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Vancouver, Washington

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Don Jacobs
Don Jacobs
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Pedestrian injuries and auto insurance

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Pedestrians and cars share the roadway, sometimes with tragic results. Crosswalks are made for pedestrians to feel safe when crossing the street. Most states have laws granting pedestrians an absolute right of way over vehicles if occupying a crosswalk. Of course the laws don’t protect you much if someone operating a two thousand pound machine fails to see you. The fact the driver is responsible for your injury isn’t much comfort either. Still, they are legally responsible for what happened and you have a right to be compensated. And not just for medical bills, but also for what you went through and what you’re stuck with, particularly if you end up with a life long health problem. If the driver carried liability insurance most likely his company will try to contact you about a settlement. What they won’t do is pay for any of your medical bills until you agree to sign off on the claim. As such, you may need some help in paying medical bills until the case settles. If you have your own private medical insurance, you still may be stuck with large deductibles and co-pays. So what can you do? In some states, such as Washington, you may be able to access the guilty driver’s medical coverage on the car. If a driver has this coverage, not only does it cover the medical bills for anyone riding in the vehicle, it can be used by a pedestrian to pay for bills while they’re waiting for the case to settle. It essentially treats the pedestrian as an injured passenger in the car. Whatever medical coverage exists does not get subtracted from the driver’s liability coverage either. His insurance company may be entitled to take credit for whatever bills they paid at settlement time, but they don’t get to subtract it from coverage. Of course, accessing this coverage when you also have a claim against the same company for a liability settlement can create strange bedfellows. On the one hand, the liability adjustor has the right to do everything in his power to deny, defend or delay your claim. However, the medical coverage adjustor is supposed to treat you like any other passenger in the car, meaning fairly and honestly and is even required to keep any medical information they obtain on you confidential. When the medical adjustor and the liability adjuster have desks next to each other, this line can be crossed. The best advice to anyone contemplating a pedestrian claim while accessing the medical coverage from the same company is obtain lawyer. The line becomes a lot tougher to cross if an attorney is on board.