3 lessons from a real pedestrian accident


Laura Bliss was walking through a crosswalk when she was struck by a car making a left turn.

A writer and editor, Bliss wrote a first-person account of what she learned from this experience. The full story is here, but what stands out in her account are the mistakes she made after that crash.

Here are three lessons Bliss says she learned from her pedestrian accident (and why it is good advice).

1. Call the police

When I was hit, I didn’t call the police, thinking a) I was OK, which was mostly true, and b) I could always file an accident report after I’d calmed down…”

Bliss didn’t file a police report after her pedestrian accident. Neither she nor the driver of the vehicle called 9-1-1, nor did any of the witnesses.

This left her with no official record of the incident.

Being hit by a car is shocking and traumatic. An accident victim may not be capable of making a sound judgment about whether or not a police report or investigation is needed.

If you are involved in a pedestrian collision, even if you are only a witness, assume you should call the police. Then, stay at the scene of the crash and give a full statement.

2. See a doctor

Even though my loved ones advised me to see a doctor that same morning, I didn’t… It would have been better to go immediately, for a lot of reasons…

Laura Bliss describes how upset she was after the crash, and how a trip to the emergency room sounded like an additional trauma.

People often underestimate their own injuries. After a sudden, traumatic event —like a car crash—your adrenaline kicks in. This is a physiological “fight-or-flight” response to danger, and it’s your brain’s way of protecting your body.

It’s often hours before that adrenaline wears off, and the injured person is in terrible pain.

Bliss was lucky that she didn’t have permanent injuries, but a lot of pedestrians or cyclists who get hit by cars are not so lucky.

If a car hits you, assume you should see a doctor as soon as possible.

Even if you think you’re only bumped and bruised, you will get faster care if you get checked out immediately after a crash, instead of the next day.

3. Talk to a lawyer

I wrote a letter on my own, asking for my medical expenses covered, plus some money for the psychological distress I’d experienced. The insurance company ended up cutting me a small check, a couple hundred bucks over my doctor’s bill…”

She says she spoke with a few Washington D.C. area pedestrian collision attorneys, but in the end, Bliss took on the insurance company alone—and regretted it.

Assume you should take a free consultation with an injury lawyer before talking to the insurance company.

This is the reason that most injury lawyers work on contingency fee. “Contingency fee” means that you don’t pay for legal services up front. Instead, your lawyer is paid a percentage of your settlement or trial verdict.

This means a good attorney is not going to take on your collision claim unless he or she believes there is a good chance of a successful resolution for you.

There is very little risk in hiring a lawyer to help you, but there is a huge risk in trying to handle your own pedestrian injury claim. The driver of the car will have insurance company agents and lawyers. As a pedestrian, you’re on your own – and you’re not likely to be successful without some help.