What Happens If You Hit a Pedestrian with Your Car?

What Happens If You Hit a Pedestrian with Your Car?

Hitting a pedestrian with your car is a traumatic experience that can have severe consequences for both the driver and the pedestrian. In such situations, it’s crucial to understand your legal obligations and the steps you need to take to ensure the safety of everyone involved and protect your rights. This comprehensive guide will walk you through the necessary actions, fault determination, insurance coverage, and potential legal implications when you’re involved in a car-pedestrian accident.

Pedestrians are among the most vulnerable road users, as they lack the protective barriers that vehicles provide. Even a low-speed collision can result in severe injuries or fatalities for pedestrians. Consequently, drivers must exercise utmost caution and vigilance when sharing the road with pedestrians, adhering to traffic laws and practicing defensive driving techniques.

What Happens If You Hit a Pedestrian with Your Car?

Being involved in a car-pedestrian accident can be a chaotic and emotionally charged situation. However, your actions immediately following the incident can significantly impact the well-being of the pedestrian, the outcome of any legal proceedings, and your liability. Knowing the proper steps to take can help you fulfill your legal obligations, protect your rights, and potentially mitigate the consequences of the accident.

What Drivers Should Do Immediately After a Pedestrian-Car Accident

Stop Your Car and Ensure Safety

Immediately after a car-pedestrian collision, the driver must stop their vehicle as soon as it is safe to do so. Failure to stop and render aid is considered a hit-and-run offense, which can result in severe legal consequences. Once stopped, turn on your hazard lights and take necessary precautions to ensure the safety of all involved parties and other road users.

Get Medical Help and Contact Law Enforcement

If the pedestrian appears injured, call emergency services immediately for medical assistance. Even if the injuries seem minor, it’s crucial to have the pedestrian evaluated by medical professionals, as some injuries may not be immediately apparent. Also, contact the local law enforcement authorities to report the accident and request their assistance at the scene.

Exchange Contact Information and Gather Evidence

Exchange personal and insurance information with the pedestrian or any witnesses present at the scene. Additionally, gather as much evidence as possible, including:

  • Photographs of the accident scene, damage to your vehicle, and any visible injuries
  • Contact information for witnesses
  • Details about the location, weather conditions, and any other relevant factors

Avoid making any statements that could be construed as admitting fault or liability.

Hold onto Relevant Documents and Keep a Record

Retain all documents related to the accident, such as the police report, medical records, and any correspondence with insurance companies or legal representatives. Additionally, keep a detailed record of the events, including the date, time, location, and any other relevant information.

Contact Your Car Insurer and Consider Legal Assistance

Notify your car insurance company about the accident as soon as possible, providing them with the details and any available documentation. Depending on the severity of the incident and the potential for legal complications, you may also want to consider consulting with a legal professional to protect your rights and interests.

Who Is at Fault for the Pedestrian-Car Accident?

Determining Fault Based on Negligence

In car-pedestrian accidents, fault is typically determined based on the concept of negligence. Negligence refers to the failure to exercise reasonable care, resulting in harm or injury to another person. Both drivers and pedestrians have a legal duty to follow traffic laws and exercise caution to prevent accidents.

Examples of Driver Negligence in Car-Pedestrian Accidents

Drivers can be found negligent in car-pedestrian accidents for various reasons, including:

  • Running red lights or stop signs
  • Failing to yield the right-of-way to pedestrians at crosswalks or intersections
  • Speeding or driving recklessly
  • Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs
  • Failing to maintain proper control of the vehicle
  • Disregarding weather or road conditions

Examples of Pedestrian Negligence in Car-Pedestrian Accidents

While drivers bear a greater responsibility for ensuring pedestrian safety, pedestrians can also contribute to accidents through negligent behavior, such as:

  • Jaywalking or crossing outside designated crosswalks
  • Disregarding traffic signals or signs
  • Walking on highways or restricted areas
  • Being inattentive or distracted while walking
  • Walking while under the influence of alcohol or drugs

What If the Driver and the Pedestrian Are Both at Fault?

Pure Contributory Negligence Rule in Some States

Pure contributory negligence is a legal doctrine followed in some states that completely bars a plaintiff from recovering any damages if they are found to have contributed in any way to the accident. This means that even if the pedestrian is only 1% at fault for the accident, they will be unable to recover any compensation from the driver or their insurance company.

This rule is quite harsh compared to other negligence systems like comparative negligence, which allows for recovery based on the percentage of fault assigned to each party. In states that follow pure contributory negligence, if the pedestrian’s actions are deemed to have played any role in causing the accident, they are considered completely barred from seeking damages.

