A: Do not negotiate with the driver. Wait for the police to arrive, or, if they do not respond to the accident, contact them afterwards. This is necessary, because while many drivers are honest and want to do the right thing, some drivers will provide false contact and insurance information if they can. Some drivers will even deny later that they were at the scene. By involving the police, you are ensuring that the driver’s contact and insurance information is correct. Responding police officers may write an accident report; sometimes these accident reports do not contain a statement of the cyclist’s account of the accident. Be certain to provide your account of what happened to the responding police officer. The police may even cite the at-fault driver; if they do, this will be evidence to bolster your case. If you are cited, on the other hand, this will be evidence to weaken your case. If the citation was not warranted by the facts of your case– it happens, law enforcement officers do make mistakes– you will want to have the citation dismissed before your claim is presented to the driver’s insurance company.
A: You should immediately contact an attorney experienced at handling bicycle injury cases, as soon after the accident as you are able. The attorney will need to have the accident scene investigated while evidence may still be present. The driver’s insurance company will be pressuring you to discuss your case. Do not discuss the accident with the insurance company before talking with an attorney. If you do discuss your case with the insurance company, they may attempt to use your own account of the accident to prove that you were the negligent party. Finally, there are strict time limits for handling bicycle injury claims, and it takes time to develop a case and negotiate with the insurance company. The sooner you talk with an attorney, the better it will be for your case.
A: Every accident is different; whether you have a case will depend upon the facts of your particular accident, and the law that is applicable to those facts. You should never rely upon what a law enforcement officer or an insurance company tells you about the strength of your case. While law enforcement officers are trained to enforce laws, they are not trained or qualified to offer legal advice. When a law enforcement officer advises you on the merits of your case, you run a substantial risk that the officer will get the law wrong. The insurance company, on the other hand, is your adversary. In fact, as a general rule of thumb, the driver’s insurance company will often attempt to shift all or part of the blame for the accident to you. Therefore, the insurance company is a biased and unreliable source of advice about your case. In contrast, an attorney with experience at handling cases like yours will always give you an honest assessment of your case.
A: That will depend on the specifics of your case. The insurance company is your adversary, so in many cases, the insurance company will attempt to offer you less to settle your case than you are entitled to. Sometimes, due to the facts of your case, the insurance company may make you a fair settlement offer. Regardless of which approach the insurance company takes, it is never a good idea to negotiate directly with the insurance company until after you’ve talked with an experienced bicycle accident attorney, because the insurance company will attempt to use everything you disclose to build a case against you. Many cases involve complex factual and legal issues, requiring the services of an experienced attorney and accident reconstruction engineer in order to successfully recover the damages you are entitled to. If the full extent of your injuries is known, and if case is not complex and the offer is fair, I will advise you of this at your initial free consultation.
A: Your initial consultation with me is free of charge, with no obligation. If we agree that I will accept your case, my fee will be contingent upon my success– if I successfully recover compensation for you, I will receive a percentage of the recovery amount. If I am not successful in recovering compensation for you, you will not owe me for attorney’s fees.
A: If your bike has been damaged, you are entitled to be compensated for the cost of repairs, or, if it cannot be repaired, you are entitled to be compensated at the replacement value (and not at the lower “depreciated” value that the insurance companies will offer). This part of your case is usually resolved quickly, before your bodily injury claim is resolved. In most cases, we can get you a check for your bike within 30 to 60 days.