By Bob Mionske
Posted Dec. 12, 2002
Legally Speaking – with Bob Mionske
This is part two in the first of what will become a regular column on VeloNews.com from attorney Bob Mionske, who handles sports-related legal issues. Mionske is inviting readers to submit legal questions faced by cyclists and other endurance athletes to email@example.com. He will answer a cross-section of questions each Thursday here on VeloNews.com.The information provided in this column is for general informational purposes only and does not constitute formal legal advice (see notice below).
I was on a training ride and (literally!) run over by a guy followingme in a pick-up truck. He has insurance, but his policy limit is only $15,000!My medical bills are likely to cost me more than that. My rib cage wascrushed and the doctors say I will be dealing with this for the rest ofmy life not to mention how it will affect my racing career. On top of that,my bike was totaled and I am going to lose income because of this accident.I don’t think the driver has much money and I am not thrilled about suinghim personally. Can you help me?
Santa Rosa, CA
The driver only has $15,000 in total liability coverage? That won’teven replace your lost prime money on the master’s racing circuit nextseason, will it?Okay, don’t worry yet. If you drive an insured vehicle it will likelyhave Uninsured/Underinsured (UM/UIM) motorist coverage. UM coverage allowsrecovery from the costs of damages and injuries resulting from being hitby an uninsured driver (or hit and run driver). UIM coverage will pay fordamages that exceed the amount of coverage carried by the underinsureddriver (the guy drafting you in the pick-up).
It gets a bit tricky here. Before you take the $15,000 and sign therelease thereby letting the pick-up driver off the leash, you need writtenconsent from your insurance company. Failure to obtain this expresspermission prior to accepting the $15,000 policy will mean the UIM coveragewill not be available to you. YOU don’t want to end up driving a pick-up, doyou?
Clients are surprised and saddened to learn that the at-fault driver’spolicy is subtracted from what their policy lists as the total UIM coverage.By way of example, if your auto insurance policy has $100,000 in UIM coverage(which is pretty typical) and you obtain $15,000 from the guy who hit you,there is only $85,000 available under the UIM
Bob Mionske is a former competitive cyclist who represented theU.S. at the 1988 Olympic games (where he finished fourth in the road race),the 1992 Olympics, as well as winning the 1990 National Championship RoadRace.After retiring from racing in 1993 he coached the Saturn ProfessionalCycling team for one year before heading off to law school. Mionske’s practiceis split between personal injury work, representing professional athletesas an agent and other legal issues facing endurance athletes (traffic violations,contract, criminal charges, intellectual property etc).If you have a cycling related legal question please send it to firstname.lastname@example.org.Bob will answer as many of these questions privately. Additionally, hewill select a few questions each week to answer on Insidetri.com. Generalbicycle accident advice can be found at www.bicyclelaw.com.
The information provided in the “Legally speaking” column is not legal advice. The information provided on this public web site is provided solely for the general interest of the visitors to this web site. The information contained in the column applies to general principles of American Jurisprudence and may not reflect current legal developments or statutory changes in the various jurisdictions and therefore should not be relied upon or interpreted as legal advice. Understand that reading the information contained in this column does not mean you have established an attorney-client relationship with Attorney Bob Mionske. Readers of this column should not act upon any information contained in the web site without first seeking the advice of legal counsel.