There is very little that can be more dangerous to an individual than being hit by a motor vehicle when you are riding your bike or simply walking across the street. The average car made in the Untied States weights approximately two (2) tons. That is 4000 pounds. The average adult male weighs in at approximately 189.8 pounds. You do the math and think how devastating the injuries that could result, assuming one is not killed, which is the other scenario available to us here.
So what happens if you are unfortunate enough to be in one of the two categories listed: bicyclist or pedestrian, and hit by a car in New York? Well, there are two issues to deal with: one that has to do with getting treatment for your injuries and one that has to do with getting compensated for your injuries, pain, and even lost wages from work. And while there are legal distinctions between bringing a lawsuit as a pedestrian and bringing it as a bicyclist, the law in New York treats a pedestrian and bicyclist the same under certain provisions.
GETTING MEDICAL TREATMENT AND LOST WAGES
New York is what is known as a “no fault” state, meaning that if you are injured in a car accident, someone who was at fault will not be taken in to account so that you can get medical treatment and are compensated for lost wages. This is called “basic economic loss.” Pedestrians and bicyclists are treated the same under no-fault law in New York under most circumstances so getting treatment is the most important first step.
In order to collect no-fault, you should stick to the rule that when applying and filing the paperwork sooner is better but try and never go beyond 30 days after the accident. As with any rule there are exceptions but keeping to this time frame is best. There is also a rule that you file a claim with the insurance company of the car that hit you. Again, there are exceptions to the rule in cases where say it was a hit and run accident or the motor vehicle that hit you was uninsured. New York law requires that every insured driver carry a minimum of $50,000 for basic no-fault coverage for injured parties.
BRINGING A LAWSUIT
Now that you have started the process to get payment for your treatment and lost wages, what happens next? Personal injury actions carry a three (3) year statute of limitations in New York. But if you were hit and injured by a bus or other municipal vehicle, you need to file what is called a Notice of Claim within 90 days of the accident. So, watch out for that time limitation. Now, proving a case against the driver of the motor vehicle is very different if you were a bicyclist rather than a pedestrian.
If you are riding a bicycle in New York, you are considered a “vehicle” under the law so as a result you must follow the same laws while “driving” your bike. These requirements are located under the VTL (Vehicle and Traffic Law) section 1238. Now, some of the issues that may come up if you were injured riding your bike is whether you did anything to help cause the injuries you sustained. For example, bicyclists over the age of 14 are not required to wear a helmet. But if you suffered a head injury the attorney for the motor vehicle driver could try and use that against you. That is why it is important to have an attorney that understands the law and knows how to protect your rights accordingly.
Being injured as a pedestrian is not as cut and dry as it may seem either. Attorneys for the operators of motor vehicles often try and downplay their liability by pointing out “facts” about how the accident happened to show that you contributed in some way to the cause. For example, if you were jay walking and not within the confines of a cross walk when you were hit. It can be a confusing process: filing for no fault, getting treatment, and filing a lawsuit. You need to know that you have a lawyer in your corner that can help you with all aspects of your case. You can trust that we are those lawyers. You can rely on us. Contact us.