Massachusetts persons hit and injured by cars are covered by auto insurance. Recently, the District Court in the Boston suburb of Newburyport recently decided that a pedestrian does not actually need to be struck by the automobile in order to recover from the auto insurer. “While this case is not yet controlling,” notes Boston accident and pedestrian injury attorney Neil Burns, “it still provides some nice clarity into when pedestrians can recover from auto insurance.”
In this case, a women was at a yard sale when she witnessed a car hit a pole, and then careen toward her. She jumped out the way of the car, and in so doing she fell, hitting her head and breaking some of her teeth. She then sued the automobile insurance company for the medical bills she incurred as a result of jumping out of the way of the car. But the insurance company denied her claim, saying that because the car did not actually hit her she was not entitled to any insurance money.
The Court, however, disagreed with the insurance company. The Court held that pedestrians are entilted to have their medical bills paid, or are entitled to PIP benefits, even when not actually hit by an automobile as long as the pedestrian is injured while escaping an oncoming insured vehicle The Court noted that “Otherwise, in order to become eligible for PIP, the pedestrian, rather than jumping clear and mitigating her damages, would have to stand fast, suffer the blow, and, if she survives, face a regular civil action and even risk the possible diminution or outright elimination of recovery against the tortfeasor under the comparative negligence rules, G.L. c.231, § 85 – but her PIP claim would be preserved.”