by AG: After a coffee one morning and a great talk about cycling advocacy, my friend and fellow cyclist Fred Sexton asked me to post this. Thanks Fred!
As a cyclist, you are part of a greater community of (greater J )people who have a similar set of interests and values. You should know that as a member of that community you have rights and resources that are meant to help and protect you while you are riding. In the case of an accident here are some things you should know about cycling and the law, and the attorneys who relentlessly work to protect cyclists.
1. First and foremost, cycling attorneys are advocates for all cyclists. That means: commuters, racers, beginners, and advanced riders. If you ride a bicycle for any reason, for pleasure, for transportation, for sport, you should know these attorneys are looking out for your best interests.
2. Cycling Lawyers will always recommend getting more UM/UIM (Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Insurance). Every cyclist should increase his or her UM/UIM coverage so if an uninsured or underinsured motorist hits you on your bike you are covered. (talk to your cycling attorney about the laws that apply in each state!)
3. Cycling Lawyers are here to protect you on the road. By going after the texting teenagers or the speeding sports car driver who hits you, you are sending a message to other drivers and also insurance companies. You are saying we aren’t going to take it anymore! Drivers and cyclists need to be mindful, drive carefully, and share the road. We both pay for it with tax dollars and we both need to obey the rules established on the road.
4. Lawyers that specialize in representing cyclists are probably cyclists too—and probably really nice! They understand the joys of cycling and the dangers as well. If you ride a lot, it is probably not a bad idea to get to know one. You may even be lucky and find one to ride with!
5. Did you know you may have rights against a homeowner whose dog bites you or knocks you off your bike? I’m not suggesting you ride around with kibbles and bits in your jersey, (certainly avoid attracting attention of our four-legged friends when cycling if possible), but I’ve heard of a number of people getting bit or crashing to avoid getting bit (then, all-too-often getting bit) without any recourse to the dog’s homeowner. You do have rights!
6. You should know that NC is one of only 4 states that follows the principle of contributory negligence. Meaning, if you are even just 1% at fault in an accident, (yeah, I know) then the driver’s insurance will try to avoid responsibility for your damages. But even if you think this could be your situation, if you are in NC (or any State) and get hit by a motorist, talk with a cycling attorney to see what your options might be.
7. Writing down license plate numbers for drive-by swooshes can be helpful in ID-ing aggressive drivers, (always carry at least a marker with you while cycling). As a community of cyclists if we are able to better police the streets if someone does plow you over when you are on your bike. If this driver has been reported before for erratic driving around cyclist; it makes the case much easier for you and your cyclist attorney. (There is a guy that rides around Charlotte with a video camera mounted on his bike at all times for this reason. Someone is in jail due to his video evidence. Without it, the defendant most likely would have gotten away.) If you are interested in installing a bike camera I recommend you look at getting a cycling camera mount to use with your existing video camera (like a flip) or get a whole new cycling camera system. You can report aggressive drivers at: http://www.charmeck.org/city/charlotte/Transportation/CDOTrequests/Pages/BicyclistReportonAggressiveDrivers.aspx
Cycling attorneys can be an enormous benefit to you as a rider and you should be aware that you have that resource at your disposal should you need it. Not only are these great lawyers required when an accident happens, they continue to advocate for cyclists and their rights when it comes to the road.