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Pedestrian and bike crash victims get shortchanged

In Los Angeles and other cities across the state of California, motorists are legally required to carry vehicle liability insurance. And as a result, the assumption of many people is that they will be suitably compensated in the event that they are involved in an accident. Unfortunately, however, some argue that outdated and insufficient policies leave many pedestrian and bicycle accident victims underinsured and unprotected.

At the moment, every California driver must have auto insurance that covers property damage and bodily harm. The minimum amount of coverage that low-income motorists are allowed to maintain is property damage liability of $3000 and bodily injury liability of 10,000 for an individual. Every other driver is required to have $5000 in property damage coverage and $15,000 in bodily harm coverage. The problem for pedestrian and bicycle accident victims is that the standard minimum for auto insurance liability was set in 1974 and has never been adjusted to account for inflation.

Only six other states have such low auto coverage minimums, and some experts that would like to see road safety efforts increased across the state note that few accident victims are actually helped under such circumstances. Bicycle and pedestrian fatality rates are on the rise across the state and it is estimated that the number of uninsured drivers in California is higher than anywhere else in the country.

To address the issue of accounting for the needs of accident victims, some have suggested raising the minimum liability rate for motorists. Though, others claim that doing so would only increase the number of uninsured drivers. Another possibility is considered is increasing the severity of penalties associated with driving offenses that involve bicycles and pedestrians.

Source: sfexaminer.com, “Injured SF pedestrian’s medical bill highlights gap in insurance coverage,” Jessica Kwong, Feb. 2, 2014

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