After a bicycle accident, you will likely require extensive medical care and may be unable to work for some time. Fortunately, under California law, you are entitled to compensation if the driver of the vehicle or another party was at fault.
Try to get the at-fault party’s insurance information at the scene. You will need their full name and contact information, driver’s license number, insurance company, and policy number, vehicle make, model and year, Vehicle Identification Number (VIN), and license plate number. If you are severely injured, you will be able to get this information from the police report. For your initial treatment, utilize your health insurance to cover your medical treatment costs. Your insurer may require a copay or deductible. Once you recover compensation from the at-fault party, you may potentially have to reimburse your health insurer for the coverage they provided.
You or your lawyer must contact the at-fault party’s insurance company and let them know that you were in an accident with their driver and that you are filing a claim. By now, the driver should have notified their insurer, but that is not always the case. However, do not provide a recorded official statement. The at-fault party’s insurer wants to pay you as little as possible and will look for any way to place the blame on you. If you make a recorded statement before speaking to an attorney, you may mistakenly say something that hurts your claim. Kindly tell them that you would not like to make a recorded statement at this time and prefer your attorney to be present.
Additionally, if you have auto insurance, you can notify them of the accident as well. Depending on your coverage, your medical bills may be covered up to your policy’s limit.
If there is evidence that an insurance company’s policyholder is at fault, they may attempt to offer you a settlement to resolve your case quickly. However, the initial offer will typically be unfairly low. If you haven’t already, discuss your case with a San Diego bicycle accident attorney. A lawyer can give you an estimate of the value of your claim and the lowest amount you should settle for. They will also investigate your accident, determine which parties are liable, collect evidence to support your claim, and will speak to the insurance companies on your behalf. If you must make a recorded statement, your attorney can be present and will prepare you for it.
Once the evidence for your claim is gathered and you have fully recovered or reached maximum medical improvement (MMI), your attorney will send a demand letter to the at-fault party’s insurance company. This letter will detail the bicycle accident, your injuries, the evidence against the at-fault party, and the amount of compensation you are demanding for damages. It is advisable to add a deadline to reply to your letter, but insurance companies typically have thirty days to respond.
If the insurer responds, it will often be with a lower counter-offer. You can choose to accept, or you or your attorney can send a counter-offer back, so on and so forth until a fair settlement is reached. If you cannot agree or do not receive a reply, you will have to file a lawsuit to recover compensation.