When a Pedestrian is Hit by Uninsured Driver They Can Recover from Uninsured Motorist Coverage

Yesterday morning, a runner was rushed to Harborview Medical Center with a head injury and multiple broken bones after she was hit by a car at a Burke-Gilman Trail intersection in North Seattle. Medics were dispatched at 9:14 a.m. to the 5800 block of Northeast 65th Street. Police said the woman runner was in the crosswalk when the car hit her.

Most people know that in a situation like this, the pedestrian probably has a right to recover against the driver of the vehicle under that driver’s insurance policy. But what do you do if the other driver is uninsured or the policy limits of their insurance do not cover your losses?

In Washington drivers are required to carry insurance with a minimum of $25,000 in liability coverage, however in cases like this involving serious injuries, the injured person’s medical expenses alone are likely to exceed such a bare-bones policy-not to mention the injured person’s lost wages due to taking time off from work to recover and general damages for pain and suffering.

The injured pedestrian would have a right to pursue the driver of the vehicle individually, but in many cases it is not realistic because to do this even though the pedestrian would probably get a judgment against the driver. The reason for this is that many drivers simply don’t have the money to pay and the judgment would be uncollectible.

This is where your own auto insurance comes in. What many people may not realize is that your own personal injury protection (PIP) and underinsured motorist (UIM) coverage likely cover you if you are injured as a pedestrian. Being a pedestrian at the time of injury usually does not impact your entitlement to coverage under your own policy so long as you are injured by a vehicle.

PIP coverage pays for your medical expenses while you are awaiting payment on the claim from the third party or your UIM coverage. Even if you have health insurance, PIP coverage often covers expenses that your health insurance does not (e.g. there is no co-pay for services paid for under a PIP policy).

UIM coverage compensates you for your injuries to the extent that you are not able to recover from the liable party’s insurer. In the above vehicle/pedestrian collision, it is unlikely that if the driver has a bare-bones $25,000 liability policy it will be sufficient to compensate the injured runner. Thus, after the liable party’s insurance policy is exhausted, pedestrians are usually able to recover from their own insurer under their UIM policy.