As a bicyclist, you have the same rights on the road as a motor vehicle, but California law isn’t going to get in between you and an angry driver. Road rage can range from rude and crude remarks and gestures to physically aggressive acts with a driver using his or her vehicle as a weapon. Severe injuries or death can result.
Accidental Injuries and Aggressive Driving
We see aggressive drivers just about every day, especially if we drive on a freeway on a daily basis going to and from work. They drive at dangerous speeds, tailgate other drivers and weave in and out of traffic without checking blind spots or signaling. Simple common sense tells us to get out of their way, and stay out of their way for our own safety. When road rage manifests itself as aggressive driving that results in a crash with a bicyclist, the law of negligence is likely to apply. Assuming that aggressive driving was the cause of a crash and injuries to a bicyclist, the motorist’s auto insurance company might dispute liability and damages, but ultimately a jury can render an award, and a judge can compel that insurance company to pay the verdict amount.
Intentional Acts and Violence
Every bicyclist on the road is exposed and vulnerable to serious injuries. Even the best helmet on the market only reduces the risk of a traumatic brain injury by about 50 percent when fitted and worn properly. So is an auto insurance company on the hook when its insured person intentionally hits a bicycle and fractures the cyclist’s skull?
An Insured Motorist Might Become an Uninsured Motorist
The general rule is that an auto insurer has no duty to defend it’s insured person or pay damages that the insured person caused as the result of an intentional act. Without this rule, California freeways and highways would turn into 250,000 miles of bumper car amusement roadways. California courts have wrestled with and carved out exceptions to this general rule, but in the case of motor vehicle versus bicycle, coupled with the bicyclist’s vulnerability to severe injuries, the general rule will probably be applied. The tragedy of applying that general rule is that for all intents and purposes, it leaves the motorist uninsured and the bicyclist victim without any recourse against the motorist.
Uninsured Motorist Insurance
If an auto insurer denies coverage for injuries that were intentionally caused by its insured person, and the victim bicyclist owns a motor vehicle and carries uninsured motorist insurance (UM), a viable claim exists with his or her own auto insurance coverage. Most UM polices cover an insured person who was injured through the fault of a motorist while riding a bicycle, even if it was a hit-and-run accident. With about 15 percent of all California drivers being uninsured, we recommend that you get as much UM protection as you can afford. It even covers you as a pedestrian, and you never know when you’ll need it.
Making the Claim
You’ll make the UM claim with your own insurer. It then “steps into the shoes” of the motorist’s insurance company. Expect to be treated as if you are dealing with the driver’s insurance company too. It doesn’t matter if you’ve been paying premiums for 15 years. You’re not going to feel as if you’re with a very good neighbor or in good hands at all. Without a quality California bicycle accident law firm behind you, you’ll experience delays, and you’ll be treated with disdain. You won’t get very far at all, and you’re likely to make mistakes along the way that a judge won’t allow you to fix. We don’t make those mistakes.
Contact Bay Area Bicycle Law
Bay Area Bicycle Law is the only personal injury law firm in Northern California to specialize exclusively in representing injured bicyclists. Whether you were a bicyclist who was injured in an aggressive accident or intentionally, contact us as soon as possible to arrange for a free consultation and case review. UM claims and litigation are highly complex. Don’t give a statement of any kind to an insurance company until you’ve talked with us. That insurer will only try to use your statement against you in the future. Don’t worry about monthly legal bills either. We take these types of cases on a contingency fee basis, so no legal fees at all are due unless we obtain a settlement or verdict for you. Contact us right away after being injured in any bicycle accident with a motor vehicle.