There have been way too many headlines that relate to pedestrian deaths:
- 2 Pedestrians Die in Separate Crashes in Seattle, Maple Valley
- Pedestrian Struck, Killed in Maple Valley
- SUV Driver Could Face Vehicular Homicide Charge in Kent Pedestrian Death
In the event of a collision, there are crucial steps pedestrians and cyclists must take to protect themselves medically, financially, and legally. If you witness someone else get hit, or are just coming up to a terrible scene, the victim needs assistance, even if he/she appears OK. Be a hero, and please consider it your moral duty to help the victim follow these steps.
Stay Calm and Move Out of the Street
You've just been hit. You're on the pavement or crumpled on your bike. Assuming you're conscious, a mix of fury, incredulousness, and crazy levels of animal adrenaline are overwhelming you. These are the perfect ingredients for unleashing rage onto the driver. That won't help you. Breathe and try to control your (very understandable) emotions. When police arrive on the scene, you will look more sympathetic. You'll also be better able to communicate with the driver. Then, if you can, move out of the street to a sidewalk or driveway.
Keep the Driver at the Scene
Even if you think you're unharmed, do not let the driver leave. It is incredibly common to think you're OK and shake off a driver, only to later find out you've got a broken wrist, rib, or worse. Your adrenaline may mask serious physical harm: After all, you, a soft sack of bones and flesh, just collided with two tons of moving steel. Calmly ask the driver to please stay while you wait for the police to arrive. If witnesses are gathering around you, ask them to stay, too. If it's a hit and run, try to snap a photo of the car's license plate, or at least aim to make a mental note of its make and color. Also know that if you have auto insurance, you may be covered by an uninsured motorist (UIM) clause on your policy, even though you weren't driving.
Call right then and there. A police report is an important form of documentation of the collision. And don't feel guilty about the driver, OK? The sad fact is, in this situation, no one else is watching out for your best interests, except you. A police report can help you strike up with the driver's insurance company. You may have to wait a little, since 9-1-1 has a lot of incoming calls to triage, but it's worth it—don't leave the scene.
Gather Information and Take Photos
While you wait for the police to arrive, get all the motorist's basics, as you would in the event of an auto collision: Driver's license, insurance information, license plate number. Then, whip out your phone and snap pictures of everything else. You can't take too many photos. Most of these snapshots probably won't end up being useful, but some could. Don't assume you can come back later to capture the always changing landscape. If you're not able to collect photos and information yourself, ask a bystander to help you. Jot down his or her information, as well: full name, phone number, and email address. One thing not to do: Tweet about the collision, or post about it on social media.
Talk to First Responders
Give the officer a complete account of what happened, from your perspective. It is not uncommon for a police report not to include a statement from the injured person, particularly where the victim is transported immediately to urgent care. Don't be shy about politely asking to check the officer's facts. After a few days have passed, contact the police to see if you can review a copy of the report to make sure it's accurate. If it's not, fight to fix it.
Seek Medical Attention ASAP
Going to the ER sounds traumatic and the wait can be horrible, I get it. But, you could have easily suffered a more serious injury than you realize—broken bones, internal bleeding, etc. You'll be glad you sought and received treatment soon after the collision, and it will help any potential claim you might have. Health and family come first. So do yourself a favor and help yourself, everything else will come later.
Start an Insurance Claim
Call the insurance companies and open a claim. In a very cursory and summary fashion, tell them that you were hit as a pedestrian or cyclist by so-and-so driver on this day and time in this city. They will likely pressure you to give a full narrative of what happened, whether you've seen a doctor, filed a report, and so on. Don't disclose any of this, and not until you've consulted with a lawyer. They will badger you with emails and phone calls asking for your account. Don't give it to them—you might accidentally say something that hurts you. Then start documenting your related expenses: medical bills, receipts for out-of-pocket expenses, lost wages—all of it. You're going to give it all to the insurance company eventually.
Call a Lawyer
Don't go it alone. Think about it: You're going up against the driver who has a team and legal infrastructure in the form of their insurance, trying to find ways to pay you the least amount of money. Consult with an attorney for free. A letter from me will carry more weight with the insurance company than a letter from you. Trust me.
Contact us today for a free initial consultation. Call now at 425-458-3170 or email us now at [email protected]sharoldson.com.
If your injuries prevent you from coming to our office, we will come to your home or hospital room to provide you with the service you deserve.