If a motor vehicle hit you while you were visiting Florida, you may have a case.
What can you claim?
Who is considered a pedestrian?
The Personal Injury Protection (PIP) statute does not give a definition for the word “pedestrian.” However, it does say give benefits to people “while not an occupant of a self-propelled vehicle.”
If you request the car insurance information for the owner of the car that hit you, you will notice that his or her policy may not define the word “pedestrian.”
However, you are considered a pedestrian if you are:
- Sitting down
- Riding a bicycle (bike)
- A driver or passenger of a scooter or moped
- On a skateboard or roller blades
- Riding on a moped (a moped is considered a bicycle). Velez v. Criterion Ins. Co., 461 So.2d 1348 (Fla. 1984)
- Occupying a trailer
You get the point.
What Coverage Applies if You’re Hit While a Pedestrian in Florida?
If you were a pedestrian that is a resident of Florida, Personal Injury Protection insurance would cover some of your medical bills. Medical payments coverage, if on the motor vehicle insurance policy, may also pay some of your medical bills.
If a motor vehicle hits you while you are a pedestrian in Florida, and you live in Florida, the rest of this article does not apply to you.
But because you live in another state or country, insurance under the Personal Injury Protection section of the car owner’s insurance policy will not pay your medical bills if you are struck while you are a pedestrian. Florida Statute 627.736(1) says that:
“2. Persons other than the named insured and relatives, who are not owners of motor vehicles for which security is required, are entitled to benefits from another owner’s insurer:
a. For accidents in Florida:
(1) While occupying the insured motor vehicle;
(2) If a resident of Florida, when struck as a pedestrian by the insured motor vehicle.”
But as you will see below, the driver – and owner – of the car may still be responsible for your medical bills, and other damages, under the bodily injury liability section of his or her auto insurance policy.
If you are a foreigner (live in another country) or nonresident (live in another state), and you are injured while a pedestrian in Florida, you should make a claim through your own health insurance and auto insurance. Foreigners (visitors from another state or country) do have rights if they are injured in Florida.
Some of my biggest personal injury settlements for pedestrians injured in an accident in Florida have been for non-residents (people who live in another state or country).
Your health insurance should pay your medical bills, but your health insurance may have a lien (claim) on the total settlement. You should be very careful when paying back your health insurance company from the settlement. You have to pay back Medicare as well, but Medicare beneficiaries can benefit from hiring a lawyer.
Now, you may have a claim against the driver – or owner – of the car that hit you to get your medical bills paid, money for pain and suffering, and lost wages.
You have a case against the at-fault party if your answer to all of the following 3 questions is “Yes.”:
- Was the driver was at fault?
- Were your injuries were caused by the accident?
- Is there an insurance policy, self-insured company or collectible defendant that will pay for your injuries?
Let’s now take a look at each of these individually.
1. Was the driver at fault?
In order to have the chance of getting a settlement, then someone else’s negligence (carelessness) must have caused the claimant’s injury. In Florida, even if the injured person was partially at fault, he or she may still have a good case.
2. Did the driver’s carelessness cause your injury?
Once you can show that the driver – or owner –of the car that hit you caused your injuries, you are entitled to get your “out of pocket” medical bills paid by him or her. Out of pocket medical bills are the bills – such as your copays or patient responsibility – that your health insurance company did not pay.
Nonresident Pedestrians May Have an Easier Time Getting Money for Pain and Suffering
You may be entitled to get pain and suffering even if you don’t have a threshold injury if you were:
- a nonresident of Florida who is a pedestrian who is not covered by Personal Injury Protection (PIP) insurance
Sounds confusing? Basically, if you are visiting from another state or country, and you do not qualify for PIP benefits, you’re able to get money for pain and suffering without having a threshold injury.
One Florida court said: “For the typical tourist who is struck as a pedestrian…the bad news is: You are not eligible to receive PIP benefits. The good news is: You can sue for all of your damages without regard to the no-fault threshold.” Maldonado v. Allstate Ins. Co., 789 So.2d 464, 466, 470 (Fla. Ct. App. 2001).
If you’re a visiting Florida and you qualify for PIP, it may be more difficult to get money for pain and suffering. I’ll explain shortly.
How could a tourist or out of state visitor qualify for PIP if they were a pedestrian?
Nonresidents Who Rent a Car in Florida Get PIP
Let’s say that you rented a vehicle and were placing a prepaid parking ticket inside of it, and you were struck by a car, then you can get PIP benefits under the rental car’s insurance policy. If you are able to get PIP benefits, you should learn about how to get your medical bills paid after a Florida car accident.
If you qualify for PIP benefits, then in order to get money for pain and suffering, you would need to be able to show that your injury is one of the following:
(a) Significant and permanent loss of an important bodily function.
(b) Permanent injury within a reasonable degree of medical probability, other than scarring or disfigurement.
(c) Significant and permanent scarring or disfigurement.
Florida Statute 627.737(2)
Even if the insurance company offers your money for your pain and suffering, if you still have pain, you should ask the doctor to issue a report stating that you have a have “permanent injury.”, if true.
This may help you get money for future pain and suffering.
Visitor to Florida Hit By An Uninsured Driver While a Pedestrian May Have an Easier Case
If you live in a “fault state” (without no-fault insurance), and an uninsured vehicle driver’s negligence causes your injury in Florida, you don’t have to meet the no-fault threshold in order to get money for pain and suffering from your uninsured motorist insurer. Dauksis v. State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Co., 623 So.2d 455, 456 (Fla. 1993).
