Pedestrian accidents can leave victims with severe injuries: spinal cord injuries, traumatic brain injuries, severely broken bones, and even road rash that is severe enough to appear like burns on the skin. These severe injuries can lead to substantial medical bills—and someone has to pay for them. Who pays for the medical bills after a pedestrian accident?
Ultimately, the person injured in the accident bears responsibility for paying his own medical bills. In the case of a minor child injured in a pedestrian accident, the parents may bear responsibility for making those payments. Fortunately, victims do have a few options to attempt to recover medical expenses or help to cover those medical bills.
The Anticipated Cost of Medical Treatment After a Pedestrian Accident
Non-surgical treatment of a single broken bone can cost $2,500 or more. Unfortunately, pedestrian accidents often result in much more serious injuries since the victim may not have any protection at all from the vehicle that strikes him or her. Victims with severe injuries can, in many cases, anticipate high medical costs following a pedestrian accident.
For victims who have to pay out of pocket for ambulance transport, that bill alone may rise as high as $1,200, plus mileage. Treatment in the emergency room continues to add to the cost of care. Some victims may need emergency surgery to help repair internal damage following a serious pedestrian accident, while others may need treatment for broken bones. Doctors in the emergency room may need to conduct immediate tests to determine what injuries the victim had suffered from the accident. All of those costs can add up to a substantial bill.
Even some broken bones may need surgical care. A doctor might need to insert a pin or wires to help hold the bone together as it heals. Some injuries, including spinal cord injury or internal injuries, may require more than one surgery to treat them properly. Even if the victim does not require surgery to recover from the injury, he or she may need to attend multiple follow-up appointments with the doctor to ensure that healing is progressing properly. All those visits can add up over time.
Broken bones and dislocations may require minor rehabilitation, including several visits to a physical therapist, to help the victim regain as much function and mobility as possible. Serious injuries may require more serious rehabilitation.
In addition to working with a physical therapist, some victims, including amputees and those with spinal cord damage or traumatic brain injury, may need to work with an occupational therapist to relearn how to perform common tasks or increase the victim’s ability to manage tasks independently.
Some victims may need to stay in a rehabilitation facility where they can remain focused on recovery. Others may need an in-home caregiver to assist with care tasks throughout their recovery. Victims may also need psychological therapy to help cope with the new limitations of their injuries or to move past the trauma of the accident.
All of those substantial medical costs can accumulate, leaving considerable financial strain on the victim. Many victims worry that they cannot afford the high quality of care they need.
Who Covers Medical Expenses After a Pedestrian Accident?
Following a pedestrian accident, the victim must make arrangements to cover any medical expenses that they face as a result of injuries from the accident. Ultimately, the party that receives the treatment must take care of those bills. However, several options exist that may help provide coverage following an accident.
In some states, like New Jersey, New York, Michigan, and Florida, all drivers must carry personal injury protection insurance (PIP insurance) as well as liability insurance on their vehicles. PIP insurance provides the initial coverage, usually a minimum of 80 percent of up to $10,000, for any medical expenses sustained as a result of an auto accident.
If you carry PIP insurance, even if you suffered injuries as a pedestrian, it can help cover your medical expenses and make it easier for you to take care of those bills. Contact your auto insurance company as soon after your accident as possible to learn whether you can use your PIP insurance, and how much coverage it will provide for your injuries.
A Pedestrian Accident Claim
In many cases, the driver bears liability for a pedestrian accident. A driver who ignored the rules of the road—including failing to yield right of way to a pedestrian, driving distracted, or choosing to drive while inebriated—could bear partial or full liability for a pedestrian accident. Consult the accident report from your accident. This will likely identify the party found liable at the scene of the accident. The accident report may also list other factors that the responding officer believed might have contributed to the accident, depending on the circumstances.
A pedestrian accident claim against the liable party can offer compensation for:
- Medical expenses
- Lost wages related to your accident
- Pain and suffering
By filing a pedestrian accident claim, you may access much-needed compensation that can help you pay for your medical bills. If you need to wait for that pedestrian accident claim before you can pay your medical bills, you can have an attorney file a letter of protection that will show your intent to pay your medical bills once you have received the funds from your pedestrian accident claim.
In a pedestrian accident claim against an average Florida driver, pedestrians may receive up to $10,000 in compensation for injuries suffered in an accident. However, other drivers may carry higher-limit policies. Uber and Lyft drivers, for example, have substantial insurance provided by the companies they drive for. Taxi drivers in Florida must carry a minimum of $125,000 in coverage for anyone injured in an accident caused by that driver. Commercial drivers, including truck drivers, must also carry substantially higher-limit policies than the average Florida driver, which could also help you obtain additional compensation for your injuries.
