I Was Hit By a Car While Crossing the Street…Now What?
No one expects a vehicle to hit him or her when crossing the street. Unfortunately, these accidents happen more often than most people realize. In 2017 alone, Virginia crash statistics showed 1,608 pedestrian crashes, with 114 deaths and 1,571 injuries.
If you are hit by a vehicle while crossing the street as a pedestrian or bicyclist, you have rights. Whether you suffered minor or life-changing injuries, the driver that struck you could owe you financial compensation. Take the correct steps to protect your right to monetary recovery in Virginia.
After a pedestrian or bicycle accident, try to remain calm. Do not yell at the driver or panic. Take deep breaths and move out of the street to someplace safe, if you can. If it hurts to move, especially your back, or you cannot feel your legs, remain where you are until paramedics arrive.
Keep the driver that hit you at the scene of the accident, even if you think you do not have any injuries. Legal duties of drivers require them to give a report to the police and trade information with you. Protect your rights by getting the driver’s information:
- Full contact information
- Driver’s license number
- A description of the vehicle
- Insurance information.
If you can, take lots of photos and/or videos of the scene of the accident to serve as evidence later. Get photographs of your injuries, the scene of the crash and the vehicle that hit you. Call 911 to report the pedestrian accident and bring the police to the scene.
When the Police Arrive
When the police arrive, give them your side of the story so the driver’s version is not the only one they have. Be sure to tell only the truth as you know it and avoid speculation. Get your police report number before they leave.
Even if it looks like neither party was injured and the cars are fine, it’s still good to give a report. Injuries might appear later after your adrenaline wears off, and even a small bump could damage a part you can’t see until it fails.
Naturally, if you were hit by a car while crossing the street, you may already be in the hospital. In this case, the police will likely come to you to get their report once you’ve recovered enough. Try to remember as much as you can.
Get Medical Care
Next, if you haven’t been treated yet, get medical care to protect your physical health. Go to a hospital right away for a physical exam and other tests, whether you feel injured or not. An exam can confirm you do not have injuries or diagnose injuries your adrenaline was masking.
If you have injuries, keep copies of your official diagnosis, prognosis, treatment plan, and medical records. Follow your doctor’s orders exactly. Document your injuries thoroughly to help with your insurance claim or personal injury lawsuit later.
Mental health can be a crucial part of your case. If you can, document your physical and mental state in a journal. Use times and dates to establish a timeline. Be truthful and open about how your accident is affecting your daily life, mental health, and physical health.
Speak With a Personal Injury Lawyer
Once you’ve been treated and have the necessary documents to file a claim (i.e., police report and your medical records), it’s time to talk with a personal injury lawyer. Going to a lawyer before you speak with an insurance company can protect you from making a mistake in your claim.
Insurance companies have a lot of tricks to pay out as little as possible. For example, they may reach out to you first and ask for a statement or get you to sign something. Either of these things could get you less compensation than you deserve.
If you are stuck in the hospital after getting hit by a car, you may want to call a lawyer before you are released. Sometimes there are limits to how long you can wait before you make a claim to an insurance company. Your lawyer can make a claim on your behalf.
File an Insurance Claim
Now it’s time to start an insurance claim by calling the correct insurance company. Virginia is an add-on no-fault state. If you purchased add-on personal injury protection insurance, you can call your own insurance provider to file a claim. Otherwise, you will use your tort-based insurance to file a claim with the driver’s insurance provider.
Call the right insurance company and describe the accident. Only give the facts. Do not speculate about what happened or who was at fault, and do not admit fault for the accident. Only disclose the information requested.
The insurance company will assign an adjuster to your case. Be wary when talking to the insurance claims adjuster. This person will not be on your side, but will instead work for the insurer to try to save the company money.
Do not give the adjuster permission to record a statement from you. Do not accept a settlement offer, if the adjuster presents one until you have asked a lawyer about the true value of your pedestrian accident claim. The initial settlement offer could be much less than you deserve.
Ask Your Attorney for Next Steps
A personal injury attorney can review your unique case to provide tailored information about what to do next. A lawyer can take over your insurance claim on your behalf, for example, arguing with claims adjusters for fair and full settlement amounts.
If the insurance company refuses to handle your claim fairly, your attorney could file a personal injury lawsuit against the driver instead. A successful lawsuit could end in a greater compensatory award.
The evidence you gathered in earlier steps will be used by your lawyer to push for the compensation you truly deserve. A few steps taken early in the process can pay out big returns later.