Injured Pedestrians’ Rights to Compensation in Pennsylvania
Page last reviewed and updated: July 27, 2020
Pedestrian accidents have been on the rise in Pennsylvania and are pretty common in Philadelphia. In our car accident law practice, more and more clients come to us, having been hit by a car while crossing the street or stepping off a curb. Increasingly, drivers are distracted, whether it’s due to talking or texting on a phone, eating in the car or even talking to a passenger.
Pedestrians who are hit by cars usually suffer lower leg injuries, in addition to spinal injuries and head injuries. We often see broken or fractured bones in the ankle, knee or leg, and these can occur even at low speed impacts. At higher speed impacts, the injuries can be catastrophic, if not fatal.
Below, our Philadelphia car accident lawyers discuss compensation for pedestrian accident injuries in Pennsylvania:
- What claims can an injured pedestrian make?
- How much compensation is available?
What Claims Can an Injured Pedestrian Make in Pennsylvania?
First Party Claim – PIP Coverage
Generally, there are two claims an injured pedestrian can make under Pennsylvania law. The first is known as a first party claim, which is a car insurance claim for specific benefits, such as medical bills, lost wages, or household help expenses (i.e., cleaning, lawn care, etc.). This type of claim is made with the injured party’s own car insurance company
In most cases, an injured pedestrian will make a claim for these first party benefits (also known as PIP or personal injury protection benefits) through either 1. their own car insurance policy if they have one or the policy of a family member, or 2. the car insurance policy of the car that hit them.
In other words, if an injured pedestrian owns their own car and has insurance (or is covered under a family member’s policy), they can make a claim for benefits under their own policy. If an injured pedestrian doesn’t have their own policy and isn’t covered under someone else’s policy, they could make a claim under the policy covering a car that was involved in the accident. These two scenarios apply to the vast majority of pedestrian accident cases in Pennsylvania.
Third Party Claim – Financial Compensation
In addition to a first party claim, an injured pedestrian can also make what’s known as a third party claim.This claim is basically a personal injury claim against the negligent party, which in 95% of cases, is the driver who caused the accident. However, in some cases, there are viable legal claims against other parties, such as a business, the city/township where the accident occurred, or another person for negligent entrustment.
- A business like a shopping mall or plaza may be negligent for failing to maintain a crosswalk, which contributed to the accident.
- A bar or restaurant may be liable for negligence in serving alcohol to the driver, who then hit the pedestrian.
- A city or township may be liable for defective design of an intersection or a faulty traffic light.
- A negligent entrustment claim against another party may be pursued where the owner of a car negligently allowed another person to drive the car (i.e., the owner knew that the driver had a serious drug addition problem and despite multiple warnings, continued to let the driver borrow their car).
In addition to a claim against the at-fault driver and/or another party like a business, an injured pedestrian may also make a UIM (underinsured motorist) claim. This claim is similar to the first party claim because it is made under the pedestrian’s own car insurance policy or the policy of a family member. However, this UIM coverage is optional.
How Much Compensation Can an Injured Pedestrian Receive?
Compensation from PIP Claims
PIP claims for medical benefits don’t result in direct compensation to an injured pedestrian. Rather, the car insurance company pays the medical providers directly. However, for a lost wages claim, the injured party would be able to receive a check directly from the insurance company. This is subject to waiting periods and monthly maximums set by law and the insurance policy. The max allowed under the PIP policy depends on how much coverage was purchased. Every policy varies in terms of the amount available for lost wages, and some people will have declined coverage for anything other than medical bills.
Compensation from Legal Claims Against Negligent Parties
Compensation from legal claims against negligent parties flow directly from the insurance companies involved, and the amounts available vary. Injured parties in a car accident case like a pedestrian accident case are often surprised to learn that their compensation will come from an insurance policy. That’s the way insurance works, whether it’s a car insurance policy or a business insurance policy. The policy itself covers the policy owner from negligent conduct.
Read more about pedestrian injuries and legal rights in Pennsylvania.
In a pedestrian accident claim, the negligent conduct would be a claim against the driver, which would trigger the driver’s car insurance policy. As discussed above, if another party is negligent (in addition to the driver), that entity’s insurance policy would also be triggered.
For example, a pedestrian in Philadelphia is walking in the crosswalk of a shopping plaza when she is hit by a driver who was texting on their phone. The crosswalk wasn’t designated with any signs and the crosswalk markings on the pavement had faded and were barely visible. Despite multiple complaints and near-misses, the shopping plaza owner did nothing to address the problem. In this instance, both the driver and shopping plaza owner could be held liable. If the shopping plaza is found liable, the plaza’s business insurance policy would kick in and provide compensation to the injured pedestrian. This would be in addition to the policy of the negligent driver.
Compensation from a Negligent Driver
In a pedestrian accident lawsuit filed solely against the negligent driver, the amount of compensation available depends on the amount of Bodily Injury Liability coverage purchased by the negligent driver.
Under Pennsylvania law, every owner of a car registered in this state must buy at least $15,000 of Bodily Injury Liability coverage. However, many Pennsylvania residents buy better coverage. Many policies provide $50,000, $100,000 or higher amounts of Bodily Injury Coverage.
Philadelphia Car Accident Lawyer – Pedestrian Accidents
Our law firm handles pedestrian accident cases in the Philadelphia area, including the suburbs. On behalf of our clients, we seek maximum compensation from insurance benefits and claims. Contact us for a FREE consultation. (215) 985-0777