Hit by a Bicycle
Riding a bicycle in New York City can be quite a dangerous endeavor. I have represented many bicyclists, those hard working souls who make their living delivering the food we take for granted. The rules of the road are for everyone – motorists, pedestrians, and bicyclists. When a bicycle is hit or “doored” by a car, there are often very serious injuries and the bicyclist has every right to hold the motorist responsible. In addition to getting compensation for pain and suffering from an injury, the bicyclist can get up to $50,000 of medical bills paid for by the car insurance company of the subject vehicle.
Recently, I have received calls from pedestrians who were injured when they were hit by bicycles. As cycling increases in popularity, especially during the warmer months, this is bound to keep happening. Can a pedestrian sue a bicyclist for causing injuries? Absolutely. The more important question is – will there be any insurance?
This depends on who is riding the bicycle. If the owner of the bicycle has either homeowners or renters (tenants) insurance, the policy would kick in for a bicycle accident. This is the case even if the accident did not occur on the insured premises. Many people are surprised to learn that a homeowners or renters policy would offer protection for injuries that occur away from the premises. The reasoning is that it is demanded by the bank the financed the purchase of the home. The bank does not want its investment collateral taken away because of an accident.
I am involved with a case of a woman in Florida who was on a bicycle, when she was hit by another bicycle ridden by a bicyclist who was on vacation from Alabama. The Alabama man had a homeowners policy with a large limit of liability and the case is still in pending.
Could the injury be covered by the bicyclist’s car insurance? It could not be. Car insurance covers the insureds for injuries arising out of the use or operation of a motor vehicle. A bicycle is not a motor vehicle so there would be no coverage for injuries sustained in this type of an accident.
If the at fault bicyclist does not have homeowners insurance, can he or she be sued personally? Yes, but most people don’t have any money to pay. If you are hit by a bicycle and the bicyclist doesn’t have insurance, you are most likely out of luck. Your medical treatment would have to be covered by either your private health insurance, Medicaid or Medicare, and you would most likely not be able to get any money for your pain and suffering. The best way to protect yourself from accidents caused by the uninsured is to buy disability insurance, and supplemental insurance (think of all of those ads for AFlac) that could provide you and your family with much needed funds in the event of a debilitating injury or illness.