So, you’ve been in a bicycle accident…
The first thing you should do is contact the at-fault party’s insurance carrier and submit a claim. Let them know that you’ll be collecting evidence and submitting it as soon as possible. Pay careful attention to what you say to the insurance adjuster. Your conversation is most likely being recorded, and your comments will be used against you.
Do not post to social media. This is very important as any comments or details can be used against you, even if they seem innocent at the time.
Take your crashed bicycle to at least two reputable bicycle shops, for an inspection and damage estimate. It’s feasible for your bike to have structural damage that isn’t apparent to the naked eye, but which becomes obvious after weeks of riding.
You must not have your bike repaired or replaced until your claim is settled. Offer to allow the adjuster to examine the bicycle themselves before you make any repairs.
In most situations, the bike shop will include a warning in the damage estimate that the bike is unsafe due to structural damage. As a result, it should be considered a total loss.
The insurance company is responsible for covering the repairs to your bike under the law. If your bicycle is destroyed, they are required to pay you market value for it. Even if the price of a comparable model is more than yours was worth, the insurance firm must compensate you for it.
Make sure you are okay…
The cost of a bicycle and bicycle equipment is important, but often fairly insignificant when compared to the injuries that may have been sustained by the cyclists. If you have any injuries or medical costs associated with a bicycle accident, reach out to the legal team at Harsh Law to get an expert evaluation of your case.
A mint-green rose by any other name…
If you’re in a car crash and total a mint-green 2005 Honda Accord, the insurance company is not required to buy you a new mint-green Honda Accord. Similarly, if your bicycle is totaled, the insurance company is not required to buy you the exact same bicycle. It is necessary that your damaged bike be replaced with one of the same kind and quality, or you be compensated for the market value.
But this is where things start to go wrong – seeing eye to eye is often a challenging task.
The adjuster is going to want receipts for everything you’re claiming. The more expensive a bicycle is, the harder it will be to convince the adjuster that your bike is worth far more than what they are prepared to give you. They may even suggest you visit some websites that claim to be the “Kelly Blue Book for bicycles.” In order to get the most value for your bicycle, consider the following steps:
1) Get a copy of the police report.
Find your receipt for your bicycle and other major purchases (such as after-market additions, the clothes you were wearing, your “Go-Pro,” etc.), that you have invested into the bicycle. Insurance companies may accept credit card statements that show the transaction from the store where you bought it.
Go to reputable bike shops and websites – such as OfferUp, Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace or eBay – to determine the market value of a similar bicycle. Market value is the price a seller would sell you a similar bicycle for.
Include the claim number the insurance company gave you when you opened the claim and submit copies (never originals) of everything you collected. Include the claim number when you call or write them.
2) Don’t Give In
Insurance companies move slowly because they want to wait you out. They will retain their cash if possible.
Make frequent phone calls to track the progress and be a nuisance. Expect a low-ball offer to be presented to you at the onset of your efforts. Keep striving for what is acceptable. They want to wear you down with delays and negotiation tactics.
Insurance companies even may deny your claim, saying that the police report or their investigators determined the bicycle crash was your fault. If you truly are partially responsible for the bicycle crash, remember that California has comparative negligence.
You may be held responsible for a percentage of the compensation, but the insurance company must pay you the rest of money minus your liability.
3) Be Prepared To Go To Court
It’s unlikely that your claim will be resolved fast. It might take a year or more to complete. And, most cyclists’ final option if the claim isn’t settled is Small Claims Court in California. The state has a statute of limitations, which states when you must file your lawsuit or lose your right to sue.
If you have questions about this process, contact the legal experts at Harsh Law. We are always happy to talk to bicycle enthusiasts, and there is never a charge for a consultation.