Car accidents involving pedestrians are far more likely to cause significant injuries than two-car collisions—and unfortunately, pedestrian and bicycle accidents are on the rise. Many victims will suffer head injuries, broken bones, amputation, paralysis, severe disability, or even death in these crashes, even if the driver is traveling at relatively low speeds. Pedestrians can greatly reduce their risk of permanent injury by knowing what to do in the hours and weeks after an accident has occurred.
What Pedestrians Should Do After a Car Accident
The actions you take after being struck by a car can affect not only your health, but your ability to recover payment for your injuries and lost income. If you were hit while walking or bicycling, you should take the following steps:
- Exchange contact information. If you have not lost consciousness, make sure you tell the driver of the car your name and get his name and contact information as well. If the driver has left the scene, seek help from anyone who passes or stops. Get off the roadway and find a safe place to assess your injuries. If nobody is nearby, call 911.
- Go to the hospital. It is important to seek emergency medical care even if you think you are not seriously injured. A blow to the head can cause disorientation, and the shock of being in an accident can cause victims who may be gravely injured to believe that they are fine. It is always better to be safe than sorry, and going to the hospital will add evidence to your injury case if you need to go to court.
- Report the accident to the insurance company. Be sure to report the accident to your insurance company within a few days of the crash. When it comes to car insurance, Tennessee is a "fault" state, meaning victims can file injury and property damage claims with their own insurer, the insurer of the at-fault driver, or through a third party. If you seek compensation from the at-fault driver, you will likely make a claim against his liability insurance.
- Determine fault. One of the biggest problems in getting compensation for injuries after a crash is determining who was at fault. The costs of injuries and losses when a driver hits a pedestrian are often very high, so both insurance companies involved have a vested interest in blaming the other party. Most courts determine fault by carefully examining which party was the most negligent. For instance, a drunk driver who strikes a biker who was following all of the traffic laws would likely be found negligent. On the other hand, a pedestrian who ran into the street instead of using a crosswalk may be considered negligent. Finally, both the driver and the pedestrian can be found negligent if they were not exercising reasonable care on the road. Insurers can deny claims if they have evidence of negligence, such as the police report of the accident, witness statements, or even your own words to an adjuster when making the claim.
- Contact an attorney. If an insurance company is refusing to pay for your injuries or has assigned you an unfair percentage of fault, you may want to consult with a personal injury attorney. An experienced lawyer can conduct a detailed investigation into the facts of your case, deal with the insurance company on your behalf, and take an at-fault driver to court to get full compensation for your losses.
Victims have only one year after the accident to file a personal injury lawsuit in Tennessee, and just three years after the accident to get payment for damage to property. As the time limit to file for compensation is so short, it is best to discuss your legal options with an injury attorney as soon as possible. Our legal advisors can listen to your story and examine your case carefully to determine the best way to move forward. Contact our legal team today to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation.