After being hit by a car on your bicycle, or after a loved one is hit by a vehicle while riding their bike, you need to file an insurance claim with the driver of the car’s auto insurance company. Filing your claim unlocks the opportunity for compensation, and compensation covers everything from medical expenses to lost wages to your pain and suffering.
Bicycle accidents are common, especially in Philadelphia. Any time you take a metropolitan city, combine it with multiple vehicles and then mix in residents riding bicycles, you are bound to see injuries. Unfortunately, these accidents rarely result in injuries for the drivers of the vehicles, but those on the bike do not fair so well.
In most bicycle-versus-automobile collisions, the driver walks away but the rider is severely injured. More often than not, these accidents at higher speeds will result in the death of the rider. If they survive, they will have long-term injuries such as a traumatic brain injury or a permanent paralysis that affects them the rest of their lives.
The medical costs and long-term care costs for these injuries can be catastrophic for a victim and their loved ones. This is why they will file a claim with the driver’s insurance to help recover some of those costs.
It is important that victims and their family members know how to properly file these claims – and do so quickly. While the injuries are not healed, there are timelines with how long you have to file. And if you file too late, the insurer can permanently deny your claim even if you have a valid one.
Basic Steps to File an Insurance Claim
Some of the first steps you take after an accident with a motor vehicle are the most important. Here is what you should do first:
Get the Insurance Information
Try to get the insurance information at the scene. If you are too injured, you may be able to get the insurance information from the police report. Police would be called to the scene if there are serious injuries, and they would take down the contact information (and hopefully insurance) of the other party.
You need the full name and contact of the driver, their insurance company and policy number, and their driver’s license. You will also want information about the vehicle, such as:
- Make and model of the car along with the year
- The VIN (vehicle identification number)
- License plate number
All of the vehicle details would be on the police report, making it easier to file your claim.
Contact the Insurance Company
You need to contact the insurance company and let them know that you were in an accident with their driver, the details about the accident and that you are filing a claim. By now, the driver should have notified their insurance company, but sometimes they do not. Also, if YOU own a car, you need to contact your own auto insurance company as well. They will be responsible for medical bills, up to the limit you chose (typically $5,000.00)–this DOES NOT affect your premium AT ALL.
Be Careful About What You Tell the Insurer
Remember, the insurance company doesn’t work for you; they work for the driver. Therefore, anything you say to them can be used as a way to possibly reduce compensation. For example, you could say that you might not have looked both ways, but now the insurance company will say you were partially at fault for the accident. My advice is to say NOTHING to the insurance company until you hgave a lawyer who can be involved in that conversation.
If you do speak to them, avoid saying anything that might make your injuries sound less severe than they really are, such as saying “I’m okay.” This gives the insurance company the chance to argue that your injuries were not severe and you don’t need compensation.
Take Detailed Notes
When you do talk with the insurance company, take very detailed notes about your entire conversation. Make sure you write down the name and extension of the party you talked with, date, time, and what you discussed.
Do Not Provide an Official Statement
One thing the insurance company may try to do is request an official statement from you. They may even lead you to believe that they cannot finish your claim until they get that recorded statement. As stated above, I would not provide a statement unless and until you hire an attorney, who will prepare you for the statement and be with you when the statement is given. Therefore, decline politely and let them know that you will need your attorney present before you give any official statement.
Hire a Bike Accident Attorney
Even if you think the insurance company will settle, most likely, the amount you get is not what you truly deserve or even need. Instead, you need an advocate who can fight against the insurance company, file the claim, and make sure that you not only get what you need, but what you deserve.
You may have long-term costs that you did not think of, but your attorney will. Furthermore, while you are trying to recover from your injuries, the last thing you need is to battle with an insurance claims adjuster trying to make it sound like you were at-fault for another vehicle hitting you on your bike. With an attorney by your side, insurance companies are less likely to create delays or put the blame on the victim – because they know there is a bigger chance they will go to trial if they do not settle.
Hire a Bicycle Accident Attorney for Your Injury in Pennsylvania
If you or a loved one was seriously injured in an accident involving your bike and a motor vehicle, you may be entitled to compensation. Right now, you need to focus on your injuries. So, let an attorney handle filing a claim, gathering evidence, and negotiating with the insurance company on your behalf.
Attorney Jeffrey H. Penneys., Esq, advocates for those who have been injured by others’ neglect. Let him help you and your family recover the compensation you need for medical costs, lost wages, loss of earning ability, and the permanent changes to your quality of life.