As a cyclist, you know that there are risks of being involved in a crash when riding. Even the most alert and aware cyclists can be involved in a crash at any time due to the negligence of a careless motorist. If you have suffered an injury because of a crash, you might want to consider filing a personal injury claim to recover your losses. Here are some things you can do to prepare yourself for a quick and easy personal injury claim, or just a simple claim with insurance.
Take Photos at the Scene
You need to take photos of the crash site so you can show the insurance adjusters, your lawyer, or even a judge what exactly happened. Make sure you get different angles so there is a clear view of what happened. Take pictures of any damages to your bike and any injuries that you suffered during the crash. You can use your smartphone to take these images. If you happen to wear a GoPro when you ride, be sure to save the video, as that could be significantly more valuable than even eyewitness accounts.
Speak to a Police Officer
All too often, police officers speak to motorists and not cyclists. You should never let this happen, so be sure to speak to the police officer personally. Give your side of the story, describe exactly what happened and how you were hit, and be sure to get the police officer’s contact information and/or business card for later use. You can later contact the office to get a copy of the police report for your own records.
Get the Driver’s Information
You’ll need the driver’s name, license #, and insurance information to be able to file a claim with insurance to receive a settlement for your medical bills and other expenses. Do not speak with the motorist aside from getting this necessary information. Sometimes, drivers will try to “talk you down” from calling the police, or saying the crash was their fault and later saying the opposite to the police. Stick to the basics and give your statement to the police, not the motorist.
Go to the Hospital!
You may need to skip all of the above tips if your injuries are serious. Call 911 to get an ambulance to the scene if you have been injured. Calling 911 will usually start a police report, but be sure to speak with the hospital staff if you are not approached by a police officer after the crash. Even if you don’t think you were hurt, go to the hospital immediately after the crash. Adrenaline may keep you from noticing injuries quickly.
Save All Bills and Proof of Lost Wages
You need to maintain a file of medical bills so you can ask the motorists’ insurance for reimbursement for those expenses. Keep all copies of all your medical records and request detailed billing printouts from the hospital—This is typically free, but your hospital may charge a small printing bill. Also, you need to maintain adequate records and keep copies of letters that show the hours or days you missed work because of the injuries sustained in the crash. You can ask to be reimbursed for any lost wages that resulted from the crash, even if you had paid time off or vacations days available when you were out of work.
Do Not Repair Your Bicycle
Keep your bicycle in its damaged condition until the insurance claim has been settled. You might need to use it as evidence to show the severity of the crash. The damage will show how hard you were struck and how your injuries were inflicted. You should keep any damaged clothing, and your helmet as well.
Utilize All Evidence for Demand Letter to Insurance Company
You need to gather up all the evidence, including the photographs of the crash site, your medical bills, proof of lost wages, and your damage bike and equipment and send it in along with a demand letter to the insurance company. You should demand payment for your losses, including your medical expenses, lost wages, and property damage. You can also include pain and suffering on your demand letter, but it can be challenging to calculate. Many legal professionals recommend claiming the sum of your past & future medical bills multiplied by 1-5 depending on your amount of pain as your pain and suffering claim.
Lost wages: $600
Past medical bills: $1,500
Damages to bicycle: $300
Future chiropractor bills: $500
Pain between 1-5: 3
Potential claim: Economic damages: $2,900. General damages: ($1,500 + $500) x 3 = $6,000
Total Damages: $8,900
Keep in mind that this is a very basic example of how some people choose to claim pain and suffering with insurance. The equation does not reflect what you should expect to receive, but can be used as a reference to start your demand letter.
Speak With an Attorney if Need Be
If you’re not sure how to include pain and suffering in your demand letter to the insurance adjuster, or if you were low-balled a settlement from insurance, you can always speak with a personal injury attorney in your state to determine if you have additional options. Know that you can settle a personal injury claim outside of court without an attorney! It’s always your preference, and thousands of claims are settled without ever stepping into a courtroom.
*This article was not written by an attorney, so be sure to speak with a licensed attorney in Ohio if you need assistance after a crash with a motorist. Special thanks to Deanna Power of personalinjury-law.com for providing the helpful information in this article.