Hitting a pedestrian with your car is a fairly common incident. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that over 60,000 pedestrians were injured in car accidents in 2006. What’s more, a driver can severely injure a pedestrian while traveling at only 10 miles per hour. Every driver should know what to do after harming a pedestrian with their car, including what to do to take care of the injured party, and how to minimize liability.
After hitting a pedestrian with your car, there are three things to do right away:
- Your first priority should be safety. Immediately bring any injured party to a safe place, but do not try to provide any medical care that is not required by the emergency.
- Next, seek medical and legal help. Contact the police, medical care providers, and auto insurance providers for the driver and pedestrian. It may be necessary to contact a defense attorney if you think you may be facing criminal charges, such as for driving while intoxicated. Be sure to be clear and truthful about the incident when the police and your insurance agent arrive.
- Next, exchange contact information if the pedestrian is not incapacitated, including your name, phone numbers, and insurance information. However, try to keep the exchange of information to a minimum. Avoid talking in depth with the pedestrian, or saying statements like “I’m so guilty.” Statements like that or other information could expose you to a personal injury lawsuit. You should also avoid speaking directly to the pedestrian’s attorney or auto insurance company, but try to have your auto insurance company talk to the pedestrian’s attorney, auto insurance company, or directly to the pedestrian.
Usually, the fault of the accident is determined by figuring out which party was negligent. The party who fails to act with reasonable care would be considered “negligent.” The driver or the pedestrian could be the negligent party, or they could both be negligent. For example, if the driver was driving over the speed limit, and the pedestrian was crossing the street illegally, both parties could be negligent. In California, this is because of comparative negligence laws.
When a driver hits a pedestrian, the police will talk to the driver, the pedestrian, and any witnesses to figure out who was at fault. They may make a decision on the spot, or have an extensive investigation to reach a conclusion. The police will state their findings in the police report. The auto insurance company may dispute their findings, however, in which case they would send an insurance adjuster to view the scene of the accident or the damage done to property or the persons involved.
State laws vary greatly in regards to insurance schemes, with various limits and inclusions. It is always recommended to seek advice from an attorney to ask which auto insurer they should approach first.
The best way to avoid pedestrian accidents is defensive driving. “Defensive driving” means being aware of all pedestrians cyclists, and anyone else near the road. Drivers should pay particular attention to children and elderly adults, because they tend to be less aware of the road. Individuals who are not in a motor vehicle are more vulnerable and likely to be seriously injured than a drive, so it is a driver’s responsibility to drive cautiously.