Pedestrians that are hit by vehicles are among the worst collisions that we encounter at Elsner Law Firm. There are some unique issues for pedestrians injured in a collision with a vehicle. Here are some of the most commonly asked questions with answers about pedestrian accidents.
1. Who will pay my medical bills?
If you have health insurance you will be covered for your pedestrian collision injuries. With high deductibles and co-pays, though, that can be quite costly. Luckily, Personal Injury Protection (“PIP”) insurance will also cover the cost of medical expenses. See our post on PIP coverage for more details. If you are injured while a pedestrian the at-fault driver’s PIP policy will be the first priority insurance for your medical expenses. It can be difficult to determine if the at-fault driver has PIP insurance so it may be advantageous to call an attorney for assistance. After you exhaust the at-fault driver’s PIP coverage you can also tap into your own personal PIP coverage if you have it on your policy. In addition to recommending that all drivers purchase PIP insurance benefits it is particularly important for people that are avid walkers or walk a lot in high traffic areas like Seattle and Bellevue due to this extra benefit.
In addition to the medical benefits you are entitled to the other benefits under PIP. See the section on PIP benefits for more details on the additional PIP benefits aside from medical payments. PIP will also include coverage for wage loss, loss of services, and funeral benefits.
2. How will my losses, including my pain and suffering, be paid?
Hopefully the at-fault driver has liability insurance. Unfortunately, in Washington the minimum requirement is only $25,000. A trip to the ER can quickly exhaust this. In addition to the at-fault driver’s policy your underinsured/uninsured motorist policy may cover your losses as well. If you are involved in a serious pedestrian accident it is important to promptly notify your car insurance carrier so that they can conduct their own investigation.
3. I was not in a cross walk is it my fault if I am hit by a vehicle while crossing the street?
It depends. Each city may have local laws applicable only in that city, but for the state of Washington there are a few laws that create an obligation for both drivers and pedestrians. If you are crossing a street that is not at an intersection then as a pedestrian you must yield to vehicles. This doesn’t mean, however, that a driver can run you down. Instead, a driver must exercise “due care” when a pedestrian is on a street. When a pedestrian is on a sidewalk or crossing in a crosswalk then a driver must yield to the pedestrian.
Additionally, when there isn’t a sidewalk pedestrians are supposed to walk towards traffic on the left side of the road.