Collisions with a bicycle are usually the fault of a negligent driver. Drivers merge into a bike lane without checking to see whether the lane is occupied. Drivers make right turns on red without yielding to bicycles in the intersection. Drivers read-end bicyclists who are waiting for a light to change.
Collisions with cars and trucks have serious consequences for bicyclists. Bicycle helmets provide minimal protection against head injuries caused by car crashes. Crashes can cause spinal damage and broken bones. Riders who are thrown from their bikes are at risk of breaking teeth, injuring elbows and wrists, and developing road rash infections.
Bicycle accident lawyers help injured bicyclists pursue compensation from the negligent driver’s car insurance company. In some cases, they might also bring a claim against the bicyclist’s own car insurance.
Using a Driver’s Car Insurance for a Bicycle Accident
State laws usually require drivers to maintain liability insurance. A driver’s bodily injury coverage pays compensation to bicycle accident victims, up to the coverage limits, for injuries caused by the driver’s negligence.
Bodily injury coverage covers injuries caused by crashes with bicyclists and other negligent uses of the vehicle. For example, if a driver opens a car door into the path of an oncoming bicyclist, the driver’s car insurance should cover the driver’s negligent conduct.
In some cases, both a driver and a bicyclist are at fault for an accident. For example, a driver who hits a bicycle rider as the driver is backing out of a driveway is at fault for failing to yield. If the bicyclist should have seen the car backing out of the driveway and had time to avoid a collision, the bicyclist might share fault for the accident.
As long as the driver was more at fault than the bicyclist, the law may allow the bicycle rider to recover compensation in proportion to the driver’s fault. For example, if the driver was 80% at fault, the bicyclist will recover 80% of full compensation.
Insurance adjusters nearly always try to place the blame for bicycle accidents on the bicyclist. Experienced bicycle accident attorneys know how juries usually allocate fault for bicycle accidents. They use that knowledge to negotiate fair settlements for injured bicycle riders.
Using a Bicyclist’s Car Insurance for a Bicycle Accident
Not all drivers purchase the liability insurance that the law requires. A recent insurance industry survey estimated that 12% of drivers are uninsured.
Bicycle riders who are injured by an uninsured driver may be able to claim compensation from their own uninsured motorist coverage. The law usually does not require that coverage, but smart car owners protect themselves from uninsured drivers by purchasing an adequate amount of uninsured motorist coverage.
Uninsured motorist coverage usually protects persons covered by a car insurance policy even if the insured person is not in a motor vehicle when a collision occurs. Typical policies cover insured individuals when they are riding in a car, walking, or riding a nonmotorized vehicle (such as a bicycle).
Uninsured motorist coverage also protects victims of hit-and-run accidents. If a car collides with a bicycle and the driver leaves the accident scene, the bicyclist will usually be protected if he or she has uninsured motorist protection.
Underinsured motorist coverage protects bicyclists when a negligent driver has insurance, but the driver’s policy limits are insufficient to pay full compensation. If a car owner has purchased underinsured motorist coverage that covers the bicyclist, that coverage can supplement the compensation that is paid by the negligent driver’s insurance company.
Insurance agents and adjusters are quick to tell bicyclists “you’re not covered.” That statement is not always true. A bicycle accident attorney can review your policy and determine whether you are entitled to seek injury compensation from your own insurance company.