For many people, walking or cycling is a primary mode of transportation. It’s how they get to and from work, shop, and socialize. Most of us spend a significant portion of our day as a pedestrian — someone who is moving by foot in a developed area with street ways. Societally, we’ve made being a pedestrian or cyclist safer through the use of crosswalks and designated lanes, laws designed to prioritize safe crossings, and even technological advancements in vehicles like automatic braking systems. Still, the risk of getting hit by a car persists, and the aftermath can be challenging and complicated.
The CDC reports that nearly 6,000 pedestrians are killed annually when struck by cars. Additionally, 137,000 pedestrians suffered from injuries severe enough to require treatment in a hospital emergency room following being hit by a car. Pedestrians have a 1.5 greater risk of being killed in a car crash than the occupants of the car, placing them in a particularly vulnerable position.
If you have been hit by a car, you probably have a lot of questions to ask a personal injury lawyer about what to do next and what options you have to help your recovery and return to normal life. Depending on the extent or your injuries and the details of the crash, there are several mistakes you need to avoid after getting hit by a car.
Mistake 1: Not Seeking Medical Treatment When Hit by a Car
When a body has suffered a traumatic impact, it is not always possible to immediately assess the damage done. Most people will experience a flood of adrenaline during an accident. Since adrenaline has a tendency to increase focus on the area of attention, it can be easy to ignore immediate signs of an injury. After all, your attention will likely be drawn in many directions. Being hit by a car will often be followed by a rush of excitement and panic by onlookers and the driver of the vehicle. The environment is not conducive to accurately assessing your own level of harm. Even if you feel that you have not been seriously injured, you should seek medical treatment and talk to an injury lawyer as soon as possible in order to make sure there are no hidden injuries.
Mistake 2: Not Calling the Police
Sometimes there is pressure — either from the driver of the vehicle that hit you or from your own desire to move past the unfortunate accident as quickly as possible — to avoid calling the police.
This is a mistake. There is likely quite a bit of evidence at the scene of the accident that a trained eye will be able to document accurately. IF you have been injured by another driver, whether caused by distracted driving or a DUI, you should not try to rely on your own ability to notice, document, and recall these details following such a traumatic event. In addition, a police report is often a necessary and helpful document for potential legal proceedings. Making sure that you have this covered is an important step to recovering as quickly and smoothly as possible.
Mistake 3: Letting the Driver Leave
Sometimes, the driver of the vehicle that hits a pedestrian will flee the scene. There’s little you can do to prevent this, but you can do your best to snap a picture of the vehicle, ask witnesses to stay and make statements to the police, and write down anything you remember — especially focusing on the color and make of the car, the license plate number, and what the driver looked like.
In many instances, however, the driver will stop and check on the pedestrian. If the injuries appear minor, the driver may attempt to leave, but as the injured party, you should insist that the driver stay until the police can come and make a report of the incident. Politely ask the driver to please stay at the scene. Do not put yourself in harm’s way if the driver becomes aggressive or belligerent, but if the situation remains amicable and safe, asking the driver to remain is an important step to getting all the necessary information.
Mistake 4: Not Checking the Police Report for Accuracies
Picture this: a cyclist is hit by a car and sustains serious — but not life-threatening — injuries. The cyclist is whisked away by ambulance to be assessed and treated for injuries that include a broken leg and concussion. Meanwhile, police arrive at the scene of the accident, where the driver has remained, but many of the initial witnesses have dispersed and gone about their day. The report the police take will be largely informed by the driver of the vehicle.
Once you have stabilized from your injuries, insist on seeing the police report and checking it for inaccuracies. If you find mistakes or missing pieces, politely but firmly insist that the record be corrected. If the police did not get a statement from you because you were incapacitated, make sure to call the police station and insist on adding your perspective to the statement.
Handling the immediate aftermath of being hit by a car is overwhelming and complicated for most people, and that’s even more true when they’ve sustained serious injuries. Speaking with a personal injury lawyer can help you make sure that you have avoided the most common mistakes and gathered all the information you can to assist in your recovery.