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Report pedestrian collision to insurance?
Old 05-16-2012, 08:41 PM   #1
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Report pedestrian collision to insurance?

Last night driving home was the first time in my life that I ever caused a collision. Sadly, it was with a pedestrian. I was making a left hand turn from a side street stop sign, onto one of the widest and fastest surface streets in my city. I was looking right at the traffic I would merge into, and didn't notice until too late a pedestrian in the marked pedestrian walkway, walking across this busy street. I slammed on the brakes at the last moment, which brought my speed down from about 10-15mph to about 5mph at the time I struck him. It was horrible seeing him end up on my hood.

I can give a list of reasons why this happened... he was wearing all black at 10pm in a dimly lit intersection, he seemed inebriated and was heading to a bar, there should be a stoplight instead of just a marked pedestrian lane across that busy street, it was an unfamiliar part of town for me, and the oncoming car on my right was attracting my attention by driving erratically. But when it comes down to it, the pedestrian always has the right of way in this situation and so there's probably no way this is not my fault. I feel terrible about it.

The police and ambulance came, and decided not to write me a ticket or file any criminal charges (that I know of). The pedestrian I hit seemed more shaken than seriously injured; he was walking around just fine after the accident, and after he was checked out for a little while in the ambulance then released without being taken to the hospital.

So now I'm wondering where this leaves me in the legal and financial realms. A police officer told me that my insurance requires me to report any collision to them within 10 days. I agree that's the letter of the law, but I know many people who don't report collisions to their insurance company and that seems ethical so long as there's nothing underhanded going on.

I'm assuming that once he gets the ambulance bill, either he or his insurance will try to collect from me. I'm leaning towards proactively reporting this to my insurance company now, but wonder if there is any reason to wait until he or his representatives try to collect, on the off chance that doesn't happen for some reason; since no criminal activity was alleged or charged, this seems to be a purely civil matter at this point. I'm assuming that my auto insurance (and/or umbrella insurance) will appoint a lawyer if I end up needing one so I'm not looking for a lawyer now.

What would you do? Report it now? Get a lawyer now?
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Old 05-16-2012, 08:52 PM   #2
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I would report it. The police advised you to, and you have a police report where no tickets were issued. You don't want to look as if you're hiding something.
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Old 05-16-2012, 08:55 PM   #3
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I'd give my insurance company a call.
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Old 05-16-2012, 09:00 PM   #4
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You mean you haven't lawyered up and filed a lawsuit against a guy wearing all black at night who jumped onto your hood? What if this guy does this for a living?
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Old 05-16-2012, 09:04 PM   #5
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I'm going to treat that suggestion as LOL.
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Old 05-16-2012, 09:25 PM   #6
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You mean you haven't lawyered up and filed a lawsuit against a guy wearing all black at night who jumped onto your hood? What if this guy does this for a living?
It sure sounds like you were traumatized. If you need a witness to testify against the careless pedestrian about the mental anguish he caused you I'm available for a modest fee.

Seriously since it sounds like the pedestrian will have to pay the ambulance bill. It seems to me that insurance company will find out about sooner or later, better to get ahead of the situation.
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Old 05-16-2012, 09:49 PM   #7
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It sure sounds like you were traumatized. If you need a witness to testify against the careless pedestrian about the mental anguish he caused you I'm available for a modest fee.

Seriously since it sounds like the pedestrian will have to pay the ambulance bill. It seems to me that insurance company will find out about sooner or later, better to get ahead of the situation.
+1. You don't want to be in a position where the insurance company learns about it before you tell them. Probably not a big effect on your rates if the costs are small or zero.

I found myself doing the left/right turn onto a busy street thing without a final pedestrian check many years ago and try to do better now. Tough conditions you had though.
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Old 05-16-2012, 09:54 PM   #8
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I'd give my insurance company a call.
+1
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Old 05-17-2012, 06:50 AM   #9
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I'd cya and call the insurance company. While unlikely, it is possible the pedestrian will later decide he was injured and the insurance company could conceivably deny the claim because you violated the terms of the contract in not immediately reporting the event.

