What To Do If You Are Hit By a Car While Walking

By Kasey Murray

The average motor vehicle weighs more than 4,300 pounds.

Even when traveling at low speeds, cars can cause serious injuries to much smaller pedestrians who lack the protective outer shell that vehicle passengers enjoy. As a result, about 46% of pedestrian crashes cause at least one injury. Because the risk of injury is so high, it’s important to know what actions to take if you are hit by a car while walking.

What Should I Do if I’m Hit by a Car While Walking?

What To Do If You Are Hit By a Car While Walking

No one expects to get hit by a car when walking down the street. However, vehicles struck more than 2,000 pedestrians on D.C. roadways between 2017 and 2021. If this happens to you, there are several steps you should take.

Get Medical Treatment

Seeking immediate medical care is critical to protect your health and to provide documentation for your injury claim. Call 911 or ask a driver or bystander to do it for you. 

If you think your injuries are too minor to require emergency medical care, visit your regular doctor or an urgent care center as soon as possible. Some injuries may not become apparent until days or weeks after you were hit by a car while walking. 

File a Police Report

If you call 911, the police will probably come to the scene. If not, call the police department directly and ask to file a report. Request the report number and find out when and where you can get a copy.

Gather Documentation

If you are able, begin gathering documentation to support your claim. If your injuries prevent this, ask a friend, family member, or attorney to collect information for you. 

Write down contact information for the vehicle driver, and any passengers or witnesses. Get the driver’s insurance information and driver’s license number.

Take photos of the accident scene, traffic signals, road conditions, damage to the vehicle, and any other factors that could have contributed to the accident. Record the make, model, year, color, and license plate number of the vehicle.

Contact a Personal Injury Attorney

Attempting to deal with the vehicle driver or insurance company on your own can lead to mistakes that may damage your claim. Contact a personal injury attorney before you give any statements to the insurance company. Do not admit fault at the scene.

Pursue Compensation

If someone else’s negligence caused you to be hit by a car when you were out walking, you may be able to recover compensation. Potential sources of compensation include your insurance company, the driver of the vehicle, the driver’s insurance, the driver’s employer, or the city. Your attorney can identify potential sources of compensation and help you pursue them.

Who Is Liable if a Pedestrian Gets Hit?

A driver must look for pedestrians when driving through a cross walk area.

Another party may be liable for your injuries if that party’s negligence caused your accident. The most likely party to be liable is the driver of the vehicle that hit you.

However, you may share some liability if you did not obey traffic laws. Additionally, a third party, such as the city or a business owner, could be liable if unsafe roads caused the accident or the driver was driving the vehicle that hit you for an employer.

To prove liability, you must demonstrate that the other party’s negligence caused the accident and the accident caused your injuries. Common causes of pedestrian accidents include:

  • Distracted driving
  • Speeding
  • Driving under the influence
  • Improper turns or lane changes
  • Failure to stop at crosswalks

Pedestrians sometimes contribute to accidents by jaywalking, walking while talking on the phone or texting, or not checking for traffic before crossing the street.

Contributory Negligence

Washington, D.C., Virginia, and Maryland all have a contributory negligence standard that bars any party who contributed at all to their own injury from recovering from a negligent party. However, since 2016, the law in Washington D.C. has made an exception for pedestrians injured when hit by a car while walking.

This exception allows vulnerable road users, such as pedestrians, to recover up to 100% of their damages, as long as they were no more than 50% at fault for the accident. Under this standard, if you are 50% or less at fault, you can recover compensation from the other party proportionate to that party’s share of the fault for the accident.

For example, if you were 20% at fault and the driver was 80% at fault, you could recover 80% of your damages from the driver. However, if you were 51% at fault, you would not be able to recover any compensation.

Traffic Laws

Drivers and pedestrians must obey traffic laws when traveling in Washington, D.C. Failing to do so may result in liability if you cause an accident.

Vehicle drivers must:

  • Yield to pedestrians in crosswalks when turning right on red
  • Check for pedestrians before turning left
  • Come to a complete stop when approaching an occupied crosswalk

Pedestrians must:

  • Avoid walking on the road when there is a sidewalk
  • Use crosswalks when possible and yield to vehicles when crossing outside of a crosswalk
  • Obey traffic signals and look both ways before crossing the street

Crossing at an intersection without using the crosswalk or not obeying traffic signals is jaywalking, which is illegal in Washington, D.C.

How Can I Recover Compensation After Being Hit by a Car While Walking?

I got hit by a car while walking

If the driver of the vehicle is liable for your accident, you will need to file a claim with that driver’s insurance company. If the driver does not have insurance, you may be able to file a claim with your auto insurance company if you have uninsured motorist coverage.

You also have the option of filing a personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault party. If you win, you could receive compensation for your medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, permanent disability, and other damages. 

Get Legal Help Now

If you were hit by a car while walking, you need an experienced attorney to protect your rights. Koonz, McKenney, Johnson & DePaolis, LLP, has recovered more than $1 billion in compensation for our clients. Contact us today to schedule a free initial consultation. You only pay a fee if we recover compensation for you. 

About the Author
Washington, D.C. and Maryland injury lawyer Kasey K. Murray represents clients in a wide range of personal injury areas including car accidents, premises liability, construction accidents, medical malpractice, workers compensation claims and various appellate matters.