Resources consulted for this noncommercial site are listed below, in rough order of usefulness for the author. Readers will note that advocacy and advice for bicyclists is more abundant than that for pedestrians. However, bike-oriented advice is typically applicable to pedestrians.
Medical advice for crash victims, geared to the public, is minimal. Official sources of medical or legal advice for the public are almost nonexistent.
Most links updated as of 4/19/2013.
Online Legal Encyclopedia/Vehicle Accidents
Free online information from respected, populist legal publisher Nolo Press. Geared to broad, national audience. Not specific to NYC, but detailed and helpful.
How to Win Your Personal Injury Claim
(Berkeley, CA: Nolo Press, 1992-2006)
Available from the New York Public Library as both a print and an e-book. Highly recommended, especially Chapter 3, “Initial Steps in Settling Your Claim.”
Legal guidance from Portland-based bike racer/attorney/blogger Bob Mionske. National in scope; not specific to NYC but very informative. Blog posts and book.
How to Handle Bike-Car Accidents, Part 1
What to do at the scene of the
Road Rights—How to Handle Bike-Car Accidents, Part 2
care and insurance coverage
Road Rights—How to Handle Bike-Car Accidents, Part 3
What it says.
Bicycling & the Law: Your Rights as a Cyclist
Indispensable book giving an overview of bicycling rights and laws. Available from the New York Public
Selecting a Civil Attorney
Step-by-step advice, in plain language, from Mothers Against Drunk Driving. Read this before hiring an attorney.
New York Bar Association Legal Referral Service
A free service to help you find an attorney with experience in your type of case. The city’s 311 line also sends callers to this service. As of early 2012, first half-hour visit cost $35, paid to the LRS. There is no obligation to engage the attorney consulted.
City Bar Legal Justice Hotline
Provides free legal advice on simple matters for low-income NYC residents.
Reporting a Crash/Cycling Attorneys
Tips from NYC advocacy group Transportation Alternatives.
NycCarAccident.net wallet card
A checklist to keep on hand and to share. (One double-sided copy, with the reverse side printed upside down, yields four cards.)
Know Your Rights Manual for NYC Messengers
A quick-n-dirty rundown for cyclists on the go, from the New York Bike Messenger Association. Covers No-Fault and MVAIC insurance, workers’ comp and disability; hospitals and clinics. For many years, this little book was the only guide available for cyclists.
What to Do in a Crash
What to Do if You Get Doored
Rules of the Road
Tips from NYC advocacy group Transportation Alternatives.
What Happens Now: Car Accident
What Happens Now: Bicycle Accident
Checklists compiled by a good Samaritan.
What to Do When You Are Involved in a Car Crash
National Safety Council boilerplate on Google Docs. Why doesn’t NYC at least have this on its Web sites? Waverly, Ill. (pop. 1400) does.
Emergency First Aid for Cyclists
Useful advice for pedestrians and cyclists for handling a crash scene and getting medical care from Dr. Edward Fishkin, director of Woodhull Medical Center, Brooklyn. Transcribed by the author of this Web site and published by the New York Cycle Club.
Living with Traumatic Brain Injury
Informative brochure from Mothers Against Drunk Driving. Even a mild injury (i.e., concussion) can affect concentration and mood. In case you were thinking of ignoring that concussion.
Concussion Symptoms: When to Seek Medical Attention
From the Centers for Disease Control.
From Nolo Press.
“Starting Again After a Brain Injury“
Poignant first-person account by Jane Rosett, published in the New York Times 10/8/11.
Emergency medical protocols
While not geared to the public, the state DOH emergency medical protocols show how emergency decisions are made—and emphasize the danger of serious injury even when a crash victim is conscious and mobile.
The 2008 protocols for suspected spinal injuries are outlined briefly here (pdf, 39KB).
This training presentation (pdf, 2.7MB) notes that auto crashes cause almost half of the 20,000 spinal cord injuries nationwide, and that even low-speed crashes may cause spinal injury. A painful wound on another part of the body may mask the symptoms of a spinal injury. Improperly moving the patient with an unstable fracture may cause a “secondary injury.”
State and city authorities
A car crash happens about every seven minutes in NYC. Yet no state or city authority offers guidance on obtaining medical care or legal aid for injured pedestrians and cyclists.