And though it gets a bad rap, some soft tissue injuries do not show up immediately and he may have a legitimate claim if he misses work, etc. because of it.
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Old 05-17-2012, 07:27 AM   #10
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One more recommendation to report the accident immediately.
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Old 05-17-2012, 07:35 AM   #11
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Echoing others, but more strongly - it's not even a question to be decided. Car hits pedestrian - you have to call your insurance company ASAP. It sounds like at most your insurance company will just pay an ambulance charge, but there remains a very real possibility that pedestrian will be looking for more.
You certainly don't want the insurance company first learning about this from that pedestrian.
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Old 05-17-2012, 07:50 AM   #12
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I'm going to treat that suggestion as LOL.
One of the reasons to report this immediately to your insurance company is that this guy might actually do this for a living. My daughter supposedly hit someone. We got a lawyer'd demand letter where they claimed she sufferred "seriously injuries" and "great emotional distress." I remember that he wanted $30K. I turned her lawyer's letter over to my insurance company. It turned out that the silly woman had filed multiple claims against people all with the same "injuries" with different lawyers. My insurance is with State Farm and they had multiple cases from her for the same injury on the same day. Needless to say, the lawyers all dropped their client when State Farm went back to them with that information. She had just been released from prison for..... (drum roll, please)...... insurance fraud. If she had just gone after my daughter, she might have gotten some cash from SF to have her just go away.
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Old 05-17-2012, 08:01 AM   #13
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One of the reasons to report this immediately to your insurance company is that this guy might actually do this for a living. My daughter supposedly hit someone. We got a lawyer'd demand letter where they claimed she sufferred "seriously injuries" and "great emotional distress." I remember that he wanted $30K. I turned her lawyer's letter over to my insurance company. It turned out that the silly woman had filed multiple claims against people all with the same "injuries" with different lawyers. My insurance is with State Farm and they had multiple cases from her for the same injury on the same day. Needless to say, the lawyers all dropped their client when State Farm went back to them with that information. She had just been released from prison for..... (drum roll, please)...... insurance fraud. If she had just gone after my daughter, she might have gotten some cash from SF to have her just go away.
That's a helpful reminder that we when we purchase liability insurance we're not only purchasing the financial protection, but the legal defense provided by their lawyers as well.
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Old 05-17-2012, 09:39 PM   #14
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Free4now,

So sorry about all this. Agree, of course, that you *have* to notify your insurance company asap. The issue probably isn't so much the ambulance fee (if any) but your future insurance rates. Our county still doesn't charge for ambulances rides; other jurisdictions in this area bill only for actual transport.

I've driven in crazy traffic with even crazier drivers for years and finally ended up in two accidents - one five years ago and one just last week.

The first was a drug-crazed driver that narrowly missed killing me and my daughter (per the police if I'd been a second further into the intersection) as he took out five cars, totaling three, on a "quiet" suburban street. No question about culpability; the insurance company loved the police write-up that threw everything at the guy they could except for driving under the influence since he couldn't legally be questioned not speaking English and there was no interpreter. A witness called an ambulance to the scene. I refused transport. No bill.

Last week's accident was a he-said, she-said (a cabbie who we think was drinking coffee and didn't realize he was about to go through a red light at a blind intersection) that caused $5000 damage to my car. None to his, no injuries. This state is pretty much no-fault. I tried my best to document to the insurance company there was no way for me to see he about to run the light. The adjustor really got into it as she pulled up google satellite to see the evergreens that completely blocked side views of the intersection. I also took additional photos and sent them to her.

To some extent given the frequent paucity of witnesses, insurance companies are as interested in their clients being able to avoid accidents as not being at fault. (Here, it only takes 1% degree of uncertainty to pretty much throw it into no-fault.)

It may be worth your while to describe, and document, what you wrote above to show that it was one of those potentially hard-to-avoid situations even though you are admittedly "at fault."

That said, the other week I was making a turn very similar to yours and out of the corner of my eye (have a car with horrendous visibility) caught sight of a kid on skate board (no helmet, not that it might have mattered) sailing down the sidewalk and then shooting out right in front of me. My car-detesting brother tells me that autos are expected to be able to stop for any pedestrian - be they on bikes, skateboards, or running - who are within 15 feet of an intersection as a car starts to turn. Not sure if that's right. But I've been dutifully trying to scan sidewalks back some distance from the intersection. Doing that and avoiding other drivers just ain't easy ...

The thought of possibly hitting that kid still chills me. I've since seen him and a friend sailing through traffic in other places. If the parents only knew ...
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