Author Topic: Hit by car while biking, what next?  (Read 7593 times)

MoonPilgrim

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Hit by car while biking, what next?
« on: July 09, 2013, 11:45:22 AM »
This morning, a driver clipped me with her mirror.  I didn't call the cops, I don't think I was thinking straight.  I just wanted to get medical treatment.  The driver gave me her contact info, we're going to meet up tomorrow and file a police report.

Turns out I have a fractured first metatarsal with minimal displacement (broken thumb) and will be going to an orthopedist on Thursday to see if it needs pins or not.  And some badass road rash as a bonus, of course.  :)

What do I do?  I'm uncomfortable asking the other driver to cover the medical bills, but the accident was not my fault--she wasn't planning on contacting her insurance company, but I doubt she can really afford to cover my medical expenses, because I carry a high deductible.

I'm not confrontational, accidents happen, I don't want to have to deal with lawyers, and I'm grateful it isn't worse and that she stopped and provided her info--but I don't feel I should be out a few grand just because someone didn't get far enough over while passing me. 

What would you do if you were me?  If you were her?

oldtoyota

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Re: Hit by car while biking, what next?
« Reply #1 on: July 09, 2013, 11:46:42 AM »
If I were her, I would offer to pay your expenses out of my pocket or insurance.

If I were you, I would ask her to do the above.

matchewed

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Re: Hit by car while biking, what next?
« Reply #2 on: July 09, 2013, 11:49:00 AM »
What oldtoyota said. Go through the proper/right channels. If she doesn't pony up then you get lawyers involved.

Spork

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Re: Hit by car while biking, what next?
« Reply #3 on: July 09, 2013, 11:56:47 AM »
Whether or not she contacts her insurance company is up to her.   But: if she was at fault, she should cover you.  I'd bet that she will actually want to contact her insurance company once she realizes that there are medical expenses involved. 

I'd get that police report filed and get this documented -- especially if you can get her to go on record in the report.  This is your fall back documentation if she gets all squirmy on you.

GuitarStv

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Re: Hit by car while biking, what next?
« Reply #4 on: July 09, 2013, 12:05:48 PM »
Police report as soon as possible.  She caused the damage, she should pay for it.  You're very lucky that she stopped and provided her info though.

I've been victim of a hit and run while cycling (many years ago).  And it's not like he didn't see me . . . I rolled up his hood and onto his windshield as he was running over my bike.

Bakari

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Re: Hit by car while biking, what next?
« Reply #5 on: July 09, 2013, 12:27:17 PM »
Whether she contacts her insurance is NOT up to her.
If you are at fault in an accident with any amount of injury (or over, I believe, $500 property damage), you are required by law to report it, at the very least, to the DMV.  And when they find out, insurance has access to it anyway, so there is no point hiding it from them.  All that would accomplish is that her rates go up, and you don't get they pay out you are entitled to.

Besides, if you are talking about pins and surgery, the cost of going to very quickly go way above the amount of extra money she'll end up paying on insurance.
That's what insurance is for.  It is the exact / entire reason we have it in the first place.  Not using it is akin to wasting the premiums she's been paying her whole life.  Its just stupid.  If we were talking about $100 or two, even $500 total, sure, pay out of pocket and keep it off the record.
But if you decide to "be nice" and let her give what she can afford, you may be paying for thousands out of your pocket.

Your deductible doesn't matter - her / her insurance is legally responsible for ALL of your bills.  Your medical insurance should not have to cover any of it.  She was at fault.  End of story.  In reality there are no "accidents".  There is just "negligence" that catches up to you... or, in this case, catches up to someone else.

I've never had to get courts or lawyers involved in something like this, and never needed to be confrontational with the person who was at fault - although it has taken letters to the BBB and the state insurance commission to get Progressive to pay out for their at fault client (because it was a "no fault" state, they said the bicyclist should have insurance, but the law doesn't work that way)

TrulyStashin

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Re: Hit by car while biking, what next?
« Reply #6 on: July 09, 2013, 12:45:11 PM »
This is not a time to think about "nice" versus "mean" or "confrontational."

