- If you’ve been hurt in an accident because of a car driver’s negligence, the at-fault driver’s insurance company is responsible for paying your medical expenses, bike repairs, and other costs up to the liability policy limit.
- In situations where the bicyclist was at fault or the car driver has no insurance, the victim may find coverage under other policies, such as their own uninsured/underinsured motorist insurance, health insurance, and homeowners or renters insurance.
- Because bicyclists often suffer severe injuries in collisions with automobiles and aren’t required to carry insurance themselves, they can face unique challenges in seeking compensation that fully covers their costs.
- If you’ve suffered injuries that are not fully covered by insurance, filing a lawsuit may be your best option to recover maximum compensation.
Whether in the busy streets of Metro Atlanta or on quiet, residential roads throughout Georgia, bicyclists often travel alongside fast-moving cars. In most areas, bicyclists don’t even have a bike lane to give them space in the roadway.
Under Georgia law, cars are required to slow down or change lanes with at least three feet of space when passing a bicycle, but many drivers ignore this law or fail to see bikes on the road. As a result, collisions between cars and bicycles are a common occurrence in our area.
Unfortunately, bicycles don’t offer the same structural protection as automobiles (doors, bumpers, airbags, etc.), so bike riders can suffer far more serious injuries in a crash. Serious injuries typically mean more costs for the victim—including medical bills, physical therapy, lost earnings, and diminished quality of life. However, unlike many automobile drivers, bicyclists may have few insurance options available to cover their accident costs.
Bicyclists Are Not Required to Have Insurance
In Georgia, automobile drivers are required to have insurance coverage, but bike riders are not. If you’re injured in an accident because of a car driver’s negligence, the at-fault driver’s insurance company is responsible for paying your medical expenses, bike repairs, and other costs up to the liability policy limit.
If the driver was not at fault, however, their insurance company would likely deny your claim, which means you would have to find other ways to get your expenses covered. Filing a claim with your own health insurance carrier for medical costs is an option, but bicyclists are not required to have health insurance either—and many do not.
Types of Insurance That Will Cover an Injured Bicyclist
When you’ve been hurt in a bike accident, your first step in recovering compensation is usually finding what insurance coverage is available to pay for your costs.
If your accident was caused by a car driver’s negligence, you can file a claim with the driver’s auto insurance company to recover your medical bills, bike expenses, and other costs. If the at-fault driver doesn’t have auto insurance or their policy doesn’t fully cover your losses, you can file a claim against your own uninsured/underinsured auto insurance policy. For bicyclists who don’t have this type of coverage, filing a lawsuit against the at-fault driver may be the best option for recovering compensation.
Regardless of who was at fault or whether the other driver has insurance, an injured bicyclist can still file a claim with their own private health insurance company to recover medical expenses.
Homeowners and Renters Insurance
Bicycles are covered under typical homeowners and renters insurance policies as part of your personal property, which means you will be reimbursed under these provisions if your bike is damaged or stolen—even if you were responsible. Make sure to keep the receipt for your bike and add it to your home’s inventory list. Because most insurance companies have specific limits on bicycles, you may want to purchase additional coverage on your policy if your bike is worth more than the limit.
Homeowners and renters insurance can also cover medical bills and other damages in certain situations. For example, if you were involved in a bike accident with another bicyclist or pedestrian and you weren’t at fault, you could file a claim against the other party’s home or renters personal liability policy. Similarly, if you caused an accident while riding your bike, your homeowners or renters liability policy may cover the victim’s damages up to the limit.
Like automobile insurance, you can buy bicycle insurance as a stand-alone policy from certain companies, such as Veloinsurance and Markel. For serious riders with expensive bikes, this type of insurance offers more complete coverage than a typical homeowners or renters policy. With a stand-alone policy, you can get coverage for theft, crash damage, personal liability, medical expenses, full replacement value, and more. And making a claim on your bike policy won’t affect your premium on your homeowners or renters policy.
Premises Liability Insurance
If your bike accident took place on commercial property, you may be able to recover compensation from the business’s premise liability insurance policy, depending on the circumstances. For example, if the business owner owed you a duty of care and failed to provide reasonably safe conditions, you may have a claim for damages.
Relying on Private Health Insurance for Bicycle Accident Coverage Presents Challenges
If you’ve been injured in a bike accident, you can use your own health insurance to cover your medical costs even if another party was at fault. However, relying on private health insurance carriers can come with special challenges and may not fully compensate you for the accident.
The first obstacle you may face when filing a health insurance claim is meeting a high deductible. In some cases, a claimant must pay thousands of dollars out of pocket before the carrier starts to pay medical expenses under the plan. If you file a successful claim against an at-fault driver’s auto insurance company, you can seek reimbursement for this cost, but paying a substantial amount of money up front is still a burden for most people.
Another challenge is that health insurance may cover your medical bills, but it will not make you whole after an accident if you miss work, have to repair or replace your bike, or incur other costs. To recover compensation for these types of losses, you will need to either file a claim against another insurance policy—your own or the at-fault party’s—or file a lawsuit.
Yet another issue that can arise when you use your own health insurance to pay for medical costs is subrogation, which allows your carrier to recoup payments from the at-fault driver’s insurance company when your claim is settled. In other words, your carrier will pay your medical bills while you’re waiting for your claim to be resolved, then it gets a refund. Because this money will be taken from the settlement, it’s important that all your past and future medical expenses are included when negotiating the final amount.
Bicyclists Hit by Vehicles Can Face Difficult Financial Obstacles
In a collision between a car and a bicycle, the bike rider has far less protection—both physically and financially. As a result, bike accident victims may find themselves facing exorbitant expenses with not enough insurance coverage to make them whole.
For example, because of Georgia’s minimum auto insurance requirements ($25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident in liability), the at-fault driver’s policy may not cover the full cost of serious or catastrophic injuries. And if the driver’s insurance company can find any reason to argue you were to blame, your compensation claim could be denied or reduced.
Further, if the at-fault driver has no auto insurance, an injured victim may be left trying to find other insurance policies to cover their costs. Even if the bike accident victim has health insurance and a homeowners policy, it may not be enough.
A Bike Injury Lawsuit in Often the Best Route
If you or a loved one has been hurt in a bike accident because of someone else’s negligence, you may need to file a lawsuit to recover maximum compensation. An experienced bicycle accident lawyer can analyze your case, look for all available insurance policies, and help you determine the best course of action.
Our attorneys have been handling bike accident cases since 1993 and know how to overcome the unique challenges that come with these claims. Call The Millar Law Firm today at (770) 400-0000 or contact us online to set up a free consultation with one of our attorneys.
I would highly recommend this firm and staff to everyone, they were great with my case.