What can you do if you were hit by a car as a pedestrian? In this article, attorney Kenneth Berger explains what you can do to protect your legal rights and secure a fair recovery after a pedestrian accident. (3 minute read)
In South Carolina, the law requires drivers to do everything possible to avoid hitting a pedestrian. That law is not always followed. Instead, cars frequently strike pedestrians, causing life-changing injuries or death.
Over the past 10 years, pedestrian accident deaths have increased 53 percent, while other traffic safety statistics have decreased, so it’s important to know what your rights are if you or a family member are hit by a car while walking down the street or in a crosswalk. My law firm has handled a number of pedestrian versus car cases, and a few patterns have emerged:
1. The police almost always blame the pedestrian...but it does not matter in a civil case.
It's frustrating to look at an accident report, and see an innocent person blamed. However, that is what generally happens in cases where a car hits a pedestrian. One reason is that the driver may be the only person the police officer speaks with, since the injured pedestrian is likely unable to speak and on the way to the hospital. The good news is that the police report is not admissible in a civil case. In other words, the cop's opinion on who was at fault has no bearing on whether you can receive justice and compensation for your injuries.
2. You can file an insurance claim with the at fault driver’s insurance company to cover your damages.
After being hit by a car, you can file a claim with the person’s auto insurance company to help cover your losses and expenses. To start your claim, you simply need to call their insurer, which can be found on the initial report, also known as the FR-10. If the person was truly at fault for the accident, their insurer should provide you with a full and fair payment to cover all your damages.
Damages in a car vs. pedestrian accident will likely vary depending on the harm caused. If there is a loss of life due to the collision, you can file a wrongful death claim. In situations where a person was hit by a car and survives, damages may include:
- Medical expenses;
- Lost earnings;
- The cost of future medical treatment; and
- Pain and suffering.
3. The insurance companies may initially fault the pedestrian, but we can likely prove otherwise.
One of my first six-figure cases after opening my own practice back in 2011 involved a female pedestrian getting hit by a car in Columbia. Before the client came to me, the insurance company offered her nothing. They blamed her for walking outside of a crosswalk. Likewise, the police officer placed fault with the woman rather than the driver. Fast-forward a couple years and the case settled for a large amount of money at mediation. How? We were able to prove that the man in the car should have seen the woman on foot, and either stopped or switched lanes. Simply put, he should have followed the safety rule that requires drivers to take all necessary actions to avoid running over pedestrians.
4. If there isn’t enough insurance coverage to cover your expenses, an injury attorney can help you explore additional avenues for compensation.
South Carolina only requires drivers to carry $25,000.00 in liability coverage. While some drivers have much larger policies, others do not even have insurance. When a driver either has limited or no coverage and seriously harms a pedestrian, or if it was a hit and run accident, there are still other avenues to explore, such as your own uninsured or underinsured motorist policies. We may also be able to determine if there is another party that can be held responsible for your injury (more on this in #5). If there is third party liability, we may be able to secure additional financial recovery from their insurance providers as well.
5. An experienced injury lawyer can help you identify the true cause of the accident.
The accident may not only be the result of a negligent driver. If there was something inherently dangerous about the roadway design itself, private contractors or the South Carolina Department of Transportation may be liable. Likewise, in 16% of fatal pedestrian vs. car accidents, the at fault driver had a blood alcohol content (BAC) of at least 0.08, the legal limit for driving in South Carolina. If the person who hit you was drunk driving, we may be able to hold the bar or restaurant that overserved them accountable for your damages under South Carolina’s dram shop laws.
Either way, our attorneys are very familiar with these types of cases and will investigate to determine how exactly the accident was caused. We can gather video footage, subpoena phone records (to prove texting and driving), hire experts, and take all necessary action to determine the true cause of the accident.
You Don't Have to Battle Insurance Companies by Yourself After a Pedestrian Accident
The same way my accident firm has helped other injured pedestrians and grieving families in the past, we are here to help you now. From conducting our own site investigation to working with expert witnesses who can properly identify how the collision occurred, our accident attorneys do not want any innocent, injured person to be treated unjustly. Nor do we want the memory of someone whose life was taken by a reckless driver to be in any way blemished by misplaced fault.
Get Legal Help After a Pedestrian Accident in South Carolina
The issues you face after an pedestrian accident are not as simple as some people would have you believe. From how medical bills get paid to how much you should be compensated, it is always better to receive a free consultation from a car accident lawyer than to rely on an insurance company that increases its profits by paying you less.
The attorneys at the Law Office of Kenneth E. Berger have years of experience handling cases like yours, and would be honored to help you and your family with the legal recovery process while you focus on healing. Our offices are conveniently located in Columbia and Myrtle Beach, and we proudly serve the Sumter and Florence areas, as well as the entire state of South Carolina. Call us today at 803-790-2800 (Columbia, SC) / 843-427-2800 (Myrtle Beach, SC), or start a live chat 24/7 with a real, live person to arrange a free and confidential consultation.