Important Information About Bicycle Accidents
A careless driver can turn your pleasant bicycle ride into a traumatic experience in a matter of minutes. So, it pays to keep in mind the crucial steps to take after a bicycle accident.
Knowing what to do can help you pursue compensation for losses that you suffered because of another person’s negligence. If you get involved in a bicycle accident, must take the following steps:
Assess your injuries. Determine whether you were injured. Some injuries are obvious while some are more subtle. After assessing your injuries, dial 911. If you are unable to move, someone else will request an ambulance.
Wait for the police to arrive. A police officer should respond and survey the accident scene. It is important to have a police report of the accident should you file a claim with the driver’s insurance company or your own auto insurance company.
Get information with the driver. While waiting for the officer to arrive, get the driver’s name, license plate number, telephone number, and auto insurance company’s name and policy number. You will need this information for your injury claim.
Get contact information from eyewitnesses. In some instances, bystanders may be willing to give a statement about the bicycle accident.
Do not admit guilt for the accident. The driver may want you to accept blame for the accident. By admitting guilt, you may be hurting your chances of getting fully compensated for your injuries.
Document the accident scene. If you have a phone, take photographs of your bicycle, the vehicle that hit you, your injuries (if they’re obvious), the road conditions (snow, rain, for instance), and anything else that you believe is relevant to the accident. If you do not have a phone, write down what you remember as soon as possible.
Tell police your version of the accident. As calmly as you can, tell the police in your own words what happened. Only answer the questions asked.
Most importantly, do not say that you were not injured. Without a medical examination, you will not know for sure whether you sustained injuries.
Seek Medical Attention as Soon as Possible
Bicyclists have a greater risk of injuries because they are not protected as passengers in an enclosed vehicle. Sometimes, bicyclists may not feel pain immediately after an accident because tensions are high and an adrenaline rush can hide the pain.
Nonetheless, it is important that you visit an urgent care facility or a hospital emergency room—even if you believe you were not injured. As an alternative, you can make an appointment to get checked out by your primary care provider.
Some of the most common injuries bicyclists sustain include:
• Head trauma
• Spinal cord trauma
• Fractures of the hand, arm, shoulder, leg or ankle
• Neck injuries
• Traumatic brain injury
Should you file an injury claim, an insurance company will review your medical records. If you do not seek immediate medical attention, an insurer might say that your injuries were not serious because you delayed getting examined by a doctor.
Filing An Injury Claim
If the driver who injured you has an auto policy, you can file a claim with the driver’s insurance company. In cases of a hit-and-run accident, you may be able to file a claim with your own auto insurance company for compensation.
Depending on the type of injuries and financial losses you suffered, you may be able receive compensation for your:
Medical expenses. This includes costs for hospitalization, doctor visits, and future medical care.
Lost wages. You may be able to receive wages that you lost because your injuries prevented you from working.
Property damage. You may be able to receive compensation for the loss or repair of your bicycle and other personal property damaged or destroyed in the accident.
Besides your financial losses, you may also be eligible to request compensation for the pain and suffering you endured.
Proving Your Bicycle Injuries
Insurance companies investigate accidents prior to paying out a claim. This stage of the claims process can get tricky, especially if the driver says that you were partially at fault for causing the accident.
To challenge accusations requires you to prove that the driver’s negligence caused your accident. The information you collected after the accident—photographs, eyewitness statements—can be used as proof against the negligent driver.
However, there is no guarantee that the information you provide will satisfy the driver or that person’s insurance company. It is not unusual for insurers to look for ways to deny a claim or offer a low settlement that does not cover an accident victim’s injuries.
If you find yourself at risk of being denied compensation, consider getting legal advice from a bicycle accident lawyer in Los Angeles.
Taking a Legal Course of Action
You may question whether you need a bicycle accident lawyer. If a medical examination showed that you were not injured or only suffered minor injuries and the at-fault driver’s insurance company is willing to pay for your expenses, then you probably do not need a lawyer.
But, when your medical bills pile up and an insurer refuses to compensate you, a bicycle accident lawyer can build a strong case to present to the insurer on your behalf.
Generally, insurers prefer to deal with an accident victim and not a personal injury attorney. Why? Because a personal injury lawyer knows the laws that apply to bicycle accidents. And, more importantly, a personal injury attorney knows the tactics used by insurers to deny claims.
The best personal injury lawyer has experience in negotiating fair settlements with insurance companies. What’s more, the best personal injury lawyer is not afraid to take an insurer to court when it refuses to offer fair compensation.
If you were involved in a bicycle accident and you have not yet been compensated for your losses, consulting with a personal injury lawyer is an important step to take after your bicycle accident.