If you are a bike rider, you recognize how dangerous this activity can be. Some have noted the increased distraction of drivers lately, but there are many causes for the increasingly risky enterprise of operating a bike.
There is no more immediate example of a bike-auto crash than what happened recently in the Chicago Triathlon Sunday August 27th. A vehicle disobeyed the orange cones demarcating a lane for competitors in the bike portion of the triathlon and plowed into two cyclists, sending both to the hospital. The driver was cited for negligent driving.
In that example in the triathlon, the driver was also cited by police for operating without auto insurance. Assuming that driver really was uninsured, what could you do if you were one of the cyclists injured by their negligence?
If you had auto insurance, you could file a claim under your own policy for uninsured motorist benefits (UM), which include all the typical damages available to a personal injury claimant: medical bills, pain and suffering, loss of a normal life, and lost wages, among others.
Now if that vehicle was insured, your first move would be to file a claim with that driver’s carrier for those damages. However, keep in mind that despite our Illinois law requiring operators of motor vehicles to carry liability insurance, there are several reasons to have your own coverage even if you do not own a vehicle or drive regularly:
I was at a bike race the other day talking to a gentleman who was not racing. He held up (part way) his left arm to indicate why he was not able to race. He had broken his clavicle or collarbone while bike riding. I asked if he had fallen and how it happened. To my surprise, he mentioned riding along a country road near where he lives when a dog darted into his path, far too quickly for him to avoid it. He flew head over handlebars landing on his left arm outstretched. This will not only take him off the bike for months, it has kept him in too much pain to run his financial services business up to his standards.
In his case, he was fortunate, in that he identified the dog, and recognized to whom it belonged. In his case, the owner’s homeowner’s insurance will pay for his physical damages, medical bills, pain and suffering, loss of a normal life, and lost wages or business.
Had he been unable to locate the dog’s owner, or, if the owner had no homeowner’s coverage, he would have had to pursue his own auto or homeowner’s policy for coverage. Yet another important reason to have both of those types of insurance.
If you have ever ridden the Chicago lakefront path, there are a seemingly dizzying array of things that could go wrong—pedestrians not paying attention, skateboarders, rollerbladers, dogs, kids, balls being tossed, as well as Divvy bike riders blissfully unaware of where they are in space. If a person walks into your path, rides their bike into your path, allows their child to roam free into your path, swerves their bike into your path, or lets their dog into your path, they may be negligent and responsible for your injuries. In such a case, you would first pursue their auto or homeowner’s insurance. However, as many people do not have coverage for these types of things, you may very well be pursuing your own coverage.
Much as motor vehicle crashes often occur due to lack of attention, differences in experience, and speed differences, bike on bike crashes occur for most of the same reasons.
Some bicyclists are better at using hand signals. Some follow the rules of the road and common courtesy better than others. Some are barely able to hold their bikes upright, while others whiz by at 25 miles per hour with no hands.
Almost all of these are recipes for human error and crashes.
If you are involved in a bike on bike crash, you other cyclist’s auto or homeowner’s carrier may be responsible, as discussed in the above scenarios. But as we noted before, make sure you have coverage just in case the bonehead who hits you is uninsured or underinsured!
As in all cases involving injury and potential liability, immediately get medical treatment, report the crash to police and your own insurance company, and contact a personal injury lawyer.
If you've been in an accident and have questions, contact Chicago personal injury attorney Stephen L. Hoffman for a free consultation at (773) 944-9737. Stephen has nearly 30 years of legal experience and has collected millions of dollars for his clients. He has been named a SuperLawyer, has a 10.0 rating on Avvo, and is BBB A+ accredited.
Stephen handles personal injury and workers' compensation claims on a contingency fee basis, which means you don’t pay anything upfront and he only gets paid if you do. Don’t wait another day, contact Stephen now.