I am an avid cyclist and bike accident lawyer, and I recently discovered an important blog entry posted by a bicycle accident lawyer in South Carolina.
It’s a “must-read” for ALL cyclists in Elmira, Corning and the Twin Tiers!
South Carolina bike accident lawyer, Peter Wilborn of Bikelaw Blog posted “7 Things You Should Know About A Cycling Lawyer” by Fred Sexton. I cannot thank Mr. Sexton enough for making these very good points about why cycling lawyers are so important for ALL cyclists.
Most of us who handle these cases devote countless volunteer hours supporting bicycle advocacy issues in our community. I long for the day when it will be safe for cyclists to simply ride their bikes. But until that day comes, you can be sure that bicycling lawyers will continue to fight the good fight.
Here is the complete post:
As a cyclist, you are part of a greater community of people who have a similar set of interests and values. You should know that as a member of that community, you have rights and resources that are meant to help and protect you while you are riding. In the case of an accident, here are some things you should know about cycling and the law, and the attorneys who relentlessly work to protect cyclists.
1. First and foremost, cycling attorneys are advocates for ALL cyclists. That means: commuters, racers, beginners, and advanced riders. If you ride a bicycle for any reason, for pleasure, for transportation, for sport, you should know these attorneys are looking out for your best interests.
2. Cycling lawyers will always recommend getting more UM/UIM (Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Insurance). Every cyclist should increase his or her UM/UIM coverage so if an uninsured or underinsured motorist hits you on your bike you are covered. (Talk to your cycling attorney about the laws that apply in each state!) Note: in NY, this coverage is often referred to as SUM (Supplementary Uninsured Motorist coverage). Same coverage, just a different name.
3. Cycling lawyers are here to protect you on the road. By going after the texting teenagers or the speeding sports car driver who hits you, you are sending a message to other drivers and also insurance companies. You are saying we aren’t going to take it anymore! Drivers and cyclists need to be mindful, drive carefully, and share the road. We both pay for it with tax dollars and we both need to obey the rules established on the road.
4. Lawyers that specialize in representing cyclists are probably cyclists too — and probably really nice! They understand the joys of cycling and the dangers as well. If you ride a lot, it is probably not a bad idea to get to know one. You may even be lucky and find one to ride with!
5. Did you know you may have rights against a homeowner whose dog bites you or knocks you off your bike? I’m not suggesting you ride around with kibbles and bits in your jersey. (Certainly avoid attracting attention of our four-legged friends when cycling if possible.) But I’ve heard of a number of people getting bitten or crashing to avoid getting bitten. Then, all too often, they get bitten without any recourse to the dog’s homeowner. You do have rights!
6. You should know that N.C. is one of only four states that follows the principle of contributory negligence. Meaning, if you are even just 1 percent at fault in an accident, (yeah, I know) then the driver’s insurance will try to avoid responsibility for your damages. But even if you think this could be your situation, if you are in N.C. (or any state) and get hit by a motorist, talk with a cycling attorney to see what your options might be.
Please note: The sixth point is NOT correct for bike accident cases in NY and PA, where our law is actually more favorable than the N.C. law he is talking about. In NY and PA, we have what is called pure comparative negligence (rather than the contributory negligence they have in NC).
Under pure comparative negligence, a defendant motorist is required to pay in direct proportion to the extent they are found to be at fault. For instance, if the motorist is found to be 100 percent at fault, he pays 100 percent of the verdict. If he is 50 percent at fault, he pays 50 percent of the verdict. If he is found to be 10 percent at fault, he pays 10 percent of the verdict.
7. Writing down license plate numbers for drive-by swooshes can be helpful in identifying aggressive drivers. (Always carry at least a marker with you while cycling.) As a community of cyclists, we are able to better police the streets if someone does plow you over when you are on your bike. If this driver has been reported before for erratic driving around cyclists, it makes the case much easier for you and your cyclist attorney. (There is a guy that rides aroundCharlottewith a video camera mounted on his bike at all times for this reason. Someone is in jail because of his video evidence. Without it, the defendant most likely would have gotten away.) If you are interested in installing a bike camera I recommend you look at getting a cycling camera mount to use with your existing video camera (like a flip) or get a whole new cycling camera system.
Cycling attorneys can be an enormous benefit to you as a rider and you should be aware that you have that resource at your disposal should you need it. Not only are these great lawyers required when an accident happens, they continue to advocate for cyclists and their rights when it comes to the road.
Please remember to ride safely!
Thanks for reading, Jim
James B. Reed
NY & PA Bicycle Accident Attorney
Ziff Law Firm, LLP
Toll-Free: 800-ZIFFLAW (943-3529)