Enduring a bicycle accident can be incredibly damaging. Unfortunately, the potential consequences of this kind of accident may not be immediately apparent. When a bicycle and a motor vehicle collide, it is almost always the bicyclist who suffers the worst injuries. If you or someone you know recently experienced a bicycle accident, you should have an idea of what to expect in the weeks and months following the incident as well as your potential legal options.
First Steps Immediately After a Bicycle Accident
Most state laws require drivers and cyclists to report any accident that results in an injury or significant property damage. Do not dismiss an injury if you were the bicyclist in a bicycle accident, even if you think the damage is slight. The adrenaline rush from the accident can dull pain sensations, so you may be more hurt than you realize. Your first priority after any accident should be your personal health and safety.
Follow the same steps you would after a typical car accident, if possible. Take photos of your injuries and the damage to your property resulting from the accident. Try to get a few photos of the resting places of the vehicles involved in the accident, skid marks from sudden braking, and nearby landmarks. Such images could help a future jury form a more accurate picture of your accident scene.
Look for Available Insurance Coverage
The first formal step toward recovery for anyone injured by an auto accident is typically insurance. In fault-based states, an at-fault driver assumes liability for a car accident. Any other drivers injured by their actions can file a claim against their insurance coverage. Even when drivers carry sufficient auto insurance for their state, this may still be insufficient for covering the total damages the victim suffered.
Dealing with an insurance carrier is rarely an easy or enjoyable experience. Most insurance companies will look for any reasons they can find to reduce or deny a claim payout. In fact, some insurance companies will attempt to drag out their investigations and communications as much as possible, so the claimant becomes desperate and more willing to accept a lowball claim payout. Hiring an attorney can potentially help you avoid issues like this, as once the insurance carrier notices you have legal representation, the odds of them pushing back unfairly against your claim will drop dramatically.
Determine Your Legal Options
The attorney you hire to help with your insurance claim can assist you in many other ways. After you receive medical care for your injuries, you should have a documented medical report that you will want to save. This document and a copy of the police report from your accident can help you lay the groundwork for a personal injury claim against the party responsible for your bicycle accident.
After some accidents, liability is perfectly clear. In other cases, liability could fall to more than one party, or the injured victim may bear a portion of the fault for the accident. If you have received medical care for your injuries and are starting to tally up the total cost of your accident, think carefully about your situation. You must consider how much time you must spend home from work to heal from your injuries and whether your accident caused any permanent damage. Your attorney can handle evidence gathering, interviewing witnesses, and building your case so you can focus on your recovery.
An experienced bicycle accident attorney can help you determine liability for your bicycle accident and assess the entire scope of the damages you sustained from it. Most bicycle accidents result in physical injuries, medical bills, pain and suffering, lost income, and property damage. Your attorney can help you determine both your short and long-term losses from your accident so you can build your Complaint against the party responsible for causing it.
What to Expect During Your Case
Most personal injury claims settle outside of court after the parties involved meet privately to discuss a fair settlement to put the matter to rest. Settlement typically works in the best interests of both plaintiffs and defendants. Plaintiffs receive their compensation more quickly and often receive more than they might have won at trial. Defendants can address the situation quickly and have it legally closed, so they do not need to worry about it anymore. Both parties will also save substantial amounts of legal fees because a settlement is usually much faster than litigation.
If the parties cannot agree to a settlement, the case will proceed to the litigation phase. The judge overseeing the matter will have the final say and award compensation to the plaintiff, as state law deems appropriate.
A bicycle accident claim can involve substantial damages and long-term complications for the victim. If you ever experience a bicycle accident due to another driver’s negligence, keep these tips in mind and contact Luis P. Guerra, LLC to meet with an experienced bicycle accident attorney in Phoenix about your potential claim.