Bicycle accidents and auto insurance in Pennsylvania

Munley Law personal injury lawyers explain: bicycle accidents and auto insurance

What if you were involved in a bicycle accident in Pennsylvania and suffered a serious injury? If your bicycle was hit by a motorized vehicle, whose insurance company is responsible – yours or the motor vehicle drivers? What if no one was at fault? Can you file an insurance claim or a lawsuit requesting reimbursement for pain and suffering resulting from a bicycle accident? Auto insurance in Pennsylvania offers both full tort and limited tort policy choices. What does that mean? How does it apply to bicycle accident coverage?

Accidents involving bicycles happen all too frequently. It pays to be aware of the details of how insurance coverage works. But the issue can become complex in many cases. Hiring a Pennsylvania bicycle accident lawyer can help you receive the benefits you deserve if you are a victim of an injury caused by an accident that happened while riding your bicycle. Contact Munley Law for a free, no-obligation consultation

Bicycle Accident Statistics

bicycle accidents lawyerCommuting to work on a bicycle or pedaling for pleasure are both great ways to increase physical fitness and reduce our carbon footprint. When safety precautions are taken, most of the time, cycling is a safe and fulfilling means of transportation. 

Still, cycling accidents have occurred all too often in recent years, and, especially when they involve motor vehicles, serious injury or death results in an unsettling number of cases. Bicycle accidents were frequent in 2020, although traffic volumes were often relatively light due to pandemic-related closings.

Cycling, already a growing trend, became even more popular that year. Although there were often fewer motor vehicles on the road than usual, speeding and reckless, distracted driving increased. Cycling accidents caused serious injury – or death – for many. 

In 2019, bicyclists’ deaths accounted for 2% of all traffic fatalities involving motor vehicles. The Consumer Product Safety Commission reported 417,485 emergency department-treated injuries resulting from bicycles and bike accessories in that year. (As referenced in a National Safety Council article.) 

What are Some Leading Causes of Car-Bicycle Collisions?

  • Alcohol or other substances that alter perception and judgment are often contributing factors.
  • Texting or talking on cell phones while driving is a major cause of driver distraction.
  • Sometimes drivers don’t leave enough space when passing, sideswiping those on bicycles.
  • People in parked cars may open a door just as a bicyclist reaches their car. 

In such cases, when a vehicle driver is cited for acting in a manner that resulted in injury to a bicycle rider, the vehicle driver’s insurance carrier is responsible for payment for injuries and damages suffered by the bicyclist.

Sometimes the bicyclist is negligent, not paying attention to surroundings. The rider may crash into an object or vehicle, or cause an accident through some other action. If the bicyclist is ruled at fault, or if no one is deemed to have caused the accident, the bicyclist’s car insurance should cover the cost of his or her injuries and damages. 

No matter which party caused the accident, when a bike rider goes up against an automobile, the situation doesn’t bode well for the bicyclist, simply due to the greater size and power of the motor vehicle. If you are involved in a bicycle accident, no matter who caused it, a Munley Law Pennsylvania car Accident Lawyer may help you obtain fair payment for your injuries and damages.  

Does Car Insurance Cover Bicycle Accidents?  

The short answer is yes, as described above. Drivers of cars and other types of motor vehicles are responsible for their actions. A driver’s automobile liability insurance carrier is responsible for coverage of damages incurred by victims of bicycle accidents when the covered driver is cited for impacting the bicycle while driving an insured vehicle.

If the bicyclist is at fault or the motor vehicle driver has no insurance, the bicyclist should submit a claim for payment to his or her own car insurance carrier.   

Tort, Insurance, and Pennsylvania Vehicle Accidents

If I have a limited tort auto policy, can I sue for a bicycle accident?

In the state of Pennsylvania, car insurance policies may be purchased with either full tort or limited tort options. If full tort is chosen, you may sue for pain and suffering if injured in an accident. If you select limited tort, you may only sue for the actual cost of your injury – not for pain and suffering. Since limited tort policies are slightly less costly, many people unknowingly sign away their right to sue for pain and suffering in the event of a crash. 

