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Bicycle Car Crashes


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Motor vehicle (car, bus, truck) related bicycle crashes are the most common form of injury producing bicycle accident in New York City. The City of New York has put in motion long term plans to increase the use of bicycles as the selected mode of transportation while at the same time attempting to reduce the risk associated with Cycling within New York City.

When a Cyclist is involved in crash with a car in NYC, it is important to document the occurrence with the proper authorities. The insurance information from the vehicle involved is the primary form of medical coverage for any necessary medical treatment, and therefore it must be identified.

When a bicyclist is involved in an crash with a motor vehicle there are two separate claims. The first is a No-Fault Claim, which provides basic coverage regardless of fault. The second is a liability bodily injury claim, which seeks compensation for economic and non-economic losses (pain and suffering and loss of enjoyment of life) based upon fault.


No-Fault coverage is statutory required coverage afforded to a cyclist (the same as a pedestrian) from the vehicle that came into contact with the bicyclist.

No-Fault coverage is provided regardless of fault and provides coverage for necessary medical expenses and a portion of lost earnings ($2,000 per month or 80% of your income, which ever is less). Minimum coverage in New York State is $50,000 per individual.

The No-Fault claim must be timely filed with the insurance company for the vehicle involved within thirty (30) days from the date of accident. All medical bills must be submitted for payment within forty-five (45) days of given treatment.

No-Fault coverage in a motor vehicle related crash is primary over all other forms of coverage, so it is therefore important to timely and properly file and secure the No-Fault claim.

If the motor vehicle involved does not have active coverage, then you would qualify for an uninsured motorist claim. Please see our separate page on this topic. If the crash involves a hit and run and the offending car remains unidentified, please see our separate page on “hit and run” motor vehicle related accidents.



The liability bodily injury claim is the claim that seeks to obtain compensation for all economic losses, and non-economic losses (i.e. pain and suffering and loss of enjoyment, past and future). This claim is usually the subject of the actual law suit. The claim does require that the bicyclist proves that the vehicle involved was negligent and/or that there was a violation of statute that was a substantial factor in the cause of the accident.

New York State recognizes pure comparative fault. In other words, the trier of fact makes a finding of fault as to a matter of degree to the extent that the finding of fault was a substantial factor in the cause of the accident. The percentage of fault, if any, allocated to the plaintiff cyclist, would serve to reduce the damages award to the same degree.

A finding of fault can be based upon the reasonable care standard of negligence, which simply is the required degree of care that reasonably prudent person would exercise under similar circumstances. This is typically a factual question for a jury to determine to the extent that the defendant does not concede liability.

The other basis of fault is a statutory violation, which must be a substantial factor in the cause of the accident. A statutory violation is even stronger, as the jury is instructed that if they find that the applicable statute was violated, then they must find negligence.

There are numerous potentially applicable statutory violations for a given pattern of facts.

Each set of facts can be different, and accordingly, it is the judge that makes the final determination of the applicable statutes that may be given to the jury for consideration.

One common form of bicycle car crash, in which the cyclist sustains serious injury is that of being “doored.”


Being “doored” is one of the most common form of bicycle car related accidents in New York City. Both the operator of the vehicle and occupant (if opening the door into traffic or a bicycle lane) can be held legally responsible for injuries sustained by a cyclist. Due to many careless drivers and passengers in New York City, several innocent cyclists have been injured and in some instances, killed. Numerous cyclists in New York City ride in fear of being “doored.” Under New York State Law, Article 33-New York Vehicle & Traffic Law, Section 1214 clearly states, in regards to opening and closing vehicle doors that no person shall open the door of a motor vehicle on the side available to moving traffic, unless and until it is reasonably safe to do so, and can be done without interfering with the movement of other traffic. Nor shall any person leave a door open on the side of a vehicle available to moving traffic for a period of time longer than necessary to load or unload passengers.

The number of careless drivers/passengers opening car doors into traffic has increased over the last few years.

Recently, there was a car door accident involving a graduate student, in which the driver, in violation of VTL 1214, opened his car door in the cyclist’s path, as the car driver attempted to exit his vehicle. Another victim, a young woman, was leaving her job in Manhattan. She suffered a severe injury to her back, knee and neck, as the car driver opened the door into the path of the cyclist. The most tragic of these car door accidents is the 2010 incident involving a 23 year old art student who was cycling on Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn, when a woman suddenly opened her car door to exit. The young art student was hurled into the air and thrown into the path of an oncoming city bus and killed instantly.

New York Code of Rules and Regulations speaks specifically to dangers of “dooring”, in that it provides “No person shall get out of any vehicle from the side facing on the traveled part of the street in such manner as to interfere with the right of the operator of an approaching vehicle or a bicycle.” NYCRR- Section 4-12©. New York City Taxi Rules also speak to this type of occurrence. NYCRR-Section 4-11, requires New York City Taxi Drivers “while engaged in picking up or discharging passengers, must be within 12 inches of the curb or parallel thereto.” Also NYCRR-Section 4-11 – Taxi and Cars for Hire – © picking up or discharging passengers shall not be made under such conditions, as to obstruct the movement of traffic and in no instance so as to leave fewer than 10 feet available for the free movement of vehicular traffic; Where stopping is prohibited; or Within a bicycle lane.

There will always be a danger to cyclist, no matter where they are, but drivers and passengers must pay attention to the “door zone.” The “door zone” is the space 2-4 feet adjacent to parallel parked or stopped cars. Everyone driving a vehicle should practice the logical rule of “looking before you open your car door.” You just may save a life, prevent an injury and prevent a lawsuit.

