BICYCLE CRASH

“CASE RESULTS DEPEND UPON A VARIETY OF FACTORS UNIQUE TO EACH CASE, AND DO NOT GUARANTEE OR PREDICT A SIMILAR RESULT IN ANY FUTURE CASE”

Policy Limit Settlement For Bicyclist Struck By Hit And Run Driver

Attorney: Gregory Sandler

Location: Virginia Beach, VA

What Happened:

Cycling is, and can be, a source of recreation, exercise and transportation. In Virginia Beach, there is an awful lot to see and enjoy on a bicycle, that you can’t really enjoy by car. However, those of us who live here know that there was a particularly perilous stretch of road on Shore Drive, where drivers need to be careful in sharing the road with cyclists.

In June of 2011, my client, a regular cyclist, and employee of the United States Navy, was engaged in her morning route of cycling for exercise along Shore Drive in Virginia Beach. For reasons that we will never know, a driver in a black mercedes, according to a witness, came up from behind the client in the same direction, failed to move over to give her room and passed her close enough for the right side mirror of the car to crash into her, sending her off the roadway into the adjacent trees. The impact was enough to knock the mirror from the car. However the negligent driver hit and ran, leaving our client alone, injured in the trees. She crawled to the side of the road and a passing motorist helped her get to Fort Story, where an ambulance took her to the hospital.

The damage was severe. The client suffered a comminuted fracture of her L3 vertebra and a fracture of her L1 vertebra, as well as a broken ankle. Surgical corrective measures were performed and she remained in a back brace for months, trying to heal both her back and her ankle. 

The only source of recovery for this cyclist was her own automobile policy under the uninsured motorist provisions. Virginia Code Section 38.2-2206 requires that all policies written for vehicles garaged in Virginia contain a provision that requires them to cover all damages which might be awarded as a result of the use of an automobile. The limits of this policy for this client were $50,000.00 and I made a claim on her behalf for that sum. Needless to say, when there is no other driver known, the insurance company will take every opportunity to claim that the cyclist’s crash was entirely her fault, simply running off the road. Our ability to secure the witness who saw a black vehicle driving away, and the presence of the mirror at the scene, allowed us the ability to demand and receive the total limits of the client policy as a $50,000.00 SETTLEMENT.

Lesson:

When one generally buys auto insurance, agents customarily tell you that you are buying “Full Coverage”. However that only means that you have met the minimum limits for liability coverage required by Virginia to drive a car, $25,000.00. By statute, the limits of your uninsured motorist coverage equal your liability coverage unless you elect lower limits. In order to adequately protect you, your family and other persons in YOUR car, from substantial injury caused by someone else, YOU SHOULD INCREASE THE LIMITS OF YOUR POLICY. The cost for increased coverage DOES NOT go up proportionately, so ask for, and buy, additional coverage, as you may need it one day, if someone causes you injury and leaves the scene.