General Discussion Triathlon Talk » Crash Liability Questions Rss Feed  
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2014-07-07 9:49 AM

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The Woodlands, TX
Subject: Crash Liability Questions
I saw a crash over the weekend that made me wonder about personal liability for bike crashes that you may cause during group rides. I've had my fair share of crashes, but I've never taken out another rider (knock on wood!).

Has anyone had to deal with group ride liability issues? If a rider goes down and takes out others, is the person who "caused" the crash laible for damages? Does it depend on how they're riding at the time of the incident or what triggered the crash?

I saw a crash recently where someone riding in a group was on their aerobars and went down, taking out several nearby riders and causing some serious injuries. Almost everyone else in this group was on a roadie. Not sure what caused the initial crash....but I wondered if riding on the bars while in the middle of a large group increases an individual's liability?

By choosing to participate in a group ride, are you accepting the hazards and consequences that come from riding a few inches away from other people at 25-mph?

You hear about a lot of cyclist chaising claims against people in cars when they're hit, but I've not heard about people (or insurance companies) going after other cyclists for damages.

Edited by g_shotts 2014-07-07 9:50 AM


2014-07-07 10:07 AM
in reply to: g_shotts

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Salt Lake City
Subject: RE: Crash Liability Questions
You carry potential liability doing pretty much anything. Cyclists in a group ride assume a certain amount of risk, but that wouldn't matter if someone was being reckless or negligent.


Also, NEVER ride in aero bars in a group.
2014-07-07 10:14 AM
in reply to: g_shotts

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Master
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Overland Park, KS
Subject: RE: Crash Liability Questions
None of my regular riding partners would ever look to come after me seeking damages etc. if I was the cause of the accident etc. I think there may be a "riders code" of some sorts. I have never heard of such a thing as you decribed but that doesn't mean it hasn't or won't happen. A TT bike on a group ride can be dangerous, especially if the rider is in aero. I only have one bike, a road bike with clip-on aerobars, I used to ride it with the aerobars on group rides because I would never drop to the bars. But early this spring I had to brake hard then the thought crossed my mind about what would happen if my bars ended up in the back of the person in front of me. Now I just remove the bars on every group ride.

2014-07-07 10:29 AM
in reply to: g_shotts

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Exton, PA
Subject: RE: Crash Liability Questions
First: riding a tri bike in groups is fine as long as you are not in your aero bars. It's no different than years ago when you had you shifters on the down tube. If you ride in you aerobars in the middle of a group I would be surprised if you were not screamed at immediately. If you are in a group of pure roadies they won't like that your on a tri bike no matter what, unless you ride with them a lot and they are comfortable with you handling abilities.

Second: Liability- I've never heard of this being an issue. Not sure how it would hold up in court since there is bike license of proficiency skill test to take in order to ride. Then if someone goes down and causes an accident, them, the crack in the road, the guy in front who didn't call it out?

I think it would be very difficult to make anything stick.
2014-07-07 10:36 AM
in reply to: mike761

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Subject: RE: Crash Liability Questions
rs. It's no different than years ago when you had you shifters on the down tube


Down tube shifters don't stab people in the kidneys when you wreck....
2014-07-07 10:56 AM
in reply to: JZig

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Exton, PA
Subject: RE: Crash Liability Questions
Originally posted by JZig

rs. It's no different than years ago when you had you shifters on the down tube


Down tube shifters don't stab people in the kidneys when you wreck....


Good point! I was just thinking about handling aspects.


2014-07-07 11:01 AM
in reply to: 0

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Happy Valley
Subject: RE: Crash Liability Questions
Originally posted by JZigYou carry potential liability doing pretty much anything. Cyclists in a group ride assume a certain amount of risk, but that wouldn't matter if someone was being reckless or negligent. Also, NEVER ride in aero bars in a group.
agree, although realistically people sue when something catastrophic happens, regardless of level of negligence. Ie; someones negligence causes a minor crash with no injuries then unlikely lawsuit. Someone ends up with permanent disability, lawsuit more likely. Eta I wouldn't recommend bringing a tri bike to a group ride unless you know everyone really well. Honestly I tend to do very hard group rides and the ones that can hang without being dropped tend to be good bike handlers in general. There are 'no drop' rides, the ones I go to encourage dropping ;-)

Edited by Fred D 2014-07-07 11:11 AM
2014-07-07 11:12 AM
in reply to: g_shotts

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Expert
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Orange County, CA
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Subject: RE: Crash Liability Questions

With a good lawyer anything is possible. Ask O.J.

 

2014-07-07 11:22 AM
in reply to: g_shotts

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Greenville, SC
Subject: RE: Crash Liability Questions

i've crashed a few times this year because of other peoples actions. never once did i think to make them cover the medical/repair costs.  USAC will cover 70% of what your insurer doesn't cover for medical though if you crash during a sanctioned race.  

