Bicycle accident injury settlements
Bicyclists and drivers often share the same roads, so bikers are always at risk for being injured in an accident. If you are struck by a car while on your bicycle, it is possible that the at-fault driver’s insurance policy will cover your medical costs and related injury expenses. However, obtaining just compensation for a bicycle accident claim can be confusing, even if the driver was in the wrong.
This article describes bicycle accident claims, compensation amounts and tips for the best personal injury settlement.
Common Types of Bicycle Accidents
There are several common types of bicycle accidents where a driver’s negligence often leads to an accident. The most common types of accidents involve these factors:
- The driver did not see the biker. This is common because bicyclists have a much smaller profile than a car or truck. Drivers often are not watching for bikes on the roadways.
- Careless and reckless driving. Drivers often drive too close to bikers, leading to the biker running off the road or even being struck by the car.
- Driving too fast. Drivers frequently get too close and drive much to fast past a biker, leading to a serious accident.
- Drunk or under the influence of drugs or alchohol. A driver under the influence can be deadly to a bicyclist.
If the driver in an accident has committed any of the above actions, you could have a personal injury claim against the driver. You may be entitled to compensation including medical costs, lost wages, and pain and suffering.
Common Bicycle Accident Injuries
A car versus bike crash usually leads to very serious or even lethal injuries for the bicyclist. The consequences of a bicycle accident can change or even end your life. The accident may cause the following types of serious injuries, meaning that you need legal help to ensure that you get the best possible bicycle accident compensation in the claim or lawsuit:
- Broken or crushed bones
- Traumatic brain injury, or TBI
- Spinal cord, neck or back injury
- Nerve damage
- Dislocated joints
- Serious cuts and abrasions from vehicle and/or road surface
Approximately 2/3 of bicycle accident occur at intersections where the driver fails to see the bicyclist. Another common scenario is the driver turning left or right in front of the biker on the roadway.
It also is common for bikers to be rear ended, sideswiped, run off the road or ‘doored’ by a parked car. These accident scenarios are serious, and you need to collect evidence that the driver was at fault.
Bicycle Accident Settlement Information
As with any personal injury claim, the strength of your bike accident claim will rest on the evidence. Insurance companies will usually offer a low settlement for a bicycle accident claim. The company will try to do this even when their client clearly was in the wrong.
Insurance companies are cunningly effective in twisting your story in such a way to minimize or dismiss your claim. But twisting the truth gets difficult when there is direct evidence, including photographs of the accident scene and your injuries, as well as a detailed medical report of your injuries.
Thus, it is vital to carefully document as much as possible after your bicycle accident. Not only should you document everything immediately after the crash, including photos and medical reports. In the days, weeks and months after the accident, be sure to collect evidence, as well.
Take regular photos of your injuries as they heal, and even keep a journal. Describe how the bicycle accident injuries are affecting your life and your ability to work. This evidence can be very persuasive when it comes to settling a bicycle accident lawsuit or claim. Remember that many bicycle accident claims or lawsuits can take months to settle. In that time, you should take careful notes of your injuries and how they limit your life.
Other evidence that will increase the likelihood of an acceptable claim include:
- A copy of the police report. You should always call the police if you are hit by a car on your bike. It is likely that the police will come to the scene of the accident and take an accident report. You may not get a copy of the report at the scene. But be certain to follow up at the police department and get a copy of that report. You should provide that document to your personal injury attorney at the initial consultation.
- Contact information for all parties. Obtain both the contact information and insurance information for the driver. Also, get contact information for any witnesses to the accident. Your attorney will want to speak with those witnesses as soon as possible. Memories fade after only a few days. It is very important to get witness accounts of the bicycle accident right away.
- Medical report. Even if you feel 100% after the crash, you should see a medical professional immediately. It is possible or even likely that serious accident injuries may not fully present themselves for a day or two. The medical report is important so that your accident injuries are assessed right after the accident by a doctor.
- Your bicycle. Keep your bike in the same condition that it was right after the accident. This is your best possible evidence for a property damage claim. It also can help to prove that you did not cause the accident.
All this evidence should be presented to your attorney when you have your first meeting. The attorney should be able to make some preliminary informed guesses about a potential settlement amount based upon this evidence. Attorneys also can access recent settlements and lawsuit verdicts in bicycle accidents in that area to get an idea of what a possible settlement amount may look like.
What Can Damage Your Bicycle Accident Claim
Motor vehicle insurance companies will do whatever they can to dismiss your claim. Or, they will minimize your accident injuries if possible and offer you as little money as they can. The insurance adjuster is trained to ask questions that can be misleading. The adjuster may even imply that the bike accident was your fault. The insurance company may ask about how experience you are as a biker, how and where you ride, and even the gear that you use. For example, if you cruised through a stop sign just before the crash, this can reduce your claim.
In some states, if you are even 1% in the wrong, you might not even collect a settlement at all. In other states, there is a rule called comparative negligence. This means that if you were 20% at fault for the accident, you would be entitled to collect 80% of your damages.
Other things to keep in mind in a bicycle accident settlement negotiation include:
- Never give an apology. It is natural after an accident to say you are sorry even if you did not cause the accident. However, the motor vehicle insurance company may take an apology as a sign of responsibility and attempt to deny the claim.
- Never ignore the law. Bikers need to follow the same rules of the road as cars. This means that you should obey all traffic lights and traffic signs. Use hand signals when turning. Never drink or use drugs when biking, either. If you are biking in the early morning or evening, your bike should have lights on the front and rear, too.
- Always wear your helmet. Some states do not require riders over 18 to wear a helmet. But if you are hurt in an accident with a car, the adjuster may claim that you would have not been hurt if you had worn a helmet.
- Never talk to the insurance company before you speak to a personal injury attorney. Anyone who is injured in a bike crash should talk to a personal injury attorney in their state before talking to an insurance company adjuster. Insurance agents for the driver represent their client’s interests and not yours. They may try to convince you that your claim is weak so that you take an initial, low ball settlement offer. Your injuries easily could be more serious than you realize. A personal injury attorney knows the games that insurance companies play. Your attorney will have your best interests in mind. Even if you did talk to the insurance company already, you will benefit by retaining an attorney right away.
Average Bicycle Accident Compensation Amounts
Bicyclists hurt in car accidents often have serious injuries. Below is a sampling of average bike accident compensation amounts. Yours could be more or less; talk to an attorney if you think you were in a bike accident due to the negligence of a driver:
- $600,000 for a biker who was hit in a crosswalk by a commercial truck. Two insurance policies were in effect that gave the injured biker compensation.
- $550,000 for a biker who had a broken tibia that required an operation after being hit by a school bus.
- $500,000 for the family of a bicyclist who died from injuries when he was hit by a car at an intersection.
- $250,000 for a bicyclist who suffered serious injuries after being hit in downtown Chicago. The insurance settlement was the maximum offered by the driver’s insurance policy.
Bicycle Accident Settlement Summary
To receive the compensation deserved for your injuries, you need representation by a personal injury attorney who understands how to account for your damages and to properly negotiate a personal injury claim. Retain an attorney as soon as possible after the accident, ideally before you talk to the driver’s insurance company. He or she will inform the insurance company that you intend to make a claim. The attorney will safeguard your legal rights, and will ensure that you get the most compensation possible.