What to Do If You’ve Been Hit by a Car as a Pedestrian

In 2018 alone, there were 6,227 pedestrians killed in U.S. roadway accidents, the highest number recorded since 1990, according to The Governors Highway Safety Association. According to the association's annual pedestrian traffic report, possible factors that led to the increase of pedestrian deaths from auto accidents include:

  • Increased exposure to traffic
  • Poor city design
  • Unsafe driving behaviors
  • Increased presence of sport utility vehicles (SUVs)

Our roadways can be a very dangerous environment for those who choose to travel by foot. In order to avoid these tragedies, it is important to have knowledge on what dangers exist for pedestrians as well as what steps to take if you are ever hit by a car as a pedestrian.

Accident Prevention

As a pedestrian, you are understandably in a much more vulnerable position than passengers in a vehicle. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, "pedestrians are 1.5 times more likely than vehicle occupants to be killed in a car crash." In order to keep roadways safe for the community, there are certain safety precautions that should be followed by both pedestrians and drivers. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration offers the following tips for pedestrian safety:

If you are a pedestrian:

  • Follow the rules of the road and obey signs and signals.
  • Always be alert; do not be distracted by electronic devices that take your eyes off the road.
  • Whenever possible, cross streets at crosswalks or intersections, where drivers expect pedestrians.
  • Be visible at all times. Wear reflective materials or use a flashlight at night and in bad weather.

If you are a driver:

  • Always look out for pedestrians.
  • Use extra caution when driving in hard-to-see conditions, like nighttime or bad weather.
  • Approach crosswalks with extra caution and do not pass vehicles stopped at a crosswalk as there may be people crossing that you cannot see.
  • Never drive under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

What to Do If You've Been Hit by a Car

When you are hit by a vehicle as a pedestrian, there are crucial steps to follow to ensure that you care for yourself in the best way possible. The injuries resulting from being struck by a car can be catastrophic; it is important that you give yourself the best chance of recovering the proper compensation for any damages. If you are hit by a car as a pedestrian, follow these crucial steps:

  • If possible, move out of the street and into a safe area.
    Try to remain calm so you can better assess the situation. Move to the nearest sidewalk or shoulder to avoid further damages.
  • Keep the driver and any witnesses at the scene of the accident.
    The driver may be reluctant to remain at the scene. Calmly tell the driver to stay so they can share their contact information for future communication and be on record with the police. Witnesses are a crucial element to a possible legal case. Ask any witnesses to stay so they can provide their contact information and account of the accident to police.
  • Call the police.
    It is in your best interest to file an accident report as soon as the accident occurs. Police records will help your case with insurance or legal claims. In New York State, you are legally required to file an accident report within 10 days of an accident where damages exceed $1,000, according to the Department of Motor Vehicles.
  • Get contact information from the driver and witnesses. If possible, have photos taken of the scene.
    If you choose to pursue an insurance or legal claim, you will need evidence to support it. The testimony of an eyewitness can greatly strengthen your case and help the deciding party determine who is at fault for the accident. If you are injured, ask someone present at the scene to take photos on your behalf. If you are able, take photos from a safe location such as a sidewalk or shoulder.
  • When the police arrive, explain your side of the story and make sure that their report is accurate.
    The police report describing your accident is incredibly important in securing compensation against a negligent driver. This document contains information such as the details of the crash, contact information of all parties, and statements from drivers or witnesses. It is vital for your claim that all this information is accurately documented.
  • If you are in severe pain, seek medical treatment as soon as possible.
    If you believe you may be seriously injured, call an ambulance to transport you to the nearest emergency department. Otherwise, seek treatment from your primary physician. Prompt medical attention allows for prompt treatment and provides medical records that will further strengthen your potential legal case. Even if you do not believe you are injured, have a medical evaluation to make sure you are in good health.
  • Open an insurance claim.
    Contact the driver's insurance company to open a claim. Do not offer more information beyond the fact that you are a pedestrian that was hit by the driver, the date of the accident, and the location of the accident. Contact a personal injury lawyer before providing any further information.
  • If you were seriously injured in the accident, it is in your best interest to consult a lawyer with experience in pedestrian accidents to review your case.
    When a pedestrian is hit by a car, oftentimes the liability lies with the driver. However, this may not always be the case. The best course of action to fully understand your case and its potential compensation is to reach out to a qualified injury lawyer with experience in auto accidents. A skilled lawyer can examine the case and determine the best course of action.

