After a bicycle accident, riders may be rattled and unable to think through the situation to protect their rights. In Kirkland, Wash., there were 12 bicyclist accidents in 2011 according to the Washington DOT, and there were many more across the state. These accidents are treated similar to car-on-car crashes in the eyes of the law, and bikers have just as many legal protections as drivers do. It is a good idea for cyclists to know these protections and know what to do in the event of an accident so that they can make sure they get all the information they need after the crash to protect their legal rights.
What to Do after the Crash
Right after an accident, bikers should check to make sure that they are safe and not seriously injured. Anyone involved in a roadway accident should seek medical attention as soon as possible if they need it.
Once they are secure, bikers should gather the name, phone number, address and insurance information from the person who hit them. It is a good idea to file a crash report. Crash reports are required by law for accidents involving serious bodily injury or damages higher than $700. Call the police and ask them to file a report. If they will not file the report, bikers can file reports themselves within four days of the accident. These reports detail important crash information like roadway surface, position of vehicles, weather conditions and sobriety of drivers, and bikers can use this information later to prove that they were not at fault in an accident.
Legal Options after Car-Bike Accidents
If a driver hits you while on your bike, his or her personal injury protection (PIP) coverage (if the driver has it) can help you cover medical bills and certain other damages, like lost wages. Your own PIP coverage (if you have it) can provide coverage as well. The at-fault driver’s liability coverage (which is required in Washington) can provide coverage of your medical bills, pain and suffering, property damage, and other damages. Bikers may file a lawsuit if insurance does not adequately cover damages or if the insurance company does not offer a fair settlement.
In the unfortunate event that a biker dies as a result of the accident, surviving immediate family (spouses, children or parents) members can bring a wrongful death suit against the driver and his or her insurance company. Wrongful death suits compensate parties for the injuries the decedent sustained while living, the economic damages the decedent's loved ones suffered from the accident and the non-economic damages surviving family members feel for their loss.
How do I know if I have a legal case?
Lawsuits have to be legally viable, so if your case seems to fit the burden for bringing a personal injury or wrongful death suit (i.e., the driver acted negligently and caused the accident and your injuries) then it is worth investigating further.
If an insurance company does not offer enough in a settlement to pay for your injuries, property damage and lost wages, talk to an attorney for help negotiating further or to take the case to court. Insurance adjusters often look for excuses to reduce their insured’s liability or try to get claimants to release medical or employment records unknowingly. Contact a lawyer if an insurance company asks to interview you after an accident.
Max Meyers Law represents bicyclists injured by negligent drivers in the Kirkland area to help them pursue fair compensation for their damages. Contact our office at 425-399-7000 for a free consultation.