Pedestrians stuck with car drivers may have difficulty getting insurance payments

CHICAGO (WLS) — Statistics show that 40% of all pedestrians who were hit last year in Chicago were victims of accidents.

The ABC7 I-Team spoke to one victim who said her legal battle was a wake-up call, both for pedestrians and bicyclists.

A local woman thought her car insurance would cover her when she was hit by a speeding driver. When that didn’t happen, he took his fight to court.

“I was scared, scared because, you know, I didn’t know where I was, I was asking for my family, and you know, that’s when I knew I was hurt,” the said Carmen Galarza.

Galarza thought his life was over when he was hit in the parking lot of a Belmont Gardens store in 2018 by a hit-and-run driver.

“It was bad. We were scared, we thought we were going to lose him because the guys who hit him got out of his car, looked at him on the ground and got back into his car and left,” Galarza’s daughter Holly said. Garcia.

Since the driver was never found, Galarza filed a claim with his own auto insurance company, Direct Auto Insurance Company, to pay under his policy for the insurance of the drivers.

“I was in so much pain and there were months I could barely walk,” Galarza said.

He said his $25,000 insurance policy will help pay for medical bills not covered by medical insurance. He said there was also a loss of employment and long-term injuries.

“I still have pain up and down my leg, even on my hip, as mentioned, my arm hurts a lot and my head and besides, you know, I don’t understand as usual. and my memory since I had that accident,” he said.

“The policy in Illinois is that if you have insurance, you get the insurance, and if you get hit in a car by someone who doesn’t have insurance, or doesn’t have insurance, you can use it. your policy,” explains Howard Ankin, attorney at Ankin Law.

But in court, Direct Auto Insurance Company said that in order to file a claim for payment under the driver’s insurance, the customer must be in the vehicle at the time of the accident. hit and run.

Galarza’s attorney, Howard Ankin argued the case in two separate Illinois courts. He argued that Direct Auto Insurance Company is inconsistent with “Illinois public policy as established in the Illinois constitution.”

“The judge agreed with us and the Illinois appellate court apparently agreed with us, but it was in a separate case,” Ankin said.

However, Ankin said that his client did not receive a sentence because the insurance company is trying to appeal with the Illinois Supreme Court.

The insurance company’s lawyer said that, “it is not appropriate for us to make a statement until the case is over.”

The ABC7 Data Team found that in 2022 in Chicago, 2,468 pedestrians were hit by cars, an increase of 9% from the previous year. At least 40% were hit and runs.

The ABC7 Data Team found that in 2022 in Chicago, 2,468 pedestrians were hit by cars, an increase of 9% from the previous year. At least 40% were hit and runs.

“It’s important for people to know that this uninsured motorist policy or their policy protects people if they are hit by a car,” Ankin said.

If an uninsured or hit-and-run driver hits you, as in Galarza’s case, you must file a claim with your own insurance. If you don’t own a car and don’t have auto insurance, you may want to look into purchasing non-owner auto insurance.

“They should step up to the plate and help me but I guess they’re not willing to work together. They don’t want to pay,” said Galarza.

According to Galarza’s lawyer, if the insurance company does not move forward with the request, the next step is to go to court to evaluate the payment of his claim.

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