For example, if a pedestrian is crossing the street outside of a designated crosswalk and is hit by a speeding car, a court applying the pure contributory negligence rule may find that the pedestrian’s jaywalking contributed to the accident, even if the driver was primarily at fault for speeding. As a result, the pedestrian would not be able to recover any compensation for their injuries or damages.

It is important for pedestrians in states that follow the pure contributory negligence rule to exercise caution and follow all traffic laws to avoid being barred from seeking compensation in the event of an accident. Seeking legal advice in such states is crucial to understand how the law applies and what options may be available in case of an accident where contributory negligence could be a factor.

Comparative Fault Rule in Other States

In cases where a pedestrian is involved in an accident with a vehicle, most states follow the comparative fault rule to determine the apportionment of fault between the driver and the pedestrian. This rule allows for the allocation of fault based on the actions of both parties involved in the accident.

For example, if a pedestrian is found to be 30% at fault for an accident, their compensation would be reduced by 30%. This means that if the total amount of compensation awarded to the pedestrian is $10,000, it would be reduced by 30% ($3,000) due to their percentage of fault, resulting in a final compensation amount of $7,000.

The comparative fault rule takes into consideration the actions of both the driver and the pedestrian leading up to the accident. Factors such as jaywalking, crossing against the signal, or being distracted while crossing the street can contribute to the pedestrian’s percentage of fault.

It is important to note that each state may have variations in how they apply the comparative fault rule, so it is essential to consult with a legal professional who is knowledgeable about the specific laws in your state if you are involved in a pedestrian accident.

Impact of Shared Fault on Insurance Claims and Settlements

When both parties are found to be at fault in an accident involving a pedestrian and a driver, the insurance claims process can become more complex. Insurance companies will conduct a thorough investigation into the accident to determine the extent of fault for each party involved. This investigation may involve reviewing police reports, interviewing witnesses, assessing damage to vehicles, and analyzing any available video footage or other evidence.

Based on the findings of the investigation, insurance companies will assign fault percentages to each party involved in the accident. For example, if it is determined that the pedestrian was jaywalking but the driver was also speeding, the insurance company may find that both parties share some level of fault for the accident. The specific percentage of fault assigned to each party will vary depending on the circumstances of the accident.

The determination of fault percentages is crucial because it directly impacts the amount of compensation that the pedestrian can receive from the driver’s insurance company or their own insurance policy. In cases where both parties are found to be at fault, the pedestrian may still be able to recover some compensation for their injuries and damages. However, the amount of compensation awarded will be reduced based on the percentage of fault assigned to the pedestrian.

It is important for pedestrians involved in accidents where both parties are found to be at fault to work closely with their insurance company and possibly seek legal advice to ensure they receive fair compensation. An experienced personal injury attorney can help navigate the complexities of the insurance claims process and advocate for the pedestrian’s rights to maximum compensation.

Police Reports and Insurance Company Findings In Pedestrian-Car Accident Cases

Law enforcement officers called to the scene of a car-pedestrian accident will conduct an investigation to determine the circumstances and potential causes of the incident. They will interview the parties involved, collect evidence, and document their findings in a police report.

The police report can serve as crucial evidence in determining fault and liability in a car-pedestrian accident case. Insurance companies will also conduct their own investigations, which may include reviewing the police report, gathering additional evidence, and interviewing witnesses. The findings of these investigations will play a significant role in determining fault and the potential compensation for the injured party.

What If I Disagree With the Insurance Company’s Ruling?

Steps to Take If You Disagree with Fault Determination

If you disagree with the insurance company’s determination of fault or the amount of compensation offered, it is important to take action and challenge their findings. Here are steps you can take to dispute their decision:

  1. Request a detailed explanation: Start by requesting a detailed explanation from the insurance company regarding how they arrived at their decision. Ask for specific reasons why they believe you are at fault or why they are offering a certain amount of compensation. This will help you understand their perspective and identify any discrepancies in their assessment.
  1. Provide additional evidence: Gather any additional evidence or information that supports your position. This could include witness statements, photos of the accident scene, police reports, medical records, or any other relevant documentation. Presenting this evidence to the insurance company can help strengthen your case and potentially lead to a more favorable outcome.
  1. Consider mediation or arbitration: If you are unable to reach a resolution with the insurance company through direct communication, you may consider alternative dispute resolution methods such as mediation or arbitration. These processes involve a neutral third party who can help facilitate discussions and assist in reaching a fair settlement.
  1. Seek legal advice: If you are still unsatisfied with the insurance company’s decision, it may be beneficial to seek legal advice from a qualified attorney who specializes in personal injury claims. An attorney can review your case, provide guidance on your rights, and represent your interests in negotiations with the insurance company.
  1. File a complaint: If all else fails, you have the option to file a formal complaint with your state’s insurance regulatory agency. They can investigate the matter and ensure that the insurance company is following proper procedures and regulations.

