Spring is here and bicycles, like flowers, are in bloom. If you live in the suburbs you are all too aware of bicycle enthusiasts taking to the roads, often in groups. Bicyclists enjoy nothing more than a day out under the sun riding some of Massachusetts’ scenic roadways. However, nothing can ruin that enjoyment more than getting hit by a motor vehicle while on your bike. In those situations, it’s a human versus machine, and the human, undoubtedly, gets the worst of it.
Is There Insurance Available for Injuries Suffered in Bicycle v. Car Accidents?
If you’re involved in a bicycle accident, where you are hit by a car and injured, the car’s insurance policy is available for the damages you suffered (up to the auto insurance policy limits). As with any other personal injury claim, the other party involved (the car) must be found to have been negligent and the cause of the accident and your injuries. As you can imagine, injuries a bicyclist can suffer from being hit by a car can be horrific and result in very expensive medical bills. This is due to the lack of protection for bicyclists and the force of the collision. This creates a high potential for broken bones and road rash, which often results in scarring. Sometimes, the car’s insurance coverage is not enough to compensate you for your medical bills and other losses. This is where your underinsured motorist (UIM) coverage comes in. The underinsured coverage from your own auto insurance policy could provide coverage if the motor vehicle driver is at fault, but has minimal coverage available to compensate you for your losses.
What if the car’s driver takes off? In bicycle accidents involving a car, where the driver takes off or where there was no collision or impact between you and the car, you may also have insurance coverage available to you. The insurance coverage is from your own car insurance policy, through the uninsured motorist portion of the policy. This part of your auto insurance policy is mandatory in Massachusetts, but only up to $20,000. You can (and should) increase that amount. This portion of your auto insurance policy is to provide insurance coverage for injuries, damages, and losses someone sustains as a result of another negligent driver that cannot be identified. So, if you are hit by a car or a car runs you off the road and the driver was to take off without making himself known, your uninsured motorist coverage could cover your injuries and losses.
Important Steps to Take After Being in a Bicycle Accident
There are important things you should do if you are a bicyclist involved and injured in an accident.
First, make every effort to remember and memorialize every fact you can about the accident. The best way to get the accident memorialized or recorded is by calling 911. This does two very important things: (1) it will get an ambulance to respond for you and your injuries; and (2) the police will respond and most likely prepare a police report to document the accident. If you do not call 911, then make sure to get all the information of the other driver at the accident scene and any witnesses’ names and contact information. If the car’s driver stays at the scene, be sure to get his or her name, address, and license and registration information. The easiest way is to use your phone to photograph the license and registration.
Next, take photographs. Photographs should be taken of any damage to either the car or your bicycle, the street or intersection where the accident occurred and, of course, your injuries. If the car’s driver leaves the scene, try your best to get a picture of the vehicle. If you cannot, try to note the make and model of the vehicle, the license plate number and the physical characteristics of the driver. This will be one of the first questions an insurance company will ask.
Get Medical Attention
If you are hurt in the bicycle accident, seek immediate medical treatment. If you do not call for an ambulance, try to get to an emergency room of a hospital as soon as possible to document your injuries. Be sure your medical providers are told your injuries are the result of a bicycle vs. motor vehicle accident. This will be the second question the insurance company will ask.
Make Sure You Have Enough Insurance Coverage Of Your Own!
I cannot stress enough the importance of having enough coverage on your own auto insurance policy. The uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage could be the difference in a bicycle vs. car accident in getting full and fair compensation for your injuries and not getting anything at all. The additional cost of having minimal coverage versus high insurance coverage is usually nominal and can sometimes be less than an extra one hundred dollars per year. Call your insurance agent and get your uninsured and underinsured limits increased. You may also want to consider looking into purchasing additional medical payment coverage.
Get Expert Legal Help
If you’re involved in a bicycle accident, speak with an experienced lawyer immediately. At Mahaney and Pappas, LLP we have years of experience representing people injured in accident in Massachusetts. Contact us online or call (508) 879-3500 today to schedule your free, no-obligation case evaluation.