A very disturbing trend is occurring in Alabama: Cyclists are being shot by pellet guns. Here is a recent article about a woman shot in Mobile, and there as also a shooting at the Mount Cheaha event last weekend. In New Orleans, cyclists were shot with a real gun. Here is the article on that horrendous event. While this is hopefully a short-lived insanity, here is some advice if it should happen to you or someone you know.
1. If possible, get the license tag and a description of the car;
2. ALWAYS report the event to the police AS SOON AS POSSIBLE after the incident – even if you do not have a lot of information regarding the vehicle. Whatever you have may well help if another incident happens shortly thereafter;
3. Use of a Go Pro or other similar type of device which may be of assistance in recording a car or tag if you are shot, and I would encourage both a rear and front facing device (although, I will confess that I do not ride with one);
4. To the extent you are hurt, of course, get treated. I note that one of the cyclists who was shot at Cheaha was going to seek treatment to see if the pellet was still in his body. If it is, then, he should keep the pellet;
5. Finally, if hurt, even if the culprit is not apprehended, you can and should make a claim with your own automobile insurance carrier. Your UM/UIM (un/underinsured) motorist coverage applies if you are injured by a car with no insurance. A car which is unknown (drives off) is known as a “phantom vehicle.” UM covers for injury or damage caused by a phantom vehicle. There will be issues regarding the driver/shooter’s intent, whether the injury was caused by the vehicle etc., but, that said, I believe that case law generally favors the injured party in this situation. And, this is true not only for the damage that the pellet may cause, but also that which is caused as a result of being shot – for example, you crash. And, if the culprit is caught, then you can and should cooperate in his prosecution, AND you should file a civil lawsuit against him for damages.
You may also want to consider riding in groups, but that has not necessarily prevented any of these occurrences.
It is difficult to explain the reasons for these shootings. However, it is always good to think about these issues before you ride so you can be prepared for the worst case scenario.