The NYS Dept. of Financial Services regulates the insurance industry, including oversight of the No-Fault and MVAIC insurance programs.
Information on these vital programs, however, is scant and buried deep on the agency’s Web site. The site’s convoluted prose makes the entries resistant to comprehension as well as Internet searching.
Here, you’ll see what I mean:
The department’s main FAQs page for auto insurance says nothing about about bicyclists, and mentions pedestrians only in a section on uninsured motorists. Its entry about mandatory No-Fault insurance says nothing about who is eligible to make a claim.
A separate FAQs page about No-Fault insurance mentions pedestrians but not bicyclists in the second paragraph. That is, if you get through the reader-proof first paragraph. Peds are also mentioned in the entry on motorcycle crashes.
The trick question here is: “What is No-Fault coverage and what am I entitled to under it?” The trick answer: “See our Consumers Guide on Automobile Insurance – No-Fault Benefits.” Which leads to a dead page.
A site search for “pedestrian” does turn up the links below, if you can make sense of them. A search for “bicyclist,” however, turns up nothing but several entries about purported insurance fraud schemes.
If you still haven’t gotten what you need (which is likely), you can hit the link for “Helpful No-Fault Links,” which leads to this page: No-Fault Regulation 68 Helpful No-Fault Links. Decide for yourself how helpful this page is. In unsurprisingly circuitous fashion, one link leads back to the No-Fault FAQs page.
For information about making a claim under No-Fault, you have to look in the driver-oriented Consumer Guide to Automobile Insurance.
The annual publication, Consumer Guide to Automobile Insurance 2012, tells drivers how to purchase auto insurance. It states in Section 2 that pedestrians are covered, again omitting cyclists. But just try to figure out the process.
The section on “Filing Claims Under Your Own Policy” is the relevant one for injured peds and cyclists. But this placement is needlessly opaque, and hardly the place most cyclists and peds would look, since they would be filing under the driver’s policy, not their own.
In a September 2011 email to the author, the NYS Dept. of Insurance advised that consumers seeking information should contact its Web site or call its Consumer Services Bureau at 800-342-3736, or 212-480-6400, between 9am-5pm, Monday through Friday. Be prepared to wait through numerous recordings, and listen carefully to get a live agent.
If you are in a hit and run crash on a weekend night or holiday, don’t wait until Monday to call the information line, because you will no longer be eligible for MVAIC coverage. Instead, notify the police within 24 hours.
If You Are In a Traffic Crash
Chapter 12 from the New Driver Study Guide
Short chapter on a voluminous subject, aimed at drivers.
Has one good tip about not moving the injured person.
If You Have an Accident
From the DMV Web site, crash reporting requirements for drivers.
No information about responding at the crash scene.
Annual Car Crash Data for New York City
The state DMV publishes these data after the end of each calendar year. Tables comprise reports from state DMV and NYPD sources.
Sharing the Road
Chapter 11 from the New Driver Study Guide.
For what it’s worth.
511 Traffic, Transit, and Travel Info
NYS DOT’s informative commuter and travel portal.
No entry on traffic crashes, or how to handle them, as of April 2013.
Bicycle Safety Tips
Advice to cyclists on how to stay alive amidst thousands of metal death traps piloted by the inattentive and insane. Too bad the state DOT doesn’t offer such advice for drivers.
Traffic and Accidents
311 is NYC’s indispensable government and nonemergency services line. The 311 Web site and phone agents advise calling 911 if witnessing a crash in progress. Neither appear to have information about what to do afterwards, nor about the existence of No-Fault and MVAIC insurance.
As of October 2011, the 311 Web site did not include easily accessible guidance for car crash victims.
(A spokesperson for 311 could not confirm that such information wasn’t available somewhere in the department’s vast Web site. But he added, “To the extent that we can make the site more accessible, we want to do that.” Here’s hoping the department will link to NycCarAccident.net.)
NYC DoT Motorist Information
NYC DoT Bicycle Safety Tips
BikeSmart: The Offical Guide to Cycling in New York City
NYC Bike Laws
The NYC DoT has made impressive changes to the city’s street design and huge improvements for cyclists and pedestrians, with more to come. The Department did not respond to several requests for information or comment.
