Confessions of a Frustrated Cyclist Attorney

If anyone out there ever reads my articles, thank you. I say “if,” because despite my regular articles attempting to educate all who cycle on our roads—Roadies, recreational cyclists, and triathletes—there seems to be a never ending supply of cyclist/accident victims who don’t yet understand the vital importance of having GOOD uninsured/underinsured motorists’ (UM/UIM) limits on their auto insurance policy. Because we choose to put ourselves at risk riding bikes and jogging/running/training on some of the most congested roads in the country, we owe it to ourselves to carry limits on our auto policy for UM/UIM of, at the very least, $100,000, and more if your budget allows. Why? Because when you are injured by a driver while on your bicycle, or as a pedestrian, your auto insurance policy is directly involved. Florida law says your auto policy applies not just when you are driving or riding in a motor vehicle, but WHEN YOU ARE IN AN ACCIDENT INVOLVING A MOTOR VEHICLE. You don’t have to be in your car, or, for that matter in a car at all; you just have to be injured by a motor vehicle.

Unfortunately, most irresponsible drivers who run us down are not responsible about having adequate liability coverage on their policy, which is where you first look for damage recovery after being struck. This is where having good UM/UIM coverage saves you, because it acts as additional liability insurance for the bad driver when your injuries aren’t adequately compensated by that driver’s insurance. Your coverage applies in two instances: when the driver at fault has no insurance (one in four on the road have none), but also where they don’t have enough to compensate you for your injuries.

Your PIP coverage, the no fault part of your policy that pays the first $10,000 of your medical bills, regardless of fault, also applies when injured by a motor vehicle while riding your bike, as well as if you’re struck while walking or jogging.

This coverage is too valuable not to have. Make it your number one to-do to review your auto policy, and get the highest amount of UM/UIM you can afford. No one wants to be injured, but we have seen time and again during this past year, that some of us will be, despite taking all reasonable precautions. Be sure, if you have an accident, you have provided adequate coverage for yourself. Don’t count on the idiot behind the wheel to be ready to take care of your financial needs.

If you are confused, or not sure what you should do, reach out to me, I’ll be happy to help you make sure you get adequate coverage. I am not an insurance agent, but after forty years representing injured athletes, I know what you need to protect yourselves. Please don’t wait to review your auto coverages until you are injured; you cannot change the limits for an injury that’s already occurred.

Steps to Take If You or a Friend Is Struck by a Motor Vehicle While on Your Bicycle

1. Take photos: of your bike, of the vehicle, of the location prior to movement, of the vehicle’s license tag, and of other eyewitnesses/fellow cyclists (so you don’t forget who was there). And quickly transfer these photos to the cloud or other safe place; leaving them on your phone makes them safe only until you lose or destroy the phone; don’t take this risk.

2. Seek immediate medical attention, even if not transported to an ER, make immediate plans to be seen by a doctor—not your primary care doctor, who will run the other way as soon as they hear it’s an accident case. Under Florida law, understand two things: first, when on your bike and struck by a motor vehicle, your own auto insurance comes into play, including the portion that pays your medical bills (PIP), even if the driver was at fault, and potentially your uninsured/underinsured motorists’ coverage; and second, that under Florida law, if you do not see a doctor and have your injury and EMC (emergency medical condition) declared within fourteen days of the date of accident, your auto PIP will only pay a maximum of $2,500, not the $10,000 you purchased under your PIP coverage for medical care. Is that fair? No! Is it the law? Yes!

3. DO NOT give a recorded statement to the at fault party’s insurance rep/adjuster without me, or another attorney looking out for you, present and participating. It’s a one sided game: they always want you to give a recorded statement, but NEVER allow their insured to give one to us. You do have an obligation to communicate with your own carrier, but even then, I always advise your attorney be on that call as well.

4. DO NOT post any information about your accident or your injuries and care on social media. You must assume anything you say will be a part of the at fault party’s file on you. Many of my athlete clients make the mistake of talking about future races, how great they are healing, neither of which may in reality come to pass, but once posted, it’s there for them to use against you. We are all positive self motivators, and believe if we say something long and often enough, it will be reality. Don’t let such “positive speak” be the death knell of your legitimate injury claim.

This type of information can be invaluable to you or your fellow athlete training partners. Make a copy of this article and keep it in your fanny pack; share with your friends. If you or they need it, this information can make the difference in whether or not you will be able to protect yourself from the reckless drivers we see on the road daily.
Be safe out there!