In 2020, AAA named the Tampa Bay region as the most dangerous place in the country to ride a bike. According to Fox 13 Tampa Bay of the 160 people who lost their lives in bicycling accidents in Florida, 45 were killed on roads in Tampa Bay.
When riding your bike on the roadway, nothing can protect you from potentially life-altering injuries if you are struck by a vehicle. If this ever happens to you, the first move will be to file a claim with your insurance company.
If you do not have your own insurance, you can make a claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance company. In order to be successful in filing a claim, you will need to preserve your claim through evidence of the accident.
If you find yourself wondering how to claim insurance after a bike accident, read on for more information.
What to Do Immediately Following a Bike Accident
In order to preserve your claim for economic and non-economic damages in a bike accident, it is important that you take the proper steps.
1. Document the Accident
When a bike accident occurs, you need to make sure the police are called to the scene of the accident right away. This will ensure that an official record of the accident is on file. While waiting for the police at the scene, if you are able, take pictures of the scene, including:
- Damages to your bicycle
- Damage to the vehicle
- Picture of the license plate, trying to include the make and model of the vehicle
- Any skid marks at the scene
- The position of your bike and the vehicle relative to the scene of the accident
- Any injuries you have sustained
- The surrounding area as it is at the time of the accident
Get Assistance from a Bystander
If your injuries have rendered you unable to move, try to request assistance from a bystander. Be sure to get their contact information as well.
Eyewitness testimony can be very helpful in establishing the facts of a personal injury case, particularly if the authorities were not present at the scene. If you are unable to get their information yourself, the police will record the contact information of witnesses when preparing their formal report.
While contacting the authorities is ideal, if the police are not called to the scene of the accident, be sure to complete a private exchange of information with the driver who hit you. You will need to get their full name and contact information, insurance company and policy number, and driver’s license information.
The most efficient way to procure this information will be to take pictures of each item (front and back) with your phone. Save the driver’s phone number in your contacts under a heading that will remain obvious to you such as “at-fault driver” or another obvious indicator.
Be sure to get the proper vehicle information, including the year, make, model, color, and VIN number of the vehicle.
When performing an information exchange with the driver that hit you, do not become distracted during the interaction. It is likely that the driver will be upset and apologize profusely when they exit their car. Remember that any comment like “it’s ok” or “I’m fine” may be used to discredit your future insurance claim.
Keep the interaction brief and professional. If the driver happens to make any admissions of fault, write them down in detail to keep them fresh in your mind. These can provide a strong base for your claim in the future.
If the driver who hit you leaves the scene without exchanging information with you, be sure to at least get their license plate number and the State it was issued in to report to the police. Fleeing the scene of an accident is a serious offense.
2. Seek Medical Treatment
When an impact occurs between a bicycle rider and a vehicle, there may be injuries involved that are undetectable such as internal bleeding or broken ribs. Adrenaline or shock may mask the severity of the injuries sustained due to the accident.
If paramedics or other emergency medical professionals arrive at the scene, do not refuse to be treated or taken to a medical care institution. Any delay of treatment after a bike accident may complicate any insurance claim that you seek to make, as it may downplay the severity of your injuries, and more importantly, it could jeopardize your health.
After seeking medical treatment, follow through with any treatment or medications that have been prescribed in order to ensure you quickly return to good health and preserve your claim.
3. Document All Damages Associated with the Accident
In order to seek reimbursement for any costs relating to the accident, you will need to keep detailed records of these costs. Keeping these detailed records will help provide solid evidence for your insurance claim, as well as help to determine the number of damages that should be awarded should your case go to trial.
Be sure to keep copies of all bills and records, including:
- Medical bills, including transportation from the scene if applicable.
- Cost of ongoing treatments associated with injuries resulting from the accident.
- Lost wages due to missing work to recover from your accident.
- Any out-of-pocket expenses you incur as a result of the accident, including any expenses related to fixing or replacing your bicycle. You may even be able to claim any transportation costs you incur if your bicycle is your primary mode of transportation.
In addition to these records, take thorough notes about the status of your injuries as you receive treatment and begin to heal. It is helpful to discuss how the injuries have affected your normal daily routine, and any activities that you have had to adjust your involvement in or can no longer participate in.
Continue to document your injuries with photographs to show how they have progressed since the time of the accident. The goal of this documentation will be to show how the injuries you have sustained have impacted your life.
How to Claim Insurance after a Bike Accident if the Driver Who Hit Me Is Uninsured?
A sad reality that we live with these days is that many drivers on the road are driving uninsured. In fact, according to the Insurance Research Council, this is nearly one in eight drivers on the road. So, what happens if the driver who hits you while you are on your bicycle is uninsured?
You may be able to make a claim with your own insurance company or your parent’s insurance company (if you are a minor and named on their policy as a member of the household) to cover your expenses.
In a no-fault state such as Florida, your Personal Injury Protection (PIP) policy can cover these expenses up to $10,000 after an accident, provided you seek medical treatment within 14 days of the accident.
You may also have Uninsured Motorist (UM) coverage, which you can make a claim against should you get in a collision with an uninsured driver, or you are involved in a hit and run accident and are unable to exchange information.
Know When to Contact an Attorney
It can be quite challenging to obtain a settlement from an insurance company after a bicycle accident, as the bicyclist holds the burden of proof in order to bring a successful claim against the driver that hit them.
If you have sustained serious injuries related to your accident, it will likely be in your best interest to contact a personal injury attorney. The attorney will be able to present the evidence in the most advantageous light to your claim to maximize your settlement. Serious injuries caused by this type of accident may include:
- Traumatic brain injury
- Spinal cord injuries
- Internal injuries including internal bleeding or ruptured organs
- Broken or fractured bones
- Permanent scarring
As these injuries may result in severe and long-term effects on the body, contacting an attorney will be important to ensure that you are able to receive compensation for current and future expenses incurred as a result of your accident.
How Carey Leisure & Neal Can Help
At Carey Leisure & Neal, our attorneys have represented many bike accident victims in their personal injury claims. They are well aware of the actions you need to take to preserve your claim and will offer important advice through every step of your claim.
If you find yourself wondering how to claim insurance after a bike accident, call the law offices of Carey Leisure & Neal for a free consultation today.