Take These Three Steps
In the battle of pedestrian versus car, the car almost always wins. As a result, pedestrians involved in auto accidents often suffer serious injuries, many of which have long-term or even lifelong repercussions. From road rash, which can cause severe scarring, to traumatic brain injury or spinal cord damage, which can cause physical limitations for the rest of a victim’s life, pedestrian accidents can cause lasting trauma. But once you seek medical attention, what comes next? What should you do after getting hit by a car as a pedestrian?
Step One: Call Your Health Insurance Company
To provide coverage for your accident, your health insurance company will need to confirm who caused your accident and how it occurred. As soon as possible after the accident, contact your health insurance company. Answer any questions the representative asks, including providing information from the police report or contact information for the responsible driver’s auto insurance, if needed.
Your insurance company may need to seek reimbursement from the responsible driver’s insurance company for some or all of your medical expenses. While you talk with the insurance company, make sure you have the information you need to help inform you during your recovery.
You may need to ask:
- Does my health insurance cover durable medical equipment? Depending on the extent of your injuries, you may need durable medical equipment to help with your recovery; a wheelchair or crutches, for example. Ask if you need a doctor’s prescription for any durable medical equipment you might need, from a scooter to make getting around with a broken leg easier to a hospital bed installed in your home to help make getting in and out of bed easier to manage.
- How many physical therapy appointments does my insurance company cover each year? Many insurance companies limit the number of physical therapy appointments they will pay for within a calendar year. Knowing how many appointments your insurance company will pay for can help you make vital decisions about your therapy and recovery.
- What is my deductible? Your deductible is the amount you will have to pay out-of-pocket before your health insurance kicks in. If you have a high deductible, you can expect to cover a number of your immediate medical expenses up front, until you file your personal injury claim and receive reimbursement.
- What copays can I expect? You may not know your copays for emergency room services, hospitalization, or surgeries. Make sure you know what expenses you can expect to cover personally after your accident.
- What is my out-of-pocket maximum? Most insurance companies also have a maximum amount each individual will have to pay out-of-pocket each calendar year. By knowing your out-of-pocket maximum, you can prepare your finances more effectively for the expenses you may face as you recover.
Step Two: Contact Your Employer
You probably called out of work immediately after your accident, letting your employer know you could not come in that day or, perhaps, the next. In addition, however, you may need to talk with your employer about how you will transition back to work after your accident. Consider these factors:
- When can you reasonably expect to return to work? Talk with your doctor about your work responsibilities and how your injuries will impact your ability to perform those responsibilities normally. For example, if you have serious injuries and must take pain medication, the side effects could prevent you from performing cognitive tasks, or impact your ability to deal smoothly with customers. Discuss when your injuries will heal enough to allow you to return to your normal job responsibilities.
- What modifications will you need to return to work? In some cases, you can return to work, but you may need modifications to make it happen. For example, some people with serious injuries cannot handle sitting in a desk chair all day, but they can work from home, from the comfort of a chair or sofa. Others may struggle to perform current job responsibilities, but might handle modified responsibilities comfortably throughout the recovery. Discuss the modifications you will likely need with your employer well ahead of time to make your transition back to work easier.
Step Three: Contact an Attorney
Following an accident as a pedestrian, you may need an attorney to help you seek the compensation you deserve for your injuries. Some auto insurance companies, for example, may issue a low settlement offer immediately after the accident: one that will not cover your medical bills or compensate you for time missed at work during your recovery. Others may try to pin responsibility for the accident on you, even though you followed the rules of the road and handled yourself responsibly at the time of the accident. When you talk to an attorney after your accident, ask:
- How much compensation do I deserve for my injuries? If you already have a settlement offer in hand, ask if it fairly represents the compensation you deserve for your injuries.
- Does the attorney have a past success record? A past success record will not guarantee results in your case, but it can significantly increase the odds that the attorney will know exactly how to work with you, the insurance company, and the legal system to get you the maximum possible compensation for your injuries.
- How long does the attorney expect the claims process to take? No attorney can provide an exact estimate of the time it will take to get compensation for your injuries. An experienced attorney, however, has likely worked with the insurance company that covers the responsible driver in the past and can provide a good idea of how long it will take to get the compensation you need.
Handling your affairs after a pedestrian accident can cause a great deal of frustration. By working with an attorney, you can often decrease that stress and end up with a better outcome.