Bicycle messengers deliver documents and packages quickly and efficiently in large cities. They usually can deliver a package quicker than traditional courier services. However, bicycle messengers face high risks of on-the-job accidents and injuries.
One study found that most urban bicycle messengers sustained at least one injury that resulted in days lost from work. In addition, over one-half of the messengers suffered injuries that required visits to a healthcare professional or hospital. Unfortunately, the study also found that urban bicycle messenger accidents are poorly documented.
Common Causes of Bicycle Messenger Injuries
Bicycle messengers are on tight deadlines. Some of the injuries they receive are caused by their reckless behavior in trying to rush to the next delivery. However, there are also environmental risks that bike messengers cannot control.
Common causes of bicycle messenger accidents include:
- Motorists failing to respect bicycle lanes
- Road hazards, including uneven pavement, potholes, cracks, construction sites, and open utility holes
- Being hit by a speeding, distracted, or drunk driver
- Poor weather conditions
- Passengers opening vehicle doors in front of bicyclists
Bike messengers have very little protection from injuries. A bicycle helmet and protective gear can reduce the risk of severe injuries, but they do not prevent all injuries. When a rider is struck by a motor vehicle, the rider often sustains catastrophic injuries.
Common Injuries for Bicycle Messengers
Bicycle messengers can sustain minor abrasions and sprains in a bicycle accident.
However, they can also sustain traumatic injuries that include:
- Broken bones and fractures
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Spinal cord damage, including paralysis
- Loss of vision or hearing
- Internal organ damage
- Amputations and loss of limbs
- Neck and back injuries
These injuries can result in substantial financial losses. They can also cause intense pain and suffering. Injured bicycle messengers may have one or more options for seeking compensation for damages.
Filing a Workers’ Compensation Claim for Bicycle Messenger Injuries
Bicycle messengers employed by courier services and other companies should be covered by workers’ compensation. Most Georgia employers are required to have workers’ compensation insurance.
Workers’ compensation benefits for an on-the-job injury can include:
- Payment of medical expenses and bills
- Medical rehabilitation costs, such as physical and occupational therapy
- Income benefits if you cannot work because of your injuries
- Vocational rehabilitation if you cannot return to work as a bicycle courier because of your injuries
- Permanent disability benefits
- Death benefits for dependents
Workers’ compensation benefits provide the medical care you need to recover from an on-the-job injury. It can also replace some of your income while you are out of work recovering from your injury. But unfortunately, workers’ compensation does not cover all your financial losses and covers none of your non-economic damages.
Furthermore, if you are an independent contractor, you are not covered by workers’ compensation. Many courier services employ bicycle messengers as independent contractors to avoid paying benefits or covering them with workers’ compensation.
Filing a Third-Party Claim for Bicycle Messenger Injuries
If another party caused your injury, you could have a claim against that party. Your third-party claim is separate from your workers’ compensation claim. Therefore, you can file both.
A third-party claim can result in additional compensation unavailable in a workers’ comp claim.
You could be entitled to compensation for all economic damages, including:
- Past and future medical bills
- All loss of income and benefits
- Reasonable expenses for personal care and household chores
- Nursing care in-home or in a facility
- Out-of-pocket expenses
In addition to your financial losses, you can also recover compensation for non-economic damages by filing a third-party claim. Non-economic damages include your pain and suffering, diminished quality of life, disfigurement, and permanent impairments.
Third-party claims include lawsuits filed against motorists who cause bicycle accidents. They also include claims against property owners for unsafe conditions and against government agencies for defective and dangerous road and sidewalk conditions.
An Atlanta workers’ compensation lawyer can assess your case to determine your options for recovering compensation after a bicycle messenger accident. There are deadlines for filing workers’ comp claims and third-party personal injury claims. Therefore, seeking prompt legal advice is recommended to avoid losing your rights.
Taking Precautions to Prevent Bicycle Messenger Injuries
Bike messengers can and should take preventative measures to reduce the risk of on-the-job accidents and injuries.
Some steps they can take include:
- Wearing a bicycle helmet, knee pads, elbow pads, and other protective gear
- Using reflectors and lights to increase visibility
- Wearing brightly colored clothing or safety jackets
- Carefully planning bicycle routes
- Following all bicycle and traffic laws
- Refraining from reckless or negligent behavior
- Never operating their bicycle while distracted, drowsy, or impaired
Even though a bicyclist’s actions could have contributed to the cause of a crash, the biker may still be entitled to some compensation for injuries. It is always wise to talk with a lawyer to learn about your options before assuming you are not entitled to workers’ comp benefits or other compensation for injuries.