The Framingham Patch reported yesterday that a Worcester woman, who works as a nurse in Framingham, was fatally struck by a motor vehicle on Route 9 in East Brookfield, Massachusetts. This unfortunate and sad scenario presents a number of legal issues in a potential personal injury action for the deceased individual and her family.
How the Accident Happened
It was reported that the female victim, who works as a neonatal intensive care nurse at Metrowest Medical Center in Framingham, Massachusetts, was hit by an unidentified vehicle as she attempted to cross Route 9. The police claim to have surveillance video footage of the accident and witnesses that describe the car as a dark SUV style vehicle.
The woman was immediately rushed to the hospital, but, unfortunately, she was fatally injured in the accident. The accident is still under investigation and the police have urged the driver of the unknown vehicle to contact the police.
Legal Issues This Unfortunate Situation Presents
The reported deadly pedestrian accident presents some unique legal issues. Below are a few initial matters that should be examined in a similar type of accident.
Identifying Insurance Coverage
One issue is identifying insurance coverage from the right auto insurance company or policy. A pedestrian injured by a motor vehicle has the legal right to file and purse a claim for bodily injury against the auto insurance company that insures the motor vehicle. If the motor vehicle that struck the pedestrian is known or determined, then the claim will be filed with their insurance company.
However, in the above reported situation, where the motor vehicle took off in a hit and run accident, if that motor vehicle is never found, then the injured person can file and pursue a claim for bodily injury with his/her own auto insurance company. This is done through the Uninsured Motorist Coverage. Uninsured Motorist Coverage (or UM) is available to cover damages caused by a negligent driver that doesn’t have insurance or a negligent driver that took off from the scene of the accident and cannot be identified. The UM claim seeks full and fair compensation for the injuries and damages suffered as a result of the hit-and-run accident, or in the reported case, the death of the pedestrian in a wrongful death claim.
For this reason, everyone should review their auto insurance policy to make sure they have enough UM coverage. Because, the amount of auto insurance coverage is very important in injury cases.
A Wrongful Death Claim
In a situation like the one reported above, where the pedestrian was killed in the accident, a wrongful death claim can be filed. In Massachusetts, wrongful death claims or cases are governed by a specific statute, which is Chapter 229 § 2 of the Massachusetts General Laws. In a wrongful death claim or lawsuit the survivor(s) of a deceased person, such as, the spouse, parent or child, has up to three (3) years of the date of death to file a wrongful death lawsuit.
In a wrongful death claim or lawsuit it must be proven that the accident and resulting death was caused by another’s negligence, carelessness or recklessness. If liability is established or proven, the next step is to determine the financial compensation due the deceased person’s family for the damage the wrongdoer caused (i.e., medical bills, lost earnings, loss of companionship or consortium).
Payment of Medical Bills
Medical bills are a major concern for pedestrians that are injured or killed by a motor vehicle. A pedestrian hit by a car in Massachusetts is entitled to Personal Injury Protection (or PIP for short). PIP are no fault benefits and are available from the auto insurance company that insures the motor vehicle that struck the pedestrian to cover the cost of medical treatment for related injuries.
The PIP coverage will pay up to $8,000 of benefits or $2,000 for medical bills if the decedent has private health insurance. The payment of medical bills for treatment will then be coordinated with the injured person’s health insurer.
Speak With Experienced & Skilled Personal Injury Attorneys
Mahaney & Pappas, LLP has extensive experience handling personal injury claims, including pedestrian accidents. Our litigation skills and experience offer accident victims and their families an advantage against the insurance companies.
To schedule your free case review, please call us (508) 879-3500 or contact us online. We will help answer your questions and make sure your rights are protected.