George C. Palaidis
If a Florida bicyclist is injured in a crash, who pays the medical bills?
If a Florida bicyclist is injured in a crash with a motor vehicle, like a car or truck, what are their options to get the medical bills paid? Thankfully in Florida, bicyclists actually have a few options.
First things first, if you’ve been in a crash with a motor vehicle, get checked out! Injuries aren’t always apparent, and it might be a few days before you start
feeling pain after the adrenaline wears off. And while some injuries are quite obvious, like road rash and broken bones or worse, many injuries can be internal and only discoverable by diagnostic tests like MRIs. That’s why it’s important to get checked out.
But how will you be able to pay for all these medical bills?
If the bicyclist also owns a car, or lives with a relative that does, they should also have Personal Injury Protection (PIP) with their auto insurance. Under Florida’s “no fault” law, all of the parties in a crash turn to their own auto insurance policy and the mandatory PIP coverage that is included to cover any medical expenses. PIP covers the holder of the auto insurance policy, as well as any relatives living with that person.
But you might ask “how does my auto insurance cover me if I’m on a bicycle?” The way the law is written, PIP also covers “…other persons struck by the motor vehicle and suffering bodily injury while not an occupant of a self-propelled vehicle….” That means any pedestrian or bicyclist struck and injured by a motor vehicle driver would be covered by PIP. And if the bicyclist doesn’t own a car or live with family that does, the PIP coverage of the driver would then cover the bicyclist.
So what does PIP actually cover? With some exceptions and variations, PIP covers 80% of your medical bills up to $10,000. You have to seek treatment within 14 days of the crash, though, to have coverage so you can’t wait.
In many situations, especially car vs. bike, that $10,000 will go fast. In Florida, if you are permanently injured in any way, you can also make a claim against the driver’s bodily injury (BI) liability coverage of their auto insurance. These claims can cover medical bills as well as for pain and suffering.
Florida, though, doesn’t require drivers to carry BI insurance so there are many drivers who don’t carry it and are legally driving. There are also many drivers, especially in South Florida, that drive illegally by carrying no insurance at all. That’s why it’s so important for bicyclists to carry Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist (UM) protection as part of their own auto insurance policy.
While Florida requires that UM coverage be offered by insurance companies, it is often rejected by the person purchasing the policy. But the benefit of UM protection certainly outweighs the small cost of having this protection. UM coverage protects the injured person in the event that the driver who caused the crash and injuries has little or no BI insurance. Said another way, UM coverage steps into the shoes of the driver that caused your injuries and damages if that person has little or no BI liability coverage. In the hit & run situations that are unfortunately all too common in bicycle crashes, your UM coverage may be the only compensation you can get if the driver isn’t found.
As you can see, there are many ways for an injured bicyclist to get their medical bills paid while also ensuring that the at fault driver is at least held responsible for those injuries by covering those bills and compensating you for your pain and suffering. It is important to reach out to an attorney to help you through the process and make sure your rights are protected and you are properly compensated, but also an attorney that is a bicyclist just like you, who can cater to your unique needs and situation because they are out there on the road just like you.