If you were a pedestrian and got hit by a car in Texas, you may be able to collect compensation for the injuries caused by the responsible motorist. When auto pedestrian accidents occur, pedestrians can better protect themselves by understanding their legal rights and what is necessary to enforce them. A pedestrian hit by a car should take the following steps after the accident.
Move to Safety
Move far enough off the roadway to prevent additional injury or damage from other motorists. The only thing worse than being hit by a car would be getting hit a second time. The most dangerous roads for pedestrians are non-freeway arterials with higher speeds than local roads and sometimes without sidewalks. Pedestrians on any road need to be especially careful at night.
The Texas Transportation Code requires vehicle operators to immediately report to authorities by the quickest means of communication any collision that results in injuries. The police will gather evidence at the scene and prepare an official report of how the accident happened.
A police report can be a valuable piece of evidence that provides an objective version of the events and is usually required by insurance companies. Police are also aware of the legal issues involved in an auto accident and are trained to gather factual information to help resolve related issues.
Police are required to file their reports within 10 days of an accident, and anyone involved in the accident can request a copy of the report from the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT).
Keep Everyone at the Scene Until the Police Arrive
The driver of a vehicle that was involved in an injury-causing accident has a legal duty not to leave the scene without determining the extent of the injuries and providing reasonable assistance as necessary to those who are injured.
But any other person who may have seen what happened and be able to provide an unbiased account of the events is not legally obligated to remain at the scene. It can be difficult to track people down later, and memories can fade. It’s best to encourage witnesses to remain until the police arrive and can interview them so their information is documented while still fresh in their minds.
Document the Accident Scene and Events
The police have a standard procedure for investigating accidents and can be expected to gather most of the relevant information. But it can also be useful for a pedestrian to take pictures of the accident scene, any damage to a vehicle, their own injuries, and lighting, weather, or road conditions right after the collision. These images may later help to establish liability and damages.
If anyone decides to leave before the police arrive, get their contact information and a picture of their car and license plate if possible.
Taking time to write down everything soon after the incident occurs is a good way to document what happened. It provides an accurate account of the events that can be referred to for consistency when a victim is questioned by insurance company representatives or opposing attorneys.
Be Careful with Your Words
Getting hit by a motor vehicle is stressful, to say the least. An accident is a traumatic event, and a person in shock may be more likely to blurt out information that may later prove not to be in their best interests.
It is recommended to keep talking to a minimum and only communicate to obtain necessary information or respond to police questioning. Certainly, avoid admitting you might have done anything to cause the accident or acting in any way like you have some responsibility for what happened.
Comments made in the heat of the moment may resurface later and make it harder to get compensation for your injuries.
Get Evaluated by a Healthcare Provider
This won’t be a problem if a pedestrian is injured severely enough to require emergency transport to a hospital. But in other situations, the full extent of injuries may not be realized until sometime after the accident.
Getting checked out by a doctor soon after the accident is a good idea for many reasons. A doctor may can diagnose injuries that a person may not be aware have occurred and which can be dangerous. A visit to a doctor soon after a pedestrian accident also helps prove the injuries were caused by the accident.
Contact Your Auto Insurance Company
Your auto insurance policy covers you as a pedestrian when you are hit by a car. Texas only requires drivers to purchase liability insurance, but insurance companies must offer both Personal Injury Protection (PIP) and Uninsured Motorist (UM) coverage with all quotes. The coverage is purchased unless specifically declined in writing.
PIP will pay your medical expenses up to the limit of coverage purchased. UM coverage allows you to collect from your own company based on the liability of an uninsured motorist. UM limits will be the same as your liability limits.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) reports that nearly 25 percent of all pedestrian fatalities are the result of hit-and-run accidents. An insurance company considers a hit-and-run driver to be an uninsured motorist.
Consult a Pedestrian Accident Attorney
It is not uncommon for a motorist’s insurance company to claim the pedestrian had some fault for the accident. In Texas, the percentage of fault a pedestrian has for causing an accident will correspondingly reduce the amount of damages the pedestrian can recover. If a pedestrian’s fault is greater than 50 percent, recovery is completely barred. It is critical to a successful personal injury claim that the motorist be found primarily or exclusively responsible for causing the accident.
If you have been injured in a pedestrian accident, the help you need is a free consultation away. Learn about the legal issues you face and the best strategy for enforcing your rights. Discuss your claim with a car accident attorney at John Flood Trial Lawyers in Corpus Christi, Texas.