Injury Claims for Pedestrians Hit by Cars



According to the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), a vehicle kills more than 4,000 people each year and injures more than 70,000 in pedestrian accidents. The NHTSA defines pedestrian as "any person on foot, walking, running, jogging, hiking, sitting or lying down...." On average, a vehicle kills one pedestrian every two hours and injures one every eight minutes.

Pedestrians' Rights and Duties

Your legal rights and duties as a pedestrian are in your state's Motor Vehicle and Traffic Safety Code. Most states' pedestrian laws are quite similar. The most common laws regarding rights and duties of pedestrians are:

Rights

Pedestrians have:

  • The right-of-way in crosswalks
  • On public and private sidewalks
  • On public roads and highways

Duties

  • Pedestrians are subject to traffic lights, do not walk or wait signals, and other pedestrian safety devices and warnings.

  • If there's a sidewalk along a roadway, a pedestrian must walk on it. When there isn't a sidewalk on a public roadway, a pedestrian must walk along the shoulder of the road facing traffic.

  • Even when a pedestrian has the right of way, he must maintain a proper lookout and act reasonably and prudently (carefully) under the circumstances.

  • Pedestrians must use common sense. They must be aware of their surroundings and do whatever is reasonable and prudent under the circumstances to remain out of harm's way.

Common Causes of Pedestrian Accidents

While negligent drivers are often to blame when pedestrians are hit by cars, it isn't always the motorists' fault. Pedestrians too can cause accidents. Let's look at some of the most common causes of pedestrian accidents.

Caused by motorist

  • Failure to yield to a pedestrian
  • Failing to obey the posted speed limit
  • Distractions such as cell phone and texting, eating, putting on makeup, and listening to music
  • Intoxication
  • Car equipment failure (brakes, tires, etc.)
  • Poorly maintained roads

Caused by pedestrian

  • Ignoring a traffic signal
  • Jaywalking or cutting diagonally across a road
  • Walking outside of crosswalk markings
  • Walking along a high-speed thoroughfare
  • Failing to walk on the sidewalk
  • Intoxication

Common Pedestrian Injuries - Primary and Secondary

Although most pedestrian injuries occur at the primary point of impact, others occur secondarily. Secondary injuries happen when the force of the impact propels the pedestrian into another solid object. For example, the initial impact broke the pedestrian's leg, but the force of the impact flung him against a wall and fractured his skull.

Injuries most common to pedestrians are:

  • Scalp lacerations (cuts), contusions (bruises), other lacerations, and abrasions (scrapes)
  • Brain concussions, brain swelling, hemorrhages, and hematomas (blood clots)
  • Lacerations, contusions, and abrasions on the hands and face
  • Spinal cord injuries
  • Torn and sprained ligaments
  • Fractures to the tibia, fibula and femur (leg bones), ribs, arms, hip and pelvis

What To Do If You're an Injured Pedestrian

Like all other personal injury claims, pedestrian injury claims require evidence. If a car hits and injures you, get the motorist's name and contact information. You also need his insurance company's contact information. If your injuries are too serious for you to get the information, ask a friend or one of the police officers to get it for you.

Contact the motorist's insurance company, report the accident, and file your claim. Contact your insurance company to report the accident, as well.

The next step is proving the motorist's actions were negligent and therefore caused the accident resulting in your injuries. Without proof, your claim will fail. Right after a pedestrian accident, you need to start asking the following questions:

  • Did the motorist breach (violate) his duty of care (obligation) to me, or I to him?

  • Were the motorist's actions the direct and proximate (legally acceptable) cause of my injuries? Was he negligent?

  • Were there intervening forces, and if so, do they relieve one or both of us from fault?

Building Your Claim

Duty of Care, Proximate Cause, and Negligence

A motorist has a duty of care to drive safely while obeying traffic laws. Where traffic laws don't apply, the motorist must use his common sense and act reasonably and prudently under the circumstances. His failure to do this is negligence. The same applies to the pedestrian.

To prevail in your pedestrian injury claim, you need evidence to prove the motorist breached (violated) his duty of care to you, and that breach was the direct and proximate cause of your injuries. We've put together an invaluable list of evidence resources you can use to construct these legal requirements.

Sources of Evidence

Your state's motor vehicle handbook

Your state's motor vehicle laws govern pedestrians and motorists. Many states list them online. Check to see whether the motorist violated any traffic laws. Also, check to see whether you did. Print the section of law applicable to your claim.

