Do I Need an Attorney for Being Hit by a Car While Biking?
I was in the bike lane, the driver was making a right on green. I got hit and flew over the handlebars and landed on my hands. I was bleeding and have minor nicks on my face. I got the information of a witness, (name, number) and the name, number and plates of the driver. I filed a police report. The driver was driving with a suspended license, I went to the hospital to have my wrists bandaged and x-rayed. I’m 25 and still using my parent’s health insurance. I would like my bike fixed and my medical bills covered. Also, my right wrist is nearly immobile and the doctors are not sure if it is fractured but should know within the coming days.
While there are a number of questions that remain as to the liability of the driver of the car and, possibly, the bike rider, one of the important, initial issues to be solved is whether and, if so, which insurance carrier will be responsible for the bike rider’s accident related medical bills. In Florida, if the bike rider owns an automobile & has automobile insurance on his/her automobile, that automobile insurance carrier will generally provide Personal Injury Protection (“PIP”) coverage which is $10,000 (assuming no PIP deductible), unless the claimant did not suffer an emergency medical condition (“EMC”). The $10,000 in PIP coverage will generally be used to pay for 80% of any PIP-allowable charges for accident-related medical bills and 60% of gross wage losses – up to the PIP’s $10,000 policy limit. If the claimant is not found to have suffered an EMC, the $10,000 PIP policy limit will be reduced to $2,500. If the bike rider owns an automobile but it is not insured, the bike rider will not get his/her accident-related medical bills paid by any auto insurer. If the bike rider does not own an automobile, but resides with a relative (who owns an automobile and has PIP coverage on that automobile), the resident relative’s PIP coverage under his/her auto insurance will generally apply, unless the insurer was not aware that the bike rider was living with the resident relative (in which case that insurer may deny PIP coverage because of an alleged material misrepresentation by the insured not disclosing the bike rider residing with the policy holder). If the resident relative does not own an automobile, the bike rider should be able to get the owner of the at-fault automobile’s insurance company to extend PIP benefits under the at-fault driver’s PIP coverage.
If the bike rider’s parents’ health insurance pays for the bike rider’s accident-related medical bills, that health insurer will likely assert a subrogation lien against any recovery the bike rider makes to the extent of any recovery made (against the at-fault driver), up to the amount of accident-related medical bills paid by the health insurer.
Finally, in terms of the type of damages that can be recovered by the bike rider, there are 2 general types of compensatory damages – damaged aimed at compensating the bike rider for his/her economic damages (unpaid medical bills & unpaid wage loss) and non-economic damages (pain & suffering, mental anguish, inconvenience, disability/impairment and loss of the capacity to enjoy life’s pleasures. In order to be entitled to collect non-economic damages, a claimant must have suffered a permanent injury or a serious permanent disfigurement (scarring).
As you can likely appreciate, although an automobile vs. bicyclist accident appears very straight forward, there are a number of issues that are complicated and require a good-working knowledge of the law. As such, I would recommend that you contact an attorney in Tampa, FL to explore your legal options & to discuss the facts surrounding the accident in greater detail. In the meantime, keep the damaged bicycle & take photographs (particularly of the scene of the accident and any cuts, bruises, etc, that may change as time passes.
This legal question was provided by Avvo and answered by Dennis Morgenstern an experienced Tampa, Florida Motor Vehicle Accident Lawyer. This does not consent an attorney client relationship.