The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation reports that in 2017 there were over 4,000 automobile accidents involving pedestrians with 150 fatalities. Those numbers are sobering, with an average of about 8 pedestrians being struck and 3 killed every week. About 40% of those accidents occurred to people who were crossing a street, and 30% occurred to people who were jogging, walking, running, or playing. Considering how serious pedestrian-related accidents can be, it is reassuring to know that the state of Pennsylvania has laws in place to protect the rights of pedestrians and help make sure that the cost of their injuries is fairly covered.
Who is At Fault?
Who is usually at fault in pedestrian accidents? Most of the time, the automobile driver is held responsible for striking a pedestrian, but there are exceptions to this general rule. For example, if you wandered out into a busy street because you were distracted by a cell phone, then it may be that there was no reasonable way for the driver to avoid hitting you. On the other hand, if you were struck because a driver ran a red light or was driving in excess of the speed limit, then you may bear no fault at all in the accident. And, as in other types of automobile accidents, there may have been more than one vehicle at fault.
In the state of Pennsylvania, a pedestrian injured in a car accident first must make a PIP (Personal Injury Protection) claim. If you have auto insurance in Pennsylvania then you have some level of PIP coverage, and that coverage will kick in even if you were not in your car when you were hit. If you do not have auto insurance, you may be covered by your spouse’s PIP coverage or by your parent’s PIP coverage if you are still considered a member of their household. If none of these apply to you, then the PIP claim is made against the insurance company of the at-fault driver that struck you. PIP covers, to the amount insured, medical bills, as well as lost wages, certain out-of-pocket expenses (related to rental reimbursement), and funeral expenses depending on the types of coverage you have paid for. Keep in mind that not everyone will have these benefits.
Once you have exhausted PIP benefits, then your own health insurance is responsible for covering your medical expenses. However, you still have another option available to you.
Insurance and Legal Claims Against the At-Fault Driver
If the accident was caused by the driver and not due to your own negligence or carelessness, then you can make a bodily injury liability claim against the driver’s insurance in order to cover damages and related losses. Such a claim will usually involve filing a lawsuit.
As a part of Pennsylvania’s auto insurance laws, bodily injury liability coverage is a mandatory part of auto coverage. This type of insurance kicks in when a driver is responsible for causing bodily injury to someone else and it applies to pedestrians just as much as it does other drivers. This type of claim can cover medical expenses and lost wages as well as pain & suffering.
Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage
If the person that struck you was either underinsured or uninsured, then you may be able to recover expenses through a claim against your own insurance policy. The claim will be limited to the amount covered by your UI/UIM auto insurance coverage. However, if you do not have auto insurance, then this option will not apply to your situation. Value of Pedestrian Claims
The total value of a pedestrian claim can easily be much more than an automobile accident claim because of the injuries that are typically involved. A pedestrian is not encased in a steel frame like the driver of a vehicle would be, which leads to a higher probability of broken bones, brain damage, paralysis, and crippling injuries. More serious injuries also make it possible to claim reimbursement for pain and suffering or loss of enjoyment. However, bruises, scrapes, and sprains will not result in extensive medical bills and thus will not warrant a large claim.
If you were a pedestrian injured in a car accident, the first claim you should make is a PIP claim. Once those benefits have been exhausted, your medical insurance coverage should cover the remainder of your medical expenses. However, while PIP covers lost wages and out of pocket expenses related to the accident, your health insurance will not. That is where making a bodily injury claim against the driver’s insurance can come into the picture. These types of claims are far more difficult to make and usually result in a lawsuit.
The value of your claim is directly related to the seriousness of your injuries and the medical costs associated with treating it. However, for more serious injuries such as broken bones or paralysis, you also have the option of claiming loss of enjoyment or pain and suffering.
Contact Donaghue & Labrum
If you or a loved one has been injured in a car accident as a pedestrian, you may need help to get the compensation you deserve after you have exhausted PIP benefits — and you may need help just in claiming those benefits. Contact the skilled personal injury lawyers at Donaghue & Labrum right away so we can help you through the often complicated process of filing claims after a pedestrian accident. We will aggressively represent you against the insurance company and, if needed, carry your bodily injury claim all the way to a jury. With decades of experience in personal injury practice, we will fight to get you the compensation that the law says you deserve.