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Hit by a car while crossing the street? 10 FAQs answered by a personal injury attorney

  1. Hit by a car while crossing the street? 10 FAQs answered by a personal injury attorney
  2. 1. Who is at fault in a pedestrian accident?
  3. 2. What happens if both the driver and pedestrian share liability?
  4. 3. I was jaywalking. Do I still have a case?
  5. 4. I crossed at a legal crosswalk but didn’t follow the signals. Do I still have a case?
  6. 5. I was hit by a car but was able to walk away and my injuries seem minor. What should I do?
  7. 6. What insurance company do I file a claim with?
  8. 7. What if I’m the victim of a hit-and-run?
  9. 8. How much is my case worth?
  10. 9. Do I need a lawyer for a pedestrian accident?
  11. 10. When should I hire a lawyer?
  12. Hit by a car while crossing the street? Call attorney Zach Herschensohn today

Hit by a car while crossing the street? 10 FAQs answered by a personal injury attorney

hit by a car while crossing the street

It’s no surprise that pedestrian accidents are, by far, the most dangerous and deadly type of motor vehicle accident.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, there were more than 6,000 pedestrian accident fatalities in alone—more than 17 percent of all crash-related deaths, despite being only a small percentage of the total number of incidents. And according to estimates provided by the Governors Highway Safety Administration, the numbers were even higher in 2020, up to more than 6,700 deaths.

On top of that, many of the people who do survive pedestrian accidents suffer life-changing injuries.

If you or a loved one have recently been hit by a car while attempting to cross the street, you probably have many questions. In this blog post, we’ll answer some of the most common ones that we receive.

But regardless of whether you find all the answers you’re looking for here, make sure you reach out to a personal injury attorney as soon as possible if you haven’t already. (If you want to find out why, just keep reading.)

hit by a car while crossing the street

1. Who is at fault in a pedestrian accident?

hit by a car while crossing the street

That depends on the specific circumstances.

Of course, because pedestrians are extremely vulnerable to serious injuries and death even in low-speed collisions, car drivers have a legal obligation to exercise reasonable care wherever they may be present.

However, it’s a common misconception that pedestrians “always have the right of way” or that the driver of the car is always 100% at fault for the crash and resulting injuries. The crash could be partially or even fully the pedestrian’s fault if they failed to follow traffic signals, crossed somewhere other than a legal crosswalk, were intoxicated and not checking for traffic, or made some other poor choice.

It’s also possible for fault to be shared. For example, the pedestrian may have failed to wait for a signal, but the driver was also speeding or texting while driving.

hit by a car while crossing the street

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2. What happens if both the driver and pedestrian share liability?

hit by a car while crossing the street

Washington follows a pure comparative liability principle, which means any injured person can recover damages as long as they aren’t fully responsible. However, your claim will be reduced by your percentage of fault. In other words, if a court finds you 30% responsible, you can only get 70% of your damages. In Washington, this is true even if you’re 99% at fault—you’d still be entitled to compensation, albeit only 1% of it.

hit by a car while crossing the street

3. I was jaywalking. Do I still have a case?

crosswalk accident lawyer

We strongly encourage everyone to only cross the road at a legal crosswalk, when signaled to do so. That said, this is the real world, and almost everybody jaywalks at least some of the time—at least on quiet residential or rural streets that are a long distance from the nearest intersection.

Jaywalking can definitely weaken your case and make it harder to get full compensation for your injuries from the insurance company. But jaywalking doesn’t necessarily invalidate your claim or absolve the driver from any liability.

Jaywalking can still earn you a citation and hefty fine in a city like Seattle, where municipal ordinances apply. But it’s not technically illegal according to Washington State law, as long as you yield the right of way to any vehicle traffic using the road.

Drivers, meanwhile, are expected to do everything possible to avoid a collision with a pedestrian (or anyone or anything else, really), even one who is jaywalking. If the driver had plenty of time to react, but didn’t—perhaps because they were speeding, or fiddling with the radio, or driving drunk—then the driver will almost certainly bear at least some of the responsibility.

crosswalk accident lawyer

4. I crossed at a legal crosswalk but didn't follow the signals. Do I still have a case?

crosswalk accident lawyer

Washington Law is a little more explicit here. While crossing in the middle of the street (i.e., jaywalking) is technically not illegal as long as you yield the right of way to vehicles, the law says that pedestrians “shall obey” the instructions of a traffic control device when using the crosswalk.

That’s not to say that you’ll get 100% of the blame if you walk on red, if the person who hit you was speeding, texting, or otherwise driving in a reckless and unsafe manner. But there’s no question that breaking the traffic laws will weaken your case.

crosswalk accident lawyer

5. I was hit by a car but was able to walk away and my injuries seem minor. What should I do?

crosswalk accident lawyer

If a car hits you while you’re out for a walk, you should always seek medical attention immediately, even if you initially feel fine. Serious injuries aren’t always obvious in the first few minutes (or even days) after a crash. Furthermore, if you don’t seek treatment within the first 24-48 hours, an insurance company might (unfairly) use it as evidence that you’re exaggerating your symptoms.

If you don’t require emergency care, you should also go through the same basic steps you would after any other kind of motor vehicle accident, including:

  • Swapping insurance information, license and license plate numbers, and contact info with the driver who hit you.
  • Getting statements (or at least contact information) from any eyewitnesses.
  • Contacting the police and filing a police report.
  • Taking photographs of the scene (including any damage to the driver’s car, if you can do so safely).

