Bicycle accidents are serious business. There are no seat belts, no head rests, and no soft landings. The reality is that impact, gravity, and hard surfaces will do more than just spoil your ride.
Bicycle injuries can be disabling, catastrophic, and even deadly.
Don’t let a bad situation get worse. Learn about Washington bicycle accident law. Get informed and make smart decisions about how to handle your case.
Good facts are very important in bicycle accident cases. Good facts help win cases.
A negligent automobile driver, a hazardous road condition, inadequate signage, doors flung open, and the car or truck driver’s defective equipment can make for good facts.
These facts influence liability and in effect determine who is at fault.
What are the facts of your case? Are they good? Can they be proven? Will they be disputed?
Facts are established by witnesses, police reports, the vehicle driver, and by you the rider.
The facts become evidence when in the courtroom. Evidence can be direct (other driver admits fault) or circumstantial (other driver was on his cell phone at the time therefore was probably inattentive).
Work hard to gather important facts. Look everywhere. Get reports. Interview witness. Revisit the scene of the accident. Keep in mind that memories fade witnesses disappear, and the police don’t come unless called. Prove your case. Get help if you need it.
Serious injuries are bad for the bike rider; but they are good for the case.
Said another way, the worse you are hurt, the more your case is worth.
Also very important to your case is the proof of how badly you are hurt. You may not want to hear this but its better you hear it now than later learn it the hard way. In a court of law, you are not an expert as to how badly you are hurt. That’s right, you are only a witness. The doctor is the expert. Medical bills, chart notes and the doctor’s opinion will determine how significant your injuries are to the insurance adjuster the judge, and the jury.
Want a fair money recovery? Get plenty of appropriate medical care from the medical doctor(s) and therapists. If you hurt, tell your doctor and everyone who treats you and be sure he/she gets it in the medical records.
Here’s an example of a phone conversation with an insurance adjuster:
“Hello, it’s me, the injured person.”
“Hi, it’s your friendly insurance adjuster calling. How are you?”
“I’m fine, how are you?”
“Glad to hear that you’re fine. Thank you for telling me that. I guess we can close your file now. Thanks for taking my call. Good Bye.”
Insurance adjusters work hard, but not for you. They have performed this and other tricks hundreds of times. They may be calling you soon. Be careful and choose your words wisely.
There are many types of insurance. We will discuss 5 types.
At fault drivers are required to have liability insurance to cover them for the damage caused by their negligence. In Washington State a motor vehicle driver must carry liability insurance of at least $25,000 per person / $50,000 per accident. Smart drivers will carry more, but some drivers have no insurance. Liability insurance can pay for the injured rider’s medical bills, lost wages, damaged bicycle, pain, suffering, and other losses.
If the at fault driver has no insurance (uninsured) or not enough insurance (under insured), then your own UIM policy steps in and pays you for damages not already compensated. This is the UIM insurance on your vehicle. Got a vehicle with UIM insurance? Check your policy. Use it if you need it.
Medical insurance is good for you and your case. It allows you to get medical care. It pays your doctors and keeps them happy. The medical care helps you get better. Medical treatment helps you prove the value of your losses. If you have medical insurance you can use it. It will cost you however in the form of subrogation.
Subrogation is the right of your medical insurance company to get paid back, from you, out of the money you settle for in your accident case. Be careful of subrogation, and keep it in mind when settling your case. You can and you should repay your insurance company less then they will ask for in subrogation. If you have an attorney, the medical insurer will in effect end up paying some of your attorney fees.
Med pay and Personal Injury Protection (PIP) provide medical bill payments, often without regard to fault. They can pay medical bills until your case settles. They also may be available to pay co-pays and deductibles on your health insurance. Check your policy.
These policies often provide insurance coverage similar to liability insurance to pay for damage you caused. They also often provide coverage for the theft of your bike. Check your policy.
A consultation with a bicycle attorney about your accident and injuries is going to be free and helpful. What’s not to like about that?
If you have questions or concerns, take advantage of that free consultation. You can make your decision about hiring an attorney after you talk with them.
That depends on what your case looks like. If your injuries are minor, your bike damage easy to figure out, and the other side is cooperative then you should be able to DIY.
If you have serious injuries, wage loss, liability issues, or a cagey insurance adjuster on the other side, then talk to a lawyer. You don’t have to hire a lawyer to get a consultation and some free advice. After your consult, make your best decision about DIY or a lawyer.