Things to Know if You’re Injured by a Car While Biking in New Jersey
Biking is an eco-friendly way to get around—and a great way to get some fresh air and exercise. Unfortunately, not all drivers respect the safety of bikers, and negligent or distracted driving can easily put you in danger of serious injury.
If you’ve been hit by a car while biking, you may be left wondering about your next steps. We’ve put together some answers to common questions you might have so that you can make sure you receive all the benefits to which you are entitled.
How does New Jersey law classify cyclists?
New Jersey law is somewhat complex in how it classifies cyclists on the road. Cyclists in New Jersey are technically classified as “pedestrians,” since bicycles are propelled by muscular power. However, cyclists have many of the same rights and duties as drivers, which is important to note when it comes to issues of injury and liability.
What should I do if I’ve been struck by a car while biking?
If you are able to, you should carefully document the scene of the accident. Take photographs, talk to witnesses, and be sure to speak with any police officers who are dispatched to the crash scene. Properly documenting the crash will be important if you need to make a claim for injury or damage to your bike. If you are not able to get this information, enlist the help of someone who is able to do it for you.
If you are injured, you should get medical attention as soon as possible, especially if you sustained a head injury, are experiencing nausea, ringing in the ears, headache or any other symptom associated with a head injury.
Finally, you should contact an attorney and inform that attorney of all of the facts surrounding the accident. Working with an attorney can help ensure you’re treated fairly if you need to make an insurance claim or pursue damages from the person that caused the accident.
How will I know if I or my child has suffered a head injury?
Head injuries are among the most common and dangerous injuries that can result from a bike crash or collision.
Look for warning signs such as dizziness, headaches, double vision, nausea and vomiting, confusion, or memory loss. Any of these symptoms can be a sign that you or your loved one have suffered a concussion or other brain trauma and need to report to a hospital as soon as possible for a complete assessment.
How will my medical bills be paid?
New Jersey is a “no-fault” state, meaning that the medical expenses of each driver involved in an accident are covered through the driver’s insurance, regardless of who is at fault for the accident.
Although bikes are treated differently than cars by New Jersey law, cyclists who suffer injuries from collision with a vehicle may be covered by either their health insurance or their auto insurance P.I.P. benefits.
Ordinarily, P.I.P. benefits cover medical expenses from injuries suffered while driving an insured vehicle or while riding in an insured vehicle. However, there is legal precedent in New Jersey for insured drivers to receive P.I.P. benefits from their insurance company even if they were injured on the road while biking as “pedestrians.”
Can I claim additional damages?
If you or someone covered by your auto insurance plan is struck by a car while biking, it may be possible to make a claim or file a lawsuit for non-economic loss or pain and suffering—but this will depend on the specifics of your auto insurance policy.
Purchasers of auto insurance in New Jersey are automatically subject to the “Limitation on Lawsuit” (also known as the Lawsuit Threshold) unless they actively choose to “opt out” of this limitation, and those who do not opt-out must meet specific criteria before they can file a claim for non-economic losses. As such, we recommend that you opt-out of the Limitation on Lawsuit option when selecting an auto insurance plan.
Do I need to know who hit me?
Since New Jersey is a no-fault insurance state, you’ll still be entitled to the same benefits and coverage through your insurance if you’re involved in a hit and run and don’t know the identity of the driver.
You may also be able to pursue further damages for injuries or pain and suffering if your insurance plan includes uninsured or underinsured motorist benefits.