In most car-bike crashes, the at-fault driver is held liable for your damages through their insurance company. But what if the driver that hit you doesn’t have insurance? Are you just out of luck? Not necessarily. As a cyclist hit by an uninsured driver, you may still be able to receive compensation for your injuries.
Do You Have Uninsured or Underinsured Motorist Coverage?
All drivers on the roadway must have some form of auto insurance. Unfortunately, however, you can’t always assume everyone does. And what often makes things worse is if the accident is a hit and run. That’s why it’s important that you understand your own current insurance coverage.
California law mandates that insurance companies must also include uninsured (UM) and underinsured (UIM) motorist coverage in your auto insurance. So there is a good chance that your policy already includes both:
- Uninsured (UM): protection from motorists without insurance coverage.
- Underinsured (UIM): protection from motorists with inadequate coverage.
Though you can voluntarily waive this coverage, doing so requires signing documents that clearly explain the risks involved. If you do not remember signing such documents, then you are more than likely still covered. In general, UM and UIM policies offer the same amount of coverage as being an at-fault driver in a crash. A standard auto insurance policy typically carries a minimum coverage amount of $15,000, though that number may be higher depending on your specific policy.
What If You’re Not Currently Covered?
If you currently do not have an auto insurance policy, you should still at least obtain uninsured motorist coverage. In the event of a crash, your UM coverage will kick in if you’re a cyclist hit by uninsured driver. Which means that you won’t need to worry about getting your injuries and damages covered.
Generally, your UM coverage will kick in if the following occurs:
- You make contact with the vehicle in question;
- Driver of the vehicle is determined at-fault; and
- The police file a report.
Because many bicycle accidents can result in life-altering injuries, we recommend obtaining the highest UM limits that you can afford. You do not want to have severe injuries and then also be forced to pay expensive medical bills out of pocket.
Important Things to Know About Using Your UM or UIM Coverage
Insurance companies are not always easy to work with and often try to weasel their way out of paying for damages. Unfortunately, filing a claim for UM or UIM coverage is no different. So here are three important things to know before filing your claim:
1. Your insurer will become your adversary once you file your claim.
Insurance companies are for-profit businesses, which means that they’re almost always looking for a way out from having to pay. Because of this, once you leverage your insurer by filing a UM or UIM coverage claim, you immediately become their adversary. So make sure that your case is well-thought out. Always be careful in your communication with them. Furthermore, it is recommended that you hire an attorney to manage all of your communication with the insurance company. That will help prevent making a mistake that could cost you your compensation.
2. Your insurer might claim that UM or UIM coverage doesn’t include bicycle crashes.
Because your UM or UIM coverage is most likely part of your auto insurance, your insurer might claim that you cannot get compensated for bicycle crashes. However, that is not true. Your UM or UIM coverage almost always covers bicycle accidents as well. If your insurer is giving you this kind of pushback, then refer them directly to your policy. If that doesn’t help, then bring in your bicycle lawyer.
3. You may need to obtain your insurance company’s consent to a settlement.
Typically, your UIM policy can cover you above and beyond the amount of an underinsured motorist’s policy. However, depending on the state of purchase, you may need to obtain consent from your insurer before accepting the settlement if you also plan on pursuing UIM coverage as well. If you fail to obtain their consent, then your insurer may opt to not provide UIM coverage above the amount that you received from the other driver.
Why You Need an Experienced Los Angeles Bicycle Accident Lawyer
Any cyclist hit by uninsured driver knows the struggle of obtaining just compensation for their damages. An experienced bicycle accident lawyer can help you understand your legal options. Contact Los Angeles Bicycle Law today to learn more.