A bike rider was killed in Brooklyn on May 1 when a flatbed truck struck him in an unprotected bike lane. He was the 13th bicyclist killed so far this year in New York City, putting 2023 on track to be the deadliest in decades for NYC cyclists.
NYC has prioritized bike ridership as part of its Vision Zero commitments. And while cyclist deaths have been down in recent years, this year has served as a tragic reminder that bicyclists are among the most vulnerable road users.
Cyclists struck by a motor vehicle should be covered by the driver’s No-Fault insurance. There are also instances where an injured cyclist can file a personal injury lawsuit.
Nine NYC Cyclists Killed in First Three Months of Year
Through the first quarter of 2023, nine NYC cyclists were killed—more than the first quarters of 2014 – 2017 combined and the most since the City began Vision Zero nine years ago.
According to Transportation Alternatives (TA), five of the nine bike riders were killed by SUVs or trucks. At least two of the cyclists killed were hit while riding in unprotected bike lanes. The victims include a Brooklyn mother run over by a truck, a Staten Island man killed on a residential street, and a 64-year-old delivery worker who was the victim of a hit-and-run.
TA, an organization dedicated to decreasing automobile use in New York City, called out the Adams administration for failing to comply with the Streets Plan, which requires the City to install at least 50 miles of protected bike lanes by the end of 2023 and 250 miles by the end of 2026. The administration installed 19.2 of 30 required miles in 2022 and as of April 28, 2023, has completed 4 miles. Protected bike lanes have reduced deaths and injuries 18 percent, says NYC DOT.
Just a few months ago, Adams boasted that “New York City is getting safer” in response to a Department of Transportation report that cyclist fatalities were down for the third straight year in 2022.
If this year’s cyclist death figures hold steady, 2023 will be the worst year ever for NYC cyclists. Cyclist injuries were also up 18 percent year-over-year through April 2, reports Streetsblog NYC. The injuries were concentrated in Manhattan’s Harlem and Upper East Side; Brooklyn’s Williamsburg, Bushwick, East Flatbush, and Sunset Park; Queen’s Sunnyside, Elmhurst, and Astoria; and the Bronx neighborhoods of Mott Haven, Soundview, and Kingsbridge.
A NYC DOT agency spokesperson said that this year’s cyclist fatalities are “heartbreaking,” but overall, the rate of cyclists killed or injured is down because more New Yorkers are riding bikes.
Bike Crashes, No-Fault Insurance, and Injury Lawsuits
New York’s No-Fault auto insurance law applies to crashes related to the “use and operation” of an insured motor vehicle. The New York State Bar Association notes that No-Fault coverage applies to drivers, passengers, bicyclists, or pedestrians injured as a result of an accident with an insured vehicle. In addition, drivers are required to carry liability insurance to pay for damage to property, such as a damaged or totaled bicycle.
The average cost of serious bike accident injuries increased from $52,000 to $77,000 in less than two decades.
Cyclists injured by motor vehicle drivers are eligible to receive up to $50,000 in no-fault benefits to cover medical expenses, lost wages, and other monetary expenses. This includes:
- All necessary medical care and rehabilitation
- Wage replacement up to $2,000/month
- Up to $25/day for reasonable and necessary expenses incurred due to the accident, such as hiring someone to perform household services that the injured person cannot perform
No-Fault insurance does not apply to cases when a cycling injury is caused by a defective bicycle or a damaged roadway. In the latter case, a lawsuit could possibly be brought against the City of New York.
No-Fault benefits also do not cover pain and suffering damages. Those can only be recovered through a personal injury lawsuit, which NY No-Fault law allows in cases involving losses over $50,000 or a “serious injury” as defined in state insurance law. For cyclists, this could be an injury like a fracture, disability lasting 90 days, or significant bodily impairment.
Bicycle injuries can easily surpass the $50,000 mark. Bloomberg, citing data from a UCSF study, reports that the average cost of a serious bike crash increased from $52,495 in 1997 to $62,971 in 2005 to $77,308 in 2013. Today, that number is likely even higher.
Hurt on a Bike in NYC? Talk to a Bicycle Accident Attorney
There have never been more people on bikes in New York City. Increased bike ridership is partly due to improved bicycle infrastructure. But despite the City prioritizing cycling safety, New York’s streets are still dominated by motor vehicles, making conflicts between bikes and cars almost assured.
Bicyclists struck by a car, truck, or SUV are unlikely to walk away unscathed. They may need assistance filing a No-Fault claim or an injury lawsuit. The Sanders Law Firm has helped New York City cyclists recover compensation for their injuries, including $5.3 million for a client who was paralyzed when a defective carbon fiber bicycle collapsed.
Call 833-SANDERS or contact us to discuss your case, free of charge, with a personal injury attorney.