This is a time for a rational, business-like decision.  She caused damage and, in our system, people who do that pay to fix the damage they caused.

If you start to feel uncomfortable enforcing this principle, stop and consider the long term result to the system as a whole.  If she gets to skate away without covering the cost of her damage will she be more or less likely to be careful around cyclists in the future?

Please do all of us who bike a big favor and enforce the principle.

I hope you feel better soon.

yolfer

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Re: Hit by car while biking, what next?
« Reply #7 on: July 09, 2013, 02:55:09 PM »
Warning, this is going to be harsh and direct because what I'm about to say is dead serious and may literally save you YEARS of anguish:

1. Get a lawyer now and take their advice. Don't wait for things to get bad. Even if this goes against your personality. How does your personality like getting screwed over by insurance companies? Because that's what's almost guaranteed to happen if you don't get a lawyer now.
2. When you file the accident report, make sure the report notes that the driver is at fault and what their infraction is.
3. Do not talk to any insurance people (yours or theirs) without getting advice from a lawyer.
4. Document EVERYTHING. Photos of your bike, clothing. Anything torn, bloodied, or broken. Photos of your injuries. Medical bills and receipts. Start a daily "pain journal" so your pain/suffering can be quantified when it comes time to compensate you.
5. Don't post about this online in any way that can be linked back to you (i.e. facebook). The defense lawyers will find it and use it against you.
6. Were there any witnesses? Maybe the driver says "it was my fault" today, but when she sees your medical bills, you can bet she'll be singing a different tune. If you didn't get witnesses, post some flyers at the scene asking for them to come forward. Otherwise, it's your word against hers and who knows what story she's going to start telling?

Whether or not you like it, you're in a war now. Sorry to not sugar coat this, but insurance companies make all those profits by screwing people like you and me. It sucks and I wouldn't wish it on my worst enemy, but you're in the shit now. I hope I'm wrong and things go smoothly for you but better safe than sorry.

Source: I was hit by a car in 2010. Things got nasty. Took 2 years to recover damages from the person who hit me.

minimalist

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Re: Hit by car while biking, what next?
« Reply #8 on: July 09, 2013, 04:43:05 PM »
I don't understand how this is possible; bicycling is the SAFEST form of transportation. Seriously though, you shouldn't be uncomfortable asking the driver to cover the cost of your medical bills (not BS like "emotional damages") if she was at fault.

TrulyStashin

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Re: Hit by car while biking, what next?
« Reply #9 on: July 09, 2013, 07:17:51 PM »
Warning, this is going to be harsh and direct because what I'm about to say is dead serious and may literally save you YEARS of anguish:

1. Get a lawyer now and take their advice. Don't wait for things to get bad. Even if this goes against your personality. How does your personality like getting screwed over by insurance companies? Because that's what's almost guaranteed to happen if you don't get a lawyer now.
2. When you file the accident report, make sure the report notes that the driver is at fault and what their infraction is.
3. Do not talk to any insurance people (yours or theirs) without getting advice from a lawyer.
4. Document EVERYTHING. Photos of your bike, clothing. Anything torn, bloodied, or broken. Photos of your injuries. Medical bills and receipts. Start a daily "pain journal" so your pain/suffering can be quantified when it comes time to compensate you.
5. Don't post about this online in any way that can be linked back to you (i.e. facebook). The defense lawyers will find it and use it against you.
6. Were there any witnesses? Maybe the driver says "it was my fault" today, but when she sees your medical bills, you can bet she'll be singing a different tune. If you didn't get witnesses, post some flyers at the scene asking for them to come forward. Otherwise, it's your word against hers and who knows what story she's going to start telling?

Whether or not you like it, you're in a war now. Sorry to not sugar coat this, but insurance companies make all those profits by screwing people like you and me. It sucks and I wouldn't wish it on my worst enemy, but you're in the shit now. I hope I'm wrong and things go smoothly for you but better safe than sorry.

Source: I was hit by a car in 2010. Things got nasty. Took 2 years to recover damages from the person who hit me.

+1,000  Don't be nice.  Take care of yourself.

