What to Do if You Hit a Pedestrian

Car accidents are a fact of life, but sometimes they end with criminal charges. Unfortunately, car accidents sometimes happen because of distracted driving or even drunk driving. In fact, experts estimate that any given moment there are about 660,000 drivers using a cell phone or electronic device as they drive. Whether because of distracted driving, driving under the influence, or simply pure accident, it is not totally uncommon for a car to hit a pedestrian. In 2006, 60,000 pedestrians were injured in a traffic accident. If you are a driver, you could face criminal charges if you hit a pedestrian. To make the best of a bad situation, it’s important to know exactly what you should do. You need to be educated on the basic rules of who is considered at fault in such a situation and what to do, how fault is determined, and how to avoid having an accident like this in the first place.

What to Do Right Away

Understandably, when a driver hits pedestrian everyone is extremely upset. Your first reaction could be to panic and even forget basic safety procedures. Thinking advance about what to do before the moment comes can help you choose the right course of action. Here’s what you need to do:

  • Remember basic safety procedures Your first move should be to call 911. Then you need to get the injured person to a safe place if necessary. Then, move your car out of the line of traffic if it is posing a danger to you, the injured person, or to other drivers. In general, you should not try to give any medical treatment other than emergency CPR.
  • Get legal help You should already have called 911, so the police and medical care providers should be on their way. Unless you are needed to keep the injured person or other safe, you should call your insurance company and explain exactly what happened. If there is any chance that you could face criminal charges, for example, if you were driving under the influence or were using a cell phone or mobile device at the time, immediately contact a criminal defense attorney. When speaking to the police, and to your insurance agent, always tell them the full truth about what happened.
  • Don’t volunteer too much information While you should always tell the truth to the police and to your insurance company, avoid giving unnecessary information or making emotional statements. This is especially true when talking to the injured party or to witnesses. Exchange names, phone numbers, and insurance information. Do not discuss the accident with the other person, and do not discuss how you feel or speculate about how anyone else feels.
  • How is Fault Determined?

    Whenever a driver hits a pedestrian, negligence is usually determined by considering who had a reasonable standard of care and failed to follow it. Sometimes, both the driver and a pedestrian can be considered negligent. For example, if the pedestrian is illegally crossing the street at the same time as a driver is exceeding the speed limit, both could be considered negligent. This varies by state, and some states allow pedestrians to sue even if they were partly at fault. If the police determine that you were at fault, they may press criminal charges depending on the specific circumstances.

    How to Avoid an Accident

    It’s impossible to avoid accidents completely, but you need to be constantly looking for pedestrians. Always be aware and alert when you drive, and remember that anyone who’s not in the car is especially vulnerable and likely to be injured. Exercise extreme caution when driving through residential areas where children may be playing and can dart out suddenly. More than anything, never use your cell phone or any sort of mobile device while you’re driving, and never get in the car to drive if you have had anything at all to drink or taken any drugs.

    No one wants to be an accident, but if you have be sure to contact a criminal defense lawyer to get the best advice and make sure your rights are defended.

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