Tag Archive for Uninsured Motorist coverage

Morning Links: Insurance owes squat if a hit-and-run driver misses, more on SB 986, and more kindhearted cops

Bike lawyer and BikinginLA sponsor Josh Cohen uncovers an insurance loophole that victimizes hit-and-run victims a second time.

In a piece he penned for a law journal, Cohen points out that insurance companies aren’t required to pay for hit-and-run crashes caused by drivers if the car doesn’t actually make contact with the victim.

He illustrates it with the story of a bike rider who was forced into a stopped car by an inattentive driver.

The client pulled into the number two lane behind the last car stopped. He intended to pass the bus and vehicles stopped behind it in the number one lane once the traffic light turned green. The light turned green. Suddenly the client heard a car accelerate toward him from behind. The driver behind him did not notice him and was bearing down on him. The driver’s car came within inches of the client. The client took his last clear chance and veered back into the lane to his right. He got injured when he crashed into the stopped car to his right.

The driver of the car that caused the crash recognized he was at fault. He pulled over, took out his driver’s license and insurance card, and waited. An ambulance came and took the client away. The police never came. The offending driver left the scene, rendering the case a hit and run. But not exactly: there was no hit. It was a near-miss and run.

The victim’s insurance company denied his claim under the uninsured motored coverage on his policy, which requires actual physical contact — despite the state’s three-foot passing law.

Cohen says the easy and obvious solution is to remove the physical contact clause from the state’s uninsured motorist statute, saying it places an undue burden on vulnerable users.

Sounds right to me.


While we’re on the subject of bad laws, a lawyer writing for the prestigious National Law Review warns that careless wording in California’s proposed SB 986 could put pedestrians at risk if drivers are allowed to legally roll through red lights to make right turns. CiclaValley takes up the subject, as well.


More kindhearted cops.

LA County sheriff’s deputies team up to replace a bike stolen from a 41-year old San Dimas man with Down’s Syndrome. Thanks to Megan Lynch for the heads-up.

Minneapolis police arrange for a new bike for a ten-year old boy whose bicycle was stolen by an older kid who punched him in the face.


Spoiler alert: We’re going to talk about the men’s and women’s road races from the Rio Olympics. So if you still have them on your DVR or waiting to download, skip down to the next section.

Broken-hearted American Mara Abbott just missed a medal as she was caught by three riders within sight of the finish line, as Holland’s Anna van der Breggen took gold.

Abbott had been riding with Annemiek van Vleuten when the Dutch rider suffered a horrific crash; as of Sunday night, van Vleuten was in intensive care with a fractured spine, though Dutch officials said she was okay and conscious.

Belgian cyclist Greg van Avermaet took the gold in the men’s race after leaders Vincenzo Nibali and Sergio Henao hit the pavement less than seven and a half miles from the finish line on the road course’s crappy pavement.

Australian Ritchie Porte is out of the time trial after breaking his shoulder in Saturday’s race, while Italy’s Vincenzo Nibali will have surgery for a broken collarbone. Rwandan team captain Adrien Niyonshuti failed to finish, blaming his bike for the early exit.

Meanwhile, American Andrew Talansky entered the final stage of the Tour of Utah with the lead, but ended up losing the race to Aussie Lachlan Morton.

As Deadspin says, cycling is cruel.



After years of promises, Wilshire Blvd finally gets new pavement and buffered bike lanes through the Condo Canyon area formerly known as “the gauntlet” for its speeding cars and bad pavement, connecting with the existing one whole block of bike lanes east of Beverly Glen. Odd that we’re told that Westwood Blvd has too much traffic and too many buses for bike lanes, while Wilshire gets bike lanes despite having far more of both.

Fallen cyclist and music teacher Rod Bennett lives on in his music at Santa Clarita’s LA SummerFest, even if no one showed up to listen.

Long Beach plans for greater density, sidewalks and bike lanes along an industrial stretch of PCH.

An 18-year old Long Beach man could be 26 before he rides a bike again after using his in a string of cellphone thefts.



A Redlands couple are halfway through a 10,000 mile tandem ride around the US.

After a 21-year old Chico woman was killed riding her bike, her parents find a bucket list in her bedroom and decide to live it out for her.



Bicycling talks with President Obama’s bike commuting chief of staff.

Missed this one last week, as CNN says distracted driving goes way beyond mere texting. Thanks to Victor Bank for the link.

A competitor in the Boulder CO Ironman was killed when she was struck by a car during the bicycling portion of the race. The course was not closed to motor vehicles, but it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to look up and see there’s a damn race going on. Thanks to Penny Sputh for the tip.

A Denver bike cop credits his helmet with saving his life when he was run down by a driver who was having a seizure nearly two years ago; the driver got six years in a halfway house for failing to disclose his condition when applying for a driver’s license.

One of the benefits of putting cops on bikes is their ability to respond quickly, as demonstrated by the El Paso bike cops who arrested a bank robber while he was still at the teller window.

Cyclists ride outside the White House to “bike around the bomb” on the 71st anniversary of the Hiroshima bombing; they were joined by people riding around the Sepulveda basin here in LA.



An Edmonton, Canada bike rider accepts an apology from the driver who got out of his car to hurl a racial slur. Somehow, we’re all expected to believe the man was deeply remorseful, and not just trying to prove to the world he’s not really a racist after the video went viral. Not to mention avoid prosecution.

Caught on video: A London cyclist somehow manages to ignore the driver hurling obscenity-laced abuse at him.

