The obligatory nature of automobile insurance as a requirement to drive a vehicle in the U.S. is a fact about which most people know. Car insurance is a safeguard of your own finances in case you are part of the recurrent national statistics of personal accidents (in 2016, the number of people died in vehicular accidents exceeded 40,000).
The compensation that must be paid in the cases is extremely high, but your car insurance has extensive coverage to be able to face them completely. Unfortunately, there’s no such thing as bicycle accident insurance. Only in extreme cases, which can be counted on the fingers of the hand, the compensation amount is higher than the car insurance premium.
But keep in mind that the greater the coverage of the policy, the greater the money that can be disbursed as compensation. We mention this in relation to a fact that is unknown to most people: pedestrians, passengers and cyclists who have been injured in an accident are entitled to compensation through the driver’s car insurance. So, is bicycle accident insurance available, or is a victim reliant on the car driver’s policy?
Cyclists receive a greater proportion of damage in accidents, compared to drivers, pedestrians or passengers. More than 5,600 cyclists were injured during the period 2002-2012 in Los Angeles, while at least 36 died in accidents in which the driver fled the scene.
Despite this, the payouts for drivers who suffer from mistakes caused by cyclists are minimal. It could be asserted that cyclists at some times have a higher chance of escaping from such consequences and the blame would be placed on the driver.
Extension and Scope of Automobile Insurance Coverage in Case of Bicycle Accidents
- For personal injuries, the amount should be around $15,000 per person or $30,000 per accident*
- It is necessary that there is clear and definitive evidence of negligence on the driver’s part.
- Cyclists who have been injured in an accident are entitled to compensation through the driver’s car insurance.
- In the case of an accident, we recommend hiring an expert personal injury lawyer.
** According to the statute in California
Cyclists are the victims that most require advice from a specialized lawyer who knows the ins and out of bicycle accident law, including California bicycle helmet law details. This is especially true when considering that insurers take advantage of inexperienced cyclists who wrongly decide to take care of their own personal injury claims. When such happens, there is a high probability that the insurer will position the case in their favor and the cyclist will not be compensated fairly.
What Kind of Compensation is Available to a Bike Accident Victim?
Before even calculating the amount of compensation, insurance companies primarily focus on investigating the accident thoroughly to determine responsibilities. That is, the first thing that the law and insurers do is identify a responsible person. If parties are guilty, then a distribution of legal responsibility is made.
If the driver is found guilty for the accident, then proceeds the calculation of the compensation. The section of car insurance dedicated to offset the most common bike injuries to third parties is called liability insurance. However, for an insurance company to agree to disburse money to correct injuries caused to a cyclist in an accident, it is necessary that there is clear and definitive evidence of negligence on the driver’s part.
According to the statute in California, the automobile insurance of all drivers must have the following amounts of coverage:
For personal injuries, the amount should be around $15,000 per person or $ 30,000 per accident. For property damage, the amount should be around $5,000.
UMC and UIMC clauses
Before proceeding with the explanations, let us imagine the following case: In a motorcycle vs. bicycle litigation, the motorcyclist is found responsible for the accident. This motorcyclist has an insurance whose coverage is sufficient to respond to the bodily injury of the cyclist and the damage caused to the bicycle. Generally, insurance companies will focus their disputes on bodily injuries, as they involve the highest costs.
Now, the insurance companies will try to ascribe legal responsibility to the cyclist so that the compensation is not so high. Or they will look for ways to reduce the severity of the cyclist’s injuries. But suppose they do not succeed as the wounds are too obvious to be underestimated? The cyclist will receive compensation through the motorcyclist’s insurance. But, what happens if the motorcyclist is not insured? What happens if the motorcyclist, instead of acting correctly, decides to flee from the scene? What happens if the motorcyclist’s insurance has a low coverage amount that does not allow him to assume the costs of the accident?
The answer is that the cyclist must demand compensation through his own car insurance, as most cyclists also own a vehicle, and there is not truly a specific policy for bicycle accident insurance. It is feasible for a cyclist to request compensation through their insurance as there are two clauses called “uninsured motorist coverage” (UMC) and “underinsured motorist coverage” (UIMC). The first provides coverage to the insured in case he suffers an accident for which he is not responsible and the perpetrator does not have insurance; while the second also provides coverage in case the responsible of the accident has insurance but with insufficient coverage.
However, you should keep in mind that The clauses are not included in your car insurance unless you decide. The insurance companies offer them to you at the moment of acquiring the insurance, so if you did not accept them, they will not be available. But it is rare to not accept The clauses, as not doing so is a high-risk bet that affects not only cyclists, but also drivers and pedestrians.
The UMC, as explained previously, applies specifically in the following cases: (a) when the driver responsible for the accident is not insured; (b) when the driver responsible for the accident is on the run; and (c) when the vehicle involved is stolen.
While the UIMC corresponds to the following: (a) when the driver responsible for the accident has insurance; but (b) the amount of coverage does not cover the necessary repair costs.
Both the UMC and the UIMC are excellent preventive clauses that must be acquired; The best benefit of the clauses lies in their ability to cover potential accident victims: pedestrians. The clauses are useful, even if a person was hit by a stolen vehicle. Also, if a cyclist has the clauses in his insurance and suffered an accident as of a motorcyclist or a car, he can also receive compensation through them.
Note that the clauses can only be used in specific cases, which we have specified. In other words, they are the last options. Before being able to resort to them, it is necessary to have exhausted the other ways. In the case of the UIMC, first you have to compensate yourself as much as you can by means of the driver’s insurance; and then you can turn to the UIMC.
It is important to clarify that The clauses have a coverage limit, which is established in relation to the insurance coverage of the driver. If your UMC is $20,000 and the amount of insurance coverage of the driver is $20,000 as well, you cannot demand compensation for UMC that exceeds that amount.
Insurance companies also offer additional services in their policies. Apart from the UMC and UIMC clauses, there is also the “med pay” service. As the name implies, this coverage is ideal to be able to face the full cost of immediate medical treatments.
Med pay has advantages and disadvantages. One of its main advantages is that its application does not depend on who is at fault for the accident. Regardless of the degree of responsibility in the accident, the insured can be a benefit of the med pay.
Regarding its disadvantages, there are several. The first is that the med pay does not take care of the non-economic costs of an accident, which are all those long-term consequences that a collision entails, such as the loss of wages due to physical incapacity to work. There are other disadvantages that will depend on the policies of the insurance company, as the med pay are contracts.
Some insurance companies, make it a condition of using the med pay that the injuries have taken place while the insured was in the vehicle. It is essential that you evaluate the conditions of the contract before signing it. If it does not suit you, then do not do it.
Recommendations: Bicycle Accident Insurance = Car Insurance
Obviously, at the time of an accident, you will not be able or have the time necessary to perform a comprehensive analysis of all the variables involved in the amount of compensation. It is always advisable to hire an expert bicycle accident lawyer. The insurance companies will hire a skilled lawyer that will shatter all your arguments and position the case in his client’s favor if you try to represent yourself.
Finally, in the case of an accident, do not disclose information to any member of the responsible party’s insurance company. If you do, they will most likely use that information against you.
You should know your rights as a cyclist and deserve to be compensated for your injuries. With more than 50 years of combined experience, Avrek Law can handle your questions about common bicycle accident injuries, insurance coverages and compensation for your injuries. Receive a free consultation today with a firm that has recovered $1 billion in more than 45,000 cases.