do We Get Paid?
You don’t pay us because we work on contingency. This means that we get paid as part of any settlement reached with the insurance company or when we get a judgment after trial. Although we feel confident in our ability and in your case, should something go wrong with the matter and we do not reach a settlement or get a favorable jury verdict, you will not owe us any money.