For Pedestrians Hit by a Car in California: Here are the Things You Need to Know
California is one of the most pedestrian-friendly states in the US. With great all-year-round weather, safe paths for walking, and easy access to transportation services, Californians may consider it safe to walk almost everywhere for work, pleasure, exercise, and more. However, especially in high-density areas, pedestrian accidents do happen. Despite the high volume of pedestrian traffic, drivers may need to pay more attention to people walking on the streets. Because of the force exerted by cars, the results of an impact from a vehicle can be catastrophic.
According to the records published by the California Office of Traffic Safety, there were 972 fatalities among pedestrians in 2019. In 2018 alone, more than 14,000 pedestrians were injured. Despite the safety devices and strict traffic laws in California, these can’t prevent California’s pedestrian fatality rates from being 25% higher than the national average. These staggering numbers may be enough to convince anyone in California to be aware of the threat of pedestrian accidents and know what to do if this happens to them.
Step-by-Step Guide on What to Do If You Are Hit by a Car in California
Though being hit by a car is a traumatic experience, knowing the following steps are vital to ensure you will get fair compensation for your injuries. If your injuries need to be more debilitating for you to be oblivious to your situation, it is helpful to remember the following activities. If possible, seek help to ensure that you have all these things done correctly:
Seek a Safer Position Immediately
The first thing you need to do is to keep calm. Don’t panic. Move to a safer position, like the sidewalk or the shoulder, to avoid further mishaps.
Gather Witnesses and Keep the Driver at the Scene of the Accident
Though some drivers may try to escape the accident, they are legally-bound to stay at the scene. If they do run away, they are guilty of hit and run. Stay calm and ask the driver to remain at the scene. Exchange contact information and provide information to the authorities once they arrive. If there are witnesses, collect their contact information and ask them to stay at the scene so they can share their version of the accident. Witnesses and their statements are vital in a potential pedestrian accident lawsuit.
Seek Medical Attention Immediately
Your safety and wellbeing should be one of your primary priorities. Your adrenaline may prevent you from feeling pain after an accident. Moreover, severe signs of an accident may not show up immediately. In this case, let a medical professional treat you before your injuries worsen. If you are too injured, ask someone to call 911.
Document Your Injuries
Aside from getting prompt medical attention, getting complete and thorough documentation of your injuries is vital for your potential pedestrian accident lawsuit and insurance claim. Your medical records can help prove your case against an at-fault driver. These records will also protect you against insurance companies claiming that your injuries did not result from the car accident. To prevent insurance companies from twisting your statements to try to downplay your injuries, documenting accident-related injuries once you get medical attention is vital. Most importantly, keep a file of your accident-related medical expenses, including receipts from medication and associated medical bills. Lastly, document the time lost from work because of your accident.
Collect as much information about the accident scene as possible, whether with the help of someone at the accident scene or if you are not seriously injured. The essential information you need to take down are:
- The full names and contact information of the at-fault driver and witnesses.
- Information about the vehicle involved, including its license plate and auto insurance details
- The circumstances of the accident, such as the approximate speed of the driver, as well as the direction
- Take photos and videos of the accident scene if possible. Additionally, take pictures of visible injuries, such as cuts, bruises, and scrapes.
Call the Authorities and Get a Copy of the Police Report
Ensure that you call the authorities after getting hit by a car. A police officer will arrive at the scene and file a police report about your accident. They will interview all parties involved, including you, the at-fault driver, and witnesses, and will take down information to establish facts, such as the details required to complete an account of the accidents. These details will include the location, vehicle path, points of collision, and mitigating circumstances, if any. In certain situations, the police report may contain the officer’s preliminary findings of the accident. If a copy of the police report isn’t available, request the officer-on-scene for the identification number of the police report for reference later on.
Never Admit Fault
Though it is natural to apologize after a severe event, a statement such as “I’m sorry” may constitute an admission of fault. Because a jury determines the responsibility, it is best to avoid apologizing to ensure that you leave the court to decide who was responsible for the accident.
Call an Experienced Pedestrian Accident Lawyer Immediately
One of the worst things you can do right after an accident is to try to manage your situation alone. For instance, insurance companies may likely spin a different version of your accident to minimize your injury claim. Worse, they may even try to disprove your claim entirely. An experienced pedestrian accident lawyer can help you negotiate with insurance companies, aside from helping you investigate the accident, and provide you with legal representation and guidance throughout the legal process so you can focus on your recovery.
File an Insurance Claim as Soon as Possible
The statute of limitations is two years from the event date in the case of a pedestrian accident. You may lose the right to seek a lawsuit or compensation against the driver responsible if you fail to meet this deadline. Substantial delay also impact the overall value of your case, so do not wait. Let an experienced pedestrian accident lawyer negotiate with insurance companies and guide you through the legal process to ensure a strong case against the responsible parties. Though you may speak with the insurance company without legal representation, it is not advised to do so.
Let JSM Injury Firm APC Handle Your Pedestrian Accident Case in California
Establishing liability against a negligent driver is required to ensure recovering damages through a personal injury lawsuit. Recovering damages means proving negligence which requires establishing the following:
- Causation: The victim was hurt as a result of the driver’s actions.
- Duty of Care: All drivers, in most circumstances, owe pedestrians, cyclists, and other drivers the legal responsibility for their safety and wellbeing.
- Breach of Duty of Care: The driver failed to behave reasonably in the same situation prior to the accident.
- Damages: The victim suffered because of the accident.
An experienced pedestrian accident lawyer from JSM Injury Firm APC can help you through the legal process and ensure you get rightful compensation or establish the fault once your case goes to court.
Takeaways: Are You Involved in a Car Accident in California? Consider Calling JSM Injury Firm APC
A pedestrian accident lawyer from JSM Injury Firm APC can help you in several ways after you’ve been hit by a car, including:
- Legal representation: A pedestrian accident lawyer can provide legal support in court and advocate for your rights. An experienced pedestrian accident lawyer will help you navigate the legal system so you will get the compensation you deserve.
- Investigation of the accident: An experienced lawyer can investigate the accident to determine who was at fault. They can gather evidence, speak with witnesses, and reconstruct the accident to build a strong case.
- Negotiation with insurance companies: A pedestrian accident lawyer can negotiate with insurance companies on your behalf to ensure you get a fair settlement. Insurance companies may try to offer you a low settlement, but a lawyer can help you get the compensation you deserve.
- Assistance with medical bills: A lawyer can help you obtain compensation to cover medical bills, rehabilitation costs, and other expenses related to your injuries.
To learn more about pedestrian accidents in California, or to book a free legal consultation, call us (949) 404-4826. You may also fill out the form once you visit our contact page.