When you're injured in an accident as a pedestrian, the first thing to do is get the name, driver's license number, insurance information, and phone number of any driver involved in the incident.
You might also want to call local law enforcement to the accident scene, so that the circumstances of the crash can be documented and a police report can be prepared. Learn more about how police reports are used in accident injury claims.
Next, it's crucial to get medical attention for your injuries. Even if you feel fine right after the accident, it's common for accident injuries to show up at a later time.
The main reason you need to see a doctor or other health care provider is to make sure that, if you have any injuries, you get them diagnosed and treated as soon as possible.
Many pedestrian accidents result in:
Another reason to seek prompt medical help after a pedestrian accident is to protect any claim you make later on. You'll need your medical bills and records to support your injury claim, including their financial impact on you. Additionally, the longer you wait to get medical treatment after an accident, the more likely an insurance adjuster will assume your injuries aren't as serious as you claim.
If your injuries are serious, and/or the driver's insurance company doesn't seem to be taking your claim seriously, your next move after a pedestrian accident is to consult with a personal injury lawyer.
As we mentioned earlier, injuries and other effects of a pedestrian accident are often substantial, and fair compensation can be pretty significant. This means there's a fair chance you'll have to deal with insurance companies and lawyers for the at-fault driver trying to low-ball you and have you sign away your legal rights. To protect yourself and your claim, it's best to have a lawyer either negotiate a settlement on your behalf or at least give you advice on how to proceed.
In the vast majority of situations, getting compensation for car accident injuries (whether you're a pedestrian, passenger, or driver) requires you to either file an insurance claim or bring a lawsuit against the at-fault driver.
Ideally, you can get full compensation from an insurance claim. But car insurance companies often make lowball settlement offers in the hopes you'll accept less (often much less) than you're entitled to receive. Or, the insurance company will take steps to delay paying you anything, or make you jump through extra hoops before finally sending you any money.
And when you do finally accept a settlement offer, one of the conditions is that you'll sign away your rights to pursue additional compensation for any injuries from the accident. This can lead to an unjust outcome, especially if you're not yet aware of the full extent of your injuries.
If the insurance claim process isn't promising a fair result, you may need to file a lawsuit against the driver who hit you. This is where you file a complaint in court to begin a personal injury lawsuit, and this is also where a personal injury lawyer's expertise is crucial.
Lawyers understand the state and local court rules you'll have to follow when filing and responding to pleadings and motions. Then there's formal discovery and the trial itself. And it's not just knowing the rules and following them. It's creating a litigation strategy and formulating the best leverage when negotiating with the other side. You might be able to handle some aspects of the litigation process on your own, but there's simply no substitute for the expertise and experience of a lawyer.
There's no way to know for sure. Even with all the facts of your case and a database of comparable cases and their outcomes, the best you can hope for is a rough estimate. Insurance adjusters, jurors, and judges are human, and you never know what they'll be thinking and what kind of mood they'll be in when they make critical decisions about your case, including your "damages" (your injuries and all other losses that determine the value of your case).
Despite this uncertainty, several factors play a key role in deciding how much compensation you might get:
Personal injury is one of the most widely practiced areas of the law. So the good news is that you'll probably have plenty of potential lawyers to choose from. The bad news is that it may be difficult to find the right one. But here's some guidance to help you make the best decision.
The easiest way is to start with an online search engine. Start by typing in "pedestrian accident lawyer" plus your location (city or county) into a search engine. This should get you a good list of possibilities near you. When browsing lawyer and law firm websites, you'll want to look for a lawyer who:
Another way to find a potential pedestrian personal injury attorney is to ask people you know. Finally, there's contacting a state or local bar association. These are professional organizations for lawyers, and they often have a referral service or a list of attorneys to help potential clients find legal representation.
Finally, on sites like Nolo.com, you can use chat and information submission forms (like the ones right on this page) to connect with a lawyer in your area who might be a good fit.
Choosing the right lawyer means figuring out what's important in general, and what's important to you. That means a lawyer who handles pedestrian accident cases. It might also mean one who has a nearby office where it's convenient to have an in-person consultation or meeting. It almost certainly means making sure you have at least some sort of connection with them, and that you'll be comfortable with them handling your case.
Create a list of lawyers to contact and set up a consultation. During this consultation, you'll explain your case, but you'll also get the chance to ask them questions, including:
Concerning this last point, most personal injury lawyers (like those taking on pedestrian accident cases) work on a contingency fee basis. This means they don't get paid until you get paid, whether from a trial verdict or settlement. But when you do get paid, they take a percentage of what's recovered, often around 25% to 35%.
You want to understand exactly what contingency rate applies, but also when it applies. Then there's how your attorney will handle the litigation costs. For example, are these taken from the amount recovered before or after the attorney takes the contingency fee percentage? Also, if you lose your case, do you have to reimburse your attorney for the litigation costs? Learn more about how personal injury lawyers get paid.
As we've touched on, if you're making a claim as an injured pedestrian after an accident, having the right lawyer on your side can be critical. With so much at stake, it's important to put your claim in experienced hands, and ensure the best outcome. You can connect with a lawyer near you using the features on this page. Or learn more about when you might need a lawyer's help after an accident, and how to find the right personal injury lawyer for you and your case.