Pedestrian Hit By Car: What To Do For Maximum Compensation
As a law firm, we often get questions from individuals who were injured while they were doing absolutely nothing that’s unsafe. Many of these are pedestrians who approach us with concerns like “I got hit by a car while crossing the street. Can I be compensated?”
The answer is often yes. In South Carolina, most pedestrian accidents are caused by negligent drivers, not the pedestrians themselves. In fact, it’s common that pedestrians get injured or even killed when they’re just standing on the curb, using the crosswalk, or walking on the sidewalk. When someone else is at fault, an innocent pedestrian may indeed be entitled to damages.
South Carolina law does have some protections for pedestrians from motor vehicle drivers. South Carolina statutes require drivers to stop their vehicles before entering a crosswalk, a stop line, or at least before entering the area where the driver has a view of approaching traffic. Violations of a traffic statute can constitute negligence per se (deemed negligence) and evidence of recklessness sufficient to support an award of punitive damages.
Pedestrian accident victims have several options to ensure that they are properly compensated. Making an insurance claim is typically the first course of action – they can file a claim against the at-fault driver’s insurer and their own. Most South Carolinians carry auto insurance, which covers them even when they weren’t driving during the accident. Other types of insurance may also apply, such as health insurance or worker’s compensation (if the injury was work-related).
In some cases, relying on insurance isn’t enough. Perhaps the victim’s losses are too substantial, or insurance negotiations are failing. In such a case, it is worth consulting with an accident attorney to explore a potential lawsuit.
Despite these options, it’s not always easy for an injured pedestrian or the family of a victim to recover maximum damages. For one, both the police and the insurance companies tend to assume, at least initially, that the pedestrian was at fault to some extent. This can greatly hurt a personal injury claim or a wrongful death claim, especially because South Carolina law follows the principle of comparative negligence.
Under comparative negligence rules, each party’s contribution to the accident is considered. If the injured person was partly at fault, their compensation award will be reduced accordingly. So, for example, if a pedestrian got hit by a car but he turned out to be crossing against the light, he or she could be considered 25 percent to blame, and the payment would be reduced by 25 percent.
Further, comparative negligence rules state that if the injured party contributed 50 percent or more to the accident, they will not be able to receive compensation at all.
What To Do After A Pedestrian Accident
The immediate aftermath of an accident is crucial. This is when most of the evidence can still be found, and it is also when many accident victims make costly mistakes. If a motor vehicle has struck you, stay calm and remember these to-dos:
- Get professional medical attention. Never underestimate your injuries. A simple-looking bruise could later turn out to be a sign of something more serious.
- Report the crash. You must contact the police and file an accident report. Remember to acquire a copy of this report, as this can support your injury claim.
- Gather evidence. Take photos of the vehicle that struck you, as well as the accident scene. If there are possible witnesses nearby, talk to them about what they saw and ask for their contact details.
- Practice caution when talking about the crash. Your words could be used against you later on, especially by insurance adjusters and defense lawyers. Avoid any admission of fault, even a simple “I’m sorry.”
- Contact a lawyer. It is best to have an accident lawyer protect you right from the start. Your lawyer can speak for you and inform you about your most best legal options.
If you have more questions about your pedestrian accident, we at Kassel McVey are glad to provide you knowledgeable, case-specific answers. Please don’t hesitate to talk to us at (803) 256-4242.
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1330 Laurel Street
Columbia, South Carolina 29201
Post Office Box 1476
Columbia, South Carolina 29202
Phone: (803) 256-4242
Toll Free: (855) 256-4242
Fax: (803) 256-1952
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