Bike Accidents and Insurance Coverage
WILL INSURANCE COVER YOUR BICYCLE ACCIDENT?
Most people already know that if a car crashes into you while you’re on your bike, the at-fault driver’s insurance should cover your injuries.
But what about when the at-fault driver doesn’t have insurance? Or the at-fault driver flees the scene of the accident? Many cyclists don’t realize that their personal auto policies often cover these types of crashes—and may even cover a “miss and run” accident where a driver runs a cyclist off the road. This article will educate cyclists on what rights they have when the at-fault driver is missing or doesn’t have insurance.
UM AND UIM INSURANCE—WHAT IS AND WHAT IT ISN’T
If you own a car, you probably have insurance for the car’s drivers—Arizona law requires that you have at least $25,000 in liability coverage before you can drive on public roads. And when you buy insurance, the insurance carrier gives you the chance to buy what is called Uninsured Motorist (UM) coverage and Under Insured Motorist (UIM) coverage.
UM coverage protects you when an at-fault driver injures you, but does not have insurance. UIM covers you when the at-fault driver has some insurance, but not enough for your injuries. Most people think of their auto insurance as something that protects them from getting sued if they crash into someone. But UIM and UM coverage are different – they protect drivers against the risk of someone else who has no insurance or too little insurance crashing into them. And this can be very important for cyclists.
HOW UM AND UIM PROTECT CYCLISTS
Since UM and UIM coverages protect you from other drivers, you don’t need to be riding in a car to take advantage of those coverages. UM/UIM policies protect pedestrians and cyclists too. So if you have UM or UIM coverage, you can file a claim against your own UM/UIM provider if a driver with insufficient insurance coverage hits you.
To do this a cyclist will need to show his or her UIM/UM carrier that the at-fault driver didn’t have enough coverage or had no coverage at all. Things get tricky if a cyclist has medical bills or provider liens. Technically, UIM/UM coverage is a contractual right and shouldn’t be subject to any healthcare liens. But sometimes a victim’s own health insurance requires reimbursement for medical expenses and claims a right to the UIM coverage. If you’ve been in a crash on your bike, you should consult with an injury attorney to help sort through the laws relating to medical provider liens and reimbursement claims. And don’t rely on the insurance adjuster to lead you in the right direction—their goal is to pay you as little as possible, even your own carrier.
THE “MISS AND RUN”
Another wrinkle in UM claims is when the at-fault driver never makes contact but still causes a crash. This can happen when a driver negligently forces a cyclist to take evasive maneuvers to save his or her life. Most cyclists who ride regularly have experienced this, including this author (who was nearly hit by a minivan riding up the Pacific Coast Highway). If the driver never stops, the driver is known as a “phantom driver.” Even though the phantom driver makes no contact and flees the scene, you can still make a UM claim.
But this type of claim requires some additional evidence. Arizona law requires that people claiming UM coverage for a phantom driver “provide corroboration that the unidentified motor vehicle caused the accident….” A.R.S. § 20-259.01(m). Arizona case law is fluid on what exactly counts as “corroboration.” If you’re involved in this type of accident, take as many pictures as you can as soon as you can if you are able. If you are seriously injured, you can call one of the injury lawyers at Udall Shumway and we will visit the scene of your crash as soon as possible to take photos for you. Filing a police report can also greatly improve the strength of your claim. More evidence is better—insurance companies will always pay as little as possible and if they can get away with paying $0, they will.
This blog should be used for informational purposes only. It does not create an attorney-client relationship with any reader and should not be construed as legal advice. If you or someone you know wishes to seek the help of an experienced personal injury attorney regarding any type of injury, or other personal injury matters, call 480-461-5300 to speak to an attorney or email firstname.lastname@example.org for a free consultation to discuss your rights and options. Udall Shumway PLC is located in Mesa, Arizona and is a full-service law firm. We assist Individuals, families, businesses, schools and municipalities in Mesa and the Phoenix/East Valley.