What should a recently struck pedestrian keep in mind?
August 31, 2005 10:18 AM   Subscribe

My friend's dad was hit by a taxi while walking in San Francisco. He's in the emergency room now with what may be long term injuries and we want to make sure to do the right thing.

Of course he needs a lawyer, but the family is trying to figure out more details. Is there anything he shouldn't do? Lawyer first or file a claim first? He may be the type to not want to cause a fuss, any suggestions for explaining that he really needs to make a fuss? His insurance may be spotty because he's between jobs, anything to keep in mind for that sort of situation?
posted by jragon to Health & Fitness (6 answers total)
Coincidentally, my wife was also hit by a car, so she just said:

"Start by taking pictures of the spot where the accident occurred, obtaining the police report, and taking pictures of any bruises and cuts as they progress.

The most important thing is to make your dad keep an injury journal (your mom could keep it too); what level of pain is experienced every day (on a scale of 1-10), what hurts, what doesn't, if any signs of mental distress present themselves (such as panic attacks), and when all of your dad's doctor's appointments were. Your dad's own car insurance should be able to cover an immediate medical expenses not covered by health insurance (such as acupuncture).

Getting the police report and settling the case will take time. In my case, I was hit by an uninsured limo driver in a crosswalk at SFO. I claimed against my own uninsured motorist policy and it still took over a year to settle. It's a long slog, but it really is worth it in the end and helps to alleviate the feeling of being a victim."
posted by jragon at 10:25 AM on August 31, 2005

[Condolences. I was just in SF and the taxi drivers there were scarier than in NY.]
posted by footnote at 10:41 AM on August 31, 2005

A friend of mine and I were hit while crossing the street on New Years Eve by a drunk driver, so I know personally what you're going through. Does your friend's father have car insurance, because you can collect on under-insured or uninsured coverage.

I'm in the process of making a claim against my insurance company for pain and suffering (broke my jaw in two places, mild head trauma, some neat scars on my torso), and it is a tremendous pain in the ass.

I would talk to a lawyer right away (I didn't, my mistake), and take lots of pictures.
posted by SweetJesus at 11:01 AM on August 31, 2005

Both Sweet and jragon are absolutely right. I would add, as someone who experienced an accident (only not as a pedestrian) to not accept any money in any form unless your attorney says to do so, because taking that money may be tacit acceptance of a final settlement.

We were in a terrible car crash about 10 years ago, and about 10 days after the wreck, a check for roughly $4,000 came in the mail from the other driver's insurance company. Later that day that insurance company called and asked if we were happy with our settlement -- and this company's representative had avoided our calls and visits for several days. We said no, and returned the check to the company. If we had cashed it, we would have had no further recourse against the other driver. (Eventually we settled for around $15,000.)
posted by lambchop1 at 11:24 AM on August 31, 2005

Lawyer first or file a claim first?

Lawyer first, IF you have the ability to quickly find someone reputable and very trustworthy.* A good personal injury lawyer will handle all the interactions with the insurance companies, relieving the family of that pressure. The attorney will know what needs to be done with the police reporting. The attorney's firm may even front the costs of medical expenses upfront (and of course will deduct those from the eventual settlement, after taking their 30-40% cut right off the top). You want to be able to focus on healing and the long process of rehab, not have to deal with the disgusting petty stresses of all that other BS.

Interview more than one attorney, and read each one's contract carefully before you make any selection. It's amazing how much those vary, and how outrageous some of their demands can be.

*If you can't get an attorney right away, do still take care of the police report, and document everything you can (statements, pictures, etc...) and contact THE INJURED'S insurer about opening a claim. Insist that a company you pay premiums to do everything in their power to assist you in dealing with the at-fault's insurer. Until you're able to get an attorney's advice, it's probably best to keep contact with the driver and his insurer to the minimum necessary for opening the initial claim.

If you're worried that he might not have health insurance active, check what other policies he carries--no matter how small the coverage. For instance, my auto policy's MedPay coverage is supposed to apply even if I'm hit while walking across the street.
posted by nakedcodemonkey at 1:56 PM on August 31, 2005

As far as "not making a fuss", yeah I believed in that too, to my folly. He may be trying to protect his family from worry. "Everything's fine, just fine..." whether it is or not. Speaking from belated experience:

It's important for him to understand that the full extent of injury, and length/cost of recovery may not be knowable for weeks, even months. Opening a claim is simply stating a fact: on X date, at Y time, I was hit by driver Z. That needs to be done promptly, but then he'll then have 2 years to decide whether any fuss at all is warranted. And if by some good fortune it turns out that no fuss is needed, closing the file is even easier than opening it. Opening that claim is about getting the facts on record while they're still provable, and protecting his right to later make a fuss if it ever becomes necessary.

Right now he and his family are probably overwhelmed by shock, stress, and (for him at least) medication. This is not the time to be making any decision that can't be reversed later. Open a claim; leave that door open for making decisions later on, after more facts are available and all heads are clear.
posted by nakedcodemonkey at 2:42 PM on August 31, 2005

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