As of April 2013, the NYC DoT Web site did not provide instruction on dealing with a car crash, based on a review of its main portals for motorists, bicyclists, and pedestrians.
The NYC DoH public Web site features an impressive array of public health information and statistics, including bicycle crashes. The Department did not respond to two requests for information or comment.
Update August 2012: The DOH added links to NycCarAccident.net–the first-ever mention on any City site of what you should do if hit by a car, beyond calling 911.
Physical Activity and Nutition/Cycling Resources
Bike Safety for Delivery Workers
Thanks to the office of Comptroller John Liu for making it happen!
Now, we just have to get the information to 311 and emergency workers.
Operation Safe Cycle
The NYPD issued this pamphlet to encourage safe cycling in July 2011.
Safe Cycle Video (4:41 video on You Tube)
At 4:00, states that cyclist must give name and address in accident resulting in injury or property damage, and inaccurately notes that they must contact the police if death involved. In fact, police must be summoned by driver or cyclist if any injury or $1,000 in property damage.
As of January 2012, site offers no guidance to people in car crashes.
NYPD Patrol Guide
The NYPD Patrol Guide outlines procedures that cops on the beat are supposed to follow. The 2000-plus-page Guide is not available to the public on the NYPD site.
However, the 2005 version (outdated) of the Patrol Guide is here. The sections pertaining to vehicle accidents are here.
Many apps are available at low cost that provide the latest version of the Guide; do a Google search and you will find one. KSA Publications offers the Guide as well. “Free” downloads are available but I have not tested them due to malware concerns.
The sections relevant to car crashes are these:
217-01: Vehicle Accidents: General Procedures
217-02: Serious Injury or Death
217-03: Serious Injury or Death, Mechanical Defect Involved
217-13: Obtaining/Amending a Police Accident Report
Car Crash Data for NYC
Mandated by local law, the police department publishes its crash statistics on a monthly basis.
Most recent crash report
Archives from previous years are linked at the bottom of the Web page linked here.
For annual summaries, visit the state DMV site.
The NYPD used to post information about its divisions and their responsibilities on the Internet, but the sites have been removed. Here are printouts (4MB) from the Transportation Bureau from 2007, when I first began this project. The only current information I could find online was a series of short Wikipedia articles.
Supported by property/casualty insurers, this nonprofit organization publishes insurance information and statistics and conducts public relations for the industry. Its Web site says it doesn’t lobby, and that that its mission is to “improve public understanding of insurance.” Apparently that understanding doesn’t include informing the public about No-Fault insurance benefits.
Its Consumer/Claims Filing section does not mention No-Fault bodily injury coverage. A site search for “No-Fault” in April 2013 turned up 175 studies, articles, and press releases — mostly concerning alleged fraud and insurance “crisis.” There was otherwise no mention of No-Fault auto benefits to struck pedestrians and cyclists. (Perhaps the institute should educate the public as to how No-Fault benefits should be properly used.)
Similarly, results from a 2012 search for “Motor Vehicle Accident Indemnification Corporation” relate to uninsured motorist coverage in hit-and-run crashes. (Granted I looked at the first 100 of 500 results.)
At the Scene of an Accident
Web page listing eight basic steps after a car crash.
Bad: Lacks warning to not move victim.
Bad: No mention of No-Fault, pedestrians, or bicyclists.
Filing a Claim
Web page giving steps to filing a claim with your own insurer.
Bad: Tells you to call the insurer to ask for direction; does not explain process so you can judge if you are acting against your own interest.
Bad: No mention of No-Fault, pedestrians, or bicyclists.
What Are My Rights When Filing a Claim?
Answer: We dunno. Ask your state insurance department.
Video. The message is: Children on bikes should wear a helmet and yield to cars.
Knowing What to Do After an Auto Accident
III press release, 2005
Good: Says that injured person should not be moved.
Bad: Hidden on Web site.
Bad: No mention of No-Fault, or coverage for pedestrians or bicyclists.
No-Fault Auto Insurance
No mention, of course, of pedestrians or cyclists.
What Is Covered By a Basic Auto Insurance Policy?
