Bicycle accidents can be devastating, often leading to long-term trauma like brain damage and spinal cord injuries. Because of how costly treatment for bicyclist injuries are, many cyclists worry about how high their medical bills will be after an accident. While you may be able to pursue an auto accident claim against the driver who injured you, it is possible that your own auto insurance might come into play as well.
The Role of Your Auto Insurance Company
In the state of New York, drivers are required to have three auto insurance policies:
- Liability insurance coverage
- Uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage
- Personal injury protection coverage
Liability coverage applies to people other than the driver who are injured in an accident. The minimum amount a driver can legally have is $25,000 for a single injured person, $50,000 for two or more injured people, and $10,000 for property damage. This means that if you are involved in a car accident, whether you are driving, riding a bike, or out walking, then the other driver’s insurance is liable for damages up to the above numbers.
In addition, uninsured motorist (UM) and underinsured motorist (UIM) coverage also must match your own liability insurance policies. This means that if you are involved in an accident with a driver who does not have insurance or are in a hit-and-run accident, then you can file against your own insurance company to recover compensation up to your policy’s limit based on your UIM coverage policy. In turn, if the other driver’s insurance is not enough to cover your injuries, you can also file a claim against your underinsured policy.
Lastly, personal injury protection (PIP) coverage is no-fault insurance, meaning no matter who caused the accident, you may apply against this policy to cover the cost of your injuries. In the state of New York, a minimum PIP policy must have at least $50,000 in coverage. PIP claims are filed against the other driver’s insurance policy and is often done alongside an auto accident claim.
But how do these policies work for bicyclists?
Bicyclists and Personal Auto Insurance
While there are bicyclists who do not have auto insurance, given that they do not own a vehicle, there are many who own both a car and bicycle for easy navigation around our city. Most people think that an auto insurance policy only applies when we are in a vehicle, but it actually follows us throughout our daily lives. Whether you are a pedestrian, passenger in another vehicle, or bicyclist, you are protected under your personal auto insurance policy in any auto accident.
This means that your UM/UIM coverage a bicycle accident. If you are injured by a phantom driver or hit-and-run driver, then you can utilize your UM coverage to cover the costs of your treatment. In the same manner, if the at-fault driver does not have enough insurance, you can file against your own UIM policy in addition to the other driver’s insurance policy to pay for your treatment.
For both situations, PIP coverage would apply, but only under the other driver’s policy. This means that when you file a claim for PIP coverage, you would be filing with the other driver’s insurance company. If they have the minimum policy, you would be allowed $50,000 for the cost of your medical care. However, PIP only covers economic costs related to an accident, meaning your non-economic costs (pain and suffering, mental anguish, loss of enjoyment, etc.) can only be covered by UM/UIM coverage or a personal injury claim.
Advocating for Injured New Yorker Bicyclists
Nothing is worse than suffering a catastrophic injury and being unsure of how you are covered. Most bicyclists are not aware that their insurance policies apply, meaning they may focus all their attention on the at-fault driver’s policy. If it only covers the bare minimum of a claim, this can be incredibly stressful. However, the New York bicycle accident attorneys at Wingate, Russotti, Shapiro & Halperin, LLP, are well-versed in filing claims against third-party insurance policies and personal auto policies. If you were injured due to a negligent driver, we can explain to you your rights to compensation and advocate for you in a personal injury claim. To learn more, call us at (212) 986-7353 and schedule a free consultation.