Remember that challenging an insurance company’s decision can be a complex and time-consuming process. It is important to stay organized, persistent, and patient throughout the dispute resolution process. By taking proactive steps and seeking assistance when needed, you can increase your chances of achieving a fair outcome.

Seeking Legal Advice for Disputes with Insurance Companies

If you are unable to resolve a dispute with an insurance company regarding a personal injury claim, it may be time to seek legal advice from a personal injury attorney. Here’s why:

  1. Case Evaluation: A personal injury attorney can evaluate the merits of your case and provide an expert opinion on the likelihood of success in pursuing a claim against the insurance company. They can assess the strength of your case, identify any legal issues, and determine the potential value of your claim.
  1. Negotiation Skills: Insurance companies often have teams of lawyers and adjusters working to minimize payouts. A skilled personal injury attorney knows how to negotiate with these professionals to ensure you receive fair compensation for your injuries. They can handle all communication with the insurance company on your behalf, relieving you of the stress of dealing with them directly.
  1. Court Representation: If negotiations with the insurance company fail to result in a satisfactory settlement, a personal injury attorney can represent you in court. They will file a lawsuit on your behalf, gather evidence, present your case in front of a judge and jury, and advocate for your rights throughout the legal process.
  1. Legal Expertise: Personal injury law is complex, and navigating the legal system without proper knowledge and experience can be challenging. An experienced personal injury attorney understands the laws relevant to your case, knows how to gather evidence to support your claim, and can anticipate and counter any arguments made by the insurance company’s legal team.
  1. Contingency Fee Basis: Many personal injury attorneys work on a contingency fee basis, which means they only get paid if you win your case. This fee structure makes legal representation more accessible to individuals who may not be able to afford upfront legal fees.

In conclusion, if you find yourself at an impasse with an insurance company over a personal injury claim, seeking legal advice from a personal injury attorney is a wise decision. They can provide valuable assistance in evaluating your case, negotiating with the insurance company, and representing you in court if necessary. By enlisting the help of a skilled attorney, you increase your chances of obtaining a favorable outcome in your personal injury claim.

Insurance Coverage for Pedestrian Accidents

Filing a Claim Against Auto Liability Insurance

If you are a pedestrian injured in a car accident, you may be able to file a claim against the driver’s auto liability insurance policy. Auto liability insurance is a type of coverage that drivers are required to have in most states. It is designed to protect drivers from financial liability in the event they cause harm or injury to others while operating their vehicle.

When a pedestrian is hit by a car, the driver’s auto liability insurance should cover the pedestrian’s medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other damages resulting from the accident. In order to file a claim against the driver’s insurance policy, the pedestrian will need to gather evidence to support their claim. This may include witness statements, police reports, medical records, and any other relevant documentation.

It is important for pedestrians who have been injured in a car accident to seek medical attention immediately, even if their injuries seem minor. Some injuries may not be apparent right away, and delaying treatment could worsen the condition. Additionally, seeking medical attention will create a record of the injuries sustained in the accident, which can be used as evidence when filing a claim with the driver’s insurance company.

Once the pedestrian has received medical treatment, they should contact the driver’s insurance company to report the accident and file a claim. The insurance company will investigate the accident and determine the extent of the pedestrian’s injuries and damages. They may offer a settlement to the pedestrian to compensate them for their losses.

If the insurance company denies the pedestrian’s claim or offers a low settlement amount, the pedestrian may need to consider hiring a personal injury attorney to help them negotiate with the insurance company or file a lawsuit against the driver to seek compensation for their injuries.

Coverage Under No-Fault Policies in Certain States

In states with no-fault insurance laws, pedestrians who are injured in accidents involving vehicles may be able to seek compensation for medical expenses and lost wages through their own auto insurance policy or the driver’s policy. This means that regardless of who was at fault for the accident, the pedestrian can file a claim for benefits.

The specifics of no-fault coverage vary from state to state. Some states have Personal Injury Protection (PIP) coverage as part of their no-fault insurance laws, which provides benefits for medical expenses, lost wages, and other related costs resulting from the accident. Other states may have different requirements or limitations on the types of benefits available.

It is important for pedestrians to understand the no-fault insurance laws in their state and how they apply to pedestrian accidents. They should review their own auto insurance policy to see if they have PIP coverage or other benefits that may apply in the event of an accident. If the driver is found to be at fault for the accident, the pedestrian may also be able to seek compensation through the driver’s liability insurance policy.

