Fatal accidents involving pedestrians seem to be on the rise, at least according to data by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. And the statistics presented here did not factor in road accidents involving bicycles. As a human, you need to know what to do when your car hits a pedestrian.
We must make it clear on the onset that hitting a pedestrian does not mean you are a terrible driver or that you have been practicing these bad habits on the road. You can be obeying all the traffic rules and driving a roadworthy car, yet still get involved in an accident.
It can be you at fault, or the other party (the pedestrian, in this case). We urge you to do all you can to be a damn good driver who avoids accidents but should one happen, you need to know the steps that follow. Hitting a pedestrian is a shocking nightmare, and you can momentarily lose yourself, especially if you are a new driver who doesn’t know what to do (or not to do) next.
So, here is what to do when your car hits a pedestrian:
1. Try Not To Panic
Staying calm may not be easy. Obviously, the level of your calmness will depend on the severity of the hit and accompanying circumstances like the mood of the eye-witnesses. At times the public and the hit pedestrian can be hostile to you.
But try your level best to stay on top of things by keeping calm. Stop the car immediately. Don’t jump out shouting, defending yourself, and blaming the pedestrian.
Of course, by keeping calm we don’t mean inaction, as the next step indicates.
2. Call for Medical Assistance
You should not sit in your car, doing nothing. Come out and establish the pedestrian’s condition. If First Aid is necessary and you can perform it, go ahead, as long as the pedestrian is cooperating. Yea, there are situations the injured pedestrian is hostile.
Do not try to perform medical treatment that is beyond your abilities.
At the same time, call for medical assistance. Do not leave until the medical help has arrived. Again, never attempt to move the injured person if he is unconscious or severely hurt.
3. Call the Police
It is a legal requirement in many states that you call the police when you hit a pedestrian. You have to remain at the scene until they arrive; otherwise, you might face serious legal consequences.
In some cases, you leaving before the police arrive upgrades the incident to a hit-and-run accident, which involves criminal charges. At times, a driver hits a pedestrian, judges the incident to be minor, then leaves after giving the pedestrian some pocket money. After you leave, things take a new twist when the police arrive. The pedestrian or witnesses can change the whole story, for instance. Foul play happens. Or the condition of the injured pedestrian can worsen after you leave.
The bottom line is that you should treat any accident as serious, even if it’s insignificant by your judgment.
4. Capture Important Details
You need to document the essential details of the accident; they will be vital when applying for the insurance claim. Record the pedestrian’s contact details. Moreover, include the contact details of witnesses, if any.
You should also provide what else you know about the accident: date, time, location, road condition, weather, and the circumstances leading to the accident.
You should also capture the names and badge numbers of the cops at the scene in your report.
5. Inform Your Insurance Company
Take the time to inform your insurance company of the incident. It would be best if you did this sooner enough. It is your insurance company that will contact the pedestrian’s lawyer on your behalf.
6. Watch Your Words
No matter how shocked or confused you are, try not to speak more than is necessary. For instance, don’t go about apologizing to the victim or his family and friends at the scene because it may imply you were in the wrong.
Okay, you may indeed be on the wrong, but remember your memory of what exactly happened may not be accurate at that moment. It is not you to determine who is on the wrong, whichever the case. Leave that to the police and your insurance company.
If the media, the pedestrian’s attorney, or his insurance company gets there, do not speak directly to them. But you need to honestly state the basics to the police to the best of your knowledge. We do not encourage you to misrepresent facts to escape probable consequences. Avoid piling unnecessary blame on the pedestrian while absolving yourself of any blame. It’s what everyone expects you to do anyway, so it’s no use doing it. Both of you could have been at fault.
When Are You At Fault When You Hit A Pedestrian?
You are on the wrong or at fault if you hit a pedestrian after you failed to yield the right-of-way. The jury will determine the one at fault by considering who failed to exercise reasonable care that led to the accident.
Here, the law of negligence is applied. It is possible for the driver and the pedestrian to both be at fault at the same time. For instance, an speeding driver hits a pedestrian crossing the street unlawfully.
Does My Insurance Company Pay Off All The Damages If I Hit A Pedestrian?
Your car insurance company will compensate the injured pedestrian for the injuries. However, if the damages decided by the court exceeds your policy limits, you have to fork out the balance from your pocket.
Remember that if you hit a pedestrian and it is proven that you were driving carelessly, you are liable to pay fines and/or face jail time.
One of the consequences of speeding is that should you hit a pedestrian, the injury would be more severe than if you were driving at legal speed. It is important to know how to avoid hitting pedestrians even when you are not speeding, and that’s where defensive driving comes in.
Defensive driving teaches that you should stay focused while driving: be aware of the pedestrians, cyclists, roller skaters, etc. Don’t assume all the pedestrians are alert — some are drunk or absent-minded; if you get distracted yourself, it can only result in an accident.
Pierre Paul Driving School is the place to be if you wish to learn more about defensive driving. We focus more on avoiding hitting a pedestrian than how to deal with the situation after hitting the pedestrian.