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Who Pays for Injuries in a Bicycle Accident?
As society increasingly becomes more environmentally conscious as well as health conscious, more and more people are turning bicycles. Not only are people starting to bike more often to avoid taking their cars, but it is also a great form of exercise. In New York City alone Mayor Bill DeBlasio added over 100 miles of new bike paths. Citi Bikes are taking the streets by storm, as you can now see racks of bikes on every corner. There are a recorded 20.6 million Citi Bike trips made in 2019. In addition, with the onset of coronavirus, there has been a boom in bike sales and an upward trend of bikers on the road. According to the New York Department of Transportation there are over 900,000 New Yorkers who ride a bike regularly; with over 510,000 cyclist trips made each day in New York City. However, biking in a big city has proven dangerous. New York city is full of hazards. There are cars, buses, pedestrians, other cyclists, and uneven roads at every corner. Because of all these hazards, 2019 reported the highest rate of bicycle accident fatalities as over 30 people lost their lives, three times the rate of fatalities in the previous year. With a large number of cyclists, cars, and pedestrians all sharing the same space in a crowded city, accidents are bound to happen.
What are the Most Common Causes of a Bicycle Accident?
Many factors can contribute to a bicycle accident which may be caused by the negligence of a driver, pedestrian, or biker. Elements that may contribute to an accident are impaired vision or obstructed views, disobedience of traffic laws, driver’s inattention or distraction, defective signage, poor road conditions, failure to enforce speed limits, improper lane changes, following too closely, failure to yield, and failure to exercise necessary caution while operating a vehicle or bicycle. In addition, bike accidents can have catastrophic ramifications whether the accident involves an automobile and bike, two bikes, or a pedestrian and a bike. Accidents may result in traumatic brain injury, broken bones, spinal cord injuries, facial lacerations and other soft tissue injuries, as well as the wrongful death of the cyclist. Even if the bicyclist is equipped with all the necessary road safety equipment, a bicyclist will often be thrown to the ground by the impact with resultant serious injuries. A bicyclist may bring a lawsuit against an offending motorist and may be entitled to compensation for pain and suffering and potentially lost wages as well. Always wait for the police to come to the scene and write up an accident report. A police report will contain the name of the motorist, owner, and insurance carrier for the vehicle, as well as a description of the incident. The report will note whether any violations have been issued to the driver and all contributing factors to the incident. It is also important to seek immediate medical attention even if in the moment you are not sure whether you are seriously injured. Adrenaline may mask the true extent of your injuries. Seeking medical attention will support your later personal injury claim.
When a bicyclist is struck by a motor vehicle there are bound to be numerous medical bills. The bicyclist is generally entitled to have all medical bills paid by the no-fault insurance of the motorist. If the offending vehicle is uninsured, no-fault insurance for any vehicle owned by the biker or insurance carrier of any vehicle of any resident with whom the bicyclist resides will pay the bills. If there is no motor vehicle owned in the residence, a New York resident may file a claim with MVAIC (Motor Vehicle Accident Indemnification Corporation). This is a non-profit organization which offers no fault or bodily injury coverage for those injured in a motor vehicle accident with no available insurance to cover costs. The attorneys here at Hill & Moin LLP can assist you in filing that claim. In addition, if there are two bicycles involved in the accident your attorneys will explore if there is either homeowner’s insurance or renters insurance on the part of the negligent bicyclist that may be available to compensate you for your injuries.
If the bicyclist is working on the job at the time of the accident, workers compensation will pay for the medical bills. If you are delivering food for your job or running an errand for your employer, you are entitled to workers’ compensation benefits in addition to filing a claim for your pain and suffering attributed to your injuries. Hill & Moin LLP will facilitate free compensation with a skilled workers’ compensation attorney who can help you file all necessary forms with the New York Workers’ Compensation Board (WCB).
Underinsurance is also an important factor to remember. If the motorist who struck you only has minimum coverage of $25,000, which is required in New York, you should check the insurance policy of your own vehicle or the insurance policy of an owner of a vehicle with whom you reside. If the coverage is above the required minimum of $25,000, you may make an underinsurance claim with that insurance carrier policy for additional compensation if you are able to secure a tender or surrender of the entire underlying insurance policy by the insurance carrier of the responsible party.
New York City passed Administrative Code 19-190 in order to try and reduce fatalities and injuries involving motor vehicles and bicycles. This Code states that “any driver of a motor vehicle who fails to yield to a pedestrian or person riding a bicycle when such pedestrian or person has the right of way… and whose motor vehicle causes contact with a pedestrian or person riding a bicycle and thereby causes physical injury, shall be guilty of a misdemeanor, which shall be punishable by a fine of not more than two hundred fifty dollars, or imprisonment for not more than thirty days or both such fine and imprisonment. In addition to or as an alternative to such penalty, such driver shall also be subject to a civil penalty of not more than two hundred fifty dollars” (NYC Admin Code 19-190). This code was enacted as a response to the great number of bicyclists who are injured by motor vehicles each year in New York City. Bicycle accidents can be highly complicated with respect to determining which insurance policy will pay for medical bills, lost wage, and pain and suffering. You need skilled, experienced attorneys who can help you navigate the maze of New York laws so you can get necessary medical treatment while you aggressively pursue financial compensation for your injuries.