Maximizing Your Settlement from a Bicycle Accident
By its nature, cycling is considered one of the most dangerous activities. Even though cyclist account for a small percentage of the total trips and commutes in Tacoma, Seattle, and Western Washington, the number of bicycle accidents are relatively high.
According to a survey done by NHTSA, in 2019 alone, 846 cyclists were killed in a road accident. This number has significantly risen from what it used to be in 2010 (the total number of cycle accidents in 2010 was accounted to be 621).
Sometimes it’s the poor condition of the road, other times it’s speeding vehicles, and injury-causing traffic accidents. Unfortunately, if you got yourself in such an accident, then it’s wise to know all of your options, especially when dealing with an insurance company that doesn’t have your best interests at heart.
An accident can be very painful and stressful in many ways, and the court recognizes this fact. However, the laws associated with bicyclists are quite complicated and only an expert can help you understand the several ways you can process a bicycle accident claim.
It would be wise for you to talk with a skilled bicycle accident attorney right after the accident.
To recover money after a bicycle accident, you need a good attorney as well as a great deal of knowledge regarding settlement of cases.
What to Do After a Bicycle Accident?
Every injury case is different, but the path to receiving a handsome settlement is almost the same for each case. There are certain steps that you need to take right after the accident to get that settlement money.
Here are some of them:
- Whenever you meet an accident, your entire focus should be on your wellbeing. Save yourself and get your injuries checked. If there are others involved in the accident, you need to acknowledge that also.
- Your next step should be to call 911 and report the accident. If you or the other party is injured, do not forget to call for an ambulance.
- Meanwhile, you should access yourself as well as your surroundings. Notice little details like what hit you, the location of the accident, etc. If the driver of the vehicle that hit you is in the right condition, you can communicate with them to find out some details like, name and contact information, details of the auto insurance company, and policy number.
- Ask if he/she has a driver’s license or permit. Note down vehicle details like vehicle license plate number, model, making, color, and year.
- If possible, take photos and videos of the entire incident.
- Take note of any witnesses around you. If possible, you should take their contact information too.
What Not to Do After a Bicycle Accident?
When the first responders arrive, answer their every question clearly, but do not make any statement that suggests that you are at fault.
- Do not leave the crime scene if you want to preserve your right of obtaining a reasonable settlement. You should leave only after the first responders clears you to leave the sight.
- Do not say anything to anyone except the police and the lawyer, especially not to the other party or the insurance agent.
- Do not go on riding just yet. Make sure you are first cleared by your doctor to drive.
Even if the driver runs away, at least try to watch out for the car license plate, model, making, coloring, etc. The more detail you have, the easier it will be to find the culprit. It is advised not to get involved in an argument with the other party. Sit tight and let the first responders take care of every detail.
Who Will Cover Your Damages for Bicycle Accident?
Your attorney can seek settlement for damages in multiple ways, such as:
- Cyclist insurance policy
Some of the insurance policies come with a no-fault policy, which means both injured parties can receive a settlement from their insurance coverage. No matter what are the circumstances surrounding the accident, the no-fault policy insurance will offer you some sort of benefits.
Your injury attorney will try to claim for all the bills, including that of the medical care, caregiver, rehabilitation, etc. Besides, if you have a homeowner’s insurance policy, it might also cover any damage to your bicycle.
- Coverage by insurance of others
In case you do not have vehicle insurance, your attorney will advise you to check to if you are covered under someone else’s insurance. Maybe someone else in the family has a policy that can cover your damage too; for instance, your spouse or other relatives.
- At-fault driver’s insurance
If you are not eligible for both of the above-mentioned insurances, maybe your damages can be covered by at-fault driver’s insurance.
- Personal injury lawsuit
In case you have suffered extensive injuries that caused you loss of wages, loss of future earning capability, and loss of enjoyment of life, your attorney might advise you to file for a personal injury lawsuit.
6 Steps to Obtain a Settlement for Bicycle Accident
- Treat Your injuries
For major injuries, the first responder will arrange an ambulance and you will be immediately taken to a nearby hospital. In case of minor injuries, you won’t need an ambulance, but it’s strictly recommended that you first visit a doctor for an overall checkup.
Getting your condition described on a paper will help the court get the extent of the accident and the damages done. Even if you feel like you are all fine, get yourself checked for internal injuries. Sometimes, it takes a few hours and even days for an internal injury to be noticed.
- Talk to a bicycle accident lawyer
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Once you pull yourself together, the next step should be to contact a professional attorney. Most attorneys will provide you with a free consultation. Take advantage of this conversation and understand the severity of the situation. Just your first talk will give you an idea of what you can expect during a settlement. After you have gathered some relevant information, you can hire an attorney and get to the point of negotiation.
- Never negotiate with the insurance company alone
One of the many slip-ups by the victims is directly negotiating with the insurance company. The victim should never be talking to an insurance agent in absence of an attorney. The insurance companies are good at finding loopholes and will try their best to pay you as little as possible.
In certain circumstances, they might also be in a hurry to pay you. Even if you are in a dire need of money, at least wait for your lawyer so that you can receive a good settlement. A skilled attorney would know what to say and how to negotiate. Besides, even if there are certain gaps in your case, they will either hide them or represent them with good reasons.
- Gather all the related evidence
The more evidence you have from the crime scene, the easier it gets to recover the settlement. Provide your attorney with details gathered from the crime scene, including medical bills, photos, and videos of the scene, photos of the damaged bicycle, etc. In case, your injuries prevent you from gathering this evidence, you can take help from a friend, attorney, associate, or paralegal.
- Strive for a fair settlement
Seek help from your attorney to reach the maximum settlement amount. They can help you recover for lost wages, medical care, rehabilitation cost, prescription medicines, paid help, etc.
- File a lawsuit
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If the case is complicated and you are unable to receive fair compensation for your injury, then the last resort is to go for a trial. To receive a favorable judiciary outcome, your lawyer should file the case within three years if you are living in Washington State. Filing a complaint also means that your attorney will have to present to the court the evidence of the driver’s negligence.
Through a trial, you can expect to receive settlement for all your past and future medical bills, lost income, property damage, and loss of enjoyment of life.
How The Jackman Law Firm Can Help
After being in a bicycle accident, the best thing you can do is reach out to The Jackman Law Firm. We have helped hundreds of people who have been injured in serious bike accidents. The injuries from these accidents can be extensive and severe, ranging from broken bones to potentially death.
In addition, it is unlikely that an insurance company is going to look out for your best interests when it comes time to settle your claim. Rather, they are going to do everything possible to protect their own interests by not paying you a fair settlement.
The Jackman Law Firm can help you recover money for your lost wages, medical bills, and your pain and suffering. We offer free consultations.