I have been blogging recently about how auto insurance protects bicyclists who are injured by automobiles. For my previous blogs on this subject, click here and here. In my last blog post, I discussed what remedies a bicyclist hit by a car has when the car either leaves the scene and cannot be identified (hit-and-run vehicle) or is uninsured. I said that the injured cyclist can claim both no-fault (basic medical expenses and lost wages up to $50,000 limit) and “uninsured motorist” benefits (pain and suffering compensation and any medical expenses and lost wages no-fault that go beyond the no-fault limit up to $25,000) from his or her own auto insurer or, if he does not own a vehicle, from the auto insurer for any relative who lives with him or her. And as I discussed in the previous blogs, if the injured cyclist has Supplemental Underinsured Motorist coverage in his auto policy, he will have even higher levels of compensation available.
Today I am going to discuss what happens in the same scenario, but where neither the cyclist nor anyone who resides with him owns a vehicle, and thus there is absolutely no auto insurance available. Is the injured cyclist completely without a remedy?
No! At least not in New York State. And here’s why:
Way back in the 50’s New York State created an entity to protect pedestrians and cyclists who find themselves in this very situation. The entity is called the Motor Vehicle Accident Indemnification Corporation (“MVAIC”). MVAIC provides automobile No-Fault insurance benefits as well as automobile liability (bodily injury) payments to qualifying New Yorkers injured in automobile accidents where there is no auto insurance at all available.
The completely uninsured situation is unusual because basic auto insurance as well as uninsured motorist coverage are required in New York. In other words, not only does New York require its car-owning citizens to have auto insurance on vehicles they own, it also requires that this insurance provide “uninsured motorist” coverage, which provides insurance benefits if you are hit by an uninsured or hit-and-run driver.
In my experience, just about the only scenario in which MVAIC is applicable (because no auto insurance is available) is where a pedestrian or a bicyclist is struck by a hit-and-run or uninsured vehicle AND the pedestrian or cyclist did not own a vehicle AND did not reside with a relative who owned one.
Thus, MVAIC is truly a “last-resort” insurer. In order to qualify for MVAIC benefits, you must prove that (1) you resided in New York at the time of the accident (but there are exceptions) ; (2) you got injured by an uninsured or hit-and-run vehicle; (3) you and any relative you live with has no auto insurance.
In addition, there are time requirements for MVAIC benefits. Unless you cannot do so, you must report the accident to the police within 24 hours. A document called a “notice of intention” must be submitted to MVAIC within 90 days of the accident if it was a hit-and-run, and within 180 days if the at-fault vehicle did not run off but was simply uninsured. (You will need a New York auto accident lawyer to handle this — it’s complicated!). The full list of requirements is set forth in Article 52 of New York Insurance Law.
Take home message for today: If a car hits and injures you while you are on a bicycle in New York, and you reside in New York, there is virtually NO SCENARIO IN WHICH YOU ARE NOT COVERED BY SOME KIND OF INSURANCE. The first resort is the insurance of the car that struck you. If that car has no insurance (which by the way is illegal) or takes off before it can be identified (also illegal), then the next resort is your own car’s insurance. If you have no car, the third resort is the auto insurance of any relative who lives with you. Finally, if no relative who lives with you has a car, your last resort is MVAIC.
Hurt in a cycling accident? Call us.
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Syracuse NY Bicycle Injury Lawyers
Michaels & Smolak, P.C.