If you or someone you are for has been involved in a bicycle – motor vehicle – doored accident, please contact our office for a free, no obligation consultation. All the cyclists who have taken on the risk to make NYC a better place deserve every protection that the law affords and a lawyer can provide.


In some circumstances the injured cyclist may have been the victim of a hit and run car crash, where the vehicle flees the scene or the victim of an accident with a vehicle has no insurance. The first is a Hit and Run and the second is an uninsured motorist claim.


Often times bicyclist can be the victim of a hit and run motor vehicle related crash, in which there is physical contact with a motor vehicle and the motor vehicle flees the scene of the accident and remains unidentified. This is known as a hit and run – uninsured accident.

There is another category of uninsured status, in which the offending vehicle is identified, but does not have active insurance coverage. This is known simply as a uninsured accident.


In order to have a valid claim for a hit and run car crash, there are three basic requirements aside from injury. The first is that there must be physical contact with the offending vehicle. Second, the accident must be reported to the police within 24 hours of the actual accident. The third requirement is that there was no reasonable opportunity to identify the vehicle.


If you are in a bicycle car crash with a vehicle that later proves to be uninsured, you will have an uninsured motorist claim as long as there was physical contact with the uninsured vehicle.


In the case of a hit and run and an uninsured motorist claim, you will have both a valid No-Fault claim and a bodily injury claim. The bodily injury claim is conditioned upon proving fault and conditioned upon proving a serious injury or what is known commonly known as a threshold injury. The No-Fault coverage, proving fault and the threshold injury is discussed in detail in our bicycle – motor vehicle accident video.


In both categories of cases – hit and run or uninsured, the primary provider of coverage is the insurance company for any vehicle registered to anyone including yourself within your household related by blood or marriage.

If there is no vehicle registered in your household, then the claim must be filed with the Motor Vehicle Accident Indemnification Corporation (MVAIC). MVAIC is a statutory entity that provides a safety net of minimum coverage for victims of uninsured and hit and run motor vehicle accidents in New York State.

In an uninsured motorist claim, the provider of coverage steps into the shoes of the uninsured vehicle, and will attempt to defend the case on whatever available basis there is for them to defend the claim.


The time to file the valid claim for No-Fault benefits is 30 days from the date of the accident. The time to file for a valid hit and run claim is up to 90 days following the accident and the time to file for an uninsured motorist claim is a soon as reasonably practicable.

The deadlines involved can be construed very strictly, so if you have been involved in this type of accident, do not delay obtaining proper representation.


In bicycle car crash accidents, in addition to the burden of proving fault, the plaintiff cyclist must also prove a serious injury as defined by the No-Fault law. What the No-Fault law gives by way of basic coverage, it also serves to take away the right to maintain a case in the court system for bodily injury to the extent that the plaintiff cannot prove a serious injury as defined by the No-Fault law.

The plaintiff bicyclist must have sustained a “threshold injury”, which means that if any one injury meets one or more of the serious injury categories, then all the injuries are compensable, whether serious or not.

In many type of accidents, the serious injury category can be established as a matter of law. If so, the jury when presented with the case will not even consider the serious injury category.

The recognized separate categories for a threshold injury are as follows:

  1. A fracture;
  2. A significant disfigurement;
  3. A permanent impairment of the use of a bodily organ, member, function or system;
  4. A significant limitation of the use of a bodily organ, member or function or system, that must be significant, but need not be permanent;
  5. At least 90 of the first 180 days immediately following the accident, completely unable to carry out in your usual occupation, subject to what a reasonable person would do given the injuries involved;
  6. Death;
  7. Dismemberment;
  8. Pregnant – loss of a fetus.

Certain categories, such as the permanent impairment and significant limitation category can be the subject of dismissal by the court after all discovery is complete on what is known as a “threshold motion.” There is a significant line of case law interpreting these categories and the defendants are free to make a motion to dismiss based upon summary judgment at the conclusion of discovery in the case. It is then up to the plaintiff to come forward with sworn to records that at the very least establishes a question of fact. Even if the plaintiff prevails on the threshold motion, the jury is still charged with the threshold requirement and must make a finding of a serious injury before they can award compensation.

Again, some injuries such as a clear fracture are an automatic threshold injury, and in such cases the threshold requirement is not an issue in the case


Once there has been a finding of negligence and the serious injury requirement has been met, then the jury is directed to determine damages. There are separate categories of damages in a personal injury case. The first is economic losses i.e. the costs of medical treatment, both past and future and the loss of earnings, both past and future (if unable to work – or capacity diminished). The other category is non-economic damages, which is compensation for pain and suffering, both past and future (to the extent that the plaintiff has a degree of permanence associated with the injury). Future pain and suffering is awarded based upon the loss of expected enjoyment of life and corresponding limitations over the life expectancy of the plaintiff.

Every case is different when it comes to a damages award. The determination of damages in a personal injury action is a difficult task. The economic considerations differ from one individual to the next. The level of impact upon ones normal course and enjoyment of life differs with respect to the extent of injury and corresponding impact upon normal levels of activity.

Much of our firm’s representation and effort goes into proving the damages portion of a case in the most effective and persuasive manner to secure the best recovery we can for our clients.

Our firm has proudly represented clients involved in bicycle car crash accident in NYC. Our cycling clients have chosen to make a difference and subject themselves to the risks of cycling in New York City, an as a result they deserve every amount of protection that the law affords and a lawyer can provide.

Please contact our office for a free, no obligation consultation. We are here to help. At the very least after your consultation you will have a complete understanding of all the remedies that may be available to you. Please do not hesitate to contact our office.

What is My Bicycle Car Crash Accident Case Worth?

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