If you are a driver, you probably know that car insurance is mandatory in most states. But do you know what your car insurance covers in case of an accident involving a pedestrian? In this blog post, we will explain how average car insurance policies protect both drivers and pedestrians in different scenarios.
What is a Pedestrian
First, let’s define what a pedestrian is. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), a pedestrian is any person on foot, walking, running, jogging, hiking, sitting, or lying down who is involved in a motor vehicle traffic crash. This includes people who are walking on sidewalks, crosswalks, parking lots, driveways, or alleys.
Now, let’s look at some common situations where a driver may hit a pedestrian and how the car insurance coverage applies.
- If you hit a pedestrian who was crossing the street legally (for example, at a marked crosswalk or with a green light), your liability coverage will pay for the pedestrian’s medical expenses, lost wages and pain and suffering up to your policy limits. Liability coverage is the part of your car insurance that covers the damage you cause to others in an accident. It is required by law in most states, and it usually has two components: bodily injury liability and property damage liability. Bodily injury liability covers the injuries you cause to other people, while property damage liability covers the damage you cause to other vehicles or property.
- If you hit a pedestrian who was crossing the street illegally (for example, at a red light or outside of a crosswalk), your liability coverage may still pay for the pedestrian’s damages, depending on the state laws and the circumstances of the accident. Some states have no-fault laws that require each party to use their own personal injury protection (PIP) coverage to pay for their own medical expenses regardless of who was at fault. PIP coverage is another part of your car insurance that covers your own medical expenses and lost wages in an accident. It is mandatory in some states and optional in others. Other states have comparative negligence laws that allow the pedestrian to recover some damages from the driver even if they were partially at fault for the accident. The number of damages will depend on the percentage of fault assigned to each party by the court or the insurance company.
- If you hit a pedestrian who was not involved in traffic (for example, on a sidewalk or in a parking lot), your liability coverage will also pay for the pedestrian’s damages up to your policy limits. However, if the pedestrian was trespassing on private property or committing a crime, they may not be entitled to any compensation from your insurance company.
As you can see, average car insurance covers pedestrians too in most cases. However, there are some exceptions and limitations that you should be aware of. For example:
- Your liability coverage will only pay up to your policy limits. If the pedestrian’s damages exceed your limits, you may be sued for the difference by the pedestrian or their family. That’s why it is advisable to have enough liability coverage to protect your assets in case of a serious accident.
- Your liability coverage will not pay for your own injuries or damages in an accident involving a pedestrian. You will need to use your own PIP coverage, medical payments coverage or health insurance to cover your own medical expenses. You will also need to use your own collision coverage or uninsured/underinsured motorist (UM/UIM) coverage to cover your own vehicle damage. Collision coverage is another part of your car insurance that covers your own vehicle damage in an accident regardless of who was at fault. It is optional in most states but may be required by your lender if you have a loan or lease on your car. UM/UIM coverage is another part of your car insurance that covers your own injuries and vehicle damage in an accident caused by a driver who has no insurance or not enough insurance. It is mandatory in some states and optional in others.
- Your car insurance may not cover pedestrians who are related to you or live with you. In some cases, they may be considered as insureds under your policy and therefore excluded from liability coverage. They may also be excluded from PIP coverage if they have their own health insurance or car insurance. You should check your policy terms and exclusions carefully to see how they apply to your family members and household members.
Average car insurance covers pedestrians too in most situations where a driver hits a pedestrian. However, there are some exceptions and limitations that you should be aware of and consider when choosing your car insurance policy. You should also drive safely and responsibly to avoid accidents and injuries to yourself and others.
Robert Macoviak is the President of Oyer, Macoviak and Associates. Oyer, Macoviak and Associates is the oldest independent insurance agency in Boynton Beach and has been in business since 1953. Oyer, Macoviak and Associates are vested members of the community who are committed to doing business face-to-face and being your insurance advocate in times of need.