“What do I do when I get hit by a car?” is a question you never wanted to ask. But, since you can’t go back in time and prevent your pedestrian accident, the next best thing is to take immediate steps to ensure both your physical and your financial well-being.
After seeking medical care, your very first step should be to hire a highly-qualified California pedestrian accident lawyer. A good attorney can mean the difference between struggling to pay medical bills, stressing out about affording follow-up care and making ends meet, or being able to focus on your physical recovery because you received a settlement that covers your expenses.
If you consult with highly qualified personal injury lawyer right away you can learn your rights and know your next steps. If you take the right action after your accident, you will be able to deal with the insurance companies, courts, paperwork and police investigators. Or, if you hire a lawyer, they can handle that for you.
If you have not yet made a decision about whether or not you need to hire a personal injury attorney, and are still wondering what to do after you are hit by a car, here is some important information.
If you weren’t transported from the scene of your pedestrian accident, you need to get to a medical facility immediately. Go straight to your doctor, the nearest urgent care or an emergency room. Even if you don’t think you’re seriously injured, adrenaline can cover up initial pain or even serious injury.
Also, shock or a head injury can prevent you from making the right decisions about your well-being. Just get checked out!
The longer you wait to get treated, the harder it will be to prove that your injuries are the result of being hit by a car. Seemingly small injuries can turn into serious issues that require extensive (and expensive) treatment. Even something that’s not life-threatening, like a broken finger, can end up costing thousands of dollars if you end up needing an orthopedic surgeon. Not to mention, it can put you out of work for a while. If you wait too long, the cost could end up coming out of your pocket, or reduce the amount you receive in a personal injury settlement.
Whether you were taken by ambulance or went to the doctor on your own, insist on a thorough exam and make sure your doctor knows about each injury and any pain that you are having, even if it seems minor. Often once the pain subsides from the major injuries, you will start noticing smaller ones. Sometimes neck and back pain doesn’t start right away but becomes serious in the days following an accident. Insist that your doctor examines and documents everything.
Don’t rely on your memory or billing statements to keep track of treatments, tests and doctor visits, especially if you are seriously injured. You may need to enlist the help of a friend or a nurse if you are hospitalized, but do your best to write down everything. Log dates, times, types of treatments and the names of doctors who saw you. Make notes of all follow-up visits and referrals. Later on you can match these up with the bills. It will also make it easier to get medical records and statements from doctors if necessary.
Relying solely on billing statements can make a personal injury claim more difficult. Bills can sometimes take months to arrive and may not contain detailed information. Billing from hospitals can also be complicated as doctors, specialists, laboratories and the hospital itself may all send separate bills at separate times for the same visit. If you have a detailed log, it can be much easier to sort out the bills and make sure you have them all before settling your claim.
Don’t rely on medical records as your only documentation. Create your own record of all injuries. Enlist a family member or friend to take pictures of each injury as soon as reasonably possible. As soon as you are able to, jot down a short statement about each injury, including ones that can’t be documented in a photograph. Include the location, size, severity, pain level, and any other relevant information. As your case progresses, take updated photos of any visible healing of your injuries and add a brief note about the medical treatment required for each injury. Whether you have an accident attorney or not, you will really want to record this information.
Regularly request medical records at each stage of treatment. For example, if you are discharged from the hospital ask for a copy of your records. At the end of each doctor visit or trip to a lab or imaging center, ask for a printed record of the visit. You will probably still have to request certain medical records before the claim is settled, but you will be one big step ahead if you collect them as you go. In addition, you will be protected if your records are lost or doctors change offices. Note that if you do end up hiring a personal injury lawyer for your case, they will handle this for you.
Regardless of the circumstances surrounding the accident, file a traffic accident report. Your chances of having your medical costs covered or receiving a settlement could be reduced if you don’t have a police report to support your claim. Even if you think you might somehow share in the blame of the accident, call the police. Don’t admit fault, but always get a police report.
If you were seriously injured and transported by ambulance the police were probably already notified and will interview you when your doctor allows it, but it’s still a good idea to make sure they have been contacted. If you left the scene on your own to seek treatment and didn’t have any contact with the police, call right away and make a report. Don’t delay and don’t rely on the word of the driver or accept a simple exchange of information. They may give you false information or change their story later. Note that it is always more difficult to make a report after you’ve left the scene of the accident than it is if you call the cops out to the scene.
When you contact the police, make your own record by politely asking the responding officer for their last name and badge number. Also ask for the case number assigned to the accident. This information will make it much easier to obtain a copy of the report when it is completed and to contact the officer assigned to your case if you need additional assistance. If you are contacted by the police department for any follow-up interviews, log the name and badge number of anyone you talk to and request a copy of those reports as well. Keeping track of all of this can be “insurance” in case the police don’t collect all the information necessary to prove your case.
It may be tempting to take some time to heal or see how high the medical bills go, but the sooner you have an attorney on your side the easier the process will be. A lawyer can help guide you through the process of getting compensated for medical bills and lost wages, as well as ensuring that you get a full settlement from the insurance company. When you bring an attorney on to your case right away, you can avoid costly mistakes by getting the right advice from the start.