Caught on video too: Another London bike rider learns the hard way not to splash water in the face of a driver he was arguing with, when the driver swerves into him and forces him into oncoming traffic. Similar to my greatest lesson, which was never flip off the driver behind you. For reasons which should be painfully obvious, and for which I still have the scars.

One Direction’s Harry Styles is one of us, as he takes to the streets of London on a classic Raleigh tri bike.

An Indian writer says bike commuting hasn’t caught on because owning a car is a symbol of moving from poverty into the middle class in the developing country.

An Israeli reporter asks the US State Department if Israel should pay a Palestinian girl $100 for the bicycle that border guards took from her and tossed into the bushes. Seriously, is this even a question? Just buy the girl a new bike, already.

Aussie motorcyclists are beating traffic by illegally using suburban bike paths, putting bicyclists and pedestrians at risk.

An Australian paper says new studies suggest being visible is less important than whether drivers are actively looking for people on bikes, giving more support to the safety in numbers theory.

Once again, police crack down on the victims, as Hong Kong police respond to recent bicycling deaths by chasing down law breaking bike riders.



If you’re going to get high and shitfaced drunk, try not to stop your bicycle in the middle of a traffic lane in front of a school bus. Pro cyclists may not have better legs than you do, just better brains.

And no, you can’t actually live tweet an Olympic road race while you’re competing in it.


Make Sure You’re Protected Before You Need To Be

Jim Pocrass, Pocrass & De Los Reyes LLP

Jim Pocrass, Pocrass & De Los Reyes LLP

Bikes Have Rights™
By James L. Pocrass, Esq.
Pocrass & De Los Reyes LLP 


I recently represented a cyclist who was the victim of a hit and run accident that broke almost every bone in his body and caused traumatic brain injuries. The driver of the car turned out to be a 19-year-old woman who was driving drunk. She claimed not to have known that she hit my client, in spite of his leaving nine teeth in her SUV’s back seat.

My client’s medical bills were astronomical and because of the brain injuries, his life would never be same. The compensation my client received from this case would be his primary source of income for the rest of his life. The woman’s insurance company wanted to settle the claim for “policy limits,” which is the maximum amount they are required to compensate a victim of serious personal injuries or even a wrongful death.

Policy limits is how much insurance you bought in a specific category. In California, you are required to carry car insurance of $15,000 per person for bodily injury liability; $30,000 per accident, which covers all persons hurt in one accident; and $5,000 for property damage liability for one accident. It is likely that your insurance policy includes a minimal amount of uninsured and under-insured auto insurance, but rarely is it a significant amount.

If you suffer catastrophic personal injuries or a family member is lost in a wrongful death due to a motor vehicle accident (car, bicycle, motorcycle, truck, bus, boat), your damages (medical and economic) could cost hundreds of thousands – or even millions – of dollars.

The person who was negligent is responsible for your damages. (In some cases, negligence may include one or more companies or a public entity like the state or a county, but for the purposes of this article we are focusing on individual drivers.) Their insurance company will cover those damages only to the limits of the individual’s insurance policy.

If the person who caused your accident owns a house or other property, you may be able to recover some monies from them after a long and expensive court process. You might even be able to garnish any money they earn or receive in the future.

But many drivers own nothing – or not enough – to ever come close to compensating you for your injuries or for your lost loved one.  You will be on your own to pay your medical and therapy bills, to subsidize your living expenses either for the short or long-term, to pay childcare expenses, and to replace your destroyed property.

The best way to protect yourself from this disaster is to carry as much uninsured and under-insured auto insurance as your insurance company will permit you to buy. The cost is pennies on the dollar.  The more you have to lose (meaning the more you own or could own in the future), the more uninsured and under-insured auto insurance you should have.

Uninsured and under-insured auto insurance protects you when you are hit by a driver who has no insurance (and a Los Angeles County sheriff told me recently that in approximately 50 percent of all motor vehicle accidents he sees the driver is uninsured). It also kicks in when you reach the maximum the OTHER driver’s insurance will pay. It compensates you for the difference between what the other driver’s policy limit is and the actual compensation you need to recoup from the damages caused by the accident.

Uninsured and under-insured auto insurance also protects you if you suffer serious personal injuries (or worse) in a hit-and-run accident. With the frightening rise in hit-and-runs, it is critical that you protect yourself.

In my client’s case, I was able to negotiate additional monies from the woman’s family. Though I was able to recover a multi-million dollar settlement for this client, it is still nowhere near what he should have received considering the damages she inflicted on him and for which he will have to live with for the rest of his life.

My hope for you is that you never need to use your uninsured and under-insured auto insurance, but I urge you strongly to get as much uninsured and under-insurance auto coverage that your insurance company will allow you to purchase, before you need it.

*California Vehicle Code 21200: A person riding a bicycle or operating a pedicab upon a highway has all the rights and is subject to all the provisions applicable to the driver of a vehicle. . .

For more than 25 years, Jim Pocrass has represented people who were seriously injured, or families who lost a loved one in a wrongful death, due to the carelessness or negligence of another. Jim is repeatedly named to Best Lawyers of America and to Southern California Super Lawyers for the outstanding results he consistently achieves for his clients. Having represented hundreds of cyclists during his career, and Jim’s own interest in cycling, have resulted in him becoming a bicycle advocate. He is a board member of the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition.  For a free, no-obligation consultation, contact Jim Pocrass at 310.550.9050 or at info@pocrass.com.*

*sponsored post

Give your loved ones the gift of peace of mind this holiday season

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.

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