While riding a bike can be an environmentally friendly and healthy way to get from place to place, it can also be dangerous. In 2014, there were 5,827 bicycle/motor vehicle crashes resulting in 5,647 bicyclist injuries and 47 fatalities in the state of New York.
New York’s laws, however, make it complicated and sometimes difficult for injured bicyclists to receive compensation if they are injured in an accident with a motor vehicle. It is important to understand New York’s personal injury laws as they pertain to bicycle accidents and to consult an experienced personal injury attorney that can advocate on your behalf with insurance companies.
New York’s No-Fault Law
New York is one of 12 “no-fault” insurance states. This means that in New York parties are reimbursed by their insurance company regardless of who was at fault for the accident. However, no-fault insurance does not compensate for pain and suffering. Instead, it covers only “economic” losses, including:
- Medical bills
- Prescription drugs
- Lost wages
- Transportation to/from medical providers
These laws require drivers to carry insurance that meet these minimum requirements:
- $25,000/$50,000 bodily injury coverage per person
- $50,000/$100,000 death coverage
- $10,000 property damage per accident
Certain conditions must be met for no-fault insurance to apply:
- The accident occurred in New York.
- The injured party was a driver or passenger of an insured vehicle or a cyclist or pedestrian struck by an insured vehicle.
- The injured party cannot be a motorcyclist.
- The vehicle must be registered and insured in New York.
These laws were implemented in the 1970s to help expedite and simplify the process by which individuals could claim compensation. The intention was to reduce the necessity for adversarial litigation. In practice, however, these laws have strict requirements, including a 30-day deadline for filing a claim, that sometimes make it difficult for claimants to receive the benefits they deserve.
If you have been involved in an accident in the state of New York and want to file a no-fault insurance claim, it is critical that you reach out to a reputable personal injury attorney that can help you navigate the claims process.
Bodily Injury Lawsuits
In addition to filing a no-fault claim, however, you may also be able to file a lawsuit for bodily injury. If you are seriously injured in a crash, you may have the right to sue for compensation for your injury, including for any resulting pain and suffering. According to New York Insurance Law 5102(d), serious injury is defined as an injury resulting in:
- Significant disfigurement
- Broken bones
- Loss of a fetus
- Permanent loss of use of organ, member, function, or system of the body
- Permanent consequential limitation of use of body organ or member
- Non-permanent injury that prevents performance of daily activities for at least 90 of the 180 days following the accident
In contrast to the 30-day period permitted to file a no-fault claim, the statute of limitations for a negligence claim in New York is generally three years from the date of the accident (c.f. municipal claims and medical malpractice claims). Nevertheless, it is important to file a claim as quickly as possible, especially as essential records and evidence that might support your case can be lost during the intervening time.
As part of a bodily injury claim, you may be entitled to compensation for damages that could include:
- Current and future medical expenses
- Lost wages
- Lost future income
- Expenses for home maintenance, childcare, and other services you were unable to perform because of your injury
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Mental anguish
- Loss of quality and enjoyment of life
- Loss of consortium (i.e. damage to family or intimate relationships due to injury)
- Property damage
Although it may seem straightforward to deal with an insurance company on your own, keep in mind they are generally motivated to offer you as little as possible to resolve your claim. An experienced personal injury attorney can help ensure you get the maximum compensation possible under the circumstances.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a bicycle accident, contact Collins Gann McCloskey & Barry PLLC online or call us at (516) 218-5131 to schedule a free consultation.