The bicyclist who was victim in a hit-and-run last fall in Chapel Hill is the latest example of the risks bikers take in sharing the road with cars and trucks. According to local police, the biker was pedaling north on the 500 block of Hillsborough Street close to Bolinwood Drive when the driver of a small light-colored SUV attempted to pass. Unfortunately, the driver hit the cyclist, perhaps damaged his or her front end, but did not stop to lend assistance or share information. The injured biker was taken to a UNC Hospital, but is not being identified at this time. The victim’s injuries don’t appear to be life threatening.
Fortunately, most vehicle drivers are honest and level-headed enough to not flee the scene of a crime, particularly when there is an injury. While there are no statistics on the number of hit and runs involving bicycles, The North Carolina Department of Transportation’s report on bike crashes states that there were 1024 accidents across North Carolina in 2012 with more than two-thirds occurring in urban settings. This total includes 39 disabling injuries and 27 fatalities.
If the suspected driver flees the scene of the crime, there are the three steps the bicyclist victim needs to take to protect their rights.
If you are able to do so, dial 911 as soon as possible to report the accident to the police. North Carolina law requires that the police must be notified of a hit-and-run accident within 24 hours.
Notify your insurance agent. If the biker doesn’t have auto insurance, they may have purchased a bike policy. Often, however, an auto insurance policy offers coverage even when you are on a bicycle. Because the biker was struck by a car, insurance companies usually consider it an auto accident if the victim has uninsured motorists’ coverage, which covers hit and run.
Finally, it’s important to remember to not fix the bike, or to at least take pictures of the damaged bike before fixing it. This will help the insurance company to determine the proper compensation for repair or replacement costs.
If you, your child or someone you know was in a hit and run accident while riding a bicycle, you may want to seek recompense for personal injury or property damage. While those in a car have a much lesser chance of getting injured in the accident, the bicyclist still may be at fault, particularly if they are not following proper traffic laws. An attorney with personal injury experience and biking can be a tremendous asset in determining fault and recouping money from insurance companies for property damages, paying medical bills, or getting you compensated for lost wages.