Do you know what to do if you’re hit by a car as a pedestrian? The Centers for Disease Control estimate that 104,000 pedestrians went to the emergency room for non-fatal vehicle crashes in 2020 alone, so this situation is far more common than most pedestrians realize.
For Lisa*, the experience of getting hit by a car while walking was even more complicated than usual, because the driver who hit her did not have car insurance. Fortunately, she was able to work with Dunwoody personal injury attorney Nick Martin to negotiate a settlement for the full amount of her medical bills, thanks to her State Farm uninsured motorist coverage.
If you’ve been hit by a car as a pedestrian, or you’ve been in an accident with an uninsured or underinsured motorist, this article will outline some of the most important factors to keep in mind as you navigate the claims process.
What to Do When You’ve Been Hit by a Car as a Pedestrian
While we typically encourage people to gather as much information at the scene of the accident as safely possible, the first and most important thing to do is to make sure you receive treatment for any injuries.
Especially when you’re a pedestrian, you should focus first on getting yourself to a safe place off the road or out of the parking lot, and call the police (or 911 if anyone needs immediate medical attention). You can always gather information after the fact if you need to; the most important thing is that you’re safe and healthy.
Lisa’s incident occurred when she and her husband were walking out of a Hallmark store. She had just stepped down from the curb to walk in front of two cars that had stopped to let her cross, when another came by and hit Lisa.
“I guess she thought she could get around us,” Lisa explained. “[Instead] she clipped me, and I fell to the ground.”
It was clear to Lisa and her husband that she needed immediate medical care. She had a large hematoma on her head, a torn tendon in her left shoulder, and she’d also injured her knee.
But even in situations where your injuries are less severe, or you aren’t sure that you’ve been injured at all, it’s still important to seek out medical care as soon as possible.
Some injuries from car accidents don’t present symptoms right away, so it can be days or even weeks before you realize there’s a problem. The sooner you get treated, the easier it will be to diagnose the root of your issue, and the easier it will be to get your medical bills paid for by your or the driver’s insurance.
If you’re safely able to do so, make sure to get the contact and insurance information from the driver who hit you. You should also ask if they’re the owner of the car, because if the car isn’t theirs, you’ll want the owner’s contact and insurance information as well. Avoid discussing the accident with the driver or speculating about what happened, and never admit fault, even if you think it’s obvious.
You should also try to gather any other relevant information about the accident, provided you don’t need immediate medical care. Try to take notes on your phone or on a scrap of paper so you have records of everything. You can even take photos on your phone to submit with your insurance claim.
In particular, pay attention to:
- Any road or weather conditions that may have played a role in the accident
- Any information you can gather from witnesses
- Contact information of any witnesses or involved third parties
- The exact site of the accident
- Your recollection of what happened
Once you’ve left the accident site and gotten any medical care you need, make sure to file a claim with the driver’s insurance company as soon as possible. Sometimes if you wait too long, the company can use this as a reason to deny your claim.
And if you have uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage, this is also a great time to contact your own insurance carrier, just in case the driver’s policy is insufficient.
Getting Help When the Medical Bills Pile Up
It’s not just life-threatening injuries that lead to expensive medical bills. When you’ve been in a car accident, treatment costs can get expensive quickly.
Because of the hematoma on her head, Lisa took an ambulance to the hospital, where they did a CT scan and thankfully were able to determine that she didn’t have a serious head injury. The ambulance and hospital bills alone would have been expensive — in 2020, the pre-insurance average cost of an ambulance ride was $1,277 — but Lisa also required months of physical therapy for the torn tendon in her left shoulder.
In a typical set of circumstances, Lisa would have filed a claim with the driver’s insurance company and hopefully received enough money to cover all of her medical expenses. But in this case, the driver who hit her was uninsured.
Neither Lisa or her husband had ever experienced anything like this, and they knew it shouldn’t be their responsibility to pay for the expensive medical bills. So she decided to call Nick Martin, a family friend who had represented her children in a few different legal matters.
“We called him pretty much right away; we’d never had anything like this happen before. So Nick assured us that he would take care of it for us, and he kept us informed all along the way,” Lisa shared.
How to Take Advantage of Your Uninsured Motorist Coverage
Fortunately for Lisa and her husband, they both had added uninsured motorist coverage to their State Farm insurance policy. This type of coverage is useful in situations where the other driver in an accident doesn’t have the money needed to pay for damages, and doesn’t have a comprehensive enough insurance policy (or any insurance policy at all) to pay those damages on their behalf.
In a situation like Lisa’s, State Farm may cover your medical expenses, lost wages, and even pain and suffering if you’ve purchased uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage.
