What Happens With Insurance Companies After Your Bicycle Crash
After a bicycle crash — especially if you have injuries that require medical care — one of the first things most people begin to worry about is money. This is one reason why it is important to make sure you receive adequate bike accident compensation.
Depending on the extent of the crash and your injuries, dealing with bills and insurance companies can start to feel like a full time job. And for most people, it’s a high stakes job that they have no training for.
If you’re currently going through this process, this article will help you understand what’s going on with the insurance companies, what you should do to make sure you stay in the best possible financial position, and how to receive the best bike accident compensation possible.
What Happens with Insurance Companies After a Bicycle Crash
After a bicycle crash, you’ll have two insurance companies to deal with: yours and the driver’s.
Dealing with your insurance company
Your interactions with your own health insurance company will primarily be in dealing with their payment of some or all of your medical bills. After your initial visits to the doctor or hospital, you will start to see bills and statements come in over time show that (most likely) that some of your injuries have been covered and some have not.
If you feel overwhelmed by your bills or confused by what is covered and what is not covered, you can talk to your insurance company to make sure everything is being processed correctly. You can also contact an attorney to help you make sense of what you are responsible for.
Dealing with the driver’s insurance company
The driver’s insurance company will also likely contact you, either to get your version of events for the crash or to offer you a settlement. In either case, you should NOT talk to them.
- They do not have your best interests at heart. In fact, they actively want to find ways to avoid paying you any money, even if the driver they represent was 100% at fault for the crash and your resulting injuries. They are for-profit companies; they don’t want to pay out any more money than they have to, and will look for ways to avoid paying.
- In any conversation they start with you, they will be looking for inconsistencies in your story, which they can use to avoid paying you. Even seemingly meaningless details (for example, if you forgot what time of day it was) can be spun to imply that you are lying about what happened, which can keep you from getting a fair settlement.
- Anything you say will go on their record and can prevent other injuries from being covered. For example, if you say that your only injuries were on your legs but later discover you also had a broken rib, they may try to say you are making up the broken rib because you had previously said your injuries were only on your legs.
- They may try to offer you a settlement, and if you accept (or even imply that you would accept their offer), that can keep you from getting what you are truly owed. Their initial offer will always be on the low end; if you don’t yet know the full scope of the medical bills you will have to pay (possibly over the next several months or years), accepting an early offer can force you to end up with far less than you truly need.
Once you have accepted a settlement, you cannot ask for more later.
Needless to say, it is often in your best interest to bring in an expert help to deal with the driver’s insurance company on your behalf to negotiate the best possible settlement that will most effectively cover the bills and other damages you suffered as a result of the crash.
Not only are bicycle law attorneys experienced in navigating the many strategies that insurance companies will employ in order to avoid paying a fair settlement, but they also know how to prepare and what to do in the face of a challenging negotiation. They can commit time and energy that you might not have (especially if you are recovering, working, running a home, etc) to ensure the best possible results on your behalf.
Dealing with the driver’s insurance company can be challenging, complex, and time consuming. That being said, it’s not required that you bring an attorney on board to help you. If your case is fairly low stakes — if you feel you have time to deal with it yourself, and aren’t risking missing out on coverage for significant injuries.
What Happens if You Pursue a Lawsuit After a Bicycle Crash
If you decide to pursue a lawsuit after your bicycle crash, your case will be about two things: financial damages and non-financial damages.
How much your case is worth
Financial damages include costs incurred as a result of the crash, like medical bills, property damage, or lost wages or earning potential caused by your injuries from the crash.
Non-financial damages include other kinds of costs you incurred because of the crash, such as loss of enjoyment of life, inability to perform household tasks, or missed opportunities due to the crash or ongoing injuries resulting from the crash (like missing a pre-booked vacation).
The value of your case depends on the extent of your injuries and the amount to which you were at fault for the crash.
How much you will take home
When you obtain a settlement from the at-fault driver’s insurance company, you don’t just walk out the door with a check for the full amount.
The settlement check actually gets sent to your attorney, who deals with paying out the parties that will be paid out from your settlement: in general, this is your attorney and your health insurance company.
A standard attorney fee is usually around 1/3 of the total settlement amount.
Then there is your health insurance. You might be thinking: “Health insurance? Didn’t they cover all your medical bills already?”
Yes, but technically, most health insurance policies include a clause that entitles them to be reimbursed for expenses covering your injuries if you obtain a settlement. Therefore, if you obtain a settlement of $50,000, and your insurance already covered $25,000 of medical expenses, they may want to receive $25,000 of your $50,000 settlement. Your attorney will often be able to find ways to get this amount reduced.
Once those payments have been made, your attorney will help you address any liens or outstanding bills that you may have; once that is handled, you’ll get the remaining settlement amount.
Want to Receive the Best Possible Bike Accident Compensation?
At Bay Area Bicycle Law, helping cyclists deal with insurance companies and get their financial lives back in order is what we do. To talk about your case with an experienced bicycle law attorney, call us today at 415-466-8717.