I was walking and got hit by a car. What are my legal rights?

Question:

I was walking and got hit by a car. What are my legal rights?

Answer:

For a pedestrian hit by a car or other motor vehicle, it’s important to understand the different options for getting compensation for any resulting injuries. The first thing to know is this: You shouldn’t wait to receive medical care. If you’ve got health insurance coverage, use it to get all necessary medical treatment for your injuries. Do everything your doctor tells you to do, keep all appointments, and hang on to all copies of bills and treatment records.

Next, you can start to think about who might be legally at fault for causing the accident that led to your injuries. If it looks like the vehicle driver is responsible for the accident, you can file a “third party” insurance claim against the driver’s car insurance policy. At that point, a claims adjuster would investigate your claim. That means interviewing you, talking to witnesses, reading the police report, getting the driver’s side of the story, examining your medical bills and your doctors’ prognosis in terms of future care, and everything else related to the accident.

If you’ve got significant injuries, you probably want to have an experienced lawyer handling any injury settlement negotiations with the insurance company. Not only will a lawyer set out your strongest argument, he or she will know when it’s time to file a personal injury lawsuit if the adjuster isn’t bringing a fair offer to the negotiating table.

Obviously, your legal options will be limited if you were the victim of a hit-and-run accident. In that situation, you want to make sure you have tried to locate all potential witnesses to the accident, and that you have contacted law enforcement so that a police report of the accident can be generated. (Learn more about What to Do at the Scene of a Car Accident.)

Your options could also be limited if you share some amount of fault for causing the accident that led to your injuries. Even as a pedestrian, you’re expected to obey certain traffic-related laws, including those that apply to jaywalking and walking on freeways. If you break those laws, you might be unable to collect compensation from the driver who hit you, or any compensation you do receive could be significantly reduced. Learn more:Can a Pedestrian Be At Fault for a Car-Pedestrian Accident?

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