The tragic news about Carol Schreder brought a lot of responses this morning.
One of the most moving was exchange of emails with a 40-year friend of Carol’s, telling me how loved she was by everyone who knew her.
She was the most wonderful of friends in every way. None of us can hardly find a single thing to complain about her — some little irritating habit that we couldn’t stand? Not a one. She was pure gold and we are so terribly heartbroken. I can’t imagine she is not here to comment on life, politics, bike riding, good movies.
Another exchange came from South Bay attorney Seth Davidson of CalBikeLaw.com discussing a few issues raised by the tragedy — including the importance of having your own insurance coverage in case anything should happen while you’re riding.
And yes, you can get insurance that covers you on the bike. In fact, if you own a car, you probably already have it.
But I’ll let Seth explain.
CalBikeLaw.com sees the results of car-bike collisions daily, everything from trashed bikes to people who are never going to walk again to people whose last moment on this earth was pedaling a bicycle. What follows is some advice that I hope you’ll heed.
You may think that if you’re in a bike-car collision, you’ll be able to recover money from the driver as long as the driver is insured. What you may not know is that in California the minimal insurance for accident liability is $15,000. What you also may not know is that an estimated 85% of the drivers on the road have only this minimal coverage.
This means that the money you can recoup from the careless idiot who takes you out while he’s texting his girlfriend will be completely used up on the life flight trip to the hospital, and once your expenses exceed the $15k that most drivers carry, you’re done. There is no other “pot of money” in most cases from which to collect damages for lost earnings, pain and suffering, future medical care, or even to replace your fancy road rig.
That’s what happens when you get hit by someone with no insurance, or with a very small liability policy. Imagine how hard it is as a lawyer to tell someone who’s been trashed for life that the driver’s insurance policy won’t even pay for their first day of medical care…then imagine how hard it is for the victim who has to actually live through it.
There is, however, a very cheap and very effective way to protect yourself and your family. It’s called uninsured motorist or underinsured motorist coverage, and it comes standard with almost every auto insurance policy. Many cyclists are unaware that this coverage even exists, and many more are unaware that it covers you in a bike-car collision.
This means that when the driver’s policy tops out at $15k, you have the legal right to turn to the uninsured motorist coverage on your own liability policy for the remainder. So far, so good, but there’s a catch: most UM coverage is also minimal, often only $15k or $25k, which is hardly enough to make you whole when you suffer significant injuries.
Unlike most insurance stories, though, this one has a very happy ending if you’re proactive about it, because you can increase your UM coverage to very high levels for only a very modest increase in your monthly premium. Although your UM coverage generally cannot exceed your liability coverage, if you have $500k worth of liability you can bump up your UM from $25k to $500k for only a few bucks a month.
For the sake of yourself and your family, take a minute to look at the declarations page of your insurance policy, check the UM coverage, and then call your agent to ratchet the coverage up to the max. With the spate of deaths and serious injuries occurring in our midst this past year, this is something you really can’t afford to put off.
It’s good advice.
My own uninsured motorist coverage paid all of my medical and rehab expenses when I was hit by a car in a road rage incident. Without it, I wouldn’t have been able to afford the care I needed until the case settled nearly two years later.
And even then, the meager settlement was eaten up by attorney’s fees.
So give yourself and your loved ones an early holiday gift, and call your insurance agent today. Because a little piece of mind is one of the best — and most affordable — gifts you can give them.
I’ve also added CalBikeLaw.com to the list of lawyers over there on the right.
Scrolling through the list of cases they’re working on, you may recognize a few high profile ones, even without listing any names. In fact, I’ve written extensively about at least three of the cases listed on their website — which pretty tells me what I need to know about them.
And Seth promises to write again about a dangerous roadway in Palos Verdes Estates that has already nearly taken the life of another rider.
You may also have noticed that I’ve also added the El Dabe Law Firm to the list, our first bike attorney from Orange County.
A couple other quick notes:
C.I.C.L.E. hosts the Toys and Mittens Ride on Saturday the 17th; the family friendly toy ride will gather toys and warm clothes for Burbank residents in need.
The LA Streetsblog fundraiser scheduled for this Thursday has been moved. The new location will be at Earl’s Gourmet Grub at 12226 Venice Boulevard; your food is included in the suggested $25 donation.
And Allan Alessio forwards a link to Life Cycles, an Ultra HD short documentary detailing the story of a mountain bike, from creation through breathtaking rides to its ultimate demise.
Finally, thanks to Chris Willig, and Paul Herod of RockStorePhotos.com, for letting us know about Carol Schreder’s death yesterday. Oddly, the story still hasn’t hit the news, so without their efforts, we’d still be in the dark.