If I hit a pedestrian on my bike, what insurance covers me?

Although it is a rare occurrence, but a bicyclist’s negligence may result in personal injury to a pedestrian. The health insurance of the injured pedestrian may be sufficient to pay for their medical bills, but they may pursue a claim for income loss, pain and suffering, and additional medical costs that are not covered by their healthy policy.

Unlike motor vehicle insurance, a bicyclist is not required to maintain a liability insurance policy. Therefore, the usual car insurance policies will not apply. However, as a cyclist, you could have some liability coverage under your renter’s insurance or homeowner’s insurance policy. These policies usually include up to $100,000 worth of liability coverage.

Umbrella policies from most insurance companies offer additional liability protection to you, which could adequately cover your damages if you injure a pedestrian due to your negligence.

Should You Consider Specialty Insurance as a Cyclist?

With the growing popularity of cycling, a niche insurance market has come up to protect bikers against risk. Some insurance companies offer specialty insurance policies designed only for cyclists. Whether you need this additional policy may depend on your current insurance coverage and your overall income and assets.

Insurers that provide this specialty coverage for bicyclists may offer basic policies that cover any loss or damage to your bike. In addition, you can buy liability coverage and medical payments coverage, if you do not have it already. If you are carrying a bike rider on your renter’s policy or homeowner’s policy already, you may not necessarily need additional coverage.  

Determining Fault

In an accident between a pedestrian and a cyclist, it is important to determine which party failed to carry out their duty of care. The court will not assign fault to the cyclist simply because a pedestrian was hit. They will apply the laws of negligence to both parties involved in the crash, and assign fault after evaluating who failed in their duty of care.

In many accidents involving a cyclist and pedestrian, only one party may be held liable for the other’s injuries. But sometimes the court may determine that both parties contributed to the accident. For instance, if the pedestrian suddenly entered the bicycle lane outside of an intersection and the biker hit them, the biker may claim that the duty of care was breached by the pedestrian.

In this same example, if it is found that the bicyclist had failed to maintain the bike property or was riding with faulty tire pressure, which led to a higher braking distance, the biker could be held partly responsible for the pedestrian’s injuries.

A Biker’s Duty of Care

Bicyclists are required exercise a reasonable duty of care when riding. A biker could breach this duty of care in several ways and if their negligence results in a pedestrian’s injuries, they could be held liable. Here are some of the actions that could constitute a bicyclist’s negligence:

  • Failure to yield the right of way to a pedestrian
  • Riding while using a cellphone or another distraction
  • Running a stop sign or a red light
  • Failure to maintain the bike
  • Disregarding traffic control markings on the road
  • Not using the mandatory safety gear
  • Riding in poor visibility without proper bike lighting
  • Riding while intoxicated

A Pedestrian’s Duty of Care

Just like a bicyclist, a pedestrian too owes a reasonable duty of care to others on the road and sidewalks. The care and attention that a pedestrian is expected to exercise will be in proportion to the degree of danger that needs to be avoided. Some of the actions that may constitute negligence on part of the pedestrian include:

  • Failure to use marked crossroads
  • Disregard of traffic signal at the intersection
  • Attempting to cross the road despite oncoming traffic
  • Failure to walk in the designated area (such as a sidewalk or the side of the road facing oncoming traffic where there is no sidewalk)
  • Crossing the road while intoxicated

The duty of care a pedestrian is expected to exercise will also sometimes depend on the circumstances. For instance, in inclement weather conditions, it may be harder for a pedestrian to clear notice their surroundings.

As a biker, if you believe your accident with a pedestrian occurred due to their negligence, you should speak to an experienced personal injury lawyer to protect your rights.

Consult with a Knowledgeable Bicycle Accident Attorney

Accidents involving a bicyclist and pedestrian can be unique, and you will need expert legal advice from an attorney who understands the local laws and the nuances of these cases. The seasoned personal injury lawyers at Shapiro, Appleton & Washburn can provide you excellent support and will work hard to help you achieve the best possible outcome. Call us at 800-752-0042 today to set up a consultation to evaluate your claim.

References:

https://www.hsinjurylaw.com/practice_areas/bike-injuries-crosswalk-injuries.cfm

https://www.hsinjurylaw.com/practice_areas/bicycle-bike-accident-injury-lawyers-serving-virginia-beach-chesapeake-norfolk.cfm

https://www.hsinjurylaw.com/practice_areas/pedestrian-crosswalk-injury-lawyers-serving-virginia-beach-norfolk-chesapeake.cfm

Richard N. Shapiro
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Personal Injury & Wrongful Death Lawyer Serving Va Beach, Norfolk, Chesapeake & all of Virginia
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