Pedestrian Hit by a Car?

This video features Mike Maxwell, a Personal Injury attorney based in Washington.

Washington Lawyer Helps the Injured

Video Transcript:

Mike Maxwell: 

The last thing that you want, if you or a loved one is hit by a car, is to be messing around with bills from hospitals when there's insurance in place that should be paying it.

Rob Rosenthal: 

If you or someone you know has been hit by a car and injured while walking down the street, what are your rights and how do you get help? We're gonna find out right now, 'cause we're gonna ask those questions and more on this episode of Ask the Lawyer. Hi again everybody, I'm Rob Rosenthal with askthelawyers.com. My guest is Washington State Attorney, Mike Maxwell. I wanna tell you right at the top, if you'd like to ask Mike questions of your own, it's easy to do, go to askthelawyers.com, click the button at the top that says Ask a Lawyer, and it doesn't cost you anything to ask questions or you can call the phone number that you'll see on the screen during our conversation. Mike, good to see you again. Thank you for helping us out today.

Mike Maxwell: 

Good morning, Rob.

Rob Rosenthal: 

So, how common are these car versus pedestrian incidents in your area?

Mike Maxwell: 

Well, we have a lot of traffic, we have a lot of pedestrians, we have a lot of injuries.

Rob Rosenthal: 

And if they're a pedestrian and they're hit by a car, say, while they're in the crosswalk, what do they need to do? Obviously, medical attention, but what's your advice? What are some steps they need to take?

Mike Maxwell: 

Well, seeking medical attention is always the first and the foremost thing, you wanna make sure that the person gets well. Second, you wanna make sure that you or the bystanders or somebody gets the insurance information from the motorist. Sometimes law enforcement can be your greatest help. Insurance information is key, because in Washington State, you as a pedestrian are an insured under the policy of the driver. That means that if the driver has personal injury protection insurance, you as a pedestrian automatically get $10,000 to pay for your medical bills. That pays for your copays, that pays for your deductibles, and that pays for things that maybe your own health insurance wouldn't pay for, which might include chiropractic, acupuncture massage, whatever you need, or if you've been catastrophically injured, it can help pay your copays.

Rob Rosenthal: 

So let's talk a little bit about this. So, obviously, oftentimes, unfortunately, these can be very serious injuries. They are taken to the hospital, how do they pay the hospital right away? Immediately do they tell the hospital to build their health insurance and then wait till they can collect? What's your advice there?

Mike Maxwell: 

That's a great question. So the easiest way to pay the hospital is with the first payer insurance, which is the automobile insurance company's insurance. That's great insurance. Hospitals love it because there's no reduced rate, they just pay the bill at face value. Hospitals love it, insurance companies expect to pay it, and it's no muss, no fuss, no paperwork, no headache. So getting the automobile insurance's paperwork is a great way for you to get a head start on paying your bills. If your bills are more than the $10,000 that are paid by the automobile insurance, then you can turn to secondary sources, your personal health insurance, Medicare, Medicaid, Labor and Industry, whatever you have if you're on the job, but the automobile insurance is what they call first payer insurance.

Rob Rosenthal: 

Is this the sort of thing that someone like yourself and I can help somebody navigate through all this insurance and what to file and wear and all that?

Mike Maxwell: 

Yes, a good attorney knows how to do this. So step one, get yourself fixed, go to the hospital, go to the doctor, get checked out. Step two, get yourself fixed legally after you get yourself fixed medically. Talk to a good lawyer. We know how to do this, there are many others as well that can help you get the insurance in line to get your bills paid, because the last thing that you want, if you or a loved one is hit by a car is to be messing around with bills from hospitals when there's insurance in place that should be paying it.

Rob Rosenthal: 

Right. What if the incident is a hit and run, are there any options? Could there still be some recovery? How does that work?

Mike Maxwell: 

Yes, if you're hit by a hit and run driver, there are options. There are many options, it's just not quite as easy as if you know who did it. One thing is you might have what's called underinsured motorist insurance on your own insurance. Your own automobile that's parked in your garage might provide you insurance and you can get recovery from that. Second thing, we have something in the state of Washington called Crime Victims' Compensation, CVC. Crime Victims' Compensation can help pay for those medical bills and even wage loss if you were struck or a victim of a criminal act, and hit and run is a criminal act. This is more complicated and it's harder to get, but a good attorney knows how to do it.

Rob Rosenthal: 

So my initial question to you was if someone is injured while walking in the crosswalk, what if they're crossing where there is not a crosswalk, Mike? Does that mean they don't have a case then?

Mike Maxwell: 

Not necessarily. Every intersection in the state of Washington is a crosswalk. There are marked crosswalks and unmarked crosswalks. But if you are in an intersection, you often have priority over the driver. Drivers are supposed to yield at all times for pedestrians if they can.

Rob Rosenthal: 

What if the injury is say with a city vehicle, city bus or some city truck of some sort, does that change things?

Mike Maxwell: 

Oftentimes the person causing the injuries, the driver, is a city employee. It's a bus driver, it's a meter maid, it's a cop, it can be an ambulance, it could be anything. Those drivers are like everybody else, they make mistakes, and fortunately, the city, the county, the state, the federal government if it's a US Postal Service, they've all got plenty of insurance. Suing the government or trying to make a claim against the government is a much more complicated thing than making a claim against a private driver. A good lawyer knows how to do that. There's a complicated notice provisions in the law that a good lawyer knows how to comply with.

Rob Rosenthal: 

What if the pedestrian, Mike, was looking at their phone or looking up at a building and might have been a little distracted? Maybe they have some sort of fault in the accident, does that affect their ability to recover?

Mike Maxwell: 

In every case that I've ever had, the insurance company or whatever is defending it will blame the pedestrian for looking at the phone, looking away, being drunk, going too slow, going too fast, wearing the wrong kind of clothing, whatever. A good lawyer can defeat all those defenses. Look, you as a pedestrian, you've got the right to walk, and you've the right to walk across the street, and yes, they'll blame you for something no matter what, but a good lawyer will know how to deal with those defenses.

Rob Rosenthal: 

Lots of really interesting information as always. Thank you, Mike, thank you for making some time to answer our questions.

Mike Maxwell: 

My pleasure.

Rob Rosenthal: 

Alright, that's gonna do it for this episode of Ask the Lawyer. My guest has been Washington State attorney Mike Maxwell. I remind you again, if you'd like to ask Mike questions of your own, it's easy to do, go to askthelawyers.com, there's a button at the top of the page that says Ask a Lawyer, click on that and it'll walk you through the very simple process. Thanks for watching. I'm Rob Rosenthal with Ask the Lawyers.

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