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Pedestrian Accident Victims’ Legal Rights

 

Injured pedestrians in Pennsylvania can make the following claims:

  1. PIP claims for medical bills, lost wages, etc.
  2. Insurance/legal claims against an at-fault driver for medical bills, lost wages and pain and suffering.
  3. Underinsured/uninsured motorist coverage claims (in certain situations).

Pedestrian accidents are one of the most common types of auto accidents, especially in the Philadelphia area. Pennsylvania law is favorable for pedestrians who are hit by cars and sustain injuries. A special law, (limited tort law) which limits an injured car accident victim’s ability to obtain full compensation, doesn’t apply to pedestrians. Visit our law library for more info on auto accident victims’ rights in Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

Medical Bills After a Pedestrian Car Accident (PIP Claims)

One of the most important issues to resolve after a pedestrian car accident in Philadelphia is the payment of medical bills. After all, most pedestrian-vs.-car accidents result in serious injuries for the pedestrian. Broken bones, spinal injuries and brain injuries are very common. Even in a low impact accident, a pedestrian’s lower leg including the knee or ankle may be hit and broken. In high speed impact cases, the injuries are often catastrophic. Given the likelihood of injuries in a pedestrian accident, getting medical bills taken care of will be the first step.

In pedestrian accident cases, a special law applies to ensure that the pedestrian’s medical bills are covered, at least up to the amount covered under an applicable auto insurance policy. Under Pennsylvania law, a pedestrian who is injured in an accident involving a car can seek medical coverage by making a PIP (personal injury protection) claim. So, which insurance company pays the PIP claim?

Pennsylvania PIP coverage law lays out the order:

  1. Your own insurance company (you’re a named insured or co-insured).
  2. Your spouse or parent’s insurance company (you’re a member of the household).
  3. The insurance company of the car involved in the accident.

Under this law, a pedestrian who has their own car insurance policy would make a PIP claim under that policy. If the pedestrian doesn’t have their own policy or isn’t covered as a member of the household under someone else’s policy, then the policy of the car involved in the accident covers the PIP claim. This is the order, and there’s no way around it. Pennsylvania law is clear on this point. Many people injured in car accidents mistakenly believe that the at-fault driver is supposed to pay for their damages including medical bills. Pennsylvania PIP law is a special law that makes PIP benefits available regardless of fault. That’s why it’s mandatory on every car insurance policy.

What Does PIP Cover?

Under Pennsylvania law, PIP covers:

  • medical bills,
  • lost wages,
  • other out of pocket expenses, and
  • funeral expenses (if applicable).

The maximum amount covered depends on the PIP policy coverage amount. Under Pennsylvania law, the minimum required on every policy issued in the state is $5,000 (per person, per accident). Many PA residents purchase higher PIP coverage amounts, such as $10,000 or $50,000.

What Happens After PIP Gets Exhausted?

In pedestrian accidents, it’s often the case that the PIP benefits will run out fairly quickly. When this happens, the injured pedestrian’s own health insurance would kick in and cover the rest of the medical bills. If another party caused the accident, the pedestrian can file a lawsuit and seek compensation.

Filing Lawsuits Against At-Fault Drivers

If the accident was caused by another driver, and in the majority of pedestrian accidents the driver of the car is usually at fault, the injured pedestrian can make a claim against the driver to recover for their losses and damages. Usually, a lawsuit will have to be filed.

Bodily Injury Liability Coverage

Financial compensation in these types of lawsuits will almost always come from the at-fault driver’s auto insurance company, via a bodily injury liability claim. In essence, an injured pedestrian’s legal claim is an insurance claim against the at-fault driver’s car insurance company. Here’s how this works.

Every owner of a car registered in this state is required to purchase auto insurance. One type of mandatory coverage on every car insurance policy in PA is bodily injury liability coverage. This applies when the insured driver causes an auto accident, including a pedestrian accident, resulting in bodily injury to someone else. The insurance company basically says, “if you cause an accident, we’ll pay the injured victim up to the amount you purchased.”

Like PIP coverage, PA law sets a minimum amount of bodily injury liability coverage, $15,000 per person with a maximum of $30,000 per accident. Many PA residents purchase higher coverage amounts. Bodily injury liability coverage amounts of $100,000 or $300,000 are pretty common, and that’s just for individual or family policies. Commercial car insurance policies often carry coverage amounts of $1,000,000.

Pedestrian Accident Victims’ Legal Rights in Pennsylvania

Our law firm represents victims of pedestrian accidents across Pennsylvania. Our team of lawyers has recovered over $200 million for our clients. Contact us for a free consultation at 215.399.9255.