Riding a bike is a popular way to get around, particularly during Florida’s more temperate months. Its popularity grew significantly during the first half of 2020 as the coronavirus pushed more people outdoors and changed people’s lifestyles. In cities like Naples, bike shops experienced a boom.
At the same time, Florida is an incredibly dangerous place to ride a bike. The National Highway Traffic Administration says deaths among Florida cyclists aged 20 and older tripled in the years post 1975.
One of the most common questions people ask after bike accidents is whether they have cover from their car insurance. Here’s what you need to know.
Who Pays if You Get in a Bike Accident with a Vehicle?
The vast majority of bike accidents in South Florida occur when there is a collision with another vehicle. Whenever you get into an accident with a car – whether it’s as a pedestrian or cyclist – you can count on auto insurance covering at least part of the costs of the accident.
The big question is: whose auto insurance foots the bill?
Florida is a no-fault state, which means both you and the driver will turn to your insurance companies.
Your Insurance Pays for Your Injuries
A common misconception regarding auto insurance is that it only covers your car or incidents involving your vehicle. However, the personal injury element of your auto insurance doesn’t just apply when you’re behind the wheel of your vehicle. It also applies when you’re on the road on your bicycle.
Your personal injury protection (PIP) will pay for any injuries you have if you get into a bike accident. Your policy will cover up to 80% of your treatment costs and 60% of lost wages.
However, you must prove your injuries or lost time were related to your bike accident. Usually, this is no problem, because if you get into an accident with a vehicle, you’re like to seek medical treatment immediately.
Even if you only have scrapes and bruises, it’s a good idea to get checked out the same day. Waiting longer means increasing the risk that your insurer could reject your injury claim.
“What if I don’t have insurance?”
If you don’t have insurance because you don’t have a car or you let your policy lapse, then you can file your claim – no matter how minor – under the responsible driver’s policy.
The Driver’s Insurance Pays for Catastrophic Injuries
So, what does the other driver’s insurance pay for?
Under Florida’s no-fault law, the other driver’s insurance pays for their injuries.
However, you may turn to their insurance if you suffer catastrophic injuries (such as disability or disfigurement) – or your family may ask their insurance to pay if the crash is fatal.
Even though Florida’s no-fault law directs you to your own insurance company first, you can still seek damages from the driver. You could do this even if you contributed fault to the accident. However, the amount available decreases as your role in the responsibility of the accident grows.
For example, if you were side-swiped by a car while cycling in the bike line in Key Biscayne, FL, then you can recover more than if you were hit by car in an intersection in Boca Raton, FL, after you failed to stop at a stop sign or red light.
Will Car Insurance Replace or Repair Your Bike?
Many cyclists see their bikes as an extension of their bodies. Looking at your new carbon fiber racing bike crumpled on the ground is incredibly painful. Repairing or replacing it is expensive. Who pays?
In theory, the driver’s auto insurance company will pay for damage done to your bike under the Property Damage Liability coverage. Your property may also include your helmet as well as the contents of your backpack if you carried one. You can even have your cell phone or wedding ring covered if damaged in the wipeout.
All drivers have at least $10,000 of Property Damage Liability coverage on your policy. The law considers it to be the minimum amount required for coverage.
Again, your insurance pays for your damages first, if you have it. If you’re a full-time cyclist without auto insurance at all, then you can seek compensation from the driver’s auto insurance.
What Are the Three Rules of Bike Accidents?
Auto insurance covers your accident whenever you collide with a car – regardless of who is at fault. While that sounds simple, filing a claim rarely is. There are three rules you should abide by when you get into a bike accident.
First, don’t admit fault on the scene. Collisions happen quickly, and very often, you may have no idea who is at fault until there is an investigation. So, don’t apologize and don’t ever admit fault – even if you’re sure you caused the accident.
Second, don’t accept a check for your bike off the bat, especially if you have a carbon fiber bicycle. You should always have the bike fully inspected – and the insurance company must pay – because otherwise, you risk dealing with an invisible crack that could even cause another accident.
In most cases, a carbon fiber bike frame needs replacing after an accident, even if it looks salvageable.
Third, hire a bike accident attorney to represent you. Property damage claims, in particular, are tricky when dealing with bikes. So, it is helpful to have the advice needed to ensure the insurer respects your rights.
Do focus on bike accident attorneys rather than a general car accident attorney. There are so many details that make bike accidents different from a typical car accident that you do need someone who knows the subject intimately.
Know Your Rights When on Your Bike
Bike accidents are increasing in South Florida.
Yet, too often, neither drivers nor insurers take cyclists seriously. Drivers take risks that they’d never take with a pedestrian, and insurers look for ways to avoid paying what you’re owed.
If you get into an accident with a vehicle, you do have insurance coverage. And you should aim to get the settlement you deserve.