Insurance companies want to pay out as little as possible and they have a team of attorneys and staff already in place to minimize payouts. When you take on an insurance company by yourself, no matter how friendly and helpful their representatives seem, you are taking on a massive team of highly-trained and experienced professionals whose very job is to try and give you nothing. Hiring an attorney that has the knowledge to go up against this system is a smart and practical way to make sure you get every penny that you deserve.
You cannot trust the insurance company to help you through the claims process. They have their own agenda. California laws and the court system can be difficult to navigate on your own. Friends and family may offer well-meaning advice, but they don’t have the knowledge to back it up. The best advice for what to do after you are hit by a car is to enlist some trustworthy legal help.
An attorney that advocates solely for you is someone you can trust to help you through the process. Your pedestrian accident lawyer can protect you from tricky insurance tactics, help you make the best decisions for your case, and ensure that you don’t lose out on potential compensation.
In some cases, the driver or the insurance company may try to pin the blame on you for getting hit by a car. Your attorney will make sure that the insurance company does not misuse any statements you may have made and will ward off any attempts to reduce your settlement. Having a personal injury lawyer will keep the insurance company from trying to coerce you into admitting fault for the accident. Having an attorney on your side following a pedestrian vs vehicle accident is some of the best insurance you can have to make sure you aren’t wrongly accused or blamed.
When you’ve been hit by a car and need to file an insurance claim or a personal injury case, the more information you can provide the better your chance of success. It’s better to have too much documentation than not enough. Even if you think it is minor, go ahead and document it. Note that if you are going it alone without an attorney, you need to be selective as to the information to turn over to the insurance company. If you have a lawyer, they will sort through what is relevant and what is not, but they can’t create necessary documentation that you don’t have. If in doubt, document it.
Ask for pictures of everything. If they don’t exist, take them if possible. As mentioned earlier, get someone to help you take pictures of all of your injuries as soon as possible following the accident. Check with the police department and witnesses to see if anyone took pictures or video of the accident scene. Request pictures of the car that hit you. Take pictures of the location where the accident occurred as soon as possible.
Also, it is common for motorists to have dashboard cameras. Also, many cities require their police to wear body cameras. Thirdly, nearby businesses may have security cameras that monitor the streets and/or sidewalks, which might prove valuable to your case. All of these can be sources of enlightening information about how the accident occurred and may help bolster your case.
Track down anyone who was a witness to the accident. Ideally they will be included in the police report, but it may also be worth your while to search for witnesses who didn’t stop to talk to the police. This can be done via social media (think NextDoor, Craigslist or other online forums) or old school newspaper advertisements. Try to get the name, address, phone number and email of every witness you can find. If they made a statement to the police or insurance company, ask for a copy of the statement. If they have not made a statement, ask them to write one for you.
You may not have a complete recollection of when you were hit by a car, but write down everything that you can remember leading up to and following the accident. Include what you were doing just prior to the accident, as well as weather conditions, lighting, and the type of traffic signals and their status, such as green stoplights. Describe the moments during and immediately after you were hit as best you can. Keep this information for yourself and your attorney only. Don’t let the insurance company pressure you into giving them this statement, especially if you plan on pursuing a personal injury claim.
Keep track of all out-of-pocket expenses involved with your case. It’s easier to claim expenses when you have meticulous records and receipts. If you have to travel for medical care, keep mileage logs and fuel receipts or a Google folder of all Uber or Lyft receipts. Make a note of any medical bills that you have paid, as well as any expenses for counseling related to the accident or alternative care such as a chiropractor or massage therapist. If it is related to you getting hit by a car, document the expense and keep the receipt. Every piece of paper (or digital record) helps!
Create a log of all lost wages you suffered as a result of the accident. Don’t forget to include time that you had to take off for follow-up appointments and aftercare, even if it is months afterward. If you don’t have a pay stub for your last check prior to getting hit, ask your employer for a copy so you already have it on hand if you need to show proof of your income and regular hours. If you end up hiring a personal injury lawyer, they will likely obtain all relevant information to prove a solid loss of earnings claim for you.
It is likely that the driver’s insurance company will contact you right away. They will probably want you to give a statement and provide them with a lot of information. They may try to get your social security number, ask you to sign documents and push you to quickly accept a settlement. Don’t give them anything other than extremely basic information, including your name, address and phone number as well as the contact information for your attorney if you already have one. Do not give a statement and do not sign any documents. You don’t want to surrender any of your rights before speaking with an attorney.
You may want to notify your own insurance company that you have been hit by a car. Some California automobile policies offer coverage even if you weren’t driving when the accident occurred. As with the driver’s insurance company, don’t provide any detailed information until you’ve spoken with an attorney. However, do let them know that an accident has occurred, as you are contractually obligated to cooperate with your insurance company and some policies have time limits on reporting an accident.
What to do after you are hit by a car:
What not to do after you are hit by a car:
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