How Does Insurance Work After a Bicycle Accident in Pennsylvania?
When you get injured in a bicycle accident, relying on insurance can be crucial for avoiding going into debt. Bicycle accidents often result in serious injuries, and these injuries can lead to expensive medical bills, time missed from work and other out-of-pocket losses.
Injuries from bicycle accidents can cause emotional trauma, chronic pain, and other “non-financial” losses as well. Whether they last for weeks, months or years, these losses can impact all aspects of your life. Fortunately, like financial losses, these non-financial losses are often recoverable; and, in most cases, recovering your losses after a bicycle accident involves hiring a lawyer to deal with the insurance companies.
Understanding Your Insurance Claim(s) After a Bicycle Accident in Pennsylvania
Let’s consider a common scenario: You are riding your bike on the side of the road when a distracted driver hits you from behind. You go tumbling, your bike is destroyed and you suddenly find yourself facing a long and difficult road to recovery.
Do you have an insurance claim?
In most cases, the answer to this question is “Yes.” This is because (i) bicycle accidents are covered under auto insurance, and (ii) drivers are required to carry auto insurance under Pennsylvania law.
Filing a Claim with the Driver’s Insurance Company
If you got hit by a distracted driver (or a driver who was engaging in any other reckless, aggressive or negligent driving behavior), the driver’s auto insurance policy should cover your accident-related losses. This includes the costs to repair or replace your bike, your medical bills, your loss of income, and your non-financial losses.
But, while you may be entitled to coverage under the at-fault driver’s insurance policy, this does not mean that you will automatically receive the financial compensation you deserve. Even if the driver was clearly negligent, you still need to be able to prove liability to file a successful claim. You also need to be able to prove how much you are entitled to recover. If you rely on the driver’s auto insurance company to assess fault and/or calculate your losses, you are almost certain to receive far less than you deserve.
The same is true when dealing with any other insurance companies that may be liable for your losses—including your own.
Filing a Claim with Your Insurance Company
Depending on the coverage you have available, you may be able to file a claim under your auto insurance policy as well. Even though you were cycling instead of driving at the time of the accident, your auto insurance policy still applies.
Most importantly, you will want to find out if you have uninsured (UM) and/or underinsured motorist (UIM) coverage. Uninsured motorist coverage applies if you got hit by a driver who doesn’t have insurance or if the driver fled the scene of the accident. Uninsured motorist coverage applies if the driver’s auto insurance does not fully cover the costs of your accident-related injuries.
Since Pennsylvania only requires $15,000 in liability coverage per person, UIM coverage can prove essential in many cases. If you were seriously injured in your bicycle accident and the at-fault driver only has the minimum required coverage, your losses will likely far exceed his or her policy limit. If you have UIM coverage, you can use this coverage to supplement your payout from the driver’s insurance company.
When determining whether you have UM or UIM insurance coverage, you will also want to determine if you are paying for “stacking.” If you have “stacking” UM or UIM, then you can add together the policy limits for each of your vehicles. So, for example, if the at-fault driver has $15,000 in liability coverage and you have $50,000 in UIM coverage for two cars, then you would have access to a total of $115,000 in insurance coverage.
Filing a Claim with a Third Party’s Insurance Company
A third potential option for recovering your losses after a bicycle accident in Pennsylvania is to file a claim with a third party’s insurance company. Examples of third parties that could be liable for your bicycle accident include:
- The at-fault driver’s employer or rideshare company
- The government agency that is responsible for maintaining the road or bicycle lane
- The manufacturer of your bicycle or helmet
- The manufacturer of the at-fault driver’s vehicle
- Another cyclist who made a mistake that led to your accident
All of these third parties are likely to have insurance that covers the accident—and most of them are likely to have policy limits that are much higher than the average driver’s auto insurance limits.
Tips for Dealing with the Insurance Companies After a Bicycle Accident in Pennsylvania
Regardless of the type(s) of insurance claim(s) you can file, you will need to be careful to protect your legal rights after your bicycle accident. With this in mind, here are some tips for dealing with insurance companies after a bicycle accident in Pennsylvania:
- Document the Accident – Try to document the accident as thoroughly as possible. Take plenty of photos and videos, and write down everything you can remember along with the names of any friends or family members who witnessed the crash.
- Document Your Losses – Get in the habit of documenting your losses. Keep all of your bills and receipts related to the accident, and keep a diary or journal where you write down the day-to-day effects of your injuries.
- Don’t Rely on the Insurance Companies’ “Advice” – When you have an insurance claim after a bicycle accident, you should not rely on the insurance companies “advice.” These companies do not have your best interests in mind, and they will not tell you what you need to know in order to recover the full compensation you deserve.
Get Help from a Bicycle Accident Lawyer at Drake, Hileman & Davis, P.C.
Were you injured in a bicycle accident in Pennsylvania? If so, we strongly encourage you to contact us for more information. With offices in Doylestown, Allentown, Bethlehem, Easton, and Stroudsburg, we represent injured cyclists statewide. For a free, no-obligation consultation, call 888-479-9197 or request an appointment online now.