The most vulnerable section of road users to accidents are the pedestrians. These accidents are common in crosswalks and mainly occur at night due to low visibility. If you have been struck by a vehicle while jogging, walking, running, or hanging around the road, it’s okay to worry about your rights. Pedestrian accidents leave victims with life-changing injuries that result in extreme pain and hefty medical bills. Your situation becomes even worse if you are unable to work and earn a living.
However, your main concern is whether you will obtain compensation after the accident. Luckily, the law allows pedestrians to seek compensation from the motorist who hit them to prove fault.
Medical Bills and Pedestrian Accidents
If you are struck by a car in Jacksonville, your Personal Injury Protection (PIP) coverage pays for your hospital bills. Alternatively, you could foot the medical bill using Medpay coverage. The policy is usually on your vehicle insurance coverage and pays for your hospital bills even when it’s apparent you were not in the car when the accident happened.
Note that if, as a pedestrian, you didn’t own a vehicle, Florida laws allow you to use a relative’s PIP or Medpay coverage to pay for your medical treatment. However, you must be presently living with a relative with vehicle auto insurance.
Unfortunately, if you don’t have auto insurance coverage nor a resident relative with one, you must turn to the motorist that hit you in the first place to pay PIP benefits that will foot your hospital bill. However, if you are an out-of-state pedestrian, the PIP coverage of the negligent driver won’t be used to pay your medical bills.
In addition, you could turn to your medical insurance coverage to pay for treatment of the injuries sustained after the pedestrian accident.
If the motorist that hit you, causing the injuries or death, is at fault or negligent, they owe you the amount your medical insurance, Medicare or Medicaid paid as a hospital bill.
And because the injuries sustained when a pedestrian is struck by a car are catastrophic, the cost of treatment might exceed the maximum coverage provided by insurance companies. Any amount above the health insurance coverage or PIP should be paid by the negligent driver that caused the accident.
Filing a Claim After Being Struck by a Vehicle
You can sue the motorist that caused the accident. However, you can only file a claim against these individuals if they are liable for the accident and the subsequent injuries. Again, you can only file a claim against the car driver if the accident occurred at a crosswalk due to their negligence. However, if you were hit while jaywalking, the motorist was not in the wrong, and you won’t be eligible to file a claim to obtain compensation.
While it’s okay to file a lawsuit to seek compensation from the liable party, most cases where motorists hit pedestrians are settled outside court without filing a suit. Settling the case outside court as a pedestrian is greatly beneficial because you don’t have to deal with the stress associated with these lawsuits. Again, you save the money that could be used as court and attorney fees.
When filing a claim for various forms of damages, you must present evidence to demonstrate that you suffered losses. Sometimes, Florida allows pedestrians hit by vehicles to pursue compensation for pain and suffering. However, for this to happen, you must demonstrate that the pain caused by the injuries lasted for months or cuts and bruises are permanent.
Documenting pain and suffering isn’t an easy process. You must start at the accident scene by taking pictures of the injuries sustained. Further, you go for medical treatment and ensure that you preserve the records because they will be critical in demonstrating pain and anguish. Besides, you can describe the pain or anguish you suffer during recovery from the injuries in writing. This could be strong evidence to demonstrate to the jury that the injuries caused you a lot of suffering.
Usually, it’s your insurance company that sends a medical doctor for an examination to establish if your injury is permanent, to compensate for the pain and suffering. Even if you have spinal cord or neck injuries, the insurance company will find ways to show the injuries aren’t permanent, making you, as the victim of the accident, ineligible for these damages. However, if you work closely with a personal injury attorney, they will be with you every step of the way and ensure that you obtain your rightful and maximum compensation.
Forms Of Compensation You Can Obtain After Being Hit By A Vehicle
Pedestrians can claim multiple types of damages after being hit by a car. These compensations are:
- Medical bills, both current and future
- Lost wages and disability benefits
- Future loss of earnings
- Mental anguish
- Loss of life enjoyment
- Funeral and burial expenses
- Scarring and disfigurement
- Compensation for the traveling distance to and from the hospital
- Punitive damages if the car driver was driving while intoxicated
Remember, you can’t claim compensation for pain and suffering if the car driver that hit you was not negligent or at fault. You can obtain these damages only if the physical pain and mental anguish are due to the driver’s negligence.
Also, you can claim punitive damages if the driver that struck you was maliciously negligent. However, these damages don’t come easily because you must prove that the driver acted in conscious disregard of traffic rules and the safety of other road users. You can claim these damages when the driver involved was drunk or drugged, and the intoxication was the major cause of the reckless driving. Your injury attorney will assert that the driver was aware of the risks involved in drunk driving but still drove, striking a pedestrian.
Punitive damages in Florida are awarded thrice the amount you obtain as compensation or $500,000, whichever is higher.
Can PIP Provide Coverage for Lost Wages and Hospital Bills?
