A bodily injury liability policy and property damage liability policy are designed to cover the physical injuries and property damages, respectively, of an innocent victim in a car accident. This is the case in tort states (or states that require drivers to carry a tort-liability policy). A problem can arise, however, if the driver at fault is uninsured or underinsured.

All U.S. states require drivers to prove financial capability in compensating who they may injure or whose property they may damage in automobile accidents where they are at fault. This capability to pay may be shown by carrying auto liability insurance or a state-approved bond (in states that require auto liability insurance, not carrying one can result to a jail sentence and/or a fine plus a need to fill out an SR-22 form).

This requirement, of carrying of auto liability insurance, was mandated to make sure that at fault drivers will never default in compensating who they hurt in accidents. In tort states, victims can claim compensation from an at-fault driver’s insurance provider.

Records from the Insurance Research Council, however, say that 1 in every 8 drivers continue to freely drive on U.S. roads and highways without insurance. Thus, in order to ensure financial protection to drivers who comply with the law, D.C., along with 20 other states, requires its drivers to carry Uninsured /Underinsured Motorist coverage in addition to their auto liability insurance. This list of 20 states includes: Wisconsin; West Virginia; Virginia; Vermont; South Dakota; South Carolina; Oregon; North Dakota; North Carolina; New York; New Jersey; New Hampshire; Nebraska; Missouri; Minnesota; Massachusetts; Maryland; Maine; Kansas; and, Illinois.

Uninsured motorist coverage is designed to cover all economic losses and damages suffered by victims of accidents wherein the at-fault driver does not carry auto liability insurance. This coverage will, likewise, provide a perfect financial safety net if the accident were a hit & run or if it involved a stolen vehicle.

An Underinsured motorist coverage, on the other hand, is designed to supplement any inadequacy in the policy limit of the driver at-fault (this is usually the case when the driver at-fault carries only his/her state’s required minimum liability coverage, rendering his/her policy’s amount not enough to cover the damages suffered by the victim).

Philadelphia car accident attorneys explain that, although auto accidents can have many unintentional or unavoidable agents, a substantial portion are caused by the intentional, reckless, or negligent actions of another. Insurance companies often play on their clients’ desire to quickly resolve the ordeal by offering low settlements in order to avoid paying the full amount a claim is worth. In these cases, the defense of a proficient car accident lawyer may be necessary.

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If a car and a bicycle collides, it is often the bicyclist who sustains more damage. This is because he has limited protections, such as helmets, elbow pads, and kneepads, unlike the driver who is properly restrained by a seatbelt and an airbag, not to mention protected by the metal chassis of the vehicle.
It is good to know that, according to the website of Karlin, Fleisher & Falkenberg, LLC, those who have been injured in bicycle accidents may take legal action against responsible parties, such as negligent drivers. Of course, this does not mean that bicyclists can be reckless. In fact, it can be argued that they should be the ones that are extra careful on the streets because of how vulnerable they are. Below are some of the things they can do to stay safe.

Before riding

Bicycle safety is not just about riding carefully. The risk of accidents can be minimized by doing things even before you take the wheel, such as the following:

  • Always maintain your bicycle so it is in top condition and has less risk of defects
  • Always wear adequate gear, such as helmets and pads
  • Always wear clothing with easily visible colors
  • Check for defects, especially those that involve the brakes, chains, and tires
  • Avoid alcohol, drugs, and other impairments

During riding

  • Always follow traffic rules
  • Stay in the bicycle lane, and if there is none, stay at the edge of the road
  • Ride at a speed where you can react properly to unexpected events
  • Be alert of possible obstructions, such as barriers, road signs, and utility poles
  • Be alert of road defects, such as cracks and potholes
  • Be extra alert in areas that may have a lot of vulnerable pedestrians, such as school zones
  • Be extra alert in narrow areas where vehicles may go through, such as parking entrances and exits
  • Ride more slowly under dangerous weather conditions, such as rain, snow, ice, and fog

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