States that the insured driver can be covered under their own uninsured motorist policy if hit as a pedestrian. Which ignores pedestrians and cyclists hit by that driver, under the driver’s liability and personal injury policies.
Bicycling Can Be Good for You and the Environment, But Remember to Properly Insure Your Ride
Article concerns insuring your bicycle for loss or theft.
Actually mentions No-Fault insurance — but only for insured cyclists who injure someone else while riding. There is still no acknowledgement that cyclists are protected by No-Fault policies of drivers who may hit them.
Also includes this gem of a safety tip: “[A]lways keep safety in mind….Take extra care when riding on a roadway. Courtesy and predictability are key to safe cycling.” As if cyclist discourtesy — rather than driver inattention or misconduct — were the main cause of grievous injury or death on the road.
This glossary entry obliquely mentions that people hit by drivers are covered as first parties under No-Fault insurance. Compare No-Fault Medical.
I reviewed the Web sites of the top five insurers in New York State, representing about 51% market share. None explained how to make a No-Fault claim, or that such claims are available to pedestrians and cyclists struck by an insured driver, based on Web site reviews in October 2011 and January 2012.
In other words: If you don’t already know that struck pedestrians and cyclists are entitled to medical coverage under No-Fault, you aren’t going to find out from these companies’ Web sites. Perhaps this is because insurers aren’t obligated to disclose No-Fault benefits until after a crash victim files a claim, according to the state insurance department.
Crash victims who are nonmembers must phone these companies or their agents to request information, which could present significant disadvantages.
What To Do After an Auto Accident
Online Claim Form
You must have a State Farm ID number and file a claim to view the claim form. Nonmembers are advised to call a claims office. A NYC resident, I was directed to call the Parsippany NJ office using a toll-free number.
Allstate’s Web site does not include an explanation of No-Fault coverage, access for nonmembers, or information on how to claim against an Allstate driver. A site search for “No-Fault” turns up press releases concerning fraud and unrelated articles. Drivers are instructed to inform their agent if a pedestrian was hurt in a crash; but there’s nothing for the pedestrian.
Allstate Claims Handling Process page
I was unable to access the online form. The other options are to call the toll-free number or an agent. At least Allstate makes nice by saying they hope you weren’t injured.
After an Accident: File Your Auto Claim the Right Way and
Allstate’s insurance claim instructions. Focused on property damage. Does not mention pedestrians, bicyclists, or No-Fault.
Also, among New York’s 181 insurers, Allstate had the second most numerous complaints upheld for 2010, according to the state’s published 2010 Annual Ranking of Automobile Insurance Complaints.
Allstate performs admirably, however, in terms of driver education. A site search for “pedestrian” turns up information on safe driving, global initiatives, and other important subjects. A site search for “bicycle” turns up tips for bike maintenance and safe driving around bicycles (including passing slowly and from a five-foot distance.) Now I know who to thank for the greater caution I notice among some drivers when I’m out riding my bike these days.
The City and State of New York should link to Allstate’s page on sharing the road.
Update April 2013: Allstate has removed the content about driving safely around bicycles. The link cited now redirects to a page on “Safety Tips for Summer Activities.”
What To Do If You Get Into An Accident
1. Move car. 2. Check to see if anyone is hurt.
Online Claim Form
Nonmembers are instructed to call a toll-free number to report a claim.
About Auto Insurance
This page misrepresents who is eligible for No-Fault benefits in New York by omitting pedestrians and bicyclists: “Medical payments, no-fault or personal injury coverage – usually pays for the medical expenses of the driver and passengers in your car incurred as a result of a covered accident regardless of fault.”
“No-fault Insurance: May pay for your [the insured driver's] medical treatment, lost wages, or other accident-related expenses regardless of who caused the accident.” Omits pedestrians and bicyclists.
Online Claims Center
Requires members and nonmembers to enter a claim number to access information.
This glossary page doesn’t have a listing for “No-Fault.” However, in a site search, the phrase turns up under “Personal Injury Protection,” (PIP), a little-known term that also refers to No-Fault bodily injury coverage. This entry accurately states that PIP covers pedestrians, though it doesn’t mention bicyclists.
Online Claim Form
You can file a claim online. You just can’t find out about the policies covering you.
No information or search function is available on this company’s Web site.