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Bicycle injury accidents occur with regular frequency in most cities where bicycle delivery services are common. When a bicyclist is involved in an injury accident, there are specific issues that can arise if the injured person was working as a bicycle courier or messenger.
Whether the cyclist is at fault, or the other party was at fault, there are similar considerations that non-cyclists should be aware of when it comes to accidents with bicycle messengers. If the bicyclist was currently engaged in a delivery, or was en route to make a pick up, there is a chance that the cyclist will be covered under an employer's workers' compensation policy, regardless of who is at fault. Cyclists should avail themselves of workers' compensation, if it is available to them, as failing to do so could result in a reduction of the potential damages.
Although this may sound callous to devoted cyclists, it is not that uncommon for bicyclists to be in the wrong in an accident. Also, bicyclists can cause significant damage to vehicles, drivers, passengers, and especially pedestrians.
If an individual is injured by a bicycle courier, or their car is damaged, both the bicycle delivery agency and the messenger can be held liable. The plaintiff will likely want to seek legal relief against the courier, or messenger agency, in addition to the individual cyclist, as the agency is more likely to have those proverbial "deep pockets." The individual cyclist could even have personal liability insurance coverage through a specialty, homeowners, or renters, insurance policy.
When a vehicle hits a bicycle messenger, the messenger will have a personal injury cause of action against the driver regardless of whether they have workers' compensation coverage available to them. If there is coverage available, any personal injury recovery against the at fault driver might be subject to subrogation from workers' compensation, or potential reduction for mitigation, depending on state laws. However, subrogation of a workers' comp claim would likely only account for lost wages, whereas the personal injury action can account for other damages, including pain and suffering.
While New York may be ahead of the curve when it comes to regulating bicycle delivery services, for messengers and couriers in other states or cities without sufficient employer provided protections, insurance companies offer special policies for private, or independent contractor, bicycle messengers.
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