Yes, pedestrians hit by cars in Jacksonville can pay for their lost wages and medical expenses using the PIP coverage. The maximum amount paid by the coverage is $10,000, and this can be paid to your medical care provider or you if it is proved the pedestrian accident resulted in the loss of income.
Note that even if you were walking or jogging at the time of the accident, your auto insurance would pay for the personal injury protection benefits. Unfortunately, PIP benefits won’t pay for your medical costs and lost income if your vehicle is uninsured.
Florida statutes allow individuals injured in road accidents to obtain coverage from relative’s car insurance if they live together. Therefore, even if you have been hit by a car and don’t have vehicle insurance, your relative's PIP coverage can pay lost income and doctor bills. The insurance policy carrier of the driver that hit you can only pay PIP benefits if you don’t own a vehicle and your spouse’s vehicle is uninsured. You cannot be reprimanded because your spouse failed to obtain car insurance.
Remember, if the PIP coverage cannot foot all the expenses and lost salary, the negligent driver must pay out the remaining amount.
Must your Injuries be Severe to Obtain Compensation?
Florida relies on a tort threshold to establish if the injuries sustained from the pedestrian crash are eligible for pain and suffering damages. Injuries that meet this threshold include:
- Major or permanent loss of body function
- Significant or permanent scarring and disfiguring
- Permanent harm that doesn’t consist of disfigurement and scarring
- Loss of life
It’s worth noting that if you are an out-of-state pedestrian and a car hits you in Jacksonville, you don’t need to meet the tort threshold highlighted above to be eligible for pain and anguish damages. Instead, your eligibility is based on the characteristics of your case.
Establishing Fault When a Vehicle Hits a Pedestrian
Fault in pedestrian accidents is mainly determined by where the accident occurs. If you are hit by a vehicle at a crosswalk, your injury claim will receive a boost because the motorist will be at fault. However, if you are hit by a car somewhere else that isn’t a crossway, you and the driver could be liable for the crash. Also, you could be fully liable for the accident. Luckily, Florida allows even pedestrians hit outside crossways to seek compensation if the driver is partly responsible for the crash and injuries.
However, some states deny pedestrians compensation if they were not walking on a crossway when they were hit. Even if the pedestrian is only 1% at fault, they won’t be eligible for compensation.
Proving your case will be an uphill task if the accident occurred at night. The driver could argue that there was poor visibility during the crash, reducing or denying you compensation. However, if you were wearing light clothing, you could argue that the saw or ought to have seen you and prevented a pedestrian accident.
According to Florida law Sections 316.130(8), no person shall suddenly leave their vehicle or place of safety and run into oncoming traffic where the driver is so close to yielding. If there is evidence of a violation of this section of the law, you will be 100% liable for the accident.
However, children of around two years are exempted from this statute, and even if it is apparent they walked into oncoming traffic, they cannot be deemed to have acted negligently. The court won’t consider it a case of contributory negligence because a child below the age of six is deemed to lack the ability to exercise reasonable care.
In a case where your minor has been struck by a vehicle, you can sue the driver in the capacity of a survivor or representative of the child’s estate. However, you won’t receive any benefits if the driver’s liability insurance carrier can prove that you had an obligation as a parent to supervise your child, but you failed to perform these duties.
If the court denies you compensation for the death of your child and owns car insurance coverage, it could be used to pay out a $5,000 death benefit. These benefits are on top of the health and disability benefits provided in your auto insurance policy under PIP benefits. You will obtain these benefits directly from the insurance company.
Fault And Its Effect On The Compensation You Obtain From The Claim
The money you obtain as compensation in a pedestrian accident claim depends on your percentage of fault to blame on the crash. If you are partly liable for the crash, comparative fault applies in your case, and this significantly reduces the amount you are entitled to as compensation.
The law enforcement officer who visits the scene to investigate the accident prepares a traffic report. The traffic report will have a lot of impact in establishing fault, which is why you need to gather your evidence after the crash.
Furthermore, the accident scene changes with time, and normal traffic resumes, so you need to act fast and collect evidence before it disappears. You can do this by taking pictures and videos of the scene. These will help the accident reconstruction expert to demonstrate the events that unfolded resulting in the crash.
What if the Driver’s Insurer Denies the Claim?
After being struck by a car in Florida, the negligent driver’s policy carrier might send you a letter denying coverage. You should go through this letter carefully and determine if they deny you PIP coverage on the negligent motorist’s insurance policy.
You are not eligible for coverage if you own a car because your auto insurance policy will provide PIP coverage, and it’s your insurer that is responsible for paying the amount.
Even though the liable party’s insurer will automatically deny the PIP coverage, they will compensate you under the bodily injury liability coverage. However, to obtain the compensation, you must demonstrate the driver was at fault.
If you have sustained pedestrian accident injuries, you should know that you are eligible for compensation, primarily if you incurred unusual expenses. The reimbursement seeks to make you whole by making the transition to your new life comfortable. Therefore, you need Jacksonville Personal Injury Attorney to help you recover a maximum reimbursement. Reach out to us today at 904-800-7557 for a free consultation.