Bicycle accidents occur all too often and ask there are more cars on the road the number of bike collisions naturally increases. There are some unique issues that arise for bicyclists. As an avid bicyclist and triathlete, managing attorney Justin Elsner, knows the dangers of riding a bicycle. Though it’s dangerous, bicycle riding is an amazing amount of fun. Many bicyclists aren’t aware of the insurance coverage that is applicable in a collision. Here are some of the most commonly asked questions with answers about bicycle accidents.
1. Who will pay my medical bills?
If you have health insurance you will be covered for your bicycle collision injuries. With high deductibles and co-pays, though, that can be quite costly. Luckily, Personal Injury Protection (“PIP”) insurance will also cover the cost of medical expenses. If you are injured while riding a bicycle the at-fault driver’s PIP policy will be the first priority insurance for your medical expenses. It can be difficult to determine if the at-fault driver has PIP insurance so it may be advantageous to call an attorney for assistance. After you exhaust the at-fault driver’s PIP coverage you can also tap into your own personal PIP coverage if you have it on your policy. In addition to recommending that all drivers purchase PIP insurance benefits it is particularly important for bicyclists due to this extra benefit.
In addition to the medical benefits you are entitled to the other benefits under PIP. See the section on PIP benefits for more details. PIP will also include coverage for wage loss, loss of services, and funeral benefits.
2. How will my losses, including my pain and suffering, be paid?
Hopefully the at-fault driver has liability insurance. Unfortunately, in Washington the minimum requirement is only $25,000. A trip to the ER can quickly exhaust this. In addition to the at-fault driver’s policy your underinsured/uninsured motorist policy may cover your losses as well. If you are involved in a serious bicycle accident it is important to promptly notify your car insurance carrier so that they can conduct their own investigation.
3. What types of bike crashes are compensable?
The most common type of bicycle crash involves a vehicle hitting a bicyclist, but there are numerous other situations where a bicyclist can be injured by the fault of another party. If someone causes you to crash, but doesn’t actually hit your bicycle they can still be liable. If a driver or passenger opens their car door causing you to crash they have also violated state law in addition to being negligent. Sometimes the design of the road or the way a construction site is managed is done improperly or unsafely causing a bicyclist to crash.
4. What if I am at fault for the accident?
If you cause damage to a person or property while on your bicycle then you are responsible for the damages the same as if you were driving a car. If this happens then you should immediately notify your homeowners’ or renters’ insurance policy as well as any general personal liability insurance you might have.