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Bicyclists and Drivers: A Deadly Mix

BICYCLE RIDES THAT TURN DEADLY

A bicyclist was killed early in the morning of February 12, 2016, in a hit and run accident in San Jose, California; his identity has not yet been released. A 54-year old father riding his bicycle home from work on January 19, 2016, was struck and killed by a hit and run driver in Brooklyn, New York. A bicyclist in Cincinnati, Ohio, died from injuries sustained when he was struck by a hit and run driver on January 31, 2016.

A recent study by the League of American Bicyclists entitled "Every Bicyclist Counts" found that the greatest danger to a bicyclist is a rear-end collision. In fact, the tragic truth is that a full 40% of bicyclists who lose their lives while biking do so because of a rear-end collision. Perhaps even more tragic is the fact that 36% of these rear-end collisions are hit and run accidents.

In addition to the pain and suffering associated with all bicycle accidents, collisions caused by hit and run drivers present complicated issues of financial recovery. Normally, the driver who caused the accident is legally liable for the bodily injury and property damage of the victim. But in the case of hit and run collisions, there is no at-fault driver to pursue for compensation. The question of how the bicyclist will recover for any injuries sustained from the accident--including financial recovery for damages such as lost wages and pain and suffering--looms large.

UNINSURED/UNDERINSURED MOTORIST COVERAGE

It will probably come as a surprise to most bicyclists (and drivers) that if they sustain injuries in an accident caused by a hit and run driver, they can recover from uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage if they carry such coverage on their motor vehicle. Georgia law does not require motorists to carry personal injury protection (PIP) or uninsured motorist (UM) or underinsured motorist (UIM) coverage. The only coverage that a motorist is required to carry is liability insurance which covers bodily injury and property damage.

However, motorists can carry UM/UIM coverage, which can be used in a variety of situations:

When the at-fault driver has no insurance;

When the at-fault driver has insurance but not enough coverage to fully compensate everyone who has been injured;

In a hit and run accident when no at-fault driver can be identified;

When a driver hits and injures a pedestrian or bicyclist.

If, for example, a bicyclist is injured in a hit and run accident but carries uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage on their own vehicle, they can recover for damages sustained from the accident under the terms of that insurance. The fact that the owner of the UM/UIM policy incurred the damages while on a bicycle rather than in the vehicle is irrelevant; the person can be compensated under both circumstances. In fact, UM/UIM coverage normally extends to a policy owner's spouse, relatives who live in the household, anyone using the vehicle with express or implied consent, and any guest who is riding as a passenger in the vehicle.

CONTACT YOUR ATTORNEY

If you or a loved one has been injured in a bicycle accident, contact Dave Thomas at The Thomas Law Firm for a free consultation of your legal rights. The Thomas Law Firm helps accident victims recover compensation for bodily injury, lost wages, medical expenses, and pain and suffering.

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Thomas Law Firm
Located at 945 East Paces Ferry Road, Resurgens Plaza, GA 30326.

Phone: (678) 264-8348.
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