Frequently Asked Questions - What if I am on a Bicycle and am Struck by an Automobile?
We have all had the fear. You’re out for a bike ride, enjoying yourself, not a care in the world, when suddenly a car whizzes out of nowhere and turns directly in your pathway and your heart drops just a little bit. Knowing that had you not been paying attention the worst could have unfolded. Being involved in an automobile collision when riding a bicycle sounds probably as awful as it is. Luckily we are here to guide you through the proper actions and steps you can take to make sure your protected.
The first step to take if an automobile strikes you while on a bicycle should be to contact the police. In the heat of the moment, with all the adrenaline rushing, you may feel perfectly fine. You may think it will be easier to simply just exchange insurance information with the person who struck you. This is one of the easiest ways to not protect yourself in these difficult situations. Unfortunately, details of the crash can tend to change later and without an independent report from an unbiased person, this ‘he said, she said’ situation could result in an extensive investigation and delays when filing a claim with the insurance companies. Although you should still exchange information with the person who struck you, it is better to have the police report to the scene and prepare a report that can later aide in the investigation to determine who is liable for the incident. Which leads us to our next step.
Determining liability. Once the report has been filed with the police department you should contact your insurance and the other parties insurance to file a claim. In the state of Florida a bicycle is considered a vehicle therefore the process of filing a claim is remotely the same as filing a normal automobile claim. You would file a claim under your automobile insurance and the insurance of the other party involved. From there you will likely be asked for any evidence or details of how the crash occurred. Both insurances will likely ask for this information to combine with the police report and later aide in their determination of who is liable for the incident.
Once liability is determined all parties involved will have a clear idea of who was deemed at fault for the incident. This could go one of two ways. For a cyclist to be deemed at fault for an incident they would have to be violating a traffic control device such as a stop sign or a stop light or they would have to be driving outside of the designated bike lanes on the roads. If this occurs and the cyclist is deemed at fault the insurance company of the person who struck them is not deemed liable for any damages or injuries that the cyclist has suffered as a result of the crash. However if the automobile is deemed at fault the insurance company of that driver owner/ will be fully liable for the damages and injuries that arose as a result of the collision.
If it is determined that the automobile that struck a cyclist is at fault for the crash their insurance company would also be responsible for the damage and cost or repair of the bicycle or any items damaged or broken in the collision. It is up to the cyclist if they chose to repair the items through the at fault parties insurance or their own. In the event that the cyclist is deemed at fault for the collision their only option would be to have the bicycle repaired through their own insurance. Although your insurance will cover your damages regardless of whether or not you were at fault for the loss bear in mind that the insurance is only responsible for the value of the item that was damaged at the time of the collision. In other words an old bike will be estimated and evaluated at a price that matches its age and condition.
The next and most important step is to seek medical care. Being struck while being inside of a vehicle can cause monumental damage to internal muscle tissue and even spinal cord discs. Being struck while on a bike could result in this and much worse. If you are able to walk away seemingly uninjured from the scene of an automobile/bicyclist incident you should still seek a medical evaluation from a certified physician. When collisions like this occur we have a shot of adrenaline and shock coursing through the body, which often times prevents us from feeling any immediate aches and pains. It is important to have a doctor rule out any serious injury immediately after a crash to avoid any later complications.
In the state of Florida owners of registered vehicles are required to carry personal injury protection coverage or PIP. This coverage is in place to pay for any medical care expenses that may arise from the collision. A stipulation in order to qualify for this coverage is that you must seek care from a medical physician within 14 days of the crash. PIP benefits cover your medical expenses at 80% up to $10,000.00 in the state of Florida. This coverage is available to help avoid a pile up of bills and out of pocket expenses and is important to have in times of serious injury. Which is just another reason why it is so important to seek medical care immediately after an incident.
The next step in this process is usually optional but we always recommend you contact an attorney or seek some kind of legal counsel. It is extremely beneficial to have an educated and trained professional on your side in times of stress, pain and confusion. Dealing with insurance companies can be a hassle and a pile up of unwanted medical bills can bring unwanted debt and strain. With a dedicated Trial Pro attorney on your side you can rest assured your rights are being represented in an honest and professional manor to ensure the best outcome for every client.