Because we have very little foot traffic on or near U.S. thoroughfares these days, American motorists are used to focusing primarily on other vehicles around them on the road. They might not always be as vigilant as they should be when it comes to pedestrians. The unfortunate result is a higher frequency of pedestrian injury/death than you might realize. The South Carolina Department of Public Safety (SCDPS) reports there are at least 100 pedestrian deaths and several hundred pedestrian injuries in our state yearly. If you are hit by a car when you are on foot, you can often hold the driver of the vehicle that hit you accountable for your losses.
How Pedestrian Accidents Happen
Pedestrians can be hit by vehicles in any number of ways. Children are at particular risk as they are less aware of cars and might be hit while running into the street to chase a ball or a pet or getting on or off a school bus. Another common pedestrian accident occurs when a driver fails to yield to a person crossing the street. This is a risk even when the pedestrian is in a marked crosswalk. Motorists are likely to hit pedestrians in parking lots or driveways when they are backing up and fail to look behind them. Finally, an impaired or fatigued driver might hit a pedestrian on a sidewalk or in a pedestrian area because their reaction times and judgment are compromised. However a pedestrian accident occurs, the driver can be held responsible if their negligence led to the crash.
Steps to Take After a North Charleston Pedestrian Accident
When you’re hit by a vehicle while walking or jogging, you should take the following steps if you’re physically able to do so:
- Move to a safe area, call 911 to report the accident, and wait for police/EMTs to arrive.
- Take pictures of the car that hit you, your visible injuries, if any, and the accident scene.
- Ask any witnesses to the accident for their contact information. Their statements or testimony can strengthen your insurance claim.
- Exchange information with the at-fault driver. Don’t discuss the accident or argue. If the driver leaves the scene, you’re a victim of a hit-and-run accident, which is a crime. Try to note the description of the car and driver (as well as the full or partial license plate number if possible) and report this information to the police.
- Don’t admit any fault to anyone or sign anything other than required police documents.
- Don’t make any verbal agreements with the driver or an insurance adjuster who contacts you after the accident. Refer the adjuster to your lawyer.
- If the police or EMTs don’t transport you to a hospital, get medical attention right away, even if you don’t feel you’re seriously injured. The adrenaline produced by your body in response to the accident could mask symptoms of injury that a doctor’s exam and diagnostic tests can find.
- Make notes and keep records of your treatment, pain and suffering, and any time you take off work due to your injuries.
- Notify your insurance company of the accident.
- Don’t post anything about your accident/injuries on social media.
- Consult an attorney.
Naturally, if you are unconscious or otherwise unable to take these steps, do not worry. An attorney can assist you after the fact.
Injuries Commonly Suffered by Pedestrians
A collision between a vehicle and a person is not a fair fight. Pedestrians are much more vulnerable to serious injury than the occupants of a car would be. Injuries sustained in pedestrian accidents include:
- Whiplash, an injury that stretches ligaments and tendons in the neck and upper spine, causing extreme pain and reduced range of motion
- Cuts, lacerations, and scars
- Spinal injuries, including herniated or ruptured discs, as well as complete or incomplete spinal cord injuries, paraplegia, and tetraplegia
- Broken, fractured, or crushed bones
- Internal bleeding or damage to the heart, liver, spleen, and other organs
- Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBIs), which can have serious physical and cognitive effects
- PTSD and other psychological issues
- Burns, if a part of the pedestrian’s body contacts the engine, muffler, or exhaust pipe of the vehicle
- Joint injuries to knees, elbows, wrists, fingers, shoulders, or ankles
- Nerve damage, including neuropathy and radiculopathy
Pedestrian crashes can be—and often are—fatal for the pedestrian.
Getting Fair Compensation When You Have Been Injured
If you’re injured in a pedestrian accident that was not your fault, you may be entitled to file a claim against the at-fault driver’s insurance company for your damages, which could include medical expenses, pain and suffering damages, and lost wages due to taking time off work to recover.
Because injuries sustained when a vehicle strikes a pedestrian tend to be serious and result in expensive claims, the at-fault driver’s insurer might dispute your damage claim or offer you an unfairly low settlement to save money for the company. An experienced lawyer may be able to help with the following:
- Investigating your accident thoroughly and consulting an accident reconstructionist if necessary
- Interviewing witnesses to the accident
- Obtaining video footage of the accident from any nearby cameras
- Consulting with your doctor to understand, organize, and present your medical evidence convincingly
- Putting a dollar amount on your pain and suffering to evaluate your claim
- Demanding a reasonable settlement from the insurer and negotiating for a fair award
- Filing a lawsuit and fighting for you in court if the insurer will not offer a fair settlement
- Helping you to file a wrongful death claim if you’ve lost a loved one in a pedestrian accident
The insurance company for the at-fault driver will have professionals on the case, and so should you!
Understanding Comparative Fault in South Carolina
Another important reason to have an experienced lawyer on your side is the modified comparative fault rule that South Carolina follows in personal injury cases. It’s possible that you could be found partially responsible for your pedestrian accident if, for example, you were hit when crossing the street against the light or in a non-crosswalk area. Even if a percentage of fault is assigned to you, you may still receive compensation for your damages. Your award will simply be reduced by your percentage of fault—as long as it’s less than 51%.
If you’re found more than 50% responsible for the accident, however, you’ll receive nothing. Because the determination by the courts of percentage of fault is a very subjective process that depends on the convincing presentation of your evidence, we recommend you consult the services of an attorney.
Have You Suffered A Personal Injury Due To The Neglect Of Others?
If you've been injured due to the negligence of others you should speak with a personal injury lawyer as soon as possible. Contact us online or call our Charleston, South Carolina office directly at 843.488.2359 to schedule your consultation. We are also able to meet clients at our Conway, Florence, Myrtle Beach, Murrells Inlet, Mt. Pleasant, North Myrtle Beach or North Charleston office locations.