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I Was Hit as a Pedestrian in a Crosswalk – Who Pays My Medical Bills and am I Able to Sue the At-Fault Driver Who Hit Me?

July 23, 2021

Pedestrians in Michigan struck by a motor vehicle are killed or seriously injured more than 80% of the time. In our state, more than 100 pedestrians die each year from being hit by a vehicle.

If you or a loved one are injured by a motor vehicle when crossing a crosswalk, there are some rules you should understand, including the priority rules for Personal Injury Protection (PIP) benefits and third-party claims.

What are the Priority Rules for PIP Benefits?

Michigan’s No-Fault laws have a “priority of payment” structure that states what no-fault insurance company in the state has primary liability for payment of PIP benefits. The general rule is that an injured person will get no-fault PIP benefits from his or her own no-fault insurance company (assuming they’re insured under a no-fault policy) or from a no-fault policy issued to the injured person’s spouse or a relative of either who resides in the same household.

When injured in a motor vehicle accident in Michigan where you are not an occupant of a motor vehicle (i.e., a pedestrian) the priority rules help determine what insurance company will pay your personal injury protection benefits:

  1. Your No-Fault insurance policy in which you are the named insured.
  2. Your spouse’s No-Fault insurance policy in which he or she is the named insured.
  3. A relative who lives with you No-Fault insurance policy in which he or she is the named insured.
  4. The No-Fault insurance company for the owners or registrants of the motor vehicles involved in the accident.
  5. The No-Fault insurance company for the operator (i.e., driver) of the motor vehicle involved in the accident.
  6. The Michigan Assigned Claims Facility.

Can a Pedestrian Can Sue When Hit by an At-Fault Driver?

A pedestrian injured by an auto or truck may file a third-party claim against the at-fault driver. Under a third-party claim, an injured pedestrian may seek compensation for pain, suffering, and other non-economic losses.

Compared to a first party claim, which is based on contract, a third-party claim is based on tort law. As such, it’s considered a personal injury negligence case. In these cases, the at-fault driver is usually represented by his insurance company. A third-party claim lets a pedestrian collect damages for:

  • Pain and suffering;
  • Permanent disfigurement or scarring; and
  • The loss and enjoyment of life.

If there’s a death when a pedestrian is hit by a car, a family member may file a wrongful death claim against the at-fault driver.

According to Michigan’s statute of limitations, you must file a third-party lawsuit within 3 years from the date of the accident.

 What Must I Prove to Bring a Third-Party Lawsuit Against an At-Fault Driver?

An injured pedestrian must prove the following:

A pedestrian may file a third-party claim only if the other driver was at least 50% at fault in causing the accident. If a pedestrian is determined to be more than 50% at fault, the damages a pedestrian may recover are based on comparative fault. As such, a judge in Michigan may determine the motor vehicle driver was at fault for the accident; however, the judge may also find the pedestrian partially at fault. If that happens, the amount of money a pedestrian can recover will be reduced in proportion to the degree to which his or her own negligence contributed to injuries.

What is the “Threshold Requirement” for Personal Injuries in Motor Vehicle – Pedestrian Accidents?

In addition to showing the driver was at fault, a pedestrian must also meet the “threshold requirement” for personal injuries.

A threshold injury is a serious impairment of a bodily function or severe and permanent disfigurement. Michigan law says that a serious impairment of body function is “an objectively manifested impairment of an important body function that affects the person’s general ability to lead his or her normal life.”

This threshold requirement frequently can result in long litigation, and it’s best to be represented by an experienced Michigan pedestrian accident attorney. If the victim was killed, permanently disabled, or severely disfigured, the threshold requirement is definitely satisfied. But with less catastrophic injuries, the degree of impairment is regularly disputed by the at-fault party. When Michigan courts determine whether the threshold requirement for injuries is satisfied, they consider a number of factors, including the following:

  • Whether a vital body part to the pedestrian victim’s occupation or livelihood was injured;
  • Whether the pedestrian victim’s injury is apparent or can be perceived from actual symptoms or conditions;
  • Whether the pedestrian victim has missed a substantial amount of time in work;
  • Whether the pedestrian victim’s injury impacted his or her ability to lead a normal life;
  • Whether the pedestrian victim is now under any kind of restriction, or whether he or she will have restrictions in the future; and
  • Whether the injury satisfies other parameters deemed necessary by the judge.

Contact us!

For a free consultation with an experienced auto accident attorney in Michigan, contact Buchanan Firm. We can discuss your situation if you believe you’ve been injured as the result of an auto hitting you or a loved one.

Our firm proudly serves people all across Michigan, including major cities like Grand Rapids, Muskegon, Detroit, Lansing, Holland, St. Joe, and Ann Arbor, and rural towns such as Lowell, Ada, Fremont, Newaygo, Grand Haven, Rockford, and Cedar Springs. We will meet you after-hours, at home or in the hospital to accommodate you.