It isn’t just motorists who are required to follow certain rules of the road; pedestrians have legal guidelines they must abide by, too. What do you need to know to keep yourself and your family safe? We’ll help you understand the law, your rights, and six things you should do right away.
The North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) reports that approximately 3,000 pedestrians and 850 bicyclists are hit by cars each year. Of these, about 160 pedestrians and 20 bicyclists are killed each year.
Knowing your rights and responsibilities as a North Carolina pedestrian can help if you’re injured in an accident with a motor vehicle.
Understanding contributory negligence in North Carolina
Our state follows what’s called a “contributory negligence system”. That means that a plaintiff can’t recover damages unless the court determines that they had absolutely no liability or fault in the accident.
Plainly speaking, this means that if you are a pedestrian in an accident and the court finds you’ve contributed even the slightest (think 1% or less) responsibility for the accident, you won’t recover compensation for your injuries.
Important information about driver’s insurance and pedestrian accidents
If a driver hurts you while you’re walking in the state of North Carolina, the perpetrator’s auto insurance should cover your injuries. This is because North Carolina is an “at-fault” insurance state”, which means that whomever the courts find at fault is ruled the financially responsible party.
Our state laws require three main levels for minimum liability insurance coverage amounts:
- For a single-person injury: $30,000
- For injuries involving two or more people: $60,000
- For property damage: $25,000
Liability coverage amounts can be used to cover a variety of injury-related costs, including medical bills. And, if your injuries add up to a total amount exceeding the driver’s liability policy maximum, you and your attorney can file a personal injury lawsuit to cover the remaining amount.
Six things to do if you’re hit by a car in North Carolina
If you’ve experienced an injury as a pedestrian, there are several important things you can do to help legally protect yourself and strengthen your claim. Keep the following six tips in mind:
- First thing’s first: Get medical help. If it is a medical emergency you or a bystander should call 911 immediately. If the event isn’t a medical emergency, it is still a good idea to follow-up with your doctor (or visit an urgent care center), as soon as you’re able. Taking care of yourself as quickly as possible will speed up your recovery process. But, the medical records also help to certify and record any medical bills you may incur (that could be mitigated by a financial claim).
- Make a list of your injuries (and check it carefully). When you visit with your doctor or speak with a medical provider, walk them through the accident -- including as many details as you can recall. Share how you think the injuries occurred and be sure to include with that information that you were a pedestrian who was hit by a car. Again, the documentation collected during these interactions will track your conduction and can later become evidence to support your legal claims.
- Don’t neglect reaching out to local law enforcement. You may not think your injuries are severe enough to involve the police, but filing a report with your local station is a key part of this process. Don’t ever shoulder guilt or refrain from calling the police for help in a pedestrian injury accident. A police report helps to record the incident and could help prevent the driver from hurting anyone else. Again, this report will play a crucial role in your case’s success by providing important evidence to support your claim.
- Stay objective and don’t project or accept blame. Even if you worry you may have been at fault (e.g., where you jaywalking or did you step off of the curb without looking?). This is only necessary to share with your lawyer (and not with the police or the driver). It is important to know that this is your right. It is up to the court to find fault; and not for you to try and determine. Your job is to present the facts as you know them.
Additionally, don’t speak with the driver’s insurance company or sign any documents. If they contact you, only share your name, address, and contact information. Refer them to your legal counsel for all other inquiries.
- Call your insurance company. If you have an auto insurance policy, this is a good time to check-in. Speaking with your insurance company can help you understand your coverage and help you make a claim against the driver’s policy.
- Connect with a personal injury lawyer. Finally, and most importantly, call a lawyer. An experienced personal injury attorney will be able to not only help you file a claim and manage your medical bills and treatment — they can also help you mitigate ongoing or future medical expenses and any time you may miss from work. Additionally, your personal injury lawyer will help you work with your insurance company, and the driver’s insurance company, to help you settle your claim in the best possible way.
Give us a call today
Wilson Williams Law is here to help you every step of the way. If you’ve been hurt in a pedestrian accident, please call us at (888) 253-4071. Our experienced team will guide you through next steps and personalize a process to help you attain the best possible results for your case or claim. We look forward to helping you quickly, so you can focus on your recovery!
Note: This blog is intended to be informational only and shall not be construed as legal advice.