Who Can You File a Pedestrian Accident Claim Against?
To fully understand who you could file a pedestrian accident claim against following a pedestrian accident with serious injuries, get in contact with an attorney who can evaluate your claim. This can help give you a better idea of how much compensation you should pursue and who contributed to your accident. You may gather the evidence that the driver of the vehicle that caused your accident committed errors that led to the accident. The driver could, for example, have chosen to drive while distracted or inebriated, or might have ignored the rules of the road, leading to an accident. Other factors, however, can also contribute to a pedestrian accident.
Consider, for example, a tire blowout accident. A driver may have substantial trouble controlling a vehicle as the tire blows, which can lead to hitting a pedestrian. While the driver would likely bear liability for the accident, if the manufacturer created a tire more prone to blowouts, the manufacturer may share liability for the tire blowout accident.
Likewise, if a driver on the clock caused an accident, the driver’s company may share liability for the accident. Imagine, for example, that the driver let his company know that he or she could not drive safely due to inebriation, exhaustion, or illness, but the company indicated that if the driver failed to complete his work responsibilities, including driving, he or she could lose his job. In this case, the company may share liability for the accident and for the injuries you sustained as a pedestrian.
An attorney may also consider the owner of the vehicle as part of a pedestrian accident claim when that individual is not the same as the driver. For example, the owner might include a rental car company, a corporate owner, or an individual from whom the driver borrowed the car. If the owner did not keep up with proper maintenance on the vehicle, causing an accident, the owner may bear some liability for the accident.
Talk with an attorney to help you determine all parties who may share liability for your pedestrian accident. By identifying all liable parties, you might increase the compensation you receive for your injuries.
Your Health Insurance
If you carry health insurance, it can help provide a great deal of assistance in paying the medical bills that go along with a pedestrian accident. Contact your health insurance company as soon as possible after your accident. You should ask key questions that will help you fully understand the coverage your insurance will provide. Contacting your health insurance company and notifying them about your accident could also help streamline approval of your medical bills, since the insurance company will need to confirm how your injuries occurred.
Confirm when coverage kicks in. In some cases, your insurance company might not provide coverage for bills that someone else should cover—in this case, the party that caused your injuries. Your health insurance company may not pay out immediately, or might require compensation from your pedestrian accident claim that will help cover your medical expenses. Make sure you understand when your health insurance company will start covering your medical expenses and what they will cover.
You should also ask what copays and deductibles you should expect as you pursue treatment. Some insurance plans include a specific deductible you must meet before insurance kicks in. This deductible might start after you use your personal injury protection insurance. You may also have significant copays for many of your procedures. While some services may have a flat copay, like a $50 copay for office visits, your insurance company may base other copays on a specific percentage of the cost of services rendered.
Discuss what coverage you can expect. When you contact your insurance company, ask questions about the coverage you should expect. You may need to know what coverage you can get to make decisions about your care. Important questions to ask would include:
- Does your insurance company cover durable medical equipment? Some insurance companies may require you to have a prescription from your doctor to receive coverage for durable medical equipment. Other companies may cover only necessary equipment, like prosthetic devices or crutches, but not cover devices that can provide additional assistance. Talk to your insurance company to get a better idea of exactly what they will cover.
- How many physical therapy sessions will your insurance company cover? Many insurance companies may cover only a specific number of physical therapy sessions per calendar year. If you need to exceed that number of sessions to receive the best possible treatment for your injuries, you may need to cover those expenses yourself or make other payment arrangements.
- Will your insurance company cover a stay in a rehabilitation facility? Many types of injuries may require you to spend some time in a long-term care facility or rehabilitation facility to increase your odds of making a full recovery. Discuss whether your insurance company will provide coverage for that stay or a portion of that stay as well as how long you can expect the insurance company to pay for your stay in a facility. In some cases, your insurance coverage may cover only a certain number of days.
- Will your insurance company cover in-home care? Some insurance companies will compensate in-home care providers, allowing you to receive assistance with daily tasks and health care needs in your own home. Others, however, will not. Make sure you know what your insurance company covers so that you can make reasonable arrangements for your care.
Dealing with the impact of medical bills can pose incredible difficulty for an individual and their family following a serious accident. If you suffered injuries in a pedestrian accident, an attorney could help you better understand your legal rights and your options for payment. Contact an experienced pedestrian accident attorney as soon after your accident as possible to discuss your legal rights.
Michael T. Gibson, P.A., Auto Justice Attorney
2420 S. Lakemont Avenue
Orlando, FL 32814