Hit-and-Run Bicycle Accidents
A hit-and-run bicycle accident can be tragic for more than one reason. If a motorist caused the accident by turning into your path of travel, running you off the road or cutting you off, you could suffer serious injuries. But when the motorist flees the scene, you risk being left with little recourse for compensation.
Hit-and-run accidents occur for a number of reasons. In some cases, drivers may not have realized that they struck a bicyclist since they never made eye contact with the bike. This may happen when the driver enters a bike lane or prepares to make a right turn without first noticing if a bike is occupying it and side-swipes the cyclist. While this may excuse the driver from criminal liability, civil liability will still apply. Other reasons for a hit-and-run on the part of the motorist include:
- Driver panic
- Lack of a valid driver’s license
- Lack of liability insurance
- Undocumented status
- Has outstanding warrant
- Driving a stolen vehicle
- Driving impaired
Many hit-and-run drivers are identified because of eyewitnesses who managed to get a license number or even a partial number along with the make and model of the vehicle and possibly a fleeting description of the driver. Many intersections have cameras as do businesses that abut intersections so these may reveal a license number and depiction of the vehicle.
But if you were in a hit-and-run accident where the fleeing motorist is not identified or apprehended, this does not necessarily mean you are out of luck. If you own an automobile and possess uninsured motorist (UM) coverage, then you can present a claim against your own policy. If you do not own a vehicle but reside in a home where a relative does have one and has UM coverage, then you may take advantage of that policy to bring a claim. This also applies if the hit-and-run driver is later identified but possess no liability insurance.
A UM claim is presented as any other injury claim except you are negotiating with your own insurer. Liability on the part of the uninsured or hit-and-run driver still must be established as does proof of your damages and that they were caused by the accident. Medical testimony or reports and records are needed to show that your medical treatment was necessary and reasonable. If you have a wage loss claim, your medical provider needs to report that you were unable to work for a time because of your injuries. Paystubs or tax returns are proof of your income.
If you are unable to settle your UM claim, your case goes to binding arbitration instead of to court where an arbitrator selected by you and your insurer acts as judge and jury in determining if all elements of your claim have been proved and what your compensation will be.