There are, however, exceptions to the limited tort ruling, when it comes to claims. Under Pennsylvania law, bicycle riders are exempt from the limited tort ruling. This law was placed into effect in response to a 2004 ruling by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court (L.S., a Minor v. David Eschbach, Jr., Inc., 844 A.2d 1215)

That ruling deemed that the limited tort restriction does not apply to pedestrians. Since bicyclists are not occupying or operating a motor vehicle, they are legally viewed as pedestrians. So, if you are hit by a car while riding your bicycle, you may enjoy the legal benefits of full tort, even if you have a limited tort auto insurance policy.

Bicycle Accident Limited Tort in Pennsylvania

The bottom line is: If you are a victim of a bicycle accident in Pennsylvania, you are eligible to sue for pain and suffering since bicycle accidents are not covered by the limited tort ruling. But not all insurance companies inform bicycle accident victims that they are qualified for full tort privileges.

Munley Law is in business to protect the best interests of our clients. If you were injured in a bicycle accident, our personal injury attorneys are prepared to ensure that you receive the damage award you deserve under full tort coverage. Most cases can be resolved out of court, but our award-winning Munley Law personal injury attorneys have the knowledge and courtroom experience to take your case to trial if necessary.  

Frequently Asked Questions about Bicycle Accidents and Insurance

What should I do if I’m involved in a bicycle accident?

Getting prompt medical attention for obvious injuries should take priority. But if your injuries seem minor, here are some tips for actions you should take while on the scene, if possible. 

Responding correctly following an accident and recording or memorizing details if possible, supports success in filing an insurance claim or winning a lawsuit, should it become necessary to take your case to court. 

  • Phone 911 or have someone else at the scene make the call if you are unable.
  • Remain at the scene of the accident until the police arrive to speak with you. Even if the accident is minor, consider being checked for injury. Sometimes, accident victims don’t feel pain immediately. It may be hours or even days before some types of injuries become apparent. 
  • Don’t discuss what happened with the driver(s) of other vehicles involved in the accident, or with anyone, other than law enforcement officers or your insurance company’s representative.   
  • Do get contact information from any involved motor vehicle driver(s).
  • Collect contact information also, from any witnesses if possible.
  • Take photos yourself, or have a companion do so, of the accident scene, your bike, other vehicle(s) involved, as well as any injuries you sustained. 
  • Never sign any type of agreement presented to you by an insurance agent, until you have consulted a lawyer concerning the agreement’s contents. Insurance companies often offer settlements promptly, but these are not usually in the best interest of victims of accidents.

 

What can be done to prevent bicycle accidents?

Sharing the road with larger vehicles involves some risk for a bicyclist. But the health and economic benefits of bike riding make it an essential practice. Promoting and observing safety tips recommended for both motorists and bicyclists can greatly help all of us to avoid bicycle accidents.

What if the insurance company denies my claim?

If the insurance company responsible for payment ignores the law and refuses to work with you, it’s time to get a Pennsylvania bicycle accident lawyer involved. A Munley Law bicycle accident attorney can assess your case and effectively represent you in enforcing the limited tort exemption.  Even if the insurance company offers a settlement, it is best to contact a bicycle accident lawyer at Munley Law to make sure you receive the full amount you deserve. 

Munley Law Bicycle Accident Attorneys Won’t Bill You Until You Receive Payment

Most people who commute to work on a bike or ride for pleasure after hours, never experience an accident. If you have, however, experienced a bicycle accident in Pennsylvania, and were denied compensation for which you are qualified due to resulting injuries or damages, call us 24/7.

Bicycle accident victims fall under full tort coverage in Pennsylvania (which includes the ability to sue for pain and suffering) – whether or not the applicable party’s insurance policy is classified as full tort or limited tort. But they are often unaware of the exemption from the limited tort ruling. Insurance companies may not be forthcoming with this information, in an attempt to avoid paying the total amount for which you may qualify. 

Munley Law Pennsylvania personal injury attorneys can represent you regarding such an issue. We work on contingency. If we agree to take your case, we won’t charge a fee until you receive reimbursement for damages.

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