Pedestrians and bicyclists can be seriously injured when struck by a car or truck. And the chances of being involved in a pedestrian accident is greater than you think. According to the NHTSA, in 2015, almost 5,400 pedestrians died and 66,000 were injured by cars nationwide. That means a pedestrian or bicyclist was hurt or killed every seven minutes. In California, pedestrian accident fatalities were the highest in the nation two years in a row.
As you can imagine, being hit by a car can be both physically and emotionally devastating. With nothing to protect you from the weight, steel and force of a car, pedestrian injuries are often severe. While you are recovering, medical and other bills are piling up. Your trauma can increase further if you discover the driver who hit you is either uninsured or underinsured. What can you do to get compensated for your injuries?
Pedestrian Accidents and Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage
For victims of a pedestrian accident where the at-fault driver has little or no insurance, the financial impact can be devastating. But what many Californians don’t know, is their own auto insurance policy can save them. The uninsured/underinsured motorist portion of an auto policy pays for injuries caused by an uninsured or underinsured at-fault driver. It covers car accident related injuries even if the victim isn’t in a car when he was hurt. It also protects victims of a hit and run driver.
Statistics show that almost 15% of California drivers do not have auto insurance coverage. Those that do, often carry the California minimum $15,000 bodily injury liability protection. This is very low and may not cover serious pedestrian accident injuries. That is why I strongly advise my clients to protect themselves from uninsured or underinsured drivers by buying Uninsured Motorist (UM)/Underinsured Motorist (UIM) coverage.
The State of California does not require UM/UIM coverage, but it can be the most important part of your policy.
When Does UM/UIM Coverage Apply?
A pedestrian who is struck by an uninsured/underinsured driver can receive compensation under his or her own UM/UIM coverage if:
- He or she is the named insured on their auto policy; or
- He or she is a family member who lives in the same house as the named insured;
- The driver who hit the pedestrian was at fault for the accident; and
- The at-fault driver either has no auto insurance or insufficient insurance to cover all of the pedestrian’s damages.
For a pedestrian to make a claim under his underinsured motorist policy, he must first use up all the at-fault driver’s insurance. If the at-fault driver’s policy is not large enough to cover all of the pedestrian’s damages, he can make a claim for the shortfall under his own policy.
Why You Really Need UM/UIM Coverage
Many people don’t think they need UM/UIM coverage. They assume if they have an accident, their health insurance will cover their medical bills. Although that is partially true, it doesn’t take into account the whole picture. Medical insurance doesn’t cover everything. Whatever isn’t paid by insurance, the insured must pay. For example:
- Patients are personally liable for co-pays, deductibles and out-of-pocket costs up to their annual limits;
- Some doctors do not take insurance;
- Many prescription drugs are only partially covered by medical insurance;
- Certain therapy services are not covered or are limited by insurance companies
Another thing people don’t always consider is that their accident damages will include other costs, not just medical costs.
The benefit of Uninsured/underinsured motorist (UM/UIM) coverage is that it will pay both financial and non-financial losses after a pedestrian-car accident. These include:
- Medical bills;
- Rehabilitation costs;
- Medical equipment;
- Any in-home adaptations needed because of an accident related disability such as paralysis from a spinal cord injury;
- Lost wages due to missing time at work;
- Loss of earning potential when injuries prevent returning to a previous job (or any job);
- Expenses such as household help or in-home nursing care;
- Pain and suffering
Contact Me Today About Your Pedestrian Accident
Your Injuries Are Personal to Me
It may surprise you to learn that if you carry UM/UIM coverage, it will provide for your losses if you are a pedestrian hit by a motor vehicle. Because California only requires a small amount of insurance, if you suffer a serious traumatic brain injury or spinal cord injury in a pedestrian accident, the at-fault driver may not have enough coverage to pay your losses.
The money available to you from your UM/UIM insurance policy can help pay your damages after a serious pedestrian accident. As a Long Beach Personal Injury Attorney with over 30 years experience in pedestrian accidents, I can ensure you receive maximum compensation from the at-fault driver, and from your own insurance policy.
I have helped many personal injury clients in California receive the compensation they deserve and I can do the same for you.
You are under no obligation and you will never pay any money unless you recover damages for your injuries. I offer bilingual services and I am available 24/7 to talk to you about your case.