I’ve been reading about the mishaps on the road so far in 2017 and I thought it would be a good idea to revisit what to do in case you find yourself in the same situation. For the new members, I’m the team’s legal sponsor and specialize exclusively in personal injury.
Here’s a summary of how you can protect yourself both before and after an incident.
1) Check your auto insurance and make sure you have purchased the maximum coverage you can afford, including ‘medical payment’ benefits. Auto insurance covers you in any incident involving a motor vehicle, even when you’re on a bike. Insurance is designed to cover you if you’re at fault OR if the other guy is at fault and is un-insured (or under-insured). Your insurance will step into the other driver’s shoes and provide coverage if he is at fault and has no insurance or it’s insufficient to cover your damages. Medical payment benefits pays your medical expenses up to the policy limits whether you’re at fault or not, and can ease the pain of health insurance deductibles or co-pays.
2) Make sure you have health insurance. One visit to the ER can easily run $5k even if you don’t break anything. If you have a high deductible plan or co-pays, you may also want to consider supplemental ‘accident’ insurance which kicks in after an accident. It’s relatively cheap ($32/mo) and covers ambulance, ER, surgery, etc. up to $5000. I have it and use Combined Insurance.
1) Don’t be a hero. Get medical attention. Head injuries can be devastating if not treated immediately. You’ll recover faster and get better results if your injuries are diagnosed and treated promptly. Follow doctor’s orders and treatments. (EDITOR’S NOTE: Health Images is another team sponsor. They’re a state-of-the-art imaging center (MRI’s, CAT scans, X-rays) with costs well below a traditional ER. So, if your need for imaging isn’t emergent (i.e. you need a doctor’s care immediately!) Health Images is a great option. They take major insurances. And if you have a high deductible, you’ll appreciate lower out-of-pocket costs).
2) Call the police to the scene. The police will get the names and relevant info from everyone involved. If the other guy is ticketed, you can expect a better result if you have to make a claim. If you wait until you get home, it may be too late.
3) Take pictures. Once the scene is cleared, the opportunity is lost to document what happened.
4) Get witnesses names and numbers. This can be vital if the other driver spins his story.
5) Don’t throw away damaged equipment. This is all evidence in your claim and should be preserved in its damaged state.
6) Keep all paperwork and receipts, and make a journal of important events and how you’re feeling.
7) Don’t give a statement to any insurance company or sign anything until you get legal advice. You can put yourself at a disadvantage before you even make your claim.
For cyclists it’s usually not a matter of ‘if’, but ‘when’ we will tangle with a car or find ourselves in the gutter from a defect in the road. I’ve been there a couple of times and know firsthand what it’s like. If you or someone you love has been hurt in a bike accident or otherwise, give me a call. I can advise you of your legal rights and how best to approach a claim, whether on your own or with legal assistance. Team members and their families get free consultations and a reduced rate should we take on the case.
Be safe, ride defensively, and assume they don’t see you.