You might be doing everything correctly when you are riding your bike: wearing a helmet and protective equipment, obeying traffic rules, and riding defensively. Still, bicycle accidents happen and can cause severe personal injuries. Here are the things you should do if you are involved in a bicycle accident and need to file a claim to recover for your damages.
How do bicycle accidents commonly occur, and what kinds of injuries might they result in?
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, most bicycle accidents occur as a result of falls or collisions with cars. There are many different reasons for those collisions. The driver may have ignored traffic rules or signs, or have been driving aggressively or recklessly. Speeding, turning without looking, changing lanes improperly, or failing to leave enough of a buffer between the car and the bicycle are just some examples. In other cases, the driver may be distracted, such as by electronic devices, or even impaired or intoxicated. Or, the driver simply may not be familiar with the rules of the road that pertain to bicyclists, such as share-the-lane laws that are in place in many communities.
Many bicycle collisions can result in serious injuries or even death. The NHTSA reports that 846 bicyclists died in 2019 as a result of an accident. Severe injuries to the head, back, spine, chest, abdomen, and internal organs are also possible. Facial contusions and injuries to the eyes or face are common in bicycle accidents, as are fractures of many different bones, including the ribs. Abrasions, lacerations, and other skin and soft tissue injuries are also common.
Are bicycle accidents covered under insurance claims?
If the driver is proven to be at fault for the accident, their motorist policy should cover the damages you have suffered. You will need to make a claim with the driver’s insurance policy. You should consult with an experienced personal injury attorney before you do so—they can help not only with the process of filing the claim but also in negotiating with the insurance company.
In some circumstances, you might also be able to make a claim against a different policy. Your own health insurance policy may cover some or all of your medical charges, for example. A homeowner’s policy may also be an option, such as in cases where the driver’s policy is insufficient to cover all of your damages, or where the driver is uninsured or underinsured. In those same circumstances, you may even be able to make a claim against your own motorist policy, particularly if you have purchased optional medical coverage, which may cover your injuries as a bicyclist. Discuss with your attorney the possibility of filing a claim against several types of insurance policies and the pros and cons associated with each type of claim.
What should you do after the accident?
First and foremost, move to a safe location on the side of the road, where you can avoid traffic. Call the police and first responders.
Get emergency medical treatment immediately after the accident. Some serious injuries can be exacerbated if you wait to get help, and you won’t know the full extent of your injuries if you don’t see a medical professional right away. Receiving proper medical care after your accident is just as important, whether it be follow-up visits with your doctor or necessary hospital stays.
If you are able, take detailed pictures and notes of the accident scene, focusing on the damage to your bicycle as well as any indicators that the other party caused the accident, such as traffic signs that were ignored. Obtain contact information from the other driver and any witnesses on the scene. Try to preserve evidence, such as damaged bike parts and clothing.
Speak with a knowledgeable bicycle accident attorney as soon as possible to discuss your rights. Your attorney can help you file a claim, negotiate on your behalf, and work towards a resolution that allows you to recover for your injuries. Negotiating with insurance companies can be a difficult endeavor, as the insurance provider will work to minimize payout for your damages as much as possible. An experienced attorney can help advance your right to compensation against the insurance company.
What kind of compensation may be available?
Bicyclists who are struck on the road often suffer very serious injuries, which can mean a high amount of damages. You may be able to recoup your medical bills, hospital and emergency room charges, prescription costs, and the costs associated with follow-up care, such as doctor’s bills, medical testing, and imaging charges. You may also be able to recover any income you have lost as a result of not being able to work, whether presently or in the future, if your work abilities are affected by your accident.
In addition to your out-of-pocket costs, you may be able to recover from your general damages, which are typically not readily ascertainable. As an example, you may recover from the pain and suffering you’ve endured as a result of the accident. You may also recover for losses if there are significant changes to your lifestyle or the quality of your life.
A bicycle accident can result in significant injuries, leading to a complicated personal injury case. At FVF, we want you to be equipped with the knowledge you need to make decisions about what is best for you. Contact our Austin bicycle accident attorneys to discuss your rights, options, and potential next steps in your case.