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Auto Insurance: Not Just for Cars

SURPRISING STATISTICS

We hear a lot about the high number of motor vehicle crashes and deaths on our nation’s highways, but much less attention is paid to the other crashes and fatalities regularly occurring on our roadways: those of bicyclists and pedestrians. Nationwide, roughly 6,500 pedestrians and 900 bicyclists are killed every year as a result of collisions with motor vehicles. Taken together, those fatalities represent 14% of all highway deaths. The state of Georgia mirrors the nation; in 2014, 15.64% of overall roadway fatalities in Georgia involved a bicyclist or a pedestrian according to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration.

CRASHES: WHERE AND WHY

The majority of bicycle crashes with motor vehicles occur at intersections, driveways and other junctions. Many roadways do not have bike lanes, and are not equipped to accommodate bicyclists. Georgia law mandates a 3-foot passing distance between vehicles and bicycles, but this requirement is often not met. While Georgia law (and that of many states) classifies bicycles as vehicles, the existence of motor vehicles and bicycles on the same roads constitutes an unequal and uneasy pairing.

The majority of motor vehicle crashes with pedestrians occur not necessarily at a particular place, but for a particular reason: a failure to yield by either the motor vehicle or the pedestrian. Cars fail to yield or stop completely at crosswalks, or attempt to go around pedestrians in the crosswalk. Conversely, pedestrians try to cross the street even though a “don’t walk” sign is flashing. However, a “don’t walk” signal and a green light does not give a motor vehicle the right-of-way to make a right turn; it still must yield to a pedestrian crossing the street. Jaywalking is legal in many areas, but pedestrians must still yield to traffic. These are common sense rules, but they often get ignored, resulting in accidents and injuries.

AUTO INSURANCE COVERAGE

Most people do not think of automobile insurance covering crashes between motor vehicles and bicycles and pedestrians. But they should, because many policies do. By definition, auto insurance covers auto-related harms that people may suffer—whether in a car, on a bicycle, or as a pedestrian. Uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage applies to more than hit-and-run accidents, more than drivers without insurance, and more than drivers without enough insurance; it can apply to motor vehicle accidents with bicycles and pedestrians.

If hit by a car while riding a bicycle, both the car’s insurance and the bicyclist’s auto insurance policies can come into play. This can be extremely important because the injuries sustained in motor vehicle crashes with bicycles can be severe, and the damages sought extensive: medical bills and rehabilitation costs, lost wages, lost opportunities, emotional distress, permanent impairment, pain and suffering, and loss of consortium are common examples of damages sought and recovered.

The liability provisions under auto insurance policies can provide coverage for injured third parties, including pedestrians hit by motor vehicles in crashes. While most people look to their health insurance to cover medical costs of an injury, it is important to recognize that when injuries are caused by a motor vehicle crash, the medical payments coverage of auto insurance can sometimes provide needed extra monetary help.

The process of determining insurance coverage, particularly when fault in an accident is one of the deciding factors, is never easy. Hiring an experienced personal injury attorney is imperative to ensuring the best outcome for the injured party.

CONTACT YOUR ATTORNEY

If you or a loved one has been injured in a crash involving a motor vehicle, contact Dave Thomas at The Thomas Law Firm for a free evaluation of your legal rights.

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

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