I got hit by a car while in a crosswalk. Who's liable?

Question

I got hit by a car while in a crosswalk. Who's liable?

Answer

It’s no secret that pedestrians who are in a marked crosswalk have the right of way -- unless they are crossing against the “Do Not Walk” sign or the big red hand, of course.

Over 4,000 pedestrians are struck and killed by vehicles every year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). And in 2008 alone, 69,000 pedestrians were injured after being hit by a vehicle.

If you’ve been hit by a car while in a crosswalk, the driver of the vehicle will probably be legally liable for compensating you for all losses stemming from the accident. The legal term for these losses is “damages.” Different categories of damages include your medical bills, income you lost because of inability to work, any damage to your personal property, and compensation for things like your “pain and suffering” and other emotional damages stemming from the accident and your injuries.

In most car-pedestrian accidents, the driver carries liability insurance, and that coverage will kick in to cover the injured pedestrian’s damages, up to the policy limits. So, you can make what’s known as a “third party claim” with the at-fault driver’s insurance company. You can also file a personal injury lawsuit for damages against the at-fault driver, and his or her insurance carrier will typically step in to defend the claim.

But in rare cases when the pedestrian is at fault, or after a hit-and-run accident, a pedestrian may need to turn to his or her own health insurance coverage (or disability insurance) to pay the cost of medical care and other losses stemming from the accident.

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