In a soft tissue injury or smaller injury case, the pain and suffering component of a nonresident’s (from a fault state) case may be worth more if he or she has UM insurance and the careless driver is uninsured.
This is because your out of state UM car insurance likely won’t require that you have a threshold injury in order to get money for pain and suffering.
3. Will There Be Money to Pay the Pedestrian’s Claims?
So let’s assume that your accident meets the criteria of #1 and #2 above. Now you need to hope that either:
- The driver or owner – or his or her employer – has bodily injury liability insurance.
- You purchased uninsured (UM) motorist insurance.
Assume that a car hits you while you’re a pedestrian in Florida. You may be in Miami, Fort Lauderdale, or another city.
It was not your fault. Now, you’re facing mounting medical bills. Perhaps your had travel insurance that was expired. Maybe not.
Either way, you may be wondering why the driver’s insurance company is only offering you $25,000 when your medical bills are $200,000.
Why would the driver’s insurance company offer you just a fraction of the value of your medical bills?
The most likely reason is because the driver has low bodily injury liability (BIL) insurance limits on his policy. Sure, there may be other reasons. However, I’ve find that the at fault driver having limited BIL insurance happens very often in Florida.
In this case, if the other driver purchased 25k in BIL “split limit” coverage, then the insurance company is only responsible to pay 25k for your medical bills. This assumes that you do not qualify for Personal Injury Protection (PIP).
Therefore, look for all available bodily injury liability coverage.
For example, if the driver didn’t own the vehicle, the owner may have additional BIL insurance. Also, if the driver was working at the time of the accident, the employer is on the hook for damages.
If the driver was driving for Uber or Lyft at the time of the accident, he or she has BIL insurance. And if the Uber or Lyft driver was engaged in a ride, there will be a $1 million liability insurance policy.
$325K Settlement for Pedestrian Hit By Car (Visiting Florida from Another Country)
Watch this interesting video on this settlement:
This is a $325,000 settlement after a driver crashed into a pedestrian in Coconut Grove, Florida. The “Grove” is in Miami-Dade County.
Below is an x-ray which was taken at the hospital. It shows the fracture.
At the hospital, an external fixator was drilled into his leg, which you can see below.
If you have an external fixator put in your leg, this raises the value of the case. The fixator was removed within the year.
Hen then had a rod (and screws) drilled into the bone. The rod and screws were left in place.
His case was worth more because the rod and screws were left inside his body. This image has appeal to a jury.
The driver who caused the crash was working for US Customs when the accident happened. He was driving a rental car. Philadelphia Insurance Company insured the rental car. They paid the $100,000 bodily injury liability (BIL) limits.
I sued the the United States of Miami in federal court in Miami. They paid $125,000 to settle.
It gets better.
Uninsured Motorist Insurance Company Paid $100K to Settle
I also made a underinsured motorist (UIM) insurance claim with my client’s UIM insurer, Ace American Insurance Company. Ace paid only after I filed a civil remedy notice of insurance violation.
If they failed to offer the $100,000 UIM insurance limits, I may have been able to sue them for bad faith. Fortunately, Ace American Insurance Company paid the $100,000 limits without a lawsuit. (Ace has since acquired Chubb Insurance.)
Thus, if an insurance company has low bodily injury limits they get more nervous about getting hit with a big verdict.
Another Source of Bodily Injury (BI) Liability Coverage
If the driver or owner of the other vehicle is doing something for someone else while driving the car, then you may have a case against the other person’s insurance.
Perhaps the other driver was volunteering at the time of the accident. When I volunteered with Big Brothers Big Sisters in Miami several years ago, I remember hearing that they had a big insurance policy. I think I was covered by a $1,000,000 excess liability policy if I caused an accident while volunteering.
To get answers to the above questions you should send a letter via certified mail return receipt requesting a sworn statement from the insurance company. You want these answers in writing.
Can a Florida lawyer represent a foreigner or nonresident who was injured in Florida?
Yes. In fact, anyone injured in Florida should contact a Florida lawyer.
Laws vary from state to state. Likewise, Florida laws are different than laws in the pedestrian’s home country.
I often get contacted from out of state (or foreign) attorneys who aren’t familiar with Florida’s laws. In either case, they don’t know Florida laws that apply when a car hits a pedestrian.
Hire an attorney who is up to speed from day 1.
On a similar note, sometimes pedestrians who are hurt in Florida but live in another country (or state) contact me. Sometimes they’ve hired an attorney by the time that they contact me. Unfortunately, sometimes their lawyer tells them the wrong law.
I’ve had people tell me that the lawyer in their home country told them that Florida is a “no claim” state. In other words, the pedestrian’s lawyer has told them that they can’t make a claim without serious injuries. This often isn’t true for foreigners who are injured as pedestrian’s while visiting Florida.
Does a nonresident who is hurt in Florida need to come back to Florida for the case?
Possibly, if a lawsuit is filed. If the attorney sues, generally one (1) trip is required before a trial. Though there is no guarantee, most the vast majority of our injury cases have settled before trial. The same is true of most injury cases in Florida.
Most Florida personal injury cases settle before a lawsuit is filed. However, in the beginning of a claim it is difficult, and sometimes impossible, to predict which cases may settle without a lawsuit.
Which Insurance Companies Pay the Best if a Car Hits a Pedestrian?
The following insurance companies that have the best reputation:
On the other hand, these companies have a worse reputation for paying for neck fusion cases:
- State Farm
- United Automobile Insurance Company
Did a car or other vehicle hit you while you were visiting Florida? Were you injured in another type of accident?
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