If you walk to work, walk your kids to school, or like to be outside for exercise or fun, it's possible you could be involved in a pedestrian accident, as walking has become nearly as dangerous an activity as driving. The pedestrian fatality rate in California is almost 25% higher than the national average. In 2018, over 14,000 pedestrians were injured in the Golden State.
Unlike a minor car crash, a pedestrian-vehicle collision can result in life-changing injuries. These injuries may cause serious physical pain and bring with it expensive medical bills. If a pedestrian is hit by a car, you need immediate legal help from the Los Angeles pedestrian injury attorney team at Case Barnett Law to ensure you're compensated fairly for your damages.
Steps to Take When You're Hurt in an LA Pedestrian-Vehicle Accident
If you're involved in a pedestrian-vehicle crash, your injuries may be far too serious for you to take these steps at the scene of the accident. However, it's important that you try to do as many of the following as you can.
Record Details of the Car That Hit You
Try to remember the make and color of the car, whether there was more than one person in the car and any numbers or letters on the license plate.
Call the Police
Be sure that someone at the scene calls 911. The police officer who arrives at the crash site will fill out a police report, and this report can serve as evidence when you negotiate a settlement with the insurance company or need to take your case to court.
See a Doctor
It's important for your health and well-being to see a medical professional immediately following the accident. This may happen automatically if you're seriously injured in the crash and taken to the hospital. However, even if you feel you weren't injured, it's important to see your doctor right away. Pedestrians will likely suffer fractures and internal injuries that you may not see or feel right away. You may also suffer whiplash or a traumatic brain injury(TBI), and the symptoms may not present for several days.
It's also critical to see a doctor because it shows the insurance company that you were concerned about your physical health, the accident was the cause of your injuries, and you're not trying to capitalize on the crash.
Get Eyewitness Testimony
If possible, talk to the people at the scene who witnessed the accident—even if you contact them later using the names and addresses on the police report. Those people may have details or critical information about the person who hit you, the nature of the accident, or important specifics about what happened.
Document the Accident
When you return home, write down all you can recall about the accident. Even small details about the crash can be helpful and necessary if you pursue a personal injury case or when working out a settlement with the insurance company. Over time, you might forget these details, and they can provide critical information about what happened to ensure you get fair compensation.
Gather Photo Evidence
If you're seriously injured, taking pictures or a video of the crash scene may not be possible. But if you are able, use your cellphone to get photos of the area where the accident occurred. Try to capture skid marks from the car's tires, weather conditions, traffic signal devices—anything that will help explain how the accident might have happened.
Hire a Los Angeles Pedestrian Injury Attorney
This is very likely the most important thing you can do when you're injured in a pedestrian-vehicle accident. Communicating with insurance companies can be complicated and frustrating, but personal injury attorneys are skilled at dealing with their often unscrupulous tactics. A pedestrian-vehicle crash attorney knows that insurance companies will do anything to devalue or deny your claim. They may try to:
- Get you to give a recorded statement they can use against you later
- Ask you to sign a medical authorization allowing them to see your entire medical history
- Continue to request unnecessary information to prolong the process
- Dispute the medical treatment your doctor says you need
- Call you soon after the crash to get you to take a low-ball settlement
Hiring an experienced pedestrian accident attorney can help you by taking over the communication with the insurance companies so that you can rest and recover. They'll also determine the value of the claim, including the emotional and psychological damage you've suffered because of the accident and possible reduced earning capacity should you have to change jobs.
An Attorney Will Help You Prove Driver Negligence
To collect damages after a pedestrian-vehicle accident, you must prove that the driver was negligent. There are many ways a driver can be liable for the crash, including:
- Driving while distracted—this can include using a cellphone, looking at a GPS device, or eating while behind the wheel
- Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol
- Driving while drowsy, which can be as deadly as driving drunk
- Failing to give a pedestrian room enough to enter or exit their parked car
The Statute of Limitations for Filing an Accident Claim
When you're injured in a pedestrian-vehicle crash, you have a limited amount of time to file a personal injury claim or file a lawsuit against the at-fault party. This time limit is known as the statute of limitations. If you don't pursue your case within this time limit, you give up your right to pursue it later. California has the following statute of limitations for personal injury cases:
After your pedestrian-vehicle crash, you have two years to file your lawsuit for the injuries you've sustained.
If you're struck by a car while walking or running, you may be wearing a watch, using a cellphone, carrying a tablet or computer, and wearing glasses or sunglasses. If any of this property was damaged in the accident, you have the right to recover compensation for it. You have three years from the crash date to file a civil lawsuit for compensation to replace or repair your property.
If you lost a family member due to a negligent driver, you have two years from their death date to file a wrongful death action.