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

Pedestrian Accidents

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:

  • Distracted driving caused by cell phones and other devices
  • Increased traffic volume and dangerous driving
  • Poor roadway design
  • Unsafe driving behaviors
  • Increased presence of sport utility vehicles (SUVs) and larger trucks with decreased visibility for pedestrians walking in front of vehicles

Our roadways can be a very dangerous environment for those who choose to travel by foot. To avoid these tragedies, it is important to have knowledge of 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. Walking in the middle of a roadway as opposed to a crosswalk substantially increases your chance of being struck by a vehicle.
  • Be visible at all times. Wear reflective materials or use a flashlight at night and in bad weather. Do not assume that just because you can see a vehicle, that vehicle can see you. This is true particularly at dusk and dawn when lighting conditions are changing.

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. Leave extra time to come to a stop, reduce your driving speed to be ready for the unexpected.
  • Approach crosswalks with extra caution and do not pass vehicles stopped at a crosswalk as there may be people crossing that you cannot see. Even when the driver has the right of way the driver still has a responsibility to yield to pedestrians in his or her path.
  • Never drive under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

What to Do If You Have 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 proper compensation for any damages. If you are hit by a car as a pedestrian, follow these crucial steps:

  • Move to a Safe Area
    Try to remain calm so you can better assess the situation. Move to the nearest sidewalk or shoulder to avoid further harm.

  • Keep the Driver and Witnesses at the Scene
    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 the police. If the driver refuses to cooperate and stay at the scene take a photograph with your cell phone if possible, recording the license plate of the subject vehicle.

  • 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.

    Do not let a driver who strikes you with his or her vehicle make you feel bad about calling the police. You are only protecting your rights and preserving them in the event that you have a serious permanent injury. If a driver attempts to pay you cash rather than call the police, you should politely refuse and insist that the police be called, and that the driver remains at the scene until the police arrive and take down the information of everyone involved.

  • Get Driver and Witness Contact Information and Take Photos
    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 can, take photos from a safe place like a sidewalk or shoulder.

    If there are eyewitnesses to the accident, ask them to remain at the scene until such a time as the police can take down their name and telephone contact number as well as address. Eyewitnesses who are not directly involved in the happening of the accident or considered the best witnesses because they are what is known as non-party or disinterested witnesses. This means they have no financial interest in the outcome of the lawsuit, so they are considered more reliable by jurors.

  • Make Sure the Police 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, so speak to the police at the scene. Sometimes the police do not properly or accurately record your version of events. In that case the attorneys at Block O’Toole and Murphy will help you file and amended police report, that way your version of events will be on record.

  • Seek Medical Treatment for Pain Right Away
    No one wants to be involved in an accident. No one wants to be hurt in an accident. From an early age we are taught not to complain but rather to soldier on. That may be a good rule to follow in most circumstances in life, however following a pedestrian accident or other accident is not a good idea. Some accident-related pain goes away, but unfortunately some injuries can last a lifetime. To successfully pursue your claim following a pedestrian accident it is important to timely report your physical injuries and pain to either a medical doctor or a hospital as soon as you can after an accident.

    This is important for two reasons. Firstly, an injury can get worse if it is not treated soon after it occurs. You may cause further injury by attempting to do too much after an accident. Resting after an accident can prevent further injuries. Your doctor may very well want to prescribe some medication to you to help your injuries heal and or physical therapy to help you heal. Diagnostic studies may be required to determine the full extent of your injuries. X-rays only show broken bones. They do not reveal soft tissue injuries such as discontinuations, tears to tendons and ligaments and other soft tissue injuries. An MRI test may be required and/or a cat scan. If you have difficulty walking, problems with balance and or a loss of consciousness you should insist that an ambulance be called to the scene of your pedestrian accident. Ambulance personnel are trained to keep you safe after an accident. Ambulance personnel may determine that it is best for your neck to be immobilized so that no possible further damage can occur.

    When you see your doctor or hospital personnel for the first time be careful to detail the symptoms you are feeling and the way that you were hurt. If you have had prior injuries to the areas that are causing you pain, you should report those prior problems to your health care professional as well. This is known as your medical history, and it is very important that you get as much information as possible so that they can give you the best possible chance of a full recovery.

    Having a medical record followed shortly after an accident preserves your rights and makes it far easier for your attorneys to prove that the accident caused your injuries. If you wait for days or weeks after a pedestrian accident to complain of pain, the insurance company will say that you were not really hurt in the accident but something else caused your injuries. The insurance companies are not looking to pay you what is fair, they are looking to preserve as much of their money as they possibly can. You need to stand up for yourself, the attorneys at Block O’Toole and Murphy will stand strong with you every step of the way.

  • Open an Insurance Claim
    The attorneys at Block O’Toole and Murphy will contact the driver of the vehicle’s insurance company and open a claim on your behalf. We will also file the necessary forms to assure your coverage under New York State no fault law as a pedestrian. Making this contact yourself is not in your best interest, an attorney should help you in this process.

  • Consult a Pedestrian Accident Lawyer
    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 pedestrian accident lawyer can examine the case and determine the best course of action. No one wants to have a permanent injury from a pedestrian accident.

    Everyone hopes that they will fully recover. We hope that also. We are here to protect you in the event that you do not make a full recovery. It is not always clear what injuries will last and what injuries will go away in time. You should not wait to retain an attorney after a pedestrian accident; you should meet with a lawyer at Block O’Toole and Murphy to make sure that you preserve all your rights if you have a permanent injury.

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.

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. To combat pedestrian accidents, the 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 a decline in 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.

Our client, a 24-year-old woman, suffered blunt force trauma to the head, body, and limbs when she was struck by a car while walking home at night. This young woman sustained a brain injury which rendered her unable to testify on her own behalf. Daniel P O’Toole tried this case. Mr. O’Toole retained a lighting/contrast expert from the United States Naval Academy as well as other nationally known biomechanical engineers and accident reconstruction experts to explain to the jury how his injured client should have been visible to the defendant driver despite it being a dark and rainy night at the time of the accident. This trial resulted in a landmark record settlement of $13,500,000 in Suffolk County.

Mr. O’Toole also obtained the clothing worn by his pedestrian client from the Suffolk County Police Department evidence room. He even purchased the exact replica of the car driven by the defendant driver to recreate the accident. Additionally, the accident reconstruction took place on a rainy evening when the moon was in the same phase as it was on the evening of this tragic accident. Going the extra mile makes all the difference for the clients of Block O’Toole and Murphy.

Experience and expertise count in a pedestrian accident case. The attorneys at this firm have been trying pedestrian cases to verdict and settling these cases for over 3 decades. Below are some of the largest recoveries ever made on behalf of injured pedestrians in the State of New York.

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. This pedestrian sustained substantial brain injuries and was unable to offer testimony on his own behalf. Partners Stephen J. Murphy and Daniel P. O’Toole overcame this challenge and took the largest verdict ever in Suffolk County on behalf of this man. This verdict was taken in 2007 and remains a record to this date.
  • $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. In this case, the defendant insurance companies claimed that the young pedestrian darted out in front of traffic and caused the accident. The attorneys at Block O’Toole and Murphy demonstrated that the defendant driver should have been driving at a slower rate of speed and was not paying adequate attention, which caused the accident.
  • $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. This accident took place in Buffalo, NY and the efforts of the attorneys at Block O’Toole and Murphy resulted in a landmark settlement.
  • $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 personal injury attorney at Block O’Toole & Murphy today. We serve New York and New Jersey.

*Previous results do not guarantee a similar outcome.

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