I was hit by a car while walking in a cross-walk: Now What?
During 2017, there were more than 1,500 crashes involving pedestrians on Arizona roadways. This number is frightening when you consider more than 1,400 of these crashes resulted in a pedestrian injury. Clearly when we leave our home, the last thing we think about is the potential of being struck by a vehicle while walking. Unfortunately, these statistics provided by the Arizona Department of Transportation tell us we need to be constantly aware of our surroundings and we need to know what to do if we’re struck by a vehicle.
6 Steps to Take After Being Struck
Your initial reaction is going to be fairly normal; you are going to be frightened, and even a little angry. However, do not let this anger get the best of you; the first thing you must make sure of is that you are out of the street and someplace relatively safe. Once you are safe; there are some specific steps you should take immediately:
- 1) Contact local law enforcement – whether the driver is still at the scene or not, contact the local police and file a report. While you may think that it is acceptable to call after you have received medical attention, chances are you will be told it is too late. Law enforcement should be contacted regardless of how minor or serious your injuries may be. Make sure you give the officer a complete account of the accident from your perspective as this will be critical information later.
- 2) Get contact information that is available – you should obtain the name and contact information of the driver who was involved in the accident. In addition, you should get their insurance information as well as contact information for any and all witnesses to the accident.
- 3) Photos always help – if you are in a safe area and you have a cell phone with camera abilities, you should take photographs. These photographs should include an approximate location of where you were struck, photos of the vehicle involved and any other information including street signs that might be helpful. If you are in a four-way intersection, make sure that you take photos of the complete area. While some photos may never be used, they can be very helpful in reconstructing the scene and the accident.
- 4) Get medical attention – understand that when you are struck by a vehicle you may think your injuries are minor. However, anytime you have suffered from any type of surprise like this, adrenaline will course through your body and is likely to mask the severity of any injury. You should protect yourself by seeking medical attention once you have completed the police report and obtaining any contact information. You should follow any orders by the physician and make sure that you carefully document any injuries and when possible, ask the doctor to photograph all injures, regardless of how minor they may seem.
- 5) Contact the responsible party’s insurance – as soon as you get medical treatment, contact the responsible person’s insurance company and open a claim. Be careful what questions you are asked; provide only information that is necessary to open the claim including date, time and location of accident as well as your name. Remember, that anything you say during an interview with an insurance company could be used later to reduce the amount of your claim. Make sure to be aware of common insurance company tricks before calling.
- 6) Contact an attorney – an experienced personal injury attorney can be your best friend after such an accident and should be contacted immediately after you have filed an insurance claim. This is important for a number of reasons but primarily to protect your rights after an accident. Arizona law allows you to file suit against a driver who caused your injury for up to two years after the accident. However, if the accident could have been avoided by better signage you may also want to file a civil suit against the municipality which must be done within 18 months.
What You Need to Know About Pedestrian Accidents
In nearly all cases, Arizona pedestrians have the right of way at intersections. There are exceptions to this of course, such as crossing against a signal that clearly tells you not to cross. However, if you are partially through an intersection when the signals change, it is up to drivers to be aware of your presence.
In some instances, the driver who struck you will try to show that you are partially responsible for the accident. This is done for very specific reasons, namely Arizona’s comparative fault statutes. Basically, what this means is that any settlement you reach with an insurance company or through a civil lawsuit could be reduced if you were partially at fault.
Stop and think about this: You leave your home for a morning walk, you are passing through an intersection because you have the right of way and a car turns the corner and strikes you. Unfortunately, this happens far more frequently than we think. Drivers are often distracted because of cell phones, GPS or because they are talking to other people in their vehicle and failed to notice you were in the intersection. When a driver is acting negligently, you should be able to get compensation for your injuries, your medical bills and time lost from work. However, you cannot collect on these injuries if you do not take the steps necessary to report the accident, have your injuries evaluate by a physician and make a claim with an insurance company.
Unfortunately, between 2010 and 2017 there were an average of 1,500 crashes annually which involved pedestrians on Arizona roadways. Since pedestrians are no match for a 2,000-pound vehicle, injuries occur in nearly every single incident. Unfortunately, there are also an average of 150 fatalities involving pedestrians annually.
It is important to protect your rights if you are struck in a crosswalk. Make sure you properly document the incident and seek immediate medical attention. Since a pedestrian accident can occur any time, day or night, you should always be aware of your surroundings. However, a careless driver can surprise you at any time so it is even more important to ensure you know what steps to take after you have been struck.