What happens if you hit a pedestrian with your car in the UK?
Even if you feel they were at fault, you could still be prosecuted.
It’s a nightmare scenario; you’re behind the wheel of your car and, out of nowhere, a pedestrian appears and you’re unable to bring the car to a halt before hitting them.
A whole range of things can run through your mind, but you may be wondering how any potential claim would impact your insurance - particularly if the collision is a minor one.
Here, we aim to answer any questions you may have in relation to a pedestrian accident.
Who is liable when a car hits a pedestrian?
The truth of the matter is that everybody, whether on foot or behind the wheel of a car, has a duty of responsibility to both themselves and those around them. Pedestrians, for example, should only ever cross a road where it is safe to do so and should never be in a position where they are distracted from potential dangers while crossing (such as checking social media or replying to a text).
Despite this, it is typically those who are driving that hold the most responsibility when a pedestrian is struck by a moving vehicle. This is largely down to the fact that a car is a potentially lethal weapon and, in the event of a collision, it is nigh on impossible for a vehicle to come off worse than a pedestrian.
In a recent case, one driver who claimed to be driving at ‘around 20mph’ was deemed to be ‘30 to 40 percent at fault’ for a collision which saw a pedestrian suddenly appear from in front of a bus, without the aid of a pedestrian crossing, and run directly into his vehicle.
In fact, the pedestrians in question had completely failed to notice the ‘don’t cross’ signal which was present and proceeded to jog around the stationary bus and into oncoming traffic.
Speaking after the incident, the driver said:
“As far as I'm concerned, these two joggers crossed the road at their own risk, they've not just put themselves in danger but other people too.
My insurance has told me that if this went to court, they could find me 30 to 40 per cent to blame and say that I could have gone slower.”
Consequences for hitting a pedestrian
As you can imagine, the punishment for hitting a pedestrian with a car can vary greatly depending on the severity and nature of the incident.
In all circumstances, the driver of the vehicle must stop immediately and remain at the scene of the accident until the relevant authorities permit otherwise. This is to ensure that they are immediately available to provide any personal details, including name, address and registration number.
Cases like this are usually labelled under ‘driving without due care and attention’ which typically result in a £100 fine and 3 points on your driving license (or, if eligible, a driver education course). If you disagree with your punishment and believe that the pedestrian was at fault, you are able to request a court hearing – this, however, can be both costly and time-consuming.
In the event of a more serious incident, a court case will be summoned automatically. This could result in a maximum fine of £5,000 and potential disqualification from driving for a period of time consistent with the severity of the incident.
Can you go to jail for hitting a pedestrian?
The typical answer here is ‘yes’. If you are charged with careless or dangerous driving that has either killed or seriously injured a pedestrian, there is every chance that you could be facing time in prison. In some cases, motorists can also be given jail time for failing to stop and report an incident.
Matters become even worse if the driver is deemed to be under the influence of drugs or alcohol, in which case motorists can face up to 14 years in prison.
If a pedestrian is hit by a car but is not either killed or seriously injured, it is unlikely that the driver would be sent to jail.
READ MORE: A guide to car accident liability case law
I hit a pedestrian with my car – now what?
The process of hitting a pedestrian with your vehicle is not too dissimilar to hitting another vehicle. If you hit a pedestrian with your car then you must stop immediately (or where it is safe to do so), regardless of whether anybody is injured.
If the person is injured, the first thing you should do is contact the emergency services. If not, you are obligated to provide the other party with personal details, as well as the details of your insurer, upon request. They (or you) may request that they contact the authorities to report the incident, in which case you should stay at the scene when possible.
Take note of what has happened while it is still fresh in your memory and, if there are any eyewitnesses around, ask if they are able to give you their account of the incident and whether you can take their contact details.
You should also get in touch with your insurance provider to inform them of the incident as soon as possible.
Does car insurance cover you if you hit a pedestrian?
The minimum level of car insurance cover available in the UK is third-party only, meaning that all car insurance policies will cover any claims made by a pedestrian in the event of an accident. If the pedestrian does not make a claim but there is damage to your vehicle, you are also able to request an insurance payout to cover this damage (however you are likely to lose some of your no-claims bonus which might increase future premiums).
Car insurance with Bobatoo
We understand that, for many people, car insurance can be expensive – but it is required by law for anybody driving (or even just parking) on public roads.
Bobatoo works closely with some of the UK’s highest-rated car insurance providers to offer the best possible cover at a price which suits not only you and your vehicle, but your budget as well.
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