Bicycle Accidents and Insurance
California law provides that bicyclists have the same rights and responsibilities as do drivers when on the road. But there have always been problems with drivers and cyclists sharing the road. Most bicycle accidents are caused by motor vehicles operated by drivers who are negligent, drunk, reckless, or even criminally liable. Fortunately, insurance can help cover damages suffered by a cyclist as a result of a driver’s behavior.Insurance Coverage
If you are injured by a motor vehicle while riding your bicycle, auto insurance may be able to provide coverage for expenses such as:
- Past and future medical expenses;
- Rehabilitation and therapy costs;
- Lost wages;
- Loss of earning capacity;
- Property damage;
- Pain and suffering;
- Loss of enjoyment of life; and
- Many other costs.
There are several possible sources for insurance compensation, including:
- The at-fault driver’s insurance;
- The insurance covering the vehicle that caused the accident, which may not be owned by the person driving it at the time of the accident;
- The driver’s employer’s insurance, if the driver was driving for work purposes; or
- The victim’s uninsured motorist coverage.
If the party at fault has no insurance or is underinsured, the cyclist may still be able to recover compensation for damages resulting from a car-bicycle accident. The driver may have personal assets sufficient to recover damages even if the driver is uninsured. This would require a civil personal injury suit, and the judgment would be paid out of the driver’s assets.
Uninsured motorist coverage is another possible source of compensation for cyclists injured by uninsured or underinsured drivers. It is important to be aware of whether one’s auto insurance policy includes uninsured motorist coverage, and how much coverage it provides. Uninsured motorist coverage covers insurance policy holders whether they are driving, biking, walking, or doing anything else, as long as they are injured by drivers of motor vehicles. It does not even require that the injury be caused by a collision.Hit and Runs
If a cyclist is injured by a hit and run, it is essential to immediately report the accident to the police, giving any identifying information possible, such as a license plate number or a description of the vehicle and driver. The police will then try to locate the driver.
If the driver cannot be located, the victim can make an uninsured motorist claim. It is important to report the accident to the police quickly, because uninsured motorist provisions often require that victims report their accidents within short time limits. It is also important to report the accident to the insurance company as soon as possible.
Since they are businesses, insurance companies obviously have an incentive to pay out as little compensation as possible. Many people are not as familiar with laws regarding insurance and bicycle accidents as they are with laws regarding car accidents and insurance. If you are injured in a car-bicycle accident, it is important to retain an attorney to ensure that your recovery is not compromised by a lack of understanding of the rules, or by an insurance company taking advantage of you. Please contact the skilled San Jose personal injury attorneys at Corsiglia, McMahon & Allard, L.L.P. for a free initial consultation at (408) 289-1417. We are happy to discuss your case and discover how we may be of assistance.