Whether for leisure, exercise, or simply a mode of transportation, walking is a facet of daily life for many. Tragically, even a casual stroll can come with risks when negligent individuals choose to forgo the safety and rights of others, putting them at risk of a pedestrian accident and severe injury.
The gravity of these collisions usually takes a much more severe toll on the pedestrians involved than the motor vehicle drivers. Those who find themselves in these unforeseen circumstances typically face substantial medical bills and potentially long-term health consequences for which they may require sustained treatment in addition to the loss of income and other expenses. Combined, these factors can create a disastrous equation for individuals who are already grappling with pain and a lengthy recovery period. In light of such circumstances, you may wonder who covers medical expenses after a pedestrian accident.
As personal injury lawyers serving Iowa and Nebraska, we at Berry Law are dedicated to helping those who have been involved in pedestrian accidents understand their legal options and seek restitution for their injuries, including pursuing all available avenues for compensation. As we explore this topic, know that our personal injury attorneys are here to provide guidance, but beyond that, we are also a phone call away if you’ve been injured.
Pedestrian Accident Law and Insurance Coverage
Depending on where you live, the regulations applicable to your accident may look slightly different. Both Nebraska and Iowa follow a comparative negligence system, meaning that if a driver is found to be at least 51% at fault in an accident in Nebraska and 50% in Iowa, they are responsible for damages proportionate to that fault. However, there are some differences between how these states handle personal injury cases, including pedestrian accidents.
Pedestrian Law in Nebraska
Under Nebraska law, the at-fault party or negligent driver will be responsible for covering the resulting medical expenses after injuring someone in a crash. Therefore, as the injured party, you can seek compensation through the driver’s insurance by filing a claim for damages. These might include not only your medical bills but also other costs associated with the accident, such as medications, physical therapy, and counseling or psychiatric care, if necessary.
Pedestrian Law in Iowa
Like Nebraska, Iowa’s law requires at-fault drivers to cover medical expenses through their insurance policies. However, these statutes also include a provision for the responsibility to be distributed between various parties. In the event that more than one person or entity is at fault, there are processes in place that determine how liability is distributed among them.
Insurance Coverage in Pedestrian Accidents
Many states require personal injury protection (PIP), a type of coverage designed to cover medical expenses and other damages in the event of an accident. However, Iowa and Nebraska do not offer nor require this type of coverage. Instead, minimum insurance requirements are as follows:
Nebraska requires “proof of financial responsibility” for all registered motor vehicles. This can be in the form of a bond, a certificate of deposit, or proof of insurance. The minimum insurance requirements for motor vehicle operators in Nebraska are:
- $25,000 liability coverage for bodily injury or death of one person.
- $50,000 liability coverage for total bodily injury or death due to an accident caused by the at-fault driver.
- $25,000 liability coverage for property damage per accident.
In Iowa, these minimums include:
- $20,000 liability coverage for bodily injury to or death of one person.
- $40,000 liability coverage for bodily injury or death of two or more persons.
- $15,000 liability coverage for injury or destruction of property of others in any one accident.
Pedestrian Accidents with Uninsured or Underinsured Drivers
While insurance requirements are designed to provide a level of protection for all who suffer due to motor vehicle accidents, the reality is that not all drivers abide by these laws. In these cases, Underinsured/Underinsured Motorist (UM/UIM) coverage can help you seek compensation for your injuries even if the responsible party cannot.
This type of coverage is generally required in Nebraska, but in Iowa it is an optional part of your own insurance policy that serves to cover your medical bills and expenses in the event of a pedestrian accident injury. If you have UM/UIM in your auto insurance policy, you can file a claim for damages using this coverage. However, the claims process is not always straightforward due to the fact that insurers often seek to undervalue your damages to protect their own financial interests. Having a pedestrian accident attorney is invaluable in protecting your rights and seeking maximum compensation for your injuries, even if that payout comes from your own insurer.
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What Happens When Medical Costs Exceed the Policy Limit?
Depending on the gravity of your injuries, you may find yourself in a situation in which your medical expenses exceed the coverage offered by the at-fault driver’s insurance policy. A pedestrian accident lawyer can help you assess your options in this situation and pursue additional avenues for recovery.
Your Own Health Insurance
Your health insurance policy may cover excess medical costs in the event of a pedestrian accident once the policy limits of the at-fault driver have been exhausted. However, should you take legal action against another party, your health insurer may seek reimbursement for this coverage in what’s known as subrogation. Your attorney can help you through this process and examine in detail any medical liens that may result from your treatment as part of your accident claim.
Medical Payments Coverage (MedPay)
Medical payments coverage is an optional add-on for most auto insurance policies in Iowa and Nebraska. In addition to providing a safety net for injured drivers and passengers, this coverage can help you pay for your medical expenses after a pedestrian accident. Additionally, MedPay can provide supplementation to your insurance regardless of who was at fault. This type of coverage can be incredibly valuable during the interim as you pursue compensation from the at-fault driver.
In some cases, a personal injury lawsuit can be a desirable option if the aforementioned options do not produce a satisfactory result or are insufficient to cover the breadth of your medical costs. In some cases, a negligent driver may also refuse to cooperate by contacting their insurance company, making it difficult to proceed. Whether you choose to pursue a pedestrian accident lawsuit will depend on a variety of factors, including the driver’s personal resources. An experienced personal injury lawyer will be able to help you weigh your options and act accordingly to achieve the best possible outcome for your situation.
Hiring a Pedestrian Accident Attorney Can Help You Obtain the Compensation You Need
Despite the various types of coverage available in the event of a pedestrian accident, nothing changes the fact that you did not expect or prepare for this to happen. When dealing with serious injuries, you should not have to bear the brunt of these costs alone. At Berry Law, we excel in helping injured individuals and their families navigate the aftermath of these accidents and have a track record of recovering substantial settlements and verdicts on their behalf. An experienced pedestrian accident lawyer is instrumental in ensuring that you have the resources you need to protect yourself now and in the future.
Contact Berry Law today at (402) 527-6469 to consult our legal professionals, and let us help you explore your options for a financial recovery.