Police, fire, and rescue report

If your injuries were serious enough to require police, fire, and rescue, the police will write a report. You can get a copy for a small fee at your local police department or municipal records building. A police report's contents can be strong evidence. Police officers receive training to draw diagrams of accident scenes. They also include their impressions of the causes of accidents and responsible parties.

If they issued tickets, they note that also. A ticket is compelling evidence against the person who receives it. If you received one for jaywalking that will certainly have a negative effect on your claim. If the officer issued one to the motorist, it's just the opposite. You can also find witnesses' names and contact information in the police report.

Witnesses

Whether your witnesses come from the police report, from your investigations, or both, their statements are important evidence. Witnesses hear and see things you may have missed, especially after a car injures you.

Res gestae statements against interest, excited utterances, and admissions

Often, when accidents occur, the responsible party, out of guilt or honor, will make a statement. If you or your witnesses remember any of these statements, make sure you write them down.

Statements like "I'm sorry, I didn't see you" or "I was on the phone" or "I'll pay for your medical bills" are some of the res gestae (admissible facts), excited utterances (something the person blurts out), and admissions against interest (admitting fault) the courts have traditionally allowed as strong evidence of liability.

Photographs

Accident photographs are an excellent source of evidence. In a claim where a pedestrian is hit by a car, they're useful to contradict a motorist's assertions it was too dark to see you, or other incorrect statements he might try to use to defeat your claim. Taking photographs of the impact point on the car is quite helpful. Your clothing may have torn, and parts of it may still be on the car.

Your clothing

Be sure to keep your clothing. See whether any of the car's paint or other debris lodged in your pants, blouse, belt, or your shoes. See whether the force of the impact left paint on your clothing.

Weather reports

Although the police report will note the weather at the time of the accident, it's a good idea to get your own independent weather report. You can access weather reports at no charge from the National Weather Service.

Medical records

Your medical records, especially your emergency room admission chart, are important evidence. They tie your injury directly to the accident. Your statements to the doctors and nurses about the causes of the accident are compelling.

Medical bills

Your medical bills fulfill two requirements. They're useful as documentary evidence of your injuries and treatment. They're also useful later, along with your out-of-pocket expenses and lost wages (your specials), to compute your settlement demand.

Negotiating Your Injury Claim

Your negotiations with the insurance company's claims adjuster are evidence-based. The more evidence you have, the better your chances for a higher settlement. Your evidence will highlight the events immediately before the accident, at the time of the accident, and during your recovery. If you prepared your evidence properly, you probably can settle your claim without much difficulty.

Here's a summary of three recent court cases involving pedestrians hit by cars that illustrate the legal duties of care for pedestrians and motorists.

Example: Motorist negligence

The speed limit on a local street is 35 miles an hour. Today, it's snowing and the roads are icy. Visibility is minimal. A pedestrian is standing on the sidewalk. The motorist is traveling at 35 miles per hour. The light turns red, and the motorist applies his brakes. The car slides on the ice, jumps the sidewalk, and hits the pedestrian.

The court said although the motorist was within the speed limit, he breached his duty of care by failing to reduce his speed accordingly. His failure to reduce his speed constituted negligence. His negligence was the proximate cause of the pedestrian's injuries. The pedestrian won the case.

Example: Pedestrian negligence

It was 11:00 p.m. on a moonless night. There were no streetlights. A pedestrian entered a crosswalk while wearing a black T-shirt and dark navy blue pants. The motorist was driving within the speed limit. The light was green for the motorist. The motorist struck and killed the pedestrian.

The court decided the pedestrian didn't act reasonably and prudently under the circumstances. He wore dark colors and entered the crosswalk while the light was green for the motorist. The pedestrian's family lost the case.

Example: Motorist and pedestrian negligence

The pedestrian was walking her dog in her neighborhood on a local street. She was wearing headphones and listening to music. A motorist was driving down the street. The motorist saw the pedestrian. Without notice, the pedestrian suddenly turned to cross the street. The motorist struck and seriously injured her.

The court said both the driver and the pedestrian failed to act reasonably and prudently under the circumstances. The court found the driver should have anticipated the possibility the pedestrian would cross the street. The court also found the pedestrian should not have crossed without looking. Additionally, the pedestrian might have heard the sound of the motorist's engine if the music hadn't impaired her hearing. The court found both parties were comparatively negligent.

Lawyers and Pedestrian Injury Claims

If your injuries are soft tissue injuries such as lacerations (cuts), contusions (bruises), abrasions (scrapes), sprained ligaments, and the like, you probably can handle your injury claim without an attorney.

