What Happens If You Hit a Pedestrian While Driving? Will Insurance Pay?
Last Updated on March 6, 2020
Hitting a pedestrian with your vehicle while driving is a serious situation. To protect the pedestrian and avoid exposing yourself to liability, you need to take action immediately.
What happens if you hit a pedestrian while driving? Will insurance pay if you hit a pedestrian while driving? Today, we’re explaining everything you need to know about hitting a pedestrian and car insurance.
The First Steps
If you hit a pedestrian while driving, then there are certain first steps you need to take:
First, call the authorities or emergency responders if the pedestrian is seriously injured.
The professionals can assess the situation and determine whether further treatment is required. As with any health-related situation, it’s better to err on the side of caution.
For an ordinary car accident, police generally only need to be called when there’s more than say, $2,000 in damage to both vehicles combined.
However, pedestrian-involved accidents are different. When in doubt, it’s in your best interest to call law enforcement. They can tell you whether you need to file a police report or if any other action is necessary.
Personal Injury Liability After an Accident with a Pedestrian
If you hit a pedestrian with your car and you are at fault, then you may be personally liable for any damages.
If you ran a stop sign, were speeding, or failed to yield the right-of-way, for example, then you will likely owe the pedestrian compensation for any damages. You broke the law and injured a pedestrian who was obeying the law.
In this situation, your car insurance should cover most of the bills. Most states, including New York, require you to have basic liability insurance, for example. Basic liability insurance covers your liability in the event of an at-fault accident. It can cover the medical bills, lost wages, and other expenses of a driver you injured.
Fines and Criminal Charges After an Accident with a Pedestrian
In some situations, you may face fines and criminal charges after an accident with a pedestrian.
If you were driving recklessly when you hit a pedestrian, for example, or if you were under the influence of alcohol, then you might face criminal charges.
The severity of your punishment will depend upon the circumstances, including your actions and the actions of the pedestrian. If you were drunk and swerved onto the sidewalk and hit a pedestrian that was walking, for example, then your case will be treated differently compared to if you were drunk and a pedestrian jumped illegally onto the road in front of you.
Furthermore, if the pedestrian dies, then you could face a charge of vehicular manslaughter.
Or, if you flee the scene of the accident, then you might face misdemeanor charges for a hit and run.
Alternatively, if you hit a pedestrian simply by accident and were not doing anything illegal, and you stop and report the accident to the appropriate authorities, then it’s unlikely you will face criminal charges.
What About Jaywalkers and Comparative Fault?
In some situations, the pedestrian is partially at-fault for the accident. The pedestrian may have suddenly walked onto the road or jaywalked, for example. Even if you were alert and driving the speed limit, you did not have enough time to stop.
Pedestrians are not automatically awarded victory in every accident. Like other personal injury matters, victory depends on who was at fault for the accident.
If the pedestrian was truly the cause of the accident, then the pedestrian cannot collect damages against the driver for injuries.
Furthermore, if a pedestrian’s actions caused a driver to swerve and suffer property damage and injury, then the driver may be able to make a claim against the pedestrian. The pedestrian acted negligently and caused damage to the driver.
Jaywalking is illegal in New York and most other states. A pedestrian caught jaywalking may be required to pay a hefty fine. There’s a reason jaywalking is illegal: it’s dangerous. A pedestrian jaywalking across a busy road or intersection, for example, could cause a serious accident.
If a pedestrian was jaywalking or otherwise engaging in reckless behavior, then the jaywalker may not be entitled to recover damages. Instead, the jaywalker may be required to reimburse the driver for any damage to the vehicle.
Yes, Car Insurance Should Pay
Car insurance will typically pay after a car accident with a pedestrian.
If you caused the accident, then the other driver may make a claim under your liability insurance, which is the basic level of car insurance required in every state.
If there is severe damage to your vehicle, then you can also make a claim under your insurance policy’s collision coverage. Collision coverage (which is optional)
Alternatively, if the pedestrian caused the accident – say, by jumping onto the road in front of your vehicle – then you could make a claim against the pedestrian, in which case the pedestrian’s insurance would pay (or, the pedestrian would pay out of pocket).
When to Hire an Attorney
Car accidents often come down to one driver’s word against the other’s. A pedestrian may claim that you were speeding, for example, while you might claim that the pedestrian jumped in front of traffic.
In cases where fault is being debated or the situation is messy, it may be in your best interest to hire a car accident attorney – especially if a significant amount of money is at risk.
There are plenty of car accident attorneys specializing in accidents involving pedestrians. Schedule a free consultation with one such car accident attorney to avoid paying damage for an accident you did not actually cause.
Ultimately, car accidents with pedestrians come in all different forms. In some accidents, the driver is at-fault and is required to pay damage – like lost wages and medical bills – to the pedestrian. In other situations, the pedestrian is at-fault – say, because she jaywalked or jumped in front of traffic – in which case the pedestrian may be required to pay damage to the driver.
If you are involved in a confusing, contentious, or difficult situation involving a car accident with a pedestrian, then it may be in your best interest to hire a car accident attorney.