Last year alone, there were several incidents of bicycling and pedestrian deaths in Toronto, causing an increasing interest in safety concerns. Last March, one cyclist died in a collision with a parked car and three cyclists died last summer.
It’s become a common debate in urban Canada: the desire to build dedicated bicycles lanes on major roadways versus fear of business accessibility loss or increased traffic congestion. Those who support bicycle lanes say they will make riding safer and encourage amateur riders’ confidence levels. Those who don’t say the increased traffic will cause more accidents and related problems.
In a recent public opinion poll from the Angus Reid Institute learned that while most urban Canadians support the idea of separated bike lanes, they aren’t as in favour of having them built in the areas in which they live.
As the controversy continues, there are bicycle accidents that include injuries and fatalities.
What happens if you are hit by a car on your bike?
It surprises most people that they may make a claim for injury compensation from their own auto insurance if they are a cyclist who was hit by an automobile.
Even when you are not driving, most policies have what is called no-fault benefits or accident benefits. Since a motor vehicle was involved, either your policy or the policy of the other party would provide accident benefits.
In addition to the no-fault accident benefits, you may also be entitled to make a claim against the driver who was at fault. This would require some type of proof that the other party was at least partially at fault. Evidence should be in the form of witnesses, logistics, or even video in the event another driver or pedestrian took a clip of the scene.
If this claim is filed and approved, then the injured bicyclist might be able to compensation that includes:
- General damages for pain and suffering, loss of amenities/joy of life
- Past and future loss of income or future earnings
- Household capacity
- Out-of-pocket expenses
What if you are partially to blame?
An injured person is entitled to no-fault accident benefits no matter who was to blame for the crash.
Who pays the no-fault accident benefits?
If you have an auto policy or at least listed on someone else’s, you will be able to claim benefits even though you were not in the car. If you do not have an auto policy or listed on another’s policy, you will want to claim no-fault accident benefits on the other party’s policy.
If the driver of the vehicle has no auto insurance or if the accident was a hit and run, there is still one other way to be compensated. It is the Motor Vehicle Accident Claims Fund which handles these situations through an outside adjusting firm through the provincial government.
What accident benefits is a no-fault injured cyclist entitled to?
Some of the benefits that may be awarded are:
- Income replacement: Beginning seven days after the crash, the injured is entitled to weekly income replacement benefits for up to the first 104 weeks after a collision, with some stipulations.
- Non-earner benefits: For those who were not working at the time of the crash, the injured person may be entitled to $185 per week but can only qualify if they are unable to carry on a normal life. However, this would not kick in until after the first 26 weeks after the crash.
- Caregiver benefits: If the injured party was responsible for providing care for a person in need and they were not being paid to do so, they may be entitled to a caregiver benefit. This benefit would only be given if the injured party suffered a debilitating impairment.
- Medical & Rehabilitation Benefits (not covered by OHIP or other Medical Plan) If the injury is minor (as defined in the Minor Injury Guidelines), they are entitled to receive $3,500 in medical and rehabilitative benefits. If the injury is catastrophic (as defined in the Insurance Act), the person may be entitled to receive $1,000,000 in expenses. In some circumstances, the injured cyclist is entitled to up to $50,000 to pay for medical and rehabilitative benefits for expenses.
How to claim no-fault accident benefits?
When making a claim for accident benefits, you must do so within seven (7) days of the accident or as soon as possible, depending on the particulars. The insurance company will forward a package that must be completed within 30 days upon receipt. No benefits will be provided until the package is submitted. If you have additional private insurance, it is best to contact that insurance company as soon as possible. The accident benefits only pay what is not covered by your private policy.
In order to receive medical and rehabilitative treatment, your health professional will be asked to prepare, sign, and submit a treatment plan. If you require an aide, then special forms must be completed by a registered nurse or occupational therapist. If you are interested in receiving income replacement benefits, your employer must submit an Employers Confirmation Form along with the Disability Certificate.
Once the insurance company receives all of the information, they must respond within 14 days. They may request additional health examinations for good cause. If you are denied benefits by your insurance company, you may dispute the outcome.