The biggest challenge in an auto/pedestrian case is almost always finding sufficient money for the extraordinary injuries that generally occur in addition to the mounting need for future medical care. This article is devoted to assisting anyone lending a hand to injured pedestrians or their families who are trying to put the pieces back together after one of these horrible accidents.
1) Medical Coverage:
Ambulance, hospital, rehabilitation departments, and extended care facilities are all within the realm of the type of necessary care required by pedestrians injured by motor vehicles. These are truly some of the worst imaginable injury claims involving brain injuries, spinal cord injury, and invariably broken bones. So, almost always the first task in helping these victims is to secure a payer source for the needed medical care.
A) MedPay Coverage:
What is often overlooked in these cases is MedPay coverage.
Pedestrians generally have, automatically, on their own personal vehicle a coverage known as MedPay. Interestingly enough, the vehicle with this coverage on it does not have to actually be involved in the collision. The coverage follows the insured person whether in or out of their own vehicle.
MedPay can range from $1,000 in coverage up to $25,000 or more. MedPay will pay or reimburse any reasonable medical expense caused by a motor vehicle collision.
B) Health Insurance:
Health insurance is also a reasonable payer source for auto/pedestrian related injuries.
However, there are health insurance companies that suggest to their group member that auto related injuries are not covered. In actuality, that is never truly the case. You need to be persistent and proactive when dealing with large health insurance companies. But, ultimately your persistence should payoff. These companies must and will pay for your medical treatment.
C) Workers' Compensation:
Workers' Compensation coverage is yet another possible source for medical coverage.
If, for example, the pedestrian was injured while running an errand for his employer, Workers' Compensation could be exclusively the appropriate medical coverage provider. This is a separate topic on its own. However, Workers' Compensation can be complicated and immediate notice to the employer is essential. You will want to get legal help to make sure this gets done correctly.
One last thing to consider about medical coverage in these auto/pedestrian situations is what has to be paid back.
Worker's Compensation and health insurance will generally need to be paid back from any ultimate recovery received from the at-fault motorist. This is called their right to subrogation. MedPay, however, does not have to be paid back.
Additionally, depending on the severity of the injuries and the extent to which health insurance or workers compensation participated in efforts to obtain their own recovery from the at-fault motorist's insurance, there may be limits to the extent that these insurance sources get paid back.
Attorneys working in this area of the law are quite knowledgeable about these issues and should be consulted early in the process for maximum effectiveness.
2) Injury Recovery:
Again, my first consideration in these auto/pedestrian recoveries is generally that after a person gets hit by a car, there are often huge future medical needs that have to be factored into any ultimate recovery.
Simply focusing on the auto insurance of the at-fault party is not only overly simplistic, but, generally insufficient to fully compensate these very injured people. This is a profession that requires creative thinkers. Consideration has to be given to issues such as the stacking of policies, the possibility of pursuing larger commercial insurance policies, and making claims with the pedestrians own uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage.
A) Stacking Policies
The driver who caused this type of accident will potentially have many different insurance policies that a good lawyer will insist be "stacked" to create appropriate levels of compensation.
For example, if the driver has his own car, that is one source of insurance coverage. If the driver lives with a sister, a grandparent, a mother, or even a cousin and that relative has his or her own insurance coverage on a vehicle, that is a second source of benefits which may be stacked on top of the first policy. The possibilities can seem endless.
Again, this is a very fact specific analysis. A quality attorney who regularly practices this sort of law should be consulted to make sure nothing is missed when it comes to possible stacking of coverage limits.
B) Commercial Coverage
Often, what might appear to be a small coverage policy may in reality be a large commercial policy.
Without demanding that the insurance company produce the certified copy of the declaration page of coverage, you may never know the full policy limits and an injury victim could be left with substantially less than what is available. On other occasions there might only be a single small policy of coverage on the car itself that caused the crash. However, the at-fault driver could be running an errand for his employer. That would be a potential commercial policy.
Appropriate investigation is a key to a proper case evaluation.
C) Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage
This is another often overlooked coverage in auto/pedestrian accidents.
Basically, the law says that coverage on the pedestrian's vehicle (even though it was not involved in the crash) will generally have available benefits which are called uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage. Similar to MedPay, this coverage follows the insured rather than the vehicle.
This coverage needs to be coordinated with other settlements and if done incorrectly can result in the injury victim losing his right to make a claim for these benefits. Also, remember that these benefits might be able to be stacked and that again can be a complicated part of the case that requires legal consultation to make sure it is properly undertaken.
Auto/pedestrian accidents require a unique understanding of the complicated nature of liability issues in combination with extraordinarily large injuries associated with these type of claims. There is no shallow end to this sort of legal representation. Only experienced injury attorneys should be attempting to help in these very complicated and tragic cases.
At Anderson, Hemmat & McQuinn, we will meet with you for free and discuss how these issues specifically impact your claim. We are confident that by utilizing our wealth of experience and knowledge we will be able to help you recover to the fullest extent possible.