It’s important to keep in mind that even when you’ve purchased all the right insurance coverage, companies like State Farm will still try to find reasons to deny your claim. After all, they are a business and will want to hold onto as much of their money as possible.
This is why it’s especially useful to work with an experienced attorney like Nick, who has extensive experience with filing accident claims with State Farm and other major insurance companies.
“Nick worked with [State Farm], and he kept us informed,” Lisa shared. “Even if I asked a question that I had asked before, that I should have remembered the answer to, he was very patient and very kind.”
Keep These Things in Mind Throughout the Insurance Claims Process
Whether you decide to hire an attorney or not, it’s important to stay aware and cautious when navigating the insurance claim process. Once you’ve filed, you’ll be contacted by an insurance adjuster, whose job it is to try to poke holes in your story and find any possible reason to deny or minimize your claim.
In any of your conversations with the insurance company, make sure you avoid saying anything that could suggest you are at fault in the accident, or oversharing details beyond the basic answers to the questions they ask. Keep your answers short and only stick to verifiable facts (never speculation). And if you aren’t sure how to answer a question, or if they make you an offer and you want to make sure it’s fair, tell the adjuster you need to consult with your lawyer before you answer.
If you do work with an attorney, they can help you at every stage of the process, from preparing you to talk to the adjuster, to helping you determine if an offer is fair, to even negotiating with the company on your behalf if they think you can get a larger amount of money.
Benefits of Working with a Local Atlanta Personal Injury Attorney
When you need an attorney for the first time, your first instinct might be to turn to one of those big box lawyers, like the ones you see advertised on television.
But for those attorneys, you’re just one of an extraordinarily large number of clients. In many cases, you’ll never even talk directly with the lawyer who’s handling your case!
The process of filing and negotiating a claim after an accident can be extremely stressful, so you deserve to work with an attorney who can dedicate time and attention to your case.
When you work with Nick Martin, you can know that you’re working with someone local, who has time for you and who will work directly on every detail of your case.
Plus, you won’t have to worry about playing phone tag, or waiting for weeks to hear an update about your insurance claim.
“[Nick] told us we could call him anytime with questions,” Lisa shared. “We did call him quite a bit, and we never really got his voicemail. I mean, Nick answered.”
The Importance of Staying Organized After an Accident
When you’ve been in any kind of motor vehicle accident — especially one that results in extensive medical treatment like Lisa’s — one of the keys to strengthening your insurance claim is to keep thorough documentation of every part of the process. This can quickly become complicated, especially if you’re seeing multiple doctors and specialists.
When you hire an attorney, they can tell you which types of documentation you need for your insurance claim, and they can help you keep all your records organized. This was something Lisa especially appreciated about working with Nick.
“Any kind of document he got he would send to us. He told me what to do when I went to my doctor, to make sure at the very end of my physical therapy that I got a certain super bill. He did all of that, and it was just very easy,” she shared.
This allowed Lisa to spend less time stressing about insurance and paperwork, and more time focusing on the most important thing: getting better.
“I felt confident, and I didn’t feel worried about what was going on. He was taking care of it.”
An Experienced Advocate for Every Step of the Process
Because of Nick’s experience working with State Farm, he was able to get the insurance company to settle for the full amount of Lisa’s medical bills. He did this by tapping into both of Lisa and her husband’s uninsured motorist policies — one on each of their cars — and working closely with State Farm to make sure they accepted the claim.
“I was surprised that he got the full amount, but he did,” Lisa recalled. “He got the whole amount for me, and I didn’t need to keep calling and asking what was going on. I knew he was going to take care of it, and every step of the way he kept us informed.”
Even once the claim was paid out, Nick continued to work on Lisa’s case. The healthcare billing process can get incredibly complicated, and he’s still working with Lisa’s Medicare plan to make sure every payment — from the day of the accident back in February to the final physical therapy appointment — is taken care of.
“Nick is someone you can trust. The word integrity comes to mind. He isn’t flashy, he’s a very personal guy and really seems to care,” Lisa shared. “He doesn’t just talk about the case, he asks how are you doing, how are you feeling. He is efficient, he keeps you informed, and he’s trustworthy. He’s a guy that will take care of it.”
Are you dealing with medical bills, lost wages, or pain and suffering after being hit by a motor vehicle as a pedestrian? Or are you worried you won’t get the settlement you deserve because you were in an accident with an uninsured driver?
Working with Dunwoody-area lawyer Nick Martin can give you the strongest chance of winning the money you deserve, whether through an insurance claim or through litigation.
The sooner you take action, the better for your case, so take the first step today by calling The Law Office of Nicholas P. Martin at (770) 450-6155, or filling out this form to schedule a free consultation.
* Client’s name changed for privacy
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