Colliding with a driver can leave a cyclist with expensive and life-altering injuries. Unlike drivers who are surrounded by robust vehicle frames, airbags, and other safety features, cyclists have minimal bodily protection. This means they’re far more likely to suffer from devastating injuries after a crash.
In addition to this lack of protection, bicyclists are up against large and heavy vehicles. The average passenger vehicle weighs around 4,000 pounds, so if you’re struck by even a slow-moving car, you may have debilitating injuries that require costly medical treatments.
Fortunately, you have every right to file a bicycle accident insurance claim against an at-fault driver after a bike-car accident. You can seek compensation for your bike damage as well as money for medical bills, lost wages, loss of future earnings, pain and suffering, and other damages.
In this blog, you’ll learn all about filing a bike accident insurance claim and recovering full compensation for your crash.
How to Report a Bike Accident
After suffering from a crash, you need to contact the police as well as emergency medical services if necessary. If no one is injured in the accident, you can contact a non-emergency line to report the accident. You should then wait for the police to arrive on the scene.
While you wait, exchange information with the motorist if you’re physically able. Make sure to write down their:
- Contact information
- Insurance company
- Insurance policy number
- Driver’s license number
- License plate number
- Vehicle identification number (VIN)
- Vehicle’s make, model, and year
Additionally, you can collect valuable evidence that will help support your claim, such as:
- Photos and videos: Collect ample photographic and video evidence of property damage, road and weather conditions, traffic, and other factors that may have contributed to the crash.
- Eyewitness statements: Talk to anyone who may have witnessed the accident, and record their name and contact information.
Once the police arrive at the scene, you should answer all of their questions truthfully so that they can create an accurate accident report. Of course, your bike accident may have already occurred. If this is the case, you have ten days from the date of the accident to fill out an SR-1 report and submit it to the DMV. Reporting your accident to the California road authorities is a critical step to filing a claim and recovering compensation.
Contact Insurance Companies
The next step to filing your claim is reporting the accident both to your auto insurance company and the at-fault driver’s insurer. You should start with your own insurance, but if you don’t have auto or bike accident insurance, you can go straight to reporting the incident to the negligent driver’s insurance.
One critical note is that this is separate from filing your claim — you merely report the incident without going into detail just in case the driver failed to inform their insurer. Do not supply an official recorded statement, as this may jeopardize your claim. You may say something that can be misconstrued as admitting liability.
Because of the sensitive nature of talking to an insurer, it’s best to have an attorney handle all communication with the at-fault driver’s insurance company.
Discuss Your Bike Accident Insurance Claim with an Attorney
Technically, you can file an accident insurance claim without the assistance of an attorney, but enlisting the expertise of a lawyer will greatly increase your likelihood of recovering full compensation for medical bills and other losses.
An experienced attorney will know how to value your claim, enabling you to demand the proper amount from the at-fault driver’s insurer. Further, they can help you gather additional evidence that supports your claim. For example, an attorney can subpoena invaluable proof, such as private security camera footage that captured the accident.
An attorney can also identify any other parties that may have contributed to your accident. For instance, if you crashed on a road that was in disrepair, the state or local municipality may be partially liable for your damages.
Collect Proof of Damages
When building your accident claim, you need to supply proof that the driver was liable for the accident and that the collision directly caused you to suffer losses. We’ve already discussed evidence you can collect to prove liability, such as witness statements, photos, and videos. You can also use the police’s accident report as evidence if it indicates that the driver was at fault.
To prove that you suffered losses, you’ll need to retain all receipts that relate to the accident, such as bike repairs and all medical expenses. Other forms of evidence you can use to indicate that you suffered damages include:
- Medical records: Your medical records can prove that you underwent treatment as a direct result of the accident in question. This may include doctor’s visits, prescriptions, surgeries, physical therapy, and other records.
- Expert medical witness: A medical expert can corroborate how your injuries may impact your ability to work and enjoy life.
- Testimony from family and friends: Testimony from those close to you can help support your claim that the accident has impacted your quality of life.
- Mental health professional testimony: Testimony from a mental health professional, such as a therapist, can provide evidence that the crash and your resulting injuries impacted your mental and emotional health.
- Lost wage documentation: If your injuries have impacted your ability to work, you’ll need to provide supporting documentation, such as a letter from your employer or pay stubs.
Send a Demand Letter to the Negligent Driver’s Insurance Company
Once you’ve gathered as much evidence as possible, it’s time to file your claim. You or your attorney will need to submit a demand letter to the negligent party’s insurance company. This demand letter should detail what occurred during the accident, how the driver is at fault, and what damages you’ve suffered. The demand letter will include the amount of compensation you require.
After you file an insurance claim for a bike accident, the at-fault driver’s insurance company will either accept your terms, present a counteroffer, or reject your claim entirely. If you provide sufficient evidence that the driver was at fault and that you suffered damages, the insurer will likely counteroffer in an attempt to save money. They may at first counter with a low-ball offer as a negotiation tactic.
It’s critical to have an attorney at this stage because they can negotiate with the insurance company on your behalf. They’ll negotiate until both you and the insurance company are satisfied with the settlement. If you don’t reach a desirable settlement, you’ll need to take the insurer to court. Fortunately, most cases settle out of court.
Contact the California Bike Accident Attorneys at Sally Morin Personal Injury Lawyers
If you suffered from an accident in the Golden State, contact the expert California bike accident attorneys at Sally Morin Personal Injury Lawyers. We have years of experience handling bike accident claims and will work to maximize your compensation. You can schedule your free case evaluation today by calling 877-380-8852 or you can contact us online.