I Was Injured in a Bicycle Accident - What's Next?
Riding a bicycle can be a fantastic, zero-emissions way to get around and get a good workout in. But throughout California, where the rate of bicycle-involved accidents is high, riding a bike can also be dangerous. In fact, there are hundreds of fatal bicycle accidents recorded each year in our state. And in Sacramento, the trend is no different.
While being involved in a bicycle accident can change your life and may leave you with severe damages and losses, if you’re in an accident, you do have legal rights. One of the most important of these rights is the right to pursue damages, in full, against the at-fault driver. In order to protect your right to damages, it’s important that you understand how the process typically unfolds, what to expect, and what steps you need to take. Here’s an overview of what happens after a bicycle accident in Sacramento and what you need to do--for more information, call our California bicycle accident lawyers at the office of Cutter Law, P.C. directly.
Call the Police
Calling the police after a bicycle accident can help ensure that you are able to pursue damages. Upon arrival, the police will document the accident, which can help with an insurance claim. However, even if you don’t call the police after an accident and file a report, you can still file an insurance claim to recover compensation that you are due. In either case, it is in your best interests to contact an attorney following a crash.
Don’t Be Tempted By Offers from the Motorist
Immediately after the crash and as you wait for the police to arrive, the motorist involved in your crash may try to make you a deal--i.e. offering you a certain amount of money to not report the accident to the police or your insurance company. While this may be tempting to accept--you may be just as eager to avoid the insurance claims process as they are--keep in mind that you have no idea what your case is worth and if you accept something now, you could be accepting an offer that is much less than you will actually need to pay for your losses.
Gather Any Information that You Can
As you wait for the police to arrive, you should take advantage of the time to gather any information and evidence that you can. This includes:
The driver’s insurance information and driver’s license number;
The make, model, color, and license plate number of the car involved in the crash;
The names and contact information of any witnesses to the accident; and
Photographs of damages, skid marks, traffic lights, stop signs, or any other types of evidence that can provide clues about how the accident occurred.
It’s also a good idea to create a rough sketch of how the accident occurred or/and to write down your version of events while they are still fresh in your mind.
Seek Medical Care
As soon as you have reported the accident to the police--and earlier if necessary--you should seek medical care. Going to the doctor and seeking care is important even if your injuries don’t initially seem serious. When you get to the hospital or doctor’s office, be sure to tell your doctor what happened and to follow your doctor’s orders upon leaving.
In some cases, getting medical care isn’t optional--in fact, you may be rushed to the hospital from the scene of the crash if your injuries are especially serious. In all cases, be sure to request copies of your medical records and to follow your doctors’ orders, as both will be important during the claims process.
Call the Insurance Company
If you have motor vehicle insurance, even if you were on your bike at the time of the crash, you should call your insurance company to report the accident. Depending on your policy, you may have some coverage for your injuries through your own insurance company.
Understand the Claims Process
It’s important that you understand how the claims process normally works and what to expect along the way. Typically, this is how the process will unfold--
Gathering evidence and establishing fault. The first step in the process is the investigatory process. Both sides have the right to open an investigation and to gather evidence to inform how the accident occurred and who should be held liable for the damages.
Reaching Maximum Medical Improvement. Before you will file a demand letter requesting compensation, you’ll need to reach MMI, or Maximum Medical Improvement. MMI is the fullest extent to which doctors believe you will heal. It’s important that you reach MMI so you know how much you’ve suffered in medical damages up to this point, as well as how much you expect to suffer in the future.
Calculating damages and issuing a demand letter. Once all the evidence has been gathered and you have reached MMI, the next step in the process is issuing a demand letter in which you request compensation for the full value of losses (both economic and noneconomic) that you have suffered. Usually, the demand letter is filed against the liability insurance company of the at-fault party.
Settlement negotiations. After the insurance company has received the demand letter, it will usually counter by making a settlement offer that is lower than what you’ve requested. You have the right to reject this settlement offer and enter into negotiations. If negotiations are unsuccessful, you can file a lawsuit against the at-fault party and pursue litigation.
Our California Bicycle Accident Lawyers Can Help
If you’ve been in a bicycle accident and are facing injuries and financial losses, navigating the claims process on your own may feel very overwhelming. When you call the lawyers at the office of Cutter Law, P.C., our bicycle accident lawyers can handle 100 percent of your case and work hard to get you a fair settlement. We offer free consultations and work on a contingency fee basis. Please call our lawyers today to learn how we can help.