You don't necessarily need clipless pedals, as long as you know better than to put your foot down when you're in motion.
That said, a month or two after I first started riding a 'bent, I did exactly this. I was descending a hill, and as far as I can tell, must have flatted my rear wheel without realizing it. Tried to take a corner to the right, rear wheel failed to grip and skidded out from under me, and like a damned fool I put my right foot on the ground. Turns out that the laws of physics are strictly enforced in my county, so the ground proceeded to rip my foot backwards at a really unfortunate angle, and I count myself lucky to have ended up with nothing more than a badly sprained ankle.
I did not have clipless pedals on the bike at the time, and I won't try to speculate as to whether they would have prevented my mistake. I do run clipless now, but it's not to prevent leg suck; I'm pretty sure I learned my lesson, regardless of what pedals I install.