What Happens With Your Car Insurance If You Hit a Pedestrian?
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When you collide with another vehicle, you generally know what to do: you pull over, exchange information, and file a claim. But what happens with your car insurance if you hit a pedestrian?
If you hit a pedestrian, it’s less obvious what to do next. Pedestrian insurance claims can be complicated, but they don’t have to be.
Here’s how your car insurance works if you hit a pedestrian.
Your Liability Insurance Covers Pedestrians
All car insurance policies come with liability insurance. You are legally required to have liability insurance to drive in most states (all except New Hampshire and Virginia). Liability insurance protects other people from your actions while driving. It protects their property (through property damage liability coverage) and their injuries or medical bills (through bodily injury liability coverage).
Most of us assume this liability coverage extends to other drivers and passengers, which is true. In an accident, your liability coverage can cover the medical bills of anybody in the other vehicle.
However, you may not be aware that insurance also covers pedestrians, cyclists, and anyone else you might hit while driving.
How Liability Insurance Covers Pedestrians
If you hit a pedestrian or cyclist while driving, and you are found at-fault for the accident, then your liability insurance will cover certain expenses incurred by that pedestrian or cyclist.
Because you are responsible for the accident, you are legally required to make that pedestrian or cyclist “whole” again. That means covering their medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other expenses.
After an at-fault accident with a pedestrian or cyclist, your car insurance liability coverage could cover all of the following:
- Medical bills
- Lost wages
- Pain and suffering
- Punitive damages (if the driver was reckless or malicious)
- Other damages (in-home medical care, home improvements needed to accommodate your injuries, etc.)
All of the above are considered personal injury expenses, and they’re covered by your bodily injury liability coverage.
However, if you damage the other person’s property, then your car insurance property damage coverage could cover the cost of repairing or replacing that property. If you hit a cyclist and damage the cyclist’s bike, for example, then your car insurance property damage coverage could cover the cost of repairing or replacing the bike.
Liability Insurance Limits for Pedestrians
Your insurance will only cover pedestrian damages up to your coverage limit. In an accident with a pedestrian, the pedestrian will have the same coverage limits as an accident with another driver.
Most states require you to have approximately $30,000 to $50,000 of bodily injury liability coverage. Some drivers meet these minimum requirements, while other drivers exceed them.
Depending on your limits, you could owe the pedestrian out of pocket.
For example, if you have $50,000 of coverage, but the pedestrian you hit has $75,000 of medical bills, you will be responsible for paying the additional $25,000 out of pocket. This is why it’s a smart idea to invest in more liability insurance than your state legally requires.
Collision and Comprehensive Insurance Cover Your Damages
If you hit a pedestrian and you experience damages, collision and comprehensive insurance coverage can pay for them.
Drivers are not legally required to have collision or comprehensive insurance, but it is highly encouraged. This type of insurance essentially guarantees that you will be covered if your car is damaged, regardless of who was at fault.
If you get hurt in a collision with a pedestrian, medical payments coverage or personal injury protection coverage can pay for your damages. It’s less common for the driver to be injured in a crash with a pedestrian, but it still can happen, and it’s important to be prepared.
Exclusions for Pedestrian Damages
In most cases, auto insurance will cover a pedestrian after a collision. However, there are certain exclusions.
Many people are surprised to find out that pedestrians can still be found at fault in a crash. When this happens, your insurance company is not responsible for paying their damages. If there is damage to your car, your insurance company can require the pedestrian to pay for the damages, although they often choose not to. If your insurance company doesn’t ask the pedestrian to pay for the damages, you could end up paying for them out of pocket (unless you have collision insurance).
Pedestrians can be found at fault in several situations. Generally, if the pedestrian puts himself in harm’s way, then the driver may not be liable for any damages.
One of the most common ways a pedestrian is at-fault is when jaywalking outside of a crosswalk or trying to cross a highway. They can also be found at fault for walking against the light or walking at night while wearing dark clothing, which would make them very difficult to see. Cyclists can be found at fault for not following the flow of traffic or weaving in and out of cars.
Both pedestrians and cyclists can also be found partially at fault for an accident, which means that both the car and the pedestrian took actions that contributed to the accident. In this instance, your insurance will need to pay for a specific percentage of the pedestrian’s damages. Your car insurance company will assign you each a percentage of fault– for example, you may be 60 percent at fault and the pedestrian is 40 percent at fault. When this happens, your car insurance will be responsible for paying 60 percent of the pedestrian’s damages. If you don’t agree with the fault determinations your insurance company gives you, you can choose to contest them.
Will My Car Insurance Cover Me If I’m a Pedestrian and I Get Hit?
If you are walking and you get hit by a car, your car insurance may pay for your damages. Traditional liability coverage won’t pay for this, but if you have personal injury protection coverage or medical payments coverage, your insurance company will usually shoulder the financial responsibility.
Uninsured motorist coverage can also pay for your medical bills if the driver does not have enough liability insurance to cover the damages. Some states require you to have personal injury protection coverage, but it’s not mandatory in most parts of the US. If you get hit by a car, be sure to talk to your insurance company to see what sort of coverage you can get.
What Should I Do If I Get Into an Accident With a Pedestrian?
When an accident like this happens, the first thing to do is stop and call 911 if there are any serious injuries. You should also call the police, as you’ll need to get a police statement for your insurance. Put your hazard lights on so that oncoming traffic knows to avoid you, and move your car off to the side of the road if you can.
Take pictures of the accident scene. If there are any witnesses, get their contact information. Trade insurance information with the pedestrian involved in the accident if possible. All of these things are crucial to helping your insurance company make an appropriate decision about the fault of the accident.
Do not admit that you were at fault, as this can hurt your case later on. Once you get home, report the accident to your insurance company right away – the sooner they know, the sooner they can help you.
Final Word on Pedestrian Accidents
To avoid accidents like this, be aware of pedestrians and cyclists, even in unexpected places. When you’re a pedestrian, follow the rules of the road and be cautious when crossing streets.
Car insurance coverage can be tricky for pedestrian accidents. In most cases, however, liability coverage will cover pedestrian damages if you’re at fault for the accident.