Serving injured clients in Trenton, Princeton, Lawrence, Hamilton, and across the greater Mercer County area
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety keeps track of fatality statistics for various highway accidents, including bicyclists. Focusing on 2018 in particular, the data suggests some key facts for cyclists to consider while riding on the streets.
First, over 60% of the fatalities in 2018 were experienced while a cyclist was not wearing a helmet. Not all of these fatalities were necessary due to head injuries. However, the difference is relatively obvious and points to the fact that, in most cases, you are safer wearing a helmet than riding without one.
Second, 20% of the fatalities in 2018 occurred when a cyclist was intoxicated. Alcohol and drugs are well-known to have a negative effect on various motor functions and critical judgment and therefore increase the risk of harm during an accident.
Third and finally, bicycle fatalities occurred primarily from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. each day. More than half (54%) of accidents happened during these hours, in which visibility is most likely reduced due to darkness.
If you are in a bicycle accident with a motor vehicle in New Jersey or Pennsylvania, it is important to know how your medical bills will be covered and by whom. An attorney can help guide you through the process, which can be complex at times.
In New Jersey, who will pay my medical bills?
New Jersey’s car insurance system is unlike most other states in that it is a no-fault system. In many other states, the insurer for the driver at fault is expected to cover all injuries in an accident. Still, New Jersey requires car insurance policies to include Personal Injury Protection (PIP) coverage. The first source of compensation for any injured driver is their own policy’s PIP coverage.
While no-fault coverage means there is less of a need to determine fault in minor accidents, the no-fault system has some complicated features of its own. For that reason, it is still a good idea for anyone who has been injured in a car accident to contact a lawyer before accepting any settlements.
Normally, these laws would prevent you from suing for non-economic losses unless certain limits are met for the injuries you sustain. However, New Jersey uniquely requires that standard auto insurance policies include the right to purchase an unlimited right to sue, which allows you to sue for non-economic losses without limitation.
If you do not have an auto insurance policy that can cover you, whether it belongs to you or a relative in your household, then you generally have the right to sue. This is because you do not have PIP benefits to cover medical expenses regardless of fault, and as such, must seek compensation from liable parties in a bicycle accident. In these cases, the liable party’s PIP benefits will be used to pay for your losses.
Who pays my medical bills if I am in Pennsylvania?
When a pedestrian is struck by a motor vehicle, if that pedestrian owns a car, the insurance company for that vehicle will be responsible for the medical bills to whatever the medical limit is on that policy. If the cyclist does not own a car but lives with a resident relative who owns a vehicle, the insurance policy on that car will provide medical coverage up to its medical limits. If the cyclist does not own a car or live with a family member who does and is not covered by an automobile insurance policy, the cyclist can get his bills paid under the insurance policy issued to any of the drivers involved in the accident.
Sometimes more than 1 vehicle is involved in a car accident. The insurance policy on any of these vehicles can be looked to for medical coverage, even if that vehicle never made contact with the cyclist. This becomes important because some of the vehicles on the road are uninsured, so the cyclist can look to any of the cars involved in the accident to get their medical bills paid. The minimum coverage for medical bills in Pennsylvania is $5,000.00, and most of the policies are written with these limits in place.
The above answer seems counter-intuitive, but Pennsylvania is a no-fault state, meaning that if you are in a bike accident, the above are the priorities set out by the legislature as to how your medical bills get paid. Although this answer angers many people, slightly adjust the facts, making more sense. What if the cyclist turned in front of the car and caused the accident that injured him? Again, the same applies, and the cyclist’s own auto policy and/or a resident relative’s policy becomes primary for payment of medical bills.
What can Bikers do to stay safe?
Riding a bike is great exercise and an activity the whole family can enjoy. Like other activities, there are safety precautions you should take to avoid an injury or worse.
While injuries can happen anywhere, be especially cautious when riding on roadways where most bicycle-motor vehicle collisions occur. Follow these tips:
- Always wear an approved bicycle helmet (head injuries are the greatest risks for cyclists!)
- Obey all the traffic laws and use hand signals so vehicles know where you are headed.
- Wear protective and reflective clothing for the best visibility.
- Make sure your bicycle has a headlight if riding at night.
- At night, use a reflective vest and additional lights on the back of your bicycle to make sure you are seen.
- Keep your eyes and ears open. Avoid using headphones and smartphones. It would help if you focused on what is around you, and music can be distracting.
- More than 70 percent of bicycle crashes occur at driveways or intersections. Before you enter any street or intersection, check for traffic. Always look left, right, and left again before proceeding into the intersection.
- Obviously, never get on a bicycle if you are impaired, such as if you have been drinking alcohol.
Contact our Pedestrian Personal Injury Lawyers for a Free Consultation at our Little Falls Office
If you have been the victim of a bicycle accident or lost a loved one in a bicycle accident, all legal aspects of your physical, financial, and emotional losses must be considered to protect your rights and secure justice.
At The Law Office of Cohen & Riechelson, we pridefully represent clients in Trenton, Princeton, Lawrence, Hamilton, and across the greater Mercer County area. Whether you have suffered a personal injury or have been accused of injuring someone, do not let your injuries or an accusation of criminal wrongdoing change your life.
Contact Info our offices by calling (609) 528-2596 today for a free and confidential consultation to discuss your individual needs and concerns.