MoneyLifeandMore

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Re: Hit by car while biking, what next?
« Reply #10 on: July 09, 2013, 08:31:04 PM »
Warning, this is going to be harsh and direct because what I'm about to say is dead serious and may literally save you YEARS of anguish:

1. Get a lawyer now and take their advice. Don't wait for things to get bad. Even if this goes against your personality. How does your personality like getting screwed over by insurance companies? Because that's what's almost guaranteed to happen if you don't get a lawyer now.
2. When you file the accident report, make sure the report notes that the driver is at fault and what their infraction is.
3. Do not talk to any insurance people (yours or theirs) without getting advice from a lawyer.
4. Document EVERYTHING. Photos of your bike, clothing. Anything torn, bloodied, or broken. Photos of your injuries. Medical bills and receipts. Start a daily "pain journal" so your pain/suffering can be quantified when it comes time to compensate you.
5. Don't post about this online in any way that can be linked back to you (i.e. facebook). The defense lawyers will find it and use it against you.
6. Were there any witnesses? Maybe the driver says "it was my fault" today, but when she sees your medical bills, you can bet she'll be singing a different tune. If you didn't get witnesses, post some flyers at the scene asking for them to come forward. Otherwise, it's your word against hers and who knows what story she's going to start telling?

Whether or not you like it, you're in a war now. Sorry to not sugar coat this, but insurance companies make all those profits by screwing people like you and me. It sucks and I wouldn't wish it on my worst enemy, but you're in the shit now. I hope I'm wrong and things go smoothly for you but better safe than sorry.

Source: I was hit by a car in 2010. Things got nasty. Took 2 years to recover damages from the person who hit me.

+1,000  Don't be nice.  Take care of yourself.

It is sad, but this really is what you need to do. Who knows how long this could effect you. If the first surgery doesn't work or you lose partial use of any part of your body it can have major ripple effects that you'd never think of. She pays for insurance so let it do its job.

lisahi

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Re: Hit by car while biking, what next?
« Reply #11 on: July 10, 2013, 08:39:33 AM »
A lot of people say in these situations, "I don't want to deal with lawyers."

That's what lawyers are for! It's unfortunate that lawyers get a bad rap (because of a few bad seeds), but you know who the worst lawyers are? People without law degrees who represent themselves and try to handle things on their own.

I can't tell you how many pro se plaintiffs (or claimants, or appellants, or complainants) I've been sitting across the aisle from that just sink themselves because they don't know what's going on. And I'm not talking about them having to go to court hearings or say things in front of a judge--just in paperwork alone they get themselves into trouble (not knowing how to deal with an insurance company; not knowing how to file claims; not knowing their rights, etc.). It's not that they're stupid, it's that they've never done this before and don't know the rules.

You can save time and money by finding an attorney who will take care of your case which, in the end, might just be about filing some paperwork (and, thus, low attorney's fees). But it's paperwork that you may not have known you needed to file, and calls that you may not have known you needed to make. Heck, you can even try legal aid if attorney's fees are what you're worried about.

I am an attorney, and I would even consult another attorney if I was in a vehicle accident which could result in substantial costs (and especially if the accident involved any medical costs). It's that important.

Use it up, wear it out...

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Re: Hit by car while biking, what next?
« Reply #12 on: July 10, 2013, 08:49:59 AM »
2 things to add:

Bicycling and the Law (book) is a great resource.

Also, if possible, get a lawyer who knows how the law pertains to bicycles.

MrsPete

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Re: Hit by car while biking, what next?
« Reply #13 on: July 10, 2013, 09:06:46 AM »
Yolfer has it right. 

This probably isn't going to be the most fun thing with which you've ever dealt, but suck it up and do what has to be done.  Don't wait -- nothing will be made better by second-guessing it all.  In retrospect, you should've called the police, but done is done. 

MoonPilgrim

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Re: Hit by car while biking, what next?
« Reply #14 on: July 10, 2013, 10:22:49 AM »
Thanks so much, everyone.  Blindly wishing things could be simple and easy unfortunately doesn't make it so.  I am in an area where many bike, but the roads do not accommodate bikes + cars well--I'm sure there is an attorney here who has this kind of experience.  And you're all right--a lawyer has the potential to make things less complicated, especially since now I'm certain I'll have at least some ongoing medical expenses that will require haggling with the insurance company.

I don't know what I was thinking yesterday.  Maybe I hit my head in the fall.  :/

StarryC

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Re: Hit by car while biking, what next?
« Reply #15 on: July 10, 2013, 10:27:50 AM »
I disagree with "Get a lawyer now."  I agree, get her insurance information and report it.  Also, your car insurance might cover this as well.  Your insurance might cover it up front and then deal with the getting reimbursed from her later, depending on your state and policy.  In many states this is called "no fault" "med pay" or "PIP" (Personal Injury Protection) coverage.  (That way you wouldn't need to pay your high deductible first.)

Here's why I don't think you need a lawyer now.  A lawyer will take about 1/3 of your settlement.  If you have a bad accident and the insurance company is offering a really low amount, then a lawyer can really increase that offer and you end up with more in the end.  But, the insurance company can only offer an amount up to the policy limits.  If you are in California, where the "minimum limits" are like $15,000 a lawyer doesn't help you if that is the policy this person has.  They just take $5,000 of that leaving you with $10,000.  You can ask her about her policy when you get the police report.  The insurance company usually can't tell you this without her permission.  (If it is too low, then you could try to collect from her personally or from your own insurance "underinsured motorist" provision if you have that coverage.  You probably would need a lawyer to do that.)

Any good lawyer will tell you to treat and get better.  They would help you give your recorded statement, but not that much.  They help:  Tell the truth.  Answer the question asked (no more, no less).  Don't volunteer information.  Don't try to be nice/ forgiving of the driver.  Don't "take responsibility" that you don't truly believe is yours. 

Once you get better, assuming that is within 6 months to 9 months, then negotiate with the insurance company on your own in a firm, professional, adult manner.  Give them your medical records.  Make a demand in dollars.   See what happens.  Then, if you aren't happy, get a lawyer.  Yolfer is right that some insurance companies are harder to work with than others.  You'll have that figured out within 2-3 months.  If you don't resolve it within 9 months, talk to a lawyer about the statute of limitations in your state. 

Usually, settlements are 1 to 3 times your "economic" damages.  If you have $10,000 in meds, you can expect to get (in noneconomic damages) between $10,000 and $30,000.  (Ballpark of course, there are always exceptions.)  With a reasonable insurance company that offers you (as a first offer) $5,000, you could probably get them up to $10,000 + meds on your own.  Add a lawyer, and you get $20,000 +meds .  But the lawyer gets $10,000
(1/3 of $30,000 total).  You still get $10,000 yourself. (And this is assuming that the driver has a policy that isn't the minimum, or your state has a minimum of more than $30,000.)   

Of course, if the insurance company offers you $1,000 and won't go any higher than $5,000, or if they deny your claim outright, etc. getting a lawyer right away is a great idea. Don't wait longer than a year to get a lawyer. 

MissStache

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Re: Hit by car while biking, what next?
« Reply #16 on: July 10, 2013, 11:42:46 AM »
I was coming in to chime in with exactly what StarryC said.  That is excellent advice.  The limits of her policy are important and contrary to popular wisdom, lawyers DO NOT mean you will get more money.  Generally the amount offered in a settlement will be the same regardless of representation, except that if you have a lawyer they will get 1/3 of it.  Cases with attorneys last longer. 

And I say this as a person who was a PIP adjuster for a major insurance company.  I know what it is like from the other side. 

The FIRST thing I would do is report it to your own insurance company- they can advise you of your coverages and let you know if you are covered by your own policy, which is very common.  And don't fear to file with them- first party "no-fault" coverage is legally barred from having an impact on your rates.

Caveat:  Some insurance companies are true dirtbag factories.  If you start to feel like you are getting taken advantage of or put through the ringer, then find a good lawyer and go from there.  Red Flags:  Multiple messages with no return calls, never being able to get in touch with your adjuster, a supervisor being rude or dismissive. 