However, it’s important to note that there may be limitations or caps on the amount of compensation available under no-fault insurance laws. Pedestrians should consult with an experienced personal injury attorney to understand their rights and options for seeking compensation after an accident. An attorney can help navigate the complexities of the law and ensure that the pedestrian receives the full and fair compensation they are entitled to.

Consequences for Hitting a Pedestrian

If you are found to be at fault for hitting a pedestrian with your car, you may be held financially responsible for the pedestrian’s injuries, medical expenses, lost wages, and other damages. Depending on the severity of the injuries and the circumstances of the accident, these costs can be substantial.

Your auto liability insurance policy may cover some or all of the damages you are responsible for, up to the policy limits. However, if the damages exceed your policy limits, you may be personally liable for the remaining amount. In cases of severe injuries or fatalities, the potential liability can be significant, potentially leading to legal action against you.

What If I Hit a Pedestrian With My Car and They Had No Injuries?

If a pedestrian you hit with your car appears uninjured at the scene and does not report any injuries, the likelihood of injury-related claims or lawsuits against you is significantly reduced. However, it’s still crucial to follow the proper procedures, such as exchanging information, contacting the police, and notifying your insurance company.

It’s important to note that some injuries may not be immediately apparent, and the pedestrian may experience delayed onset of symptoms or complications. If this occurs, the pedestrian may seek medical attention and later file a claim against you for their injuries. It is essential to stay in contact with your insurance company and be prepared to address any potential claims that may arise after the accident.

What If I Hit Someone With My Car and They Walked Away?

If someone you hit with your car initially walks away from the accident scene seemingly uninjured, it does not necessarily mean they are unharmed. Some injuries, especially internal ones or those related to shock, may not manifest immediately. It is crucial to follow the standard procedures after an accident, such as contacting law enforcement and exchanging information, even if the pedestrian appears unscathed.

Even if the pedestrian walks away from the accident without visible injuries, they still have legal rights and may choose to seek medical evaluation later. In such cases, they can still file a claim against you for any injuries sustained in the accident. It is important to document the incident thoroughly and cooperate with any subsequent investigations or claims processes.

Can I Sue the Pedestrian for Damages?

While it is uncommon for drivers to sue pedestrians for damages in car-pedestrian accidents, there are rare scenarios where legal action against the pedestrian might be considered. For example, if the pedestrian intentionally caused the accident or engaged in reckless behavior that directly led to the collision, you may have grounds to pursue legal action against them.

Suing a pedestrian for damages in a car accident can be challenging due to various factors. Pedestrians are generally considered more vulnerable road users, and courts may be less likely to find them at fault compared to drivers. Additionally, pedestrians may not have insurance coverage to compensate you for damages, making it difficult to recover costs through legal action.

Avoiding Pedestrian Accidents

To prevent car-pedestrian accidents, practicing defensive driving techniques and staying vigilant for pedestrians on the road are crucial. Always yield the right of way to pedestrians in crosswalks, school zones, and other designated areas. Be prepared to stop suddenly if a pedestrian enters the roadway unexpectedly.

Tips for Preventing Car-Pedestrian Collisions

  • Follow posted speed limits and reduce speed in areas with high pedestrian traffic.
  • Avoid distractions while driving, such as using mobile phones or eating, to maintain focus on the road and potential pedestrian hazards.
  • Use extra caution during adverse weather conditions when visibility may be reduced, making it harder to see pedestrians.
  • Be especially cautious when backing out of driveways or parking spaces, as pedestrians may be less visible in these situations.

Do I Need to Hire a Car Accident Lawyer?

While you may not always need to hire a car accident lawyer after hitting a pedestrian, consulting with legal counsel can provide valuable guidance, especially if the accident results in injuries or disputed liability. Your insurance company will typically handle the claims process and defend you against any legal actions, but having a lawyer on your side can ensure your rights are protected.

If you are facing a complex legal situation following a pedestrian-car accident, such as disputes over fault or significant injuries, hiring a personal injury defense lawyer may be beneficial. An experienced attorney can navigate the legal complexities, negotiate with insurance companies, and represent your interests in court if necessary.


In conclusion, car-pedestrian accidents can have serious consequences for both drivers and pedestrians. Understanding the legal implications, fault determination rules, insurance coverage options, and steps to take after an accident is essential for protecting your rights and ensuring fair compensation. By following safety guidelines, practicing defensive driving, and being aware of pedestrian risks, you can help prevent accidents and promote road safety for everyone. In case of an accident, seeking legal advice and cooperating with law enforcement and insurance companies can facilitate the resolution process and protect your interests. Remember, safety should always be the top priority on the roads to avoid tragic incidents and ensure the well-being of all road users.