Many people in New Jersey and Pennsylvania ride their bicycles back and forth to work, for recreation, and to save money on the rising costs of gasoline. While cycling is a fun and healthy activity, it can lead to serious or fatal injuries. If you or a loved one sustained serious or fatal injuries in a Pennsylvania or New Jersey bicycle accident, you may have bicycle accident insurance options available to pay for your medical bills.
What insurance might I be able to use in a Pennsylvania bike accident?
If you carry car insurance, you will be eligible to receive first party benefits, known as personal injury protection (PIP) benefits, to cover your medical expenses from your bicycle accident injuries.
You may also be eligible to file a lawsuit if you can prove that the driver was at-fault for your injuries.
How do PIP benefits work?
Pennsylvania is a choice no-fault state, which means drivers must first turn to their own PIP coverage to pay their medical faults. Fortunately, Pennsylvania’s no-fault laws do not apply to bicycle accidents. If you can prove that the other driver was at fault for your injuries, you may be eligible to sue him for compensation for your injuries.
However, if you were at fault for the accident, you can use your PIP benefits to pay your medical bills and lost wages. Under Pennsylvania law, all drivers must have a minimum of $5,000 in PIP coverage.
Family Member’s Benefits
If you do not have car insurance, but reside with a relative that does, you can use your family member’s PIP benefits to pay for your medical expenses.
For example, if you live with your mom, and she has $6,500 in PIP coverage, her coverage will pay $6,500 towards your medical bills.
Do I have options if I have exhausted my PIP benefits?
Things get a little more complicated when you sustain an injury in a bicycle accident and your medical bills exceed the PIP coverage amount. If you have health insurance, you can look to your health insurance to pay the difference in medical expenses after you have exhausted your PIP benefits.
What if the driver was at fault? Can I sue him for damages?
As stated above, yes, you are able to sue the at fault driver for damages. In addition, under Pennsylvania law, you will be able to sue for both economic and noneconomic damages.
Many Pennsylvanians are unaware that the insurance they carry (i.e., limited tort or full tort) does not extend to bicycle accidents. For example, if you sustained injuries in a car accident and had limited tort insurance, you would only be able to recover compensation for medical bills and lost wages unless you could prove you sustained a serious injury.
Up until 2004, this was true for bicyclists as well; however, lawmakers decided that both pedestrians and cyclists who sustain injury in an accident retain the right to full tort coverage.
With full tort coverage, you are able to sue for noneconomic damages such as pain and suffering, in addition to medical bills and lost wages.
Note: You are only eligible to sue if you can prove that you were less than 51 percent at fault for your injuries. If you are 52 percent at fault, you are ineligible to sue for compensation.
What are my options after a New Jersey bike accident?
New Jersey follows a choice no-fault system in which drivers must choose between a standard or basic policy. If you choose the basic policy, you must prove that your injuries are “serious” to sue for pain and suffering. If you choose a standard policy, you have the option to purchase unlimited or limited right to sue.
In New Jersey, even if the driver who hit you was at fault for the accident, you still must turn to your own PIP benefits to pay for your injuries and lost wages. Like Pennsylvania, if you do not have car insurance, you can use a family member’s insurance to pay your medical bills, up to his coverage limit.
If you do not have car insurance, you can use your health insurance to pay your medical bills, but that is not your only option. If you are uninsured or the other driver fled the scene, you may be able to file a claim with the New Jersey Unsatisfied Claim and Judgment Fund. You must be sure to give notice within 180 days or you will not be eligible to receive any compensation.
The Other Driver
You may be eligible to sue the other driver if you can prove that you suffered serious injuries and that the other driver was at least 51 percent at fault for your injuries.
Under New Jersey law, serious injuries include:
- Permanent injury to a body part of body function
- Loss of a fetus
- “Significant disfigurement or scarring”
- Broken bones
Can I receive help with my insurance claim?
If you are thinking that this all sounds pretty complicated, you are right. Run your case by a bicycle accident attorney that practices in both Pennsylvania and New Jersey to ensure that you understand your rights and that you are doing everything you can to preserve your right to the money you need and deserve.
At Cordisco & Saile LLC, we represent the victims (and family members) of Pennsylvania and New Jersey bicycle accidents. We can help you navigate the insurance process and can stand up for your rights when you or a loved one sustains serious injury through another person’s negligence.
You do not have to go through this alone; we want to help you get the compensation you deserve.