If though, your injuries are the more serious, hard injuries such as broken bones, organ damage, scarring, or the wrongful death of a family member, you should see an experienced personal injury attorney as soon as possible. Most won't charge any fee for an initial office visit.

See an example of a pedestrian accident demand letter here.

Case Study:

Spinal Cord Injury After Getting Hit by a SUV
In this spinal cord injury lawsuit the plaintiff is asking the court for damages resulting from being hit by a SUV while waiting in the valet area of a parking lot. He fails to present evidence of serious bodily injury.

Print Friendly and PDF

How Much Is Your Claim Worth?

Find out now with a FREE case review from an attorney...

Ask a Pedestrian Accident Question

Unfortunately, we can only accept questions from the U.S.A. and we can't guarantee a response. Please proofread your submission, and DON'T WRITE IN ALL CAPS!

Disclaimer: Information provided in our response is NOT formal legal advice. It is generic legal information based on the very limited information provided. Under no circumstances should the information in our response, or anywhere else on this site be relied upon when deciding the proper course of a legal matter. Always get a formal case review from a licensed attorney.

Previous Questions & Answers...

Dad was hit by a car crossing the street, insurance won't cover full settlement... 
The driver's insurance company says the driver has a $250,000 policy, and after all medical bills are paid my Dad will get the balance. We believe the …

Uninsured motorist hit me while walking in crosswalk... 
I was struck by a vehicle in a crosswalk, where there was a stop and yield sign combination in the crosswalk lane divide. The driver's insurance had expired. …

My daughter was hit head-on by a motorist while crossing the street... 
My 10 year old daughter left a friend's house and went to cross the street and got hit head-on. She suffered a broken tibia, fibula, and fractured ankle. …

Compensation for pedestrian hit by car with soft tissue damage? 
Over a year ago, I was hit on the backside of my upper arm by a car going about 55 mph. I was a pedestrian. No broken bones, but I had a partial tear in …

Road worker struck in back by driver speeding through a work zone... 
A road worker was hit by a car that was speeding through their work zone at night. Coworkers are witnesses and can testify he was not in the road. We have …

Two year old daughter hit by uninsured driver has a broken femur... 
My two year old daughter was hit by a car on the street. She is suffering a femur fracture as a result of the accident. The driver doesn't have auto insurance. …

Hit by a car going in reverse while I was walking in a parking lot... 
I was walking to my car while on a break from my job. A guy in a car was driving forward in the direction to go out of the parking lot, but then backed …

Calculating compensation if at-fault party was billed? 
I was the victim in a pedestrian-automobile accident in August 2015. Driver was cited and cooperated with police. I was transported to the emergency room …

Hit by car going in reverse... 
My husband was hit by a car while walking. The car was driving in reverse out of a parking spot and hit him. He was thrown over the car's back-end, and …

Hit by a car going the wrong way on a one way street... 
I was crossing a one way street and a car came up behind me at hit me. I had not looked behind me because it was a one way rotary and no one was supposed …

Taxi company going bankrupt won't have to pay for my injuries? 
I was walking along the street and was hit by a taxi. The driver admitted in the police report to being on the phone and distracted at the time. My lawyer …

Young woman hit by a car in a crosswalk without traffic light... 
I was walking in a crosswalk and I was few steps from reaching the other sidewalk when I was hit by a car. I lost consciousness and when I opened my eyes …

Hit by a NYC Cab Driver... 
It was raining and dark out side at 9:00 pm. I stopped at the corner of the block preparing to cross and noticed a cab ready to turn and coming in slowly. …

Daughter was hit by a car while walking in the crosswalk... 
My daughter was walking home from school. Using the crosswalk, she wasn't all the way across the street when the light turned green. The car in the far …

Dealing with unknown future medical impact after an accident? 
My child (16) was hit by a car while jogging with the track team on a neighborhood road near the school. The driver admitted fault and his insurance company …

Pedestrian ran into the side of my car? 
A pedestrian ran across three lanes of traffic on an interstate that goes through my town, and then ran into the side of my car. She then proceeded to …

Unlicensed driver without insurance hits man walking across street... 
While crossing the street in a crosswalk, after 1/3 of way across, a driver in the right turn lane made the turn and hit the pedestrian. The car rolled …

Compensation for ankle that was run over by a New York City taxi? 
My ankle was run over, and I was forced out of the vehicle when exiting a taxi cab in NYC. The driver heard a door close, assumed everyone was out of the …

