Philadelphia traffic can be horrible, especially on weekdays. Bicycle messengers quickly traverse traffic conditions to deliver packages and documents throughout the city. Sending documents by bicycle messenger is a quick and cost-effective option for many businesses.

However, bicycle messengers have a high risk of sustaining on-the-job injuries because of the nature of their job. They are traveling fast through heavy traffic to deliver packages quickly to keep up with demand and meet deadlines. A bicycle accident could result in catastrophic injuries for the messenger.

A study of occupational injuries of bicycle messengers found that urban bicycle couriers could have a high incidence of injuries. The researchers found that most bicycle messengers sustained at least one injury that caused them to be out of work and/or seek medical treatment. The researchers concluded that bicycle messengers had a very high rate of occupational injury.

What Are Common Causes of Accidents Involving Bicycle Messengers?

The study referenced above found that the most common causes of bicycle messenger injuries were:

  • Collisions with motor vehicles
  • Dooring (colliding with a vehicle door when a person opens the door in front of a cyclist)
  • Trying to avoid accidents with cars
  • Collisions with pedestrians 

Other risk factors and common causes of bicycle messenger accidents include:

  • Hazards in the road or bicycle lanes, including debris, utility hole covers, potholes, uneven pavement, construction zones, cracks, etc.
  • Motorists driving in designated bicycle lanes
  • Poor weather conditions
  • Other bicyclists who are reckless and negligent
  • Lack of bicycle lanes 

Bicycle messengers do not have the protection of a steel frame around them to protect them from injuries. They do not have seatbelts and airbags to reduce the risk of serious injuries and death. Even when wearing a bicycle helmet and protective gear, riders have very little protection from injuries when they are struck by a motor vehicle or crash.

Common Injuries Sustained by Bicycle Messengers

Common injuries bicycle messengers sustain include:

Injuries can cause permanent impairments and disabilities. Scarring and disfigurement are common consequences of a bicycle accident. Injured bicycle messengers could be entitled to compensation for their damages from the party who caused the accident, but they could also qualify for workers’ compensation benefits.

Filing a Workers’ Compensation Claim for a Bicycle Messenger in Philadelphia

Most employers in Pennsylvania have workers’ compensation insurance. They are required to provide workers’ comp for their employees. If the bicycle messenger is an employee, they could be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits, including:

  • Payment of medical expenses
  • Replacement of lost wages
  • Total disability benefits
  • Specific loss benefits
  • Death benefits for dependents

Workers’ compensation does not pay for all lost wages. Injured workers receive only two-thirds of their average weekly wages for temporary disability benefits. Unfortunately, workers’ comp does not compensate an injured worker for their non-economic damages, including pain and suffering. 

Additionally, if the bicycle messenger is an independent contractor, they are not covered by workers’ compensation. Many courier services hire independent contractors to avoid the cost of workers’ compensation insurance and the liability for an on-the-job injury.

Filing Third Party Claims for Philadelphia Bicycle Messenger Accidents 

If another party caused the bicycle messenger accident, the cyclist might have a personal injury claim against that party. A personal injury claim is separate from a workers’ compensation claim and may be filed even though the bicyclist receives workers’ comp benefits. 

A third party claim can compensate a bicycle messenger for damages, including:

  • Medical bills or expenses not covered by workers’ compensation 
  • All loss of income and benefits caused by the accident
  • Out-of-pocket expenses
  • Cost of personal care and long-term nursing care
  • Help with household chores 
  • Pain and suffering caused by physical injuries
  • Loss of enjoyment of life or quality of life
  • Diminished earning potential and future lost wages
  • Emotional distress and mental anguish
  • Permanent impairment and disability 
  • Scarring and disfigurement

Unlike a workers’ compensation for a bicycle messenger accident, the bicyclist would need to prove negligence to recover compensation for damages in a third party claim. Workers’ compensation is a no-fault insurance benefit. Therefore, the bicyclist does not need to prove fault and could be partially at fault for the injury and still receive workers’ comp benefits.

However, with a third party claim, the bicycle messenger must prove the other party caused their injury. Pennsylvania contributory fault laws would apply if the bicyclist were partially to blame for causing the accident. Therefore, the bicyclist’s compensation could be reduced by their level of fault.

A bicycle messenger injured on the job should seek legal advice from a personal injury or workers’ compensation lawyer regarding their rights and options for receiving compensation for damages and losses.

For more information, see our benchmarking report and more information on past benchmarking reports.