Hit and Run Bicycle Accidents
The Chicago bike injury attorneys of Zneimer & Zneimer, P.C. represent the victims and family members of bicyclists that were injured or killed in a collision involving a motorist that left the scene of the accident. Vulnerable road users, such a bicyclist and pedestrians are particularly susceptible to becoming a victim of a hit-and-run crash. Unfortunately, the reason for this is largely due to the fact that drivers may feel that they can easily escape a collision that involves a person who is bicycling or walking, without having to worry about the risk of being caught as a result of being chased by the victim.
Hit and run accidents are a huge concern in Chicago. According to the City of Chicago’s 2012 Bicycle Crash Analysis, on average there was at least one bicycle crash per day involving a hit-and-run motorist, and for pedestrians, the rate was double this amount. This data further shows that pedestrian and bicycle accidents, when combined, account for approximately two-thirds of all injuries and well over half of all fatalities associated with a hit-and-run crash occurring in Chicago. As personal injury attorneys, we find these figures to be astounding, especially when viewed in comparison to statewide and national statistics.
When a bicyclist is struck by a driver who leaves the accident scene, there are several concerning issues to take into consideration—both immediate and future. Immediately following the accident, the victim may be in a position where they are at risk of being struck by another motorist. In addition, if the accident occurs in less-populated or lower-traffic area, the victim may be unable to call for help, and therefore must wait for others to become aware of the situation so that emergency medical help can be dispatched. As a result, the victim may lose valuable minutes in obtaining medical treatment that might have potentially limited the extent of injury or prevented a fatality.
Following medical attention, victims of bicycling-related hit-and-run crashes, generally have a number of concerns, especially regarding how they will pay for existing and future medical bills. In some cases, a hit-and-run driver is ultimately identified, and when this occurs, the claim will be handled in a manner similar to other auto negligence cases. However, in other cases, authorities are unable to locate or identify the motorist or vehicle involved. Fortunately, the victim may have other means available from which to seek compensation.
If the bicyclist has an auto insurance policy, that includes Underinsured/ Uninsured Motorist Coverage, the victim may seek recovery for their damages through this means. Another source of compensation is through the victim’s homeowner’s or renter’s insurance policy. In most cases, the bicycle itself will be covered under property damage. However, entitlement to such coverage, for purposes of injury compensation, is often dependent on whether the homeowner or renter has included their bicycle under the liability portion of their policy.
If you do encounter the unfortunate event of being involved in a bike accident, and the driver responsible for the collision, fails to remain at the scene, then there are some important things that bicyclists should keep in mind. For example, if you are able, try to remember as much information as possible. While details such as the make, model, and color of the car can be highly valuable to investigators, any other details that you can remember may also be useful in identifying the motorist responsible for the collision. For bicycle collisions other than hit-and-run crashes, please view, What to do After a Bicycle Crash.
Because there may be many potential sources of compensation in a hit-and-run bike accident, it is important to consult with an attorney prior to making your own conclusions, or relying on what the insurance company may tell you about the availability of coverage.