If you were hit by a car and the driver of that car didn’t stop, you may still have a bicycle accident case even if the at-fault driver is never found. You can still recover for your damages from your insurance company through a type of your own auto insurance called “uninsured motorist insurance coverage.” Uninsured motorist coverage covers you if you suffer an injury but the other driver either doesn’t have enough insurance to cover the full cost of your injury, or the other driver left before you gathered his information and you can’t find him or her.
Many people aren’t sure what uninsured motorist insurance is. In Georgia, every driver has to have at least $25,000 of liability insurance coverage, which is a different type of coverage. Uninsured motorist insurance (commonly called “UM”) is optional. However, many people have UM insurance and don’t even know they have it. Typically, UM insurance is provided through your insurance company or the insurance policy of a resident relative (that is, someone related to you who lives under the same roof). UM insurance can cover not only car accidents, but also bicycle accidents, pedestrian accidents, motorcycle accidents, or even scooter accidents, as long as the at-fault driver was in a car. You can figure out the amount of UM insurance you have by looking at your car insurance policy’s “declarations page.” If you don’t have your declarations page, we can help by obtaining a copy for you and figuring out whether it covers your bicycle accident. See O.C.G.A. § 33-3-28.
If you’re worried about your premiums going up, our advice is: don’t worry about that. There are two reasons. First, your insurance company has no reason to hike your rates when you didn’t cause the collision. After all, it wasn’t your fault, and the fact that you were in this collision doesn’t make it any more likely that you’ll be in another one. Georgia law actually prohibits an insurance company from hiking rates mid-term for an accident that wasn’t your fault.
Second, you’re paying for this coverage! You have been paying premiums for months and years so that if you ever needed UM insurance, you’d have it. Now you need it. If you’re not going to use it, then what were you paying for? If you’re planning to pay for UM coverage but never use it, then we have a suggestion . . . instead of writing that check to the car insurance company for UM coverage every month, make that check out to “Jeb Butler’s Children’s College Fund” and send it to our firm instead. (We’re joking.)