RELATED POST: The Washington state car accident guide: What to do if you’re involved in a crash

crosswalk accident lawyer

6. What insurance company do I file a claim with?

crosswalk accident lawyer

The insurance company (or insurance companies) you will need to file a claim with to pay for your medical bills and other damages depends on where you live and what the circumstances are. But the short answer is, in Washington state, the process is going to be very similar to any other kind of car accident, and you will initially file a claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance company.

One problem that many pedestrians struck by cars have to deal with, however, is coverage limits. Washington only requires that drivers carry $25,000 in injury coverage per person, up to $50,000 per accident. That’s a laughably small amount even if you have your own car to protect you. If you’re a pedestrian hit by a car, your medical bills alone are fairly likely to exceed this limit—to say nothing for lost wages and pain and suffering.

If the driver’s auto insurance coverage is not sufficient, you may have to look for other potential sources of insurance to recover fair compensation for your personal injuries, such as your own auto insurance policy, health insurance, or disability insurance. Getting a personal injury attorney to help you figure out what policies may apply to your situation is invaluable here.

crosswalk accident lawyer

7. What if I'm the victim of a hit-and-run?

crosswalk accident lawyer

If the driver who hit you fled the scene and is never located—or was simply uninsured—your options may be limited and depend greatly on the circumstances.

If you own your own car or are an insured driver on someone else’s policy, you should be able to file a claim under the uninsured and underinsured motorist (UI/UIM) coverage in your own auto insurance policy—provided this coverage was not previously declined.

If you don’t have your own auto insurance, your opinions may be significantly limited. Again, your best move is to contact a personal injury attorney to see what legal options might be available to you.

crosswalk accident lawyer

8. How much is my case worth?

crosswalk accident lawyer

As an injured pedestrian, you’re entitled to seek compensation from the at-fault driver for your present and future medical bills, present and future lost wages, and non-economic loses (such as pain and suffering and emotional anguish). If the at-fault driver was especially reckless, you may also be entitled to punitive damages.

As you can imagine, calculating fair compensation for any personal injury case, let alone a pedestrian accident, can be a complex and difficult process. If you’ve suffered significant, life-altering injuries, the amount of pain and suffering you can claim could be substantial. And you can pretty much guarantee that the insurer is going to try to stiff you on the first settlement offer.

Not to sound like a broken record, but an experienced lawyer can be invaluable here, too. Don’t trust a cheap online settlement calculator. Those things can provide a rough estimate, sure, but they’re mostly a marketing gimmick. Only a real live professional can give you a truly accurate assessment.

RELATED POST: How does my attorney determine the value of my car accident claim?

crosswalk accident lawyer

9. Do I need a lawyer for a pedestrian accident?

crosswalk accident lawyer

Technically, no. No one is forcing you to get a lawyer. But if you’ve been paying attention so far, you’ve probably figured out by now that going it alone is almost always a bad idea.

The insurance company has been through this many, many times before. They have an army of lawyers on their side, and they don’t fight fair. They’re not going to warn you when you’re making a mistake, sabotaging your own case, or leaving money on the table. Their goal is to pay you as little as possible, and if you don’t know what you’re doing, there’s a good chance they’ll get away with it.

crosswalk accident lawyer

10. When should I hire a lawyer?

hit by a car while crossing the street

As soon as possible.

Chances are, after your accident, an adjuster from the insurance company is going to call you within a couple of days at most. At that point, you may be in no condition to speak to them with a clear and level head. But even if you are, they’re already going to start trying to figure out how to reduce or deny your claim, and that may include tricking you into giving a statement that could be used against you in settlement negotiations or in a personal injury lawsuit.

When you hire a lawyer as soon as possible, they can get to work right away on all the big things you’re going to need:

  1. Making sure you get the first-class medical care you deserve
  2. Figuring out what your case is truly worth, so you don’t get tricked into taking a lowball settlement offer
  3. Gathering all the evidence and testimony you’ll need to prove your case
  4. Speaking with the insurance company on your behalf so you can focus on getting better, rather than worry about getting screwed.
hit by a car while crossing the street

Hit by a car while crossing the street? Call attorney Zach Herschensohn today

Getting hit by a car is just about the worst thing that you or a loved one can go through. The good news is that you don’t have to go through it alone.

Zach Herschensohn and his team don’t shy away from the tough cases, and we’re willing to fight to get you what’s fair. To schedule your free consultation, contact our Kent, Washington office today at (206) 588-4344, or request an appointment online.

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When you request your free consultation, Kent personal injury attorney Zach Herschensohn will listen to you, answer your questions, lay out your legal options, and give you down-to-earth legal advice.

When you work with our law office, there are no obligations, hidden fees, or fine print. It’s that simple.

Request your free case evaluation

We’ll meet with you to help you understand your legal options and what to do next.

Enter your contact information:

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We’re proud to fight—and win—for injured people in Kent, Washington. View our case results to learn more.

References

National Center for Statistics and Analysis. (August 2021). Traffic safety facts 2019: A compilation of motor vehicle crash data (Report No. DOT HS 813 141). National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Retrieved from https://crashstats.nhtsa.dot.gov/Api/Public/ViewPublication/813141

Governors Highway Safety Administration. (May 2021). Pedestrian Traffic Fatalities by State: 2020 Preliminary Data Addendum. Retrieved from https://www.ghsa.org/resources/Pedestrians21

Revised Code of Washington (RCW) 46.61.240 (2021)

Revised Code of Washington (RCW) 46.61.050 (2021)

The content provided here is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject.