The 3 worst mistakes victims make after a bicycle accident
SPONSORED — Despite being perennially recognized as one of the most bicycle-friendly states in the country, Washington state sees thousands of serious bicycle accidents each year. And because bicyclists aren’t afforded the same physical protection as drivers, many bicycle accident victims suffer serious injuries, resulting in costly medical bills and a long road to recovery.
Although the journey to justice can be difficult, Washington state law permits injured bicyclists to pursue a personal injury claim against the at-fault party – typically an individual driver and their insurance company – to recover financial compensation for the damages they have suffered. However, there are a few serious mistakes that accident victims often make during the legal claims process that can severely damage or destroy their case.
Not realizing that your auto insurance will cover your medical treatment and other bills
Washington state law only requires drivers to carry a minimum of $25,000 in liability insurance coverage, which is hardly enough to cover the damages that typically result from a serious bicycle accident. We hear from injured bicyclists every day who feel helpless after discovering that the driver who hit them did not have enough insurance coverage to pay for all of the damages.
But many bicyclists fail to realize that their own auto insurance policy – including Personal Injury Protection (PIP) and Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist (UM/UIM) coverages – will also cover them in the event of an accident that occurred while they were riding their bicycle. Unfortunately, this confusion often leads bicycle accident victims to accept insurance companies’ lowball settlement offers.
Not going to the doctor immediately or gaps in treatment
Medical treatment and documented records from a certified physician serve as the key pieces of evidence in any personal injury claim. Without records of your diagnosis and treatment for your injuries, it’s difficult for even the most experienced attorneys to prove your case and recover a fair settlement on your behalf.
Injured bicyclists should seek treatment immediately following an accident in order to establish clear records of their injury and receive a documented diagnosis from a medical doctor that attributes the injury to the accident. Delaying or failing to get medical treatment is perhaps the biggest mistake we see accident victims make when it comes to pursuing a personal injury claim.
Over-explaining the accident to the insurance adjuster
Insurance companies spend millions of dollars on advertising to give the impression that they are on your side. In reality, insurance companies’ primary goal is profitability which is achieved by paying out as little as possible when it comes to settling claims at the expense of innocent victims.
Insurance adjusters will try to use a claimant’s own statements and admissions against them to achieve this goal, so it’s very important to be careful when giving a recorded statement. In fact, it’s usually in a victim’s best interests to consult with an attorney before agreeing to give a recorded statement.
For all of the above reasons, it’s often in a bicycle accident victim’s best interests to consult with a lawyer to learn more about their legal rights and options for pursuing a claim. A qualified, experienced bicycle accident attorney can help victims identify other possible sources of insurance coverage and explain the basics of the legal process. And since most personal injury lawyers offer free initial consultations, injured bicyclists typically have nothing to lose by reaching out to learn more about their legal rights and options for pursuing a claim.
Attorney Chris Davis of Davis Law Group in Seattle literally wrote the book on bicycle accident claims, called “Wheels Of Justice: The Essential Guide To Bicycle Accident Law In Washington State,” which he gives out for free to injured bicyclists in Washington state. The book covers the ins-and-outs of Washington state bicycle accident law, provides examples of common mistakes bicyclists make during the legal process, and provides useful information for determining if it’s worth getting a lawyer involved.
Bicyclists can order their own free copy of “Wheels Of Justice” or have an attorney review their bicycle accident case for free by visiting WashingtonAccidentBooks.com or by calling Davis Law Group’s office in Seattle at (206) 727-4000.