If you read no further, make sure you carry Uninsured Motorist Coverage (UM), and Underinsured Motorist Coverage (UIM) on your automobile insurance policy. These are optional coverages that are not required under Arizona law. This can be the best coverage you ever buy. Don't necessarily think that you have this coverage because you have “full coverage”. In Arizona, full coverage only means you carry the legally required minimum. If in doubt, contact your agent.
It is all too common that we are asked to represent a seriously injured cyclist who was hit and injured by a driver with inadequate insurance coverage to compensate them for his injuries.
The State of Arizona requires licensed drivers to carry only $15,000.00 worth of liability insurance coverage. What this means is if you get struck by a driver with this minimal amount of insurance coverage, no matter how seriously injured you are, that driver's insurance coverage will pay only a total of $15,000.00 for your claim.
Although all individuals should carry UM/UIM coverage whether or not they ride a bike, cyclists in particular should carry it. When a cyclist gets hit by an automobile, it is not unusual for their medical bills alone to exceed $15,000.00. Obviously, if you get injured by someone with only $15,000 in liability coverage, that coverage will be insufficient to compensate you for your injuries.
In the State of Arizona, as well as almost every other state in the country, along with the basic liability coverage you have to purchase for your car, you must be given the option to purchase UM and UIM. These are generally inexpensive and take over to compensate you in situations where the Defendant driver's liability coverage falls short (UIM) or is non-existent all together (UM). Further, although this coverage is the kind you buy with your automobile policy, it will cover you if you are on your bike, a pedestrian, or even a passenger in another's vehicle and are injured by an automobile, so long as you are not at fault.
Generally, insurance companies will not sell you UM and UIM coverage in amounts that exceed the liability coverage you purchase. So if you only purchase the legal minimum liability coverage of $15,000.00, the most UM and UIM coverage you can purchase would be $15,000.00. However, if you carry $100,000.00 in liability coverage you must be offered the ability to purchase $100,000.00 in UM and UIM.
Another type of coverage that is very beneficial if you are injured is Medical Payments Coverage. Medical Payments Coverage will pay for the medical treatment you require if struck by an automobile up to the amount of coverage you purchase, usually $1,000.00-$10,000.00. This applies whether you are at fault or not.
The amount of insurance coverage you purchase is a personal decision and depends on many factors including your assets, income and lifestyle. Make sure you find a competent insurance agent who understands your financial needs prior to your coverage decision.
Cycling Specific Laws
Below are local laws that are relevant and applicable to cyclists.
Tucson City Code: These laws only apply within the city limits of Tucson.
Sec. 5-1. Parking of bicycles It shall be unlawful to park a bicycle on any public sidewalk or street in manner that substantially impedes pedestrian or vehicular traffic or obstructs access to public or private facilities.
Sec. 5-2. Riding on sidewalks and pedestrian paths, and through underpasses.
(a) It shall be unlawful to ride a bicycle on any public sidewalks, or upon a designated pedestrian path in any public park, unless signs are posted specifically permitting bicycling.
(b) It shall be unlawful to ride a bicycle through any underpass when signs are posted prohibiting bicycling.
Sec. 5-3. Enforcement. Any violations of a provision of this chapter shall be a civil infraction, unless otherwise specified, subject to the provisions of Chapter 8 of this code.
Violations of this chapter shall be deemed civil infractions subject to a sanction of twenty-five dollars ($25.00)
Arizona Revised Statutes: These laws apply anywhere within the State of Arizona
Sec. 28-101 Definitions In this title, unless the context otherwise requires:
6. “Bicycle” means a device, including a racing wheelchair, that is propelled by human power and on which a person may ride and that has either:
a. Two tandem wheels, either of which is more than sixteen inches in diameter.
b. Three wheels in contact with the ground, any of which is more than sixteen inches in diameter.
52. “Vehicle” means a device in, on or by which a person or property is or may be transported or drawn on a public highway, excluding devices moved by human power or used exclusively on stationary rails or tracks.
Sec. 28-735 Overtaking bicycles; civil penalties
A. When overtaking and passing a bicycle proceeding in the same direction, a person driving a motor vehicle shall exercise due care by leaving a safe distance between the motor vehicle and the bicycle of not less than three feet until the motor vehicle is safely past the overtaking bicycle.
B. If a person violates this section and the violation results in a collision causing:
1. Serious physical injury as defined in section 13-105 to another person, the violator is subject to a civil penalty of up to five hundred dollars.
2. Death to another person, the violator is subject to a civil penalty of up to one thousand dollars.
C. Subsection B of this section does not apply to a bicyclist who is injured in a vehicular traffic lane when a designated bicycle lane or path is present and passable.
A person riding a bicycle on a roadway or on a shoulder adjoining a roadway is granted all of the rights and is subject to all of the duties applicable to the driver of a vehicle by this chapter and chapters 4 and 5 of this title, except special rules in this article and except provisions of this chapter and chapters 4 and 5 of this title that by their nature can have no application.
A. A person riding a bicycle on a roadway at less that the normal speed of traffic at the time and place and under the conditions then existing shall ride as close as practicable to the right-hand curb or edge of the roadway, except under any of the following situations:
1. If overtaking and passing another bicycle or vehicle proceeding in the same direction.
2. If preparing for a left turn at an intersection or into a private road or driveway.
3. If reasonably necessary to avoid a condition, including fixed or moving objects, parked or moving vehicles, bicycles, pedestrians, animals or surface hazards.
4. If the lane in which the person is operating the bicycle is too narrow for a bicycle and a vehicle to travel safely side by side within the lane.
B. Persons riding bicycles on a roadway shall not ride more than two abreast except on paths or parts of the roadways set aside for the exclusive use of bicycles.
C. A path or lane that is designated as a bicycle path or lane by state or local authorities is for the exclusive use bicycles even though other uses are permitted pursuant to subsection D or are other wise permitted by state or local authorities.
D. A person shall not operate, stop, park or leave standing a vehicle in a path or lane designated as a bicycle path or lane by a state or local authority except in the case of emergency or for crossing the path or lane to gain access to a public or private road or driveway.
E. Subsection D does not prohibit the use of the path or lane by the appropriate authority.
After an Accident
It goes without saying, that after an accident you must first be concerned about your health. Get the appropriate medical attention you need as soon as possible and always err on the safe side, meaning if in doubt go to the hospital or see a doctor. Generally, at the scene of an accident a police officer will respond and ask you if you need medical attention. Again, if there is any doubt answer yes and let the paramedics evaluate you.
Although many individuals may be hesitant to seek medical attention if they have no health insurance, many qualified physicians will treat an injured victim and agree to wait for final payment from the defendant's insurance.
Make sure the police are called to the scene. To the extent your injuries permit, get the names and phone numbers of any witnesses. Often, an individual that has been struck doesn't think it's necessary to get this information. They think the defendant driver's insurance will take care of everything. Then, later the insurance company denies their driver was at fault or even that the accident happened at all.
Take pictures of your injuries. To the extent your injuries are visible such as road rash, cuts, bruises, etc. they should be documented with photographs. Photographs should be taken not only immediately after the accident but also the following days, as these kinds of injuries will typically become more sore and visible with time.
Finally, make an appointment to come and see us about your claim. There is no charge for questions, and we are always happy to sit down and discuss your claim with you whether you retain our services or not.