Pedestrian Hit By A Car: Your Legal Options (2024)

Reviewed By Adam Ramirez, J.D.


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In 2022, 7,508 pedestrians were hit by cars in the U.S., a forty-year high. Over half of all traffic fatalities globally have killed pedestrians.

This guide to car-pedestrian accidents will help you know if you have a legal case and how much it could be worth.

First Steps After Being a Pedestrian Hit by a Car

You must take the right steps after your accident. Doing so can impact your claim and personal recovery. These steps include:

Secure the Scene

Do not leave the scene before:

  • Assessing your injuries.
  • Calling the police to get a police report and getting the driver ticketed.
  • Exchanging names, numbers, and insurance details of the driver.
  • Photographing and videoing where it happened, traffic signals, car damage and any injuries.
  • Obtaining witness information.
  • Calling your insurance to make a report.

If you are a hit-and-run victim, wait for the police.

Get Prompt Medical Attention

Some injuries can appear after impact or can worsen with time. Even if you don’t feel you’re hurt, get immediate medical attention. You also need proof that the accident caused your injuries.

Document Everything

Detail your recovery, including any medical treatment, so you can have ample evidence.

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Duty of Care, Negligence and Fault

Typically, negligence in someone’s duty of care decides most cases. This duty requires reasonable care that would prevent harm.

Like a driver owes pedestrians, especially children, a reasonable duty of care, a pedestrian must also walk with due caution. Failing to do so means that they are at fault.

Shared Road, Shared Blame?

State law determines whether, and to what extent, both parties are negligent. In contributory fault states, if a pedestrian is in any way liable, they lose their claims. In comparative fault states, a pedestrian could partially recover.

So, for example, if a pedestrian was 30% at fault, in a contributory law state, they cannot recover anything. If they were in a comparative law state, they might be able to recover 70% of the damages.

At-Fault Pedestrian

Commonly, pedestrians are somewhat or fully at fault when:

  • Jaywalking or ignoring traffic signs
  • Disrupting traffic flow
  • Failing to use marked pedestrian walkways

Consider speaking with an attorney if you feel you may be responsible.

Personal Injury Protection (PIP)

If you live in a no fault state, your insurance could pay for injuries and lost wages regardless of who’s at fault. Typically required in no fault states, your PIP coverage deals with any minor injuries.

Additional Coverage Options

Other coverage options for an injured pedestrian include:

  • Health insurance coverage: Often, medical insurance plans will cover your expenses after your PIP is exhausted.
  • Medpay: This add-on coverage can be an option even if you don’t own a car. It provides higher coverage protection than most PIP plans.
  • Uninsured/Underinsured Motorists (UI/UIM) Coverage: This optional insurance covers injuries caused by UI/UIM accidents for medical bills, lost wages and pain and suffering costs.

Filing Your Pedestrian Accident Claim

Building a Winning Case

If you’re wondering, “Can I sue if I get hit by a car?,” the answer turns on fault. Usually, a driver is responsible for injuries they have caused. To prove that the driver was negligent, you must establish the following:

  • Duty of Care: The driver owed you a duty to act reasonably.
  • Breach of Duty: The driver failed to act with reasonable care (for example: texting or speeding).
  • Causation: This failure directly caused this accident.
  • Damages: You suffered injuries because of this crash.

You will need to file a “third party car insurance claim” with the driver’s insurance. As such, you would likely be reimbursed to the extent that they are held accountable and up to the policy limits. Strengthen your case by presenting photos of the crash and injuries, medical records, police reports and witness testimony.

Depending on the severity of your injuries and the insurance provider’s offer, you might end up litigating or negotiating a settlement. Consulting a personal injury attorney could serve you in this process.

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Beyond Driver Fault

Employers or the government might share blame and usually have deeper pockets than drivers. Here’s how other parties might be held responsible:

Employer Liability

If an employee was on the job while driving, their employer might be vicariously liable for their negligence.

Government’s Liability

Pedestrian roadways, faulty crosswalks, missing signs or uneven pavements can be unsafe or poorly maintained. As such, local, city or state governments could be responsible. However, sovereign immunity rules could impact your claim, the time frame you have to file and the amount you can be compensated.

Key Deadlines You Need to Know

The clock is ticking after an accident. Here are deadlines you need to know:

Statute of Limitations

If you do not file a court claim within the statute of limitations period, it may be too late. This is typically between two to four years and varies by state. Check with your local courts.

Wrongful Death Claim

The family can file a wrongful death case against the responsible parties if a pedestrian dies. Compensation can include funeral costs, loss of future income and loss of companionship. Given the complexities of this claim, speaking with an attorney might be the best choice.

How Much Is My Pedestrian Injury Claim Worth?

If you are a pedestrian hit by a car accident, you are typically entitled to compensation for your injuries. These damages include:

  • Medical expenses
  • Lost wages
  • Pain and suffering
  • Emotional distress

It might help to contact a lawyer to determine what your claim could be worth.

Getting Legal Help After Your Pedestrian Injury

After an accident, you might not know what to do. An attorney can help, especially if:

  • You have severe injuries.
  • Fault is disputed.
  • The insurance company is lowballing you.

Remember you’re not alone. Reach out to an expert attorney today to help you determine your best path forward.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Stay calm and first see if you are in any condition to move and determine if you have any sustained injuries. 2. Clear yourself away from the road. 3. Obtain the driver and witness(es) information. 4. Wait for the police to arrive with the driver.

  • Being hit by a car can be both psychologically and physically traumatic. Pedestrians can endure acute, deep and long-term injuries. This can leave physical scars and emotional aftershocks that last a long time and impact their quality of life.

  • Cyclists and drivers must share the road with care towards each other. If you have accidentally hit a cyclist, then you could be responsible for their physical injuries and any property damage that they sustained. If the cyclist dies in the accident, then you could face a wrongful death lawsuit by the victim’s surviving family members.

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