2014-07-07 2:53 PM
in reply to: Clempson

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The Woodlands, TX
Subject: RE: Crash Liability Questions
Part of what made me think about this was that every time I have a significant healthcare expense, my insurance company sends my a questionaire asking about the "cause" and if it's an accident involving or caused by someone else.

I suspect that, if a cyclist filed a claim on their medical insurance to cover injuries, they would actually subrogate the right to pursue reimbursement to the insurance company. I agree with the sentiments expressed about the risks we all voluntarialy take, but I wondered if our health insurance companies routinely pursue these types of claims.
2014-07-07 3:32 PM
in reply to: g_shotts

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Subject: RE: Crash Liability Questions

I'm not exactly sure how it works, but if you are part of a club that is licensed with USA Cycling, they do provide some form of insurance for group rides.

http://www.usacycling.org/club-and-local-association-general-liability-insurance.htm

Not sure if this gets tricky if non club members join the ride, and if so, is it the responsibility of the group to not allow non club members to join in?

I do remember hearing of a situation long ago where a local club was sued because of an accident during a group ride.  The club was not licensed with USA cycling, hence did not have any club insurance.  I think a couple of guys who were deemed the club organizers were the ones on the hook.  I'm not sure exactly what the outcome was, or if anything was actually paid, but it served as a reminder why our club always renews our annual license with USA Cycling.  Most of the club are triathletes, but we don't register as a club under USAT.  Not sure if there is a difference in club insurance or coverage.



2014-07-07 4:41 PM
in reply to: Jason N

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St. Francis, Minnesota
Subject: RE: Crash Liability Questions
If I am taking this case to court, my question is what did you expect when you went on the group ride? if there is a clear, no aero bars policy but you showed up and rode a tri bike despite the rules, and it can be proven that you, the guy riding in the aero bars caused the crash because you couldn't break fast enough, because you couldn't handle the bike as quickly, or you caused more serious injury than would a road bike, there is a good case for liability. on the other hand, if I were on the other side of the table, I would argue that while you knew there was a no tri bike rule, I acquiesced to the breaking of that rule when I saw you show up with a tri bike, didn't say anything and rode in the group anyway. Of course, the response to that could be lots of things - I didn't know you were going to get in the middle of the pack - I thought you had the sense to stay in the back, etc.

short answer - no clear cut win re: liability, but the more you failed to follow the ride rules, the more of a foothold there is for a law suit.
2014-07-07 5:43 PM
in reply to: sheesleeva

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St. Francis, Minnesota
Subject: RE: Crash Liability Questions
and speaking of U.S. law suits that make you wonder how they found an attorney to file that one:

http://sports.yahoo.com/blogs/mlb-big-league-stew/fan-who-fell-asle...
2014-07-07 6:45 PM
in reply to: sheesleeva

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Silicon Valley
Subject: RE: Crash Liability Questions
How about if I weigh in here as an insurance agent? In most cases you would be covered by your homeowners insurance. I say most because they may exclude some things like organized races, any event where you get paid etc. Always read the exclusions.

In general though if I am out on a group ride that isn't sanctioned by someone my homeowner's policy will cover me for the liability portion. The word 'liability' is important here. That is the only part of the plan that will cover you. So if you carry $300,000 of liability that is the max they will protect you for.

Please forgive me here but I am going to go a bit deep into the grass for just a minute because there are a few things that you should know. Don't expect the person's health insurance to limit your liability. Let me use this example.

I was hit last year and fractured my hip. The hip replacement surgery was billed to my insurance company at $102,000. The network negotiated rate was about $30,000. I had a $11,000 max out of pocket (which I paid) so my carrier paid $19,000. So if you caused the accident who could you be sued by:

I could sue you for the $11,000 I had to pay.
My insurance company could sue you for the $19,000 they paid to the hospital.
The hospital could sue you for the network discount they gave for the remaining $72,000.

But we are not done yet:
I could also sue you for pain & suffering, lost wages, rehabilitation costs, a new bike etc.

In this example $300,000 would not go very far. I always recommend that everyone consider a personal umbrella policy on top of your home and auto. It's cheap and provides a lot of coverage for the money.

BTW - if you are on a bike or anywhere for that matter not in a car, and you get hit by a car, if you have the coverage, YOUR auto insurance may pay under your Medical Expense coverage.

Now for the disclaimer which I have to put here (sorry): This is intended for informational use only. It is NOT intended as a solicitation in any way shape manner or form. You are advised to seek counsel form a qualified and licensed agent in your state for more information on your particular needs and circumstances.
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