 Do keep this in mind, though:  They will not offer you a settlement until all of your treatment is completed, because they want to make sure you will have no additional expenses.  They will make you sign a release before you are given any money barring you from recovering further, so you don't want to settle when you still have outstanding medical issues.  You may have to pay out of pocket at the beginning.  They aren't trying to screw you- that is actually them trying to develop a fair and reasonable assesment of your injuries and what you deserve.  This WILL NOT be a speedy process.  If you can come to peace with that, it will be much easier and less stressful. 

Do keep us updated, please!  I'm curious to know if she keeps her agreement about filing a police report.  And if she doesn't, get thee to the nearest police station and file it yourself!

MissStache

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Re: Hit by car while biking, what next?
« Reply #17 on: July 10, 2013, 11:48:41 AM »
And one more thing:  If you DO get a lawyer, for the love of god don't google "personal injury lawyer" and go with the first one or use one of those 1-800-get-a-lawyer numbers.  Those people do not give a crap about you.  They make money by processing lots of claims very quickly.  Find a small firm (or just one lawyer) who has some experience.  They will (probably) be more thorough and careful and represent you in a way that will actually benefit you.  Try to get a personal recommendation from someone if you can!

hoodedfalcon

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Re: Hit by car while biking, what next?
« Reply #18 on: July 10, 2013, 11:49:24 AM »
http://www.bikelaw.com/

Not sure where you are, but these folks are in my neck of the woods. I would imagine there are other similar groups all over, in case you want to go that route. I can't vouch for them personally, but they seem pretty passionate about what they do.

zhelud

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Re: Hit by car while biking, what next?
« Reply #19 on: July 10, 2013, 11:59:36 AM »
Ugh- I feel for you. And I fear that since you didn't call the police at the time of the accident, you are going to be screwed because you can't prove that the driver caused your injury.

Always call the police, even if you think you aren't injured!  The adrenaline rush you get from being hit by a car and discovering that you are still alive can make you feel a lot better than you really are- I know from experience.

MoonPilgrim

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Re: Hit by car while biking, what next?
« Reply #20 on: July 10, 2013, 03:07:05 PM »
Zhelud--right on about the adrenaline rush.  The driver was freaked out by how calm I was.

MissStache--the driver met me yesterday at the police station to file the report.  I'm very lucky.  And, it turns out that even though I was a pedestrian, my auto insurance covers my injuries (Michigan is a no-fault state).  I learned this from the lawyer I spoke with this afternoon, before I saw your response.
 

mpbaker22

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Re: Hit by car while biking, what next?
« Reply #21 on: July 10, 2013, 03:33:39 PM »
Ugh- I feel for you. And I fear that since you didn't call the police at the time of the accident, you are going to be screwed because you can't prove that the driver caused your injury.

Always call the police, even if you think you aren't injured!  The adrenaline rush you get from being hit by a car and discovering that you are still alive can make you feel a lot better than you really are- I know from experience.

That's a good point about the adrenaline, I hadn't even though of.  I've been in two pretty big cycling accidents - these were more racing than anything, though not in actual races.
The second was caused hitting a slick of mud on a corner (this was on a trail, so I was taking more risks knowing there was no motorized traffic).  I didn't see it till it was too late and my bike slid out from under me - about 20 mph.  I slid a good distance on the pavement, and was bleeding pretty bad from my the back of my mid-leg.  I got back on the bike and didn't even actually notice till I got home, 8 miles later.

MissStache

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Re: Hit by car while biking, what next?
« Reply #22 on: July 11, 2013, 06:16:49 AM »

MissStache--the driver met me yesterday at the police station to file the report.  I'm very lucky.  And, it turns out that even though I was a pedestrian, my auto insurance covers my injuries (Michigan is a no-fault state).  I learned this from the lawyer I spoke with this afternoon, before I saw your response.
 

This made my morning!  Being on the claims end, I have dealt with so many lovely people who were screwed over by someone who hit them, so I'm really glad she did the right thing.  I'm also glad you're in a no-fault state, because that will make things much easier for you and now you have your insurance company on your side, too.   Good luck with everything!  I hope you have a speedy recovery!