If you have been injured in a pedestrian accident, contact the lawyers at Block O'Toole & Murphy for a FREE legal consultation by calling 212-736-5300 or filling out our contact form online. Our attorneys have a proven track record, including a $32 million settlement for a pedestrian struck by a driver under the influence of drugs.

Laws and Programs That Protect Pedestrians in New York

According to The U.S. Census Bureau, as of July 2018, New York City has an estimated population of more than 8.3 million people. Adding this to the more than 65 million tourists that visited NYC in 2018, according to The New York Times, it is clear that New York's streets are constantly congested with pedestrians.

In order to provide a safe environment in these crowded conditions, drivers must be aware of their duty of care toward pedestrians. The New York Department of Transportation (NYDOT) provides information on laws that drivers must follow such as the responsibility to yield right-of-way to pedestrians in crosswalks and on sidewalks and to not overpass other vehicles that are stopped for pedestrians.

According to NYC.gov, a New York City pedestrian is seriously injured or killed by a vehicle every two hours. In an effort to combat pedestrian accidents, NYC government implemented the Vision Zero Action Plan in 2014. This Action Plan is the city's basis for ending traffic deaths and injuries. Vision Zero aims to:

  • Expand enforcement of traffic laws
  • Update street designs for improved safety
  • Improve public outreach and communication
  • Increase penalties for dangerous driving

Since its inception in 2014, Vision Zero has succeeded in installing 363 speed humps, 20.4 miles of bike lanes, 873 leading pedestrian intervals, and 150 new traffic signals throughout the city, among other efforts. These improvements have so far resulted in declined total fatalities in four of five boroughs in 2018.

With the implementation of Vision Zero, New York City officials hope to regain control of the city's streets and improve pedestrian safety in all boroughs. In a city as densely packed as New York, these improvements are necessary to avoid the unnecessary tragedy of a pedestrian accident.

Legal Representation in Pedestrian Accident Lawsuits

If you were hit by a car, the damages you could suffer can drastically change your life. Potential injuries can leave you with costly medical bills and time taken away from your work and loved ones.

Our attorneys at Block O'Toole & Murphy have extensive experience in litigating cases involving pedestrian accidents. An experienced lawyer can review the facts of the case to determine the best course for obtaining compensation for your losses.

*Select case results for pedestrians injured in auto crashes include:

  • $32,756,156 record-breaking jury verdict for a 60-year-old retired Long Island railroad conductor who suffered brain damage, skull fractures, collapsed lungs, and slipped into a coma after being struck by a driver under the influence of drugs while attempting to help car accident victims.
  • $13,500,000 settlement for a 24-year-old woman who suffered blunt force trauma to the head, body, and limbs as a result of being struck by a car while she was walking home at night.
  • $12,000,000 settlement ($71 million expected payout) for a child who suffered multiple fractures after he was hit by a car that jumped onto the sidewalk as a result of a collision with another car.
  • $9,950,000 settlement for a 28-year-old social worker who required an above-the-knee amputation of her left leg after she was suddenly hit by a van that sped into a parking lot and struck her from behind.
  • $8,800,000 settlement for a 53-year-old pedestrian who suffered a traumatic brain injury after she was struck by a van that jumped onto the sidewalk after a collision with another van.

For more results, please visit our Car Accident Verdicts and Settlements page.

If you or someone you know has been severely injured as a result of being hit by a car, please call 212-736-5300 to speak with a Block O'Toole & Murphy attorney today. We serve New York and New Jersey.

*Previous results do not guarantee a similar outcome.