What if I or one of my family members is injured or killed by a uninsured/underinsured motorist while we were pedestrians?
- March 29, 2017
All local jurisdictions in the United States require operators of a car or other vehicle to have at least some liability coverage in the event of an accident. Unfortunately, car accidents involving pedestrians often have severe consequences for the person who was struck while on foot. Even a collision at relatively low speeds can permanently injure or even kill a pedestrian.
While motorists with a comprehensive liability policy may be able to compensate victims through their insurance, this is often not the case for operators who have minimal insurance or none at all. Pedestrians who are injured by a driver with little or no insurance coverage may be able to seek compensation from their own auto insurance company, while others are forced to rely on their personal medical coverage. Some pedestrian-vehicle accidents are not entirely the fault of either party, which opens up the possibility of filing a lawsuit against other parties.
Establishing Costs Due to the Accident
Claimants should always consult a experienced traffic attorney before filing documents or pursuing compensation from any party. Plaintiffs should establish the medical costs, lost wages and other compensation that they want to pursue before filing their suit. If the driver who caused the accident has the minimum liability policy, it may still be enough to cover moderate expenses.
Seeking Compensation From Your Insurance Company
Since many drivers with minimal or no insurance often lack the finances to properly compensate the injured pedestrian, the victim must turn to their own auto insurance company for restitution. If the victim has a personal injury policy through their auto insurance, then they may be eligible to make this kind of claim. Not all auto insurance policies include this kind of coverage, so talk to your attorney about the limits of your current policy.
Personal Medical Coverage
Pedestrians who are victims of a collision with a vehicle operated by an uninsured motorist may be able to mitigate some of their medical expenses if they have a health insurance policy. While they may still be responsible for covering the standard costs, like co-pays, their personal policy may protect them from responsibility for the full expenses associated with the accident.
Claims Against Local Municipality
Even if the driver or pedestrian are partially at fault for the accident, they may not bear 100 percent of the blame. In some cases, the victim of an accident can file a lawsuit against local government authorities for poor road design or faults in the traffic control system. Malfunctioning traffic lights or poor visibility due to overgrown brush along the side of the road can contribute to an accident, and are not the responsibility of either party involved.
Filing a claim against a municipality requires expertise in the minutiae of local law, so it’s highly recommended that claimants seek counsel from a local attorney before proceeding. The obligations of government and ability to file a suit against local agencies may depend on the legal code enforced by the state and county.
Claims Against Other Drivers or People
Depending on the exact circumstances in the moments leading up to the collision, the victim may also be able to seek compensation from other parties that contributed to the accident. If another car or pedestrian acted in a way that impacted the actions and decision-making of the uninsured driver, then that party may also bear some of the fault for the injury.
The same principle also applies to other parties who contribute to the accident by reducing visibility on the road or making part of it impassable. For example, if a car is parked illegally in front of a crosswalk limiting the driver’s vision, then the owner of the care may be liable for part of the injury claim.
What to Do After a Vehicle-Pedestrian Accident
Victims of collisions should always collect as much information as possible immediately after the event. This is important even if the pedestrian does not believe they sustained serious injury. Some types of damage may not emerge for weeks or months after the event occurred, so it’s essential to prepare for this possibility.