It goes without saying that pedestrians are highly vulnerable to severe injuries and death in traffic accidents. They have no safety protection and usually little or no time or means of escaping an oncoming, fast moving car. Likewise, very rarely does a pedestrian hit by a car sustain only minor injuries. Rather, death and severe injuries such as brain damage, spinal cord injury, and loss of limbs often results.
According to the US Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 4,743 pedestrians were killed in traffic crashes in 2012, and 76,000 were injured. Of these fatalities, 20% the victims were 65 years old or older, and 48% of the fatalities involved alcohol intoxication of either the driver or pedestrian.
Even in crosswalks, where pedestrians are supposed to have the right of way, pedestrians still face a significant risk of being hit by drivers not paying attention, or drivers unable to see that a pedestrian is present. Just last month, a 91 year-old man was killed in Arlington when attempting to cross a street in a crosswalk.
To minimize the risk of accidents, the NHTSA recommends that pedestrians walking at night carry flashlights and wear bright and reflective clothing. When using crosswalks, always stop and look both ways, even though you have the right of way. Also, when walking with children, hold their hands and prevent them from running out onto a crosswalk. And, overall, it is still much safer to use a crosswalk than it is to jaywalk.
Because of the high risks associated with pedestrian accidents, and car crashes in general, Massachusetts requires all drivers of cars registered in the Commonwealth to obtain car insurance so that accident victims are ensured of a means of paying for their medical expenses.
The insurance policy must cover personal injury to the policyholder, damage to the policyholder’s car, injury to anyone injured by the policyholder, and damage to a car hit by the policyholder. In Massachusetts, drivers must have a minimum coverage of $20,000 for bodily injury to others, and $8,000 coverage for the driver, passengers, and pedestrians.
Moreover, when parents loan children their cars, the parent’s car insurance travels with the car and covers the teenage driver, further protecting accident victims by ensuring that the responsible party has funds to pay any damages awarded to the victim.
Every car insurance policy must include four kinds of insurance, at a minimum. The four required components are: bodily injury, personal injury protection, uninsured motor vehicle, and property damage. Bodily injury is fault-based coverage that is paid in the event that the insured negligently causes an injury to another individual. It also covers anyone who the insured gives permission to drive his or her car. Personal injury protection, or PIP, covers the driver and certain other individuals who are injured in a car accident, regardless of who is at fault for the accident. PIP covers medical expenses, lost wages, and “replacement services,” meaning expenses incurred in having to hire someone to replace the services of an injured family member.
When a pedestrian or bystander is hit and injured, the insurance company that insured the car that hurt the pedestrian will pay his or her medical bills up to the first $2,000.00. These payments fall under personal injury protection. PIP will also likely cover injuries sustained in a hit and run automobile accident.
If your medical bills exceed $2,000.00, the amount over $2,000.00 will be billed to your health insurance provider. If you do not have health insurance (which would violate Massachusetts’ Universal Health Insurance Law), or if your health insurance provider refuses to pay the bill, the PIP insurance policy will extend an additional $6,000.00 to cover those bills.
The only time a victim can sue the driver of the car that injured them is if one of the following has occurred: the victim has died, or the victim has sustained a permanent and serious disfigurement, a fractured bone, a complete loss of one of the five senses, loss of a limb, or when the victim’s medical expenses equal or exceed $2,000.00. However, any damages the plaintiff wins in a lawsuit are reduced by the amount recovered from the PIP policy.
The personal injury crosswalk accident attorneys at the law firm of Altman & Altman are ready to help you get the compensation you need to recover from your injury. We have extensive experience litigating cases involving injuries to pedestrians. We will file insurance claims for you and handle all communication with the driver and the insurance companies.
With offices in downtown Boston and in Cambridge, we are easily accessible to residents throughout Greater Boston. Call us today for a free and confidential case consultation to learn more about your rights and options.