Pinned between my car and a pickup truck while at a gas station...  
I was filling my car tires with air at a gas station, when a pickup backed out of his parking space 15 feet directly across from the air pump and hit me. …

Liability When Hitting a Pedestrian? 
My mom hit a pedestrian with the side of her truck while driving. There was no damage to my mom's car and the person had a small scratch on her elbow. …

Pedestrian Hit By Car While Walking Dog... 
I was walking my dog yesterday when I was hit by a car. When I had started my walk there was a light sprinkle. At the time of my accident it was raining …

Hit by a Bus While Crossing the Street... 
Hi. I was crossing a street with the right of way and was hit by a transit bus making a left turn (on May 5, 2010). The bus driver started to drive off, …

Knee Surgery After Getting Hit by a Car... 
On 11/10/11 my husband was walking the dog at a crosswalk. It was approximately 5:30am and it was dark out, however he was under a street light. He waited …

Hit By a Car While in a Crosswalk... 
I was injured when I was hit by a car while walking in a crosswalk. How would I go about finding out what happened to the woman that hit me? This happened …

Click here to write your own.

Pedestrian Hit in the Street... 
I was walking in a crosswalk when a man made a left turn on a red light and hit me. He was ticketed and there are numerous witnesses listed on the police …

Pickup Truck Hit My Son... 
My son was walking on a crosswalk when a pickup truck went flying over a corner and hit my son. He was thrown about five to ten feet. He has no broken …

Run Over by Mini Van... 
I was at a swamp meet and a man in a gray mini van hit me from behind. He struck my left leg from my calf down to my foot. My foot and leg where run over …

Hit by Car While Walking in a Parking Lot... 
I was hit by a moving car while walking in a parking lot. I was walking into store to get some food for my daughter when out of nowhere this lady passed …

Diabetic Injured in Parking Lot... 
On Tuesday October 4th I was walking to my car in the community college parking lot and was injured. I'm a diabetic and my sugar was a little on the low …

Automobile Accident Settlement Too Low for a Broken Leg? 
My mom was hit by a car while she was crossing the street in July of 2008. She suffered a broken hip and a broken leg and still cannot walk right. She …

Car Crash Information Needed for Injured Pedestrian... 
I was hit by a car while walking on the sidewalk. The driver was obviously at fault. I had a badly sprained ankle and could not walk for over a month. …

Car Collision with Pedestrian at the Mall... 
I was driving my neighbor's car, making a left out of one of the rows in a parking lot at the mall, and had to go onto the the main street in the mall …

Uninsured Motorist Vehicle Hits Pedestrian... 
In California I was hit in a lighted crosswalk (I had a green walk sign) by an uninsured driver (it says "none" on the Police Report) with a suspended …

I hit a pedestrian with my car... 
I was pulling out of the parking lot and I forgot to put my headlights on. I was driving and I almost full on hit a pedestrian (it was a guy I know). Thank …

Question about Insurance Policy Coverage Limits... 
My neighbor backed into me while I was walking my dog. I suffered a fractured skull, nerve damage, and a subdural hematoma. The total medical costs were …

Can I change chiropractors after a car accident? 
I got run over by a car on October 28, 2010. A week later I was sent to physical therapy by my lawyer for about 2 weeks. I stopped going because I didn't …

Pain and Suffering for Car Crash Victim... 
I was hit by a car in a crosswalk outside of a warehouse store. I broke my left foot, was in a cast for 6 weeks, then had physical therapy. It has been …

Hit by Car in a Parking Lot... 
I was walking across a supermarket parking lot at night when a lady pulled out of her parking spot without looking and hit me as I was walking by. …

Car Hits Pedestrian in Crosswalk... 
I was walking across a crosswalk east to west when a car traveling east made a right turn trying to go south, so basically the car hit me as I was just …

Hit by a Chain Store's Vehicle... 
I was coming out of a well known doughnut chain store and walking to the car and a company pick-up truck hit me on the left side of my body. I went …

What's a pain and suffering award for $250,000 in medical bills? 
My wife was a pedestrian crossing a street 11/10/2009 and hit by a truck turning left at the intersection. This resulted in helicopter flight to a trauma …

Click here to write your own.

> > Pedestrians Hit by Cars

How Much Are Your
Injuries Worth?

Find out with a
free attorney review:

TYPE OF ACCIDENT
AUTO ACCIDENT
PERSONAL INJURY
WORKERS COMPENSATION
MEDICAL ERROR
YES! I WANT FAIR COMPENSATION