I blogged just the other day about four ways auto insurance can protect you if you are hit by a car while on your bicycle. Actually, there is a fifth way I did not tell you about. Here it is: Hit-and-run insurance, a/k/a “uninsured motorist” coverage.
It’s pretty unusual for one motor vehicle to strike another one and take off from the scene of the accident. Even if that happens, the hit-and-run driver is likely to get caught if he takes his car in for repairs. The police will be canvassing local body shops and repair shops for cars that match the description of the hit-and-run vehicle.
But things are different when a car strikes a bicycle. There is usually little or no damage at all to the car (although the bike and cyclist are crushed!). The driver can easily just drive away. For example, a terrible car-on-bike hit-and-run happened a few years ago right near my hometown in Geneva, NY. The hit-and-run driver was eventually caught and prosecuted, but the bicyclist ended up losing his leg.
If you get hit on your bike by a hit-and-run driver, you need to call the police within 24 hours (if you can) and also, as soon as possible, report the “hit and run” to your own auto insurance carrier (or if you do not own a car, the auto insurance carrier for any family member you lives with). Under New York law, your own auto insurer will have to provide you with (1) no-fault insurance compensation (I discussed this in my blog the other day) and (2) something called “uninsured motorist” (“UM”) coverage. This kind of coverage is mandatory in New York and covers both the hit-and-run situation and when an uninsured vehicle hits you. You have to prove the uninsured or hit-and-run car was at fault. The mandatory UM coverage is $25,000. But if you have had the foresight to get Supplemental Underinsured Motorist (“SUM”) coverage, as I described in my blog the other day, then you will get even greater coverage to the tune of whatever your SUM limits are.
Take home message for today: If you are on your bicycle and are hit by an automobile – even if the driver takes off and can’t be identified — you are covered. You have to tap into your own auto insurance (or if you have none, the auto insurance of any relative who lives with you) to get that coverage. You will need a lawyer like me who handles New York bicycle accident claims to help you.
Finally, even if neither you nor any family member you live with owns a car, you can still get coverage by an entity known as MVAIC. I’ll blog about MVAIC next time . . .
Email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org I’d love to hear from you!
Syracuse NY Bicycle Injury Lawyers
Michaels & Smolak, P.C.