In theory, state traffic laws help protect cyclists in many ways from the risk of a crash with a motor vehicle. Every driver in California should do their best to safely share the road with cyclists. They also have an obligation to carry insurance on their vehicles in case they cause crashes. Personal injury law also permits those hurt in a preventable wreck to file a lawsuit for their losses.
Unfortunately, many people would prefer to avoid taking responsibility for their own bad decisions. Despite state law that makes it very clear that drivers have an obligation to stop when they cause a collision that hurts someone else, as is almost always the case when a motor vehicle strikes someone on a bicycle, some people will drive off and flee the scene of a crash.
What protects a cyclist in a hit-and-run where the driver at fault for a crash flees the scene?
State law can help
You know you have to remain at the scene of the crash unless you need emergency medical care to file a police report. When you follow your obligations as someone affected by a collision, you may receive some support from the police.
Although most hit-and-run cases go unsolved, there may be traffic cameras or witnesses that could help track down the driver who caused your collision and left you injured. If so, then you will potentially have the right to bring a claim against their insurance coverage or even to file a civil lawsuit against them.
What if your hit-and-run crash is like many such collisions and the police are unable to locate the driver that hit you?
If you have a car, your insurance can help
Although not every cyclist in California is also a driver, many are. If you have a motor vehicle insurance policy and carry uninsured motorist protection, you could file an insurance claim against your own policy after a hit-and-run collision. Using your motor vehicle insurance can be preferable to using health insurance to cover crash-related costs, as you may not have a large deductible or coinsurance required of you as is standard with many health insurance policies.
Considering situations that leave you vulnerable, like a cycling crash where you can’t make an insurance claim, can help you better protect yourself against whatever life may throw you.