You may have heard that New York is a no-fault state when it comes to auto accidents. That means an injured party’s own insurance company initially covers medical bills and other accident-related costs up to the policy limit, which is typically $50,000. But what happens when a car accident injury befalls a pedestrian — one who has no insurance policy of his or her own?
The short answer is that the car driver’s no-fault coverage initially applies in a pedestrian knockdown case. But people on foot often suffer serious injuries that result in medical expenses far exceeding the $50,000 limit. To recover full compensation in that situation, it’s necessary to establish fault on the part of the driver and comparative lack of fault on the part of the pedestrian.
To begin with, a pedestrian can recover excess damages only for a “serious injury” as defined by New York law. A serious injury falls into one of the following categories:
- Significant disfigurement
- Loss of a fetus
- Permanent loss of use of part of the body
- Permanent consequential limitation in use of a part of the body
- A non-permanent injury or impairment that can be medically proven and keeps the injured party from his or her “usual and customary daily activities” for at least 90 of the 180 days immediately following the accident
Injuries commonly sustained by pedestrians in knockdown cases are often “serious injuries.” These include traumatic brain injury (TBI), neck injuries like whiplash, and trauma to the muscles, joints and ligaments throughout the body. Extreme cases may involve disability or even paralysis. Nevertheless, pedestrians hit by vehicles sometimes meet significant resistance from drivers’ insurance companies who contest the sufficiency of injuries under the statute.
If you are able to show that you have suffered a serious injury, the next hurdle is proving fault for the accident. In New York, an injured pedestrian can recover damages only to the extent that they were blameless and the driver who hit them was negligent. So, for example, if a speeding vehicle hits a pedestrian walking outside a crosswalk, the fault may be shared, perhaps 80 percent by the driver and 20 percent by the pedestrian. The damages recoverable would be proportioned accordingly.
Once the injury’s seriousness and the driver’s fault are established, you can recover your proportionate share of economic damages, such as medical costs and lost wages, and of non-economic damages, such as pain and suffering. A New York attorney experienced in pedestrian knockdown cases can make sure that you seek the full amount of compensation available to you.
If you or someone you love has been injured in a pedestrian knockdown case, contact Goldberg Sager & Associates for a full evaluation of your potential right to pursue damages. Call us at 718-514-9516 or contact us online today to schedule a consultation in our Brooklyn office.