Pedestrian v. Car Accidents: What you should know after being hit by a car

Ever since we were little, we were all told to look both ways before crossing the street, to avoid being hit by a car. When a pedestrian is hit by a car, the injuries can be devastating.  Often the pedestrian’s body is thrown either onto the hood of the car, into the air or is dragged by the vehicle, sometimes resulting in the loss of life. Following the accident, victims and their families are full of questions not only about their medical recovery but about the legal aspect of what happened. This article is meant to address the legal aspect in the State of Illinois following a pedestrian accident. Keep in mind that in most (but not all) instances, you have only two years to file a lawsuit or you lose your rights completely.
 

The Aftermath of a Pedestrian v. Car Accident

The most important thing to do after being hit by a car is to seek medical attention. Even if you feel okay, it is perfectly reasonable to get checked out by a medical professional. Unlike car v. car accidents, pedestrians are even more vulnerable because they lack the protection of a vehicle surrounding them.  Injuries from pedestrian accidents can often be quite serious and should be treated that way with a visit to the doctor or, if necessary, the nearest emergency room.
 

If the police were not called to the scene, the accident should still be properly documented and reported to the police as soon as possible.  A crash report is required whenever there is bodily injury following an accident, and the police will also assist in the exchange of information. You will need this information in case it becomes necessary to file a claim for injuries or property damage.

 

You should report the accident to your own car insurance company, even if you were not driving. Very shortly after the accident, you will likely get a call from the driver’s insurance company. While you want to cooperate, this is very shaky ground at a time when you are most vulnerable.  Speak to a lawyer before you speak to the insurance company to avoid falling into traps that you will regret later.  

 

What are my Rights as an Injured Pedestrian?

 Newer laws went into effect in the State of Illinois in 2010 to give pedestrians more rights following an injury. Pedestrians now have the right of way if they are in a marked crosswalk or are walking with a green light, walk sign or symbol. Aside from crosswalks,  there are several other situations where vehicles have to stop for pedestrians, like when the car is turning (although often times turning cars might not see pedestrians in time, especially if they are distracted.)  In general, all drivers have an obligation to exercise due care to avoid hitting a pedestrian, or another car for that matter.  Unfortunately, in today’s fast paced world, pedestrian accidents are far too frequent.

 

Do Pedestrians Always Win in Court?

No, not all pedestrians are successful against the drivers who hit them. While it is true that pedestrians are usually innocent victims when they are hit by a car, it is still the law that it is up to the pedestrian to prove that the driver was at fault. This is called having the burden of proof and it means that as the person who was injured, you have to prove your case and it is not up to the at-fault driver to prove that they should not be liable for your injuries. In order to recover for damages, you will need to show that the other driver was negligent, and that your injuries were the result of the driver’s negligence.  This is not always the case, as when a person perhaps runs across a street without looking or darts out in front of a car. Sometimes pedestrian cases call into question the concept of contributory negligence, which means that the pedestrian is blamed for part of the accident. Depending on each party’s respective level of “fault”, a pedestrian could wind up with nothing by way of compensation.  This is why it is important to clearly document everything that happened as soon as it happens, including everything that you remember about how the accident happened, how you felt afterwards, the progression of your medical condition, etc.
 

Who Pays My Medical Bills if I get Hit by a Car?

One of the most common things for people to worry about following a pedestrian accident are all of the medical bills that come flooding in afterwards. Do not let this stop you from getting the medical treatment that you need, especially given how serious pedestrian accidents can be.  The question as to who pays the medical bills and when is one of the most complex questions in personal injury cases, and depends on a number of factors. There is no one right answer for everyone and it is best to discuss the particulars of your situation with your attorney as early as on as possible. If not handled correctly, it can become a mess.  The short answer is that if the driver ends up being held legally responsible (or accepts responsibility voluntarily), their insurance will likely be the one paying the medical and other expenses, but it is a process and there are several considerations to both protect your credit and make sure that everything is handled as efficiently as possible.
 

Now What?

You do not have go through this alone.  Your primary concern should be your physical recovery, but that does not mean that you should wait to discuss your options with a lawyer so that your interests are protected and so that you will be prepared in case you need to file a claim against the other driver.  With your legal worries in someone else’s hands, you can more fully focus on getting better. Following a pedestrian accident, give us a call at 630 250-8813 for a no obligation,  complimentary strategy session with the attorney.
Carol O'Connor Cadiz
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Attorney & Owner at O'Connor Cadiz Law: Bankruptcy, Injury, Real Estate & Mediation