Does my insurance cover me if I was hit by a car while walking?

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You may be wondering what kind of coverage a cyclist, pedestrian, or passenger would have.  After all, a pedestrian may have a car insurance policy, but if she is struck by a car while nowhere near her own car, does this policy offer any benefits?  Don’t worry! The Standard Automobile Insurance Policy was designed to protect people from all types of accidents involving a vehicle.  This blog posting will discuss what coverage you can expect if you were injured in an accident while you were not driving.

Section A: If you were injured while riding a bike, walking, or as a passenger, you can still sue the at-fault driver in exactly the same way you would if you had been driving.  It is important to keep in mind that if you were riding a bicycle without a helmet, a judge would likely automatically reduce your monetary award by 25%.  This is also true for a passenger (or driver) who was not wearing a seatbelt, so buckle up!  If you are a pedestrian, use the sidewalk and obey traffic rules because you risk the same type of reduction.  This is not because you are required by law to wear a helmet or a seatbelt - although you are - it is because you have a certain responsibility to look out for your own safety.

If you were injured as a passenger, you can sue the other driver if they were at fault, and you can also sue the driver of the vehicle you were riding in.  This can be a sticky point sometimes, as you probably know the person who was driving your vehicle. While no one wants to sue their partner, friend, or family member, sometimes it is unavoidable.

For instance, if you sue the driver of a second vehicle but it is not absolutely clear that the accident was 100% their fault, they may require you to add the driver of your own vehicle to the lawsuit.  Another example is if you are in a single vehicle accident that is clearly the fault of the driver of your vehicle.  In this case, it is better to sue your driver than not be compensated at all.  Unlike criminal proceedings, the defendant actually plays a very small role in civil proceedings.  They may need to show up for a day of questioning, but they will not be punished or pay anything out of pocket if they had adequate insurance.

Section B: No matter what your role was in the accident, you are always eligible for no-fault benefits, including treatments, medications, and often, income replacement.  If you are able, make sure to get the insurance policy information from the at-fault driver.  You can then call their insurer directly and the insurer will open a claim for you.  While most passengers know their driver personally, if you are involved in an accident as a passenger in a taxi, make sure to get all of the driver’s information.

Section D and SEF 44: If you happen to be riding a bike, walking, or riding as a passenger when you are injured and the driver does not stop to give you their insurance information, you may still have coverage.  If you have your own insurance policy you can ask them to open a Section D claim.  As we discuss more in the “Hit and Run” blog post, Section D will pay the amount you would be entitled to if there had been someone to sue.  The main difference is that the maximum under Section D is $200 000.  SEF 44 could help if the other driver was not insured for the full value of your losses.

In New Brunswick, insurance coverage follows the vehicle as long as the driver has the owner’s permission to drive it.  It also follows a cyclist or pedestrian in the event the at-fault driver is not identified.  It is quite rare that a person will be injured by a motor vehicle and not have some kind of insurance coverage available. If this all seems confusing, it is!  If you are involved in an accident as a cyclist, pedestrian or passenger, you should consult a lawyer to find out what insurance benefits you are entitled to and how to get them.