It’s quite frightening to hit a pedestrian while driving a car, but it’s a surprisingly common occurrence. Thousands of pedestrians are injured each year, and hitting a person at more than 30 miles per hour greatly increases the risk of serious injury or death. By remaining calm and only speaking when necessary, you can reduce your liability for such an accident. Below, you’ll learn which steps to take after a collision with a pedestrian.
Stay Safe, Get Help, and Exchange Information
It’s understandable to be upset after hitting a pedestrian, but it’s important to remain calm and focused. First, get the victim to a safe place. Do not administer treatment beyond what’s legally required in such an emergency. Next, notify the authorities, medical providers, and insurers. When the police arrive, give an honest statement about how the incident occurred. Exchange contact information, but don’t speak directly to the pedestrian’s attorney or insurance company. Finally, if you’re facing potential charges for the incident, contact an attorney as soon as possible.
When drivers hit pedestrians, the biggest question is usually: Who’s responsible. Generally, liability is determined by the doctrine of negligence. If you fail to exercise care that’s reasonable for the circumstance, you may be deemed negligent. However, in pedestrian accident cases, negligence isn’t always one-sided, and shared liability is treated differently in every jurisdiction.
Consider the Police Report and the Insurance Company’s Findings
Law enforcement officers will take your statement, as well as those of the pedestrian and any bystanders, and they’ll use that information to determine fault. They may make an on-the-spot finding, or they may do a thorough investigation to make a conclusion at a later date. The accident report will indicate which party the officer saw as being liable, but insurers often dispute these findings. If you believe that your insurer may unfairly assign you more liability, consider consulting a personal injury attorney like Sibley Dolman to ensure that your rights are protected.
Evaluate Insurance Coverage
An injured pedestrian is typically covered under his or her own insurance policy or by worker’s compensation if the accident happens on the job. A victim can usually file a claim against the vehicle owner or driver’s auto liability policy. However, the state has no-fault laws, which require insurers to pay for policyholders’ lost wages and medical bills, regardless of fault. Florida’s no-fault laws are complex, and a local injury attorney can give you more information on the state’s rules.
The most effective way to avoid a pedestrian accident is to drive defensively. Here, ‘defensive driving’ means paying attention to those who ride, walk, or play on or near the road. Older adults and young children, in particular, tend to be less aware of drivers, and they’re more likely to move outside crosswalks or ignore traffic signals. A person outside a motor vehicle is more likely to be seriously injured, but as long as you take care to give them room and time to move, you may be able to prevent an accident.
Seek Legal Advice
Florida’s auto insurance laws are quite complicated, and they’re full of exclusions and limitations. To sort things out, you’ll need to seek advice from a personal injury attorney. By following these steps, you’re more likely to protect your legal rights and resolve the accident claim as quickly as possible.