It’s overwhelming, the directions your life can take after being hit by a car. What you need to keep in mind, is that your health is of utmost importance, but you will need to take the necessary steps to protect yourself so that you end up being compensated fully for any injuries you sustain.
In the event you are hit, the last thing you want is for any injuries you sustain to cost you money out of your own pocket. Here’s how to make sure that doesn’t happen and protect yourself, the victim, in the event that a driver hits you.
Stay calm, and keep the driver there.
One of the biggest mistakes an injured pedestrian or cyclist can make is to let the driver leave his number, some cash, and exit the scene. There are too many stories where the driver doesn’t answer his phone or has given the wrong number. The driver is aware of the potential consequences – their mind has time to warp the story, leaving an imperfect memory of what happened (intentionally or not). That’s if they even gave you the right number.
If witnesses are present, ask them to stay.
If witnesses happen to be present, you need to ask them to stay. Politely, of course, until the police and ambulance arrive. Witnesses can be your greatest asset and in times of dispute or question, they are your strongest defense. They add a lot of weight to your story, credibility, and your case.
Do not assume you are OK. Call the police. File a police report.
Sometimes, a phenomenon occurs to a victim that has just been hit, whereby they go into a sympathetic, apologetic mode. This is partly due to shock and the trauma of the situation, and how that can psychologically change people’s behavior and reasoning. Another piece of this phenomenon is that people want to defend themselves from feeling vulnerable at a time when they are very much so. Oftentimes, victims will immediately say they are “okay”, and assure the driver that he/she isn’t at fault. The injured will often apologize for the accident!
No matter what, do not say you are ‘okay’ until you have seen a doctor. In traumatic situations, like getting hit by a car, the body’s adrenaline will surge, assuming you need to go into ‘fight or flight’ mode. This sensation surging through your body physically can mask symptoms or signs of injuries. Many times, symptoms of fractures and concussions take time to manifest. You do not want to find out days later you have a broken bone or a much more serious condition without having called the police and been taken to a hospital and fully examined.
Regardless of the scope of the accident, the police need to be called. A common misconception is that you can “file a police report later”. This is not true. A police report needs to be filed at the scene of the accident.
Collect Your Evidence.
Take pictures of everything. Yes, everything – most importantly, the driver’s license plate, your property damage, bruises, or any physical evidence you have on your body of impact or injury, but also things like street signs, traffic lights, intersection. It’s all critical.
One note, though – do NOT Tweet about the event, or use social media at all while things are happening. This can be used against you as negligence.
You’ll also want to get the names and contact information of your witnesses, too.
Go to a hospital and get a full physical examination.
Again, this does bear repeating: the body is designed to overcome injury in traumatic situations. You don’t know for sure that you are ‘okay’. This is not a suggestion to ‘claim injury’, as that’s insurance fraud. What we’re saying is – you don’t want to eliminate your options when you don’t know the extent of your injury.
Make sure at the hospital that all physical examinations are done in great detail and that all tests are done to fully encompass and gather a wide range of information and capture any sort of physical data that is within the scope of the accident. This usually includes MRIs or CT scans, all relevant x-rays, neurological testing, and any other related medical tests that an authorized medical professional deems necessary who is armed with all of the details of the accident from you, the police, witnesses, and has the full picture of what happened to you.
Make sure to not downplay anything you are feeling, and don’t forget to mention any physical symptoms you are experiencing. Remember, things will often manifest a lot later. Your body is surging with adrenaline and in “fight or flight” mode, so most of your physical symptoms are going to be masked.
Seek the advice of a lawyer.
At the end of this, you are dealing with insurance companies. Your chances here greatly increase when you have the help of a lawyer. Many victims receive less than they deserve, because they take the responsibility upon themselves. Regardless of how smart or prepared you are: when dealing with insurance companies, the word of a lawyer means more than yours.
You are not in this alone. Ultimately, you will want a lawyer with experience in personal injury law. Call Roger Davidheiser to discuss how he can help defend you in the case you get hit by a vehicle while walking or riding your bike. Roger has the experience and legal expertise to guide you through this difficult time, and make sure that all of your rights are being upheld and you get the compensation you deserve.