What You Should Know About Bicycle Accidents
If you have been struck by a car or truck as a bicyclist, here are a few key points of information that you should know:
1. First, it is important to know that bicyclists are required to follow traffic laws just like any other vehicle on the road. In other words, as a bicyclist you have the same rights and duties as you have when you are the driver of a car or truck. Among other things, this means you must use appropriate hand signals for turns and lane changes. Also, you need to obey all traffic signs and traffic lights.
2. Most bicycle accidents happen at intersections and driveways. When riding on sidewalks and pedestrian crosswalk there are some special safety rules that apply to the bicyclist. In these areas a bicyclist has the same rights and duties as a pedestrian. Generally, all motor vehicles must yield to pedestrians and bicyclists at all intersections, crosswalks, and driveways. This is true for marked and unmarked crosswalks and intersections. When riding on sidewalks, you must give right of way to pedestrians and you must give an audible warning when passing pedestrians. Also, when you are in a pedestrian crosswalk or crossing a driveway, such as those at shopping centers and gas stations, you need to reduce your speed to that of an ordinary walk.
3. Injuries to bicyclist caused by other vehicles are often very serious and require extensive medical care. Your medical expenses might be covered by several different sources. If you or a family member in your household carry automobile insurance, you are automatically covered by the personal injury protection (PIP) portion of your policy. NOTE: While the state minimum requirement for medical coverage is $15,000, it is a good idea to ask about increasing your PIP medical coverage or a separate medical payments coverage under your auto policy. Be sure that if you are considering a non-PIP separate medical payments coverage that it includes bicycle accident injury.
4. If your medical bills exceed the PIP limits of your policy, and you have private health insurance, your private health insurance will generally cover the excess medical bills. In addition, the insurance policy for the car or truck that caused the injuries will cover any co-pays and deductibles under its PIP coverage. Finally, your settlement or verdict with the responsible driver should include money to pay for any unpaid medical expenses, now or in the future.
We are fortunate to live in Oregon where there is a supportive bike culture and there are so many great bicycling opportunities both in our cities and in our countryside. However, even when we take all the necessary precautions, accidents and serious injury happen altogether too often. And to add insult to injury, we are often faced with a biased public perception that bicyclists are to blame for their own accidents. However, bicycle travel whether for work or for play, does not mean that you give up your rights to justice.