Uninsured Mototrist

Been Hit by a Motorist without Insurance?

Imagine the following scenario: You’re out for a ride. It’s a great day and everything seems perfect. Then, suddenly a negligent motorist hits you and you’re down. The paramedics arrive and your whisked off to the hospital.

Later, the police arrive and take a statement from you. You’re comforted that at least the case is being investigated and you assume the responsible party will take care of your bills and injuries.

A few days later,however, you learn that the motorists is uninsured. Case over right? You’re on your own to handle your medical bills, loss of earnings and all the other difficulties of being the victim of an uninsured motorist. Well, maybe not.

Unfortunately I see this scenario all too often in my practice. What many cyclists don’t know is that if you have car insurance, and you have uninsured motorists coverage, you may be able to recover money from your own automobile insurance company for your damages.

This recovery is contractual and does not affect you rates, provided you were not at fault for the accident.

It will even apply to members of your household while riding (your spouse, children or others living with you, even if they are not on the policy!).

There are really three situations where uninsured motorist coverage comes into play:

The first is what I just outlined. A negligent motorist hits you and has no insurance coverage.

The second is called an underinsured motorist. In this case the negligent motorist has insurance, but the policy is a minimum policy ($15,000.00 per person and $30,000.00 per accident in California). Your injuries and damages will far exceed the policy limits. Provided you have uninsured motorist coverage that exceeds the policy limits of the negligent driver, you can recover the difference from your own insurance carrier.

For instance, if you carry uninsured motorist coverage in the amount of $50,000.00 per person, you would recover the policy limits of$15,000.00 from the negligent driver and then make a claim under your underinsured motorist coverage for the $50,000.00. If your case is substantial, you would be entitled to the $50,000.00 with an offset of $15,000.00 already recovered from the other party leaving you with an additional $35,000.00 from your own carrier. Remember, your policy must exceed the coverage of the other party. If it is equal to the other coverage, there is no underinsured coverage.

The final situation is the hit and run driver. You’re hit but the motorist flees the scene and there are no witnesses or other way to track down the driver. If you have uninsured motorist coverage, it will apply provide you take the following steps:

  1. You must file a police report;
  2. You must report the accident to your own insurance company within 24 hours. These reporting requirements are flexible so that they may be extended if your are unable to file because of your injuries or if you are in the hospital.
  3. There is also a requirement that there was “contact” between you and the vehicle. This contact requirement is liberally construed so that even debris thrown from the car may be sufficient, such as dirt or gravel thrown at you causing you to fall.

In my practice, we thoroughly investigate all aspects of coverage, and we do an asset search on the negligent driver to make sure there are no additional sources of recovery for your injuries.

Next time I will cover another common and sometimes confusing scenario: your injured by another cyclist or someone who isn’t driving a vehicle.

Have fun out there and be safe.

What to do if you’re in an accident

Accidents are scary and often times it is hard to know what you should do if you are ever involved in one. It is important to keep your composure after the accident and take a few steps to ensure all the facts of your accident are documented. What you do immediately after the accident can greatly impact  how much you recover for your injuries and for your bike.

Here are some simple steps to help you after the accident.

USE YOUR PHONE! You may not have a pen and paper, but get your phone out and use our free app to record notes, take pictures and collect all the data you will need. Download our app!

Call the Police and Get An Accident Report.

  • It is vital to get a police accident report. The police will document many aspects of the scene that will be important as your case progresses.
  • Sit tight and don’t disturb the accident scene. Try to preserve everything as-is and if you have to move something snap a picture of it before you move it.
  • If there is no police report then it is your word against theirs.
  • Even if you aren’t injured get a report.
    • Many people don’t realize they are hurt until hours later.
  • While you wait get as much information as possible
  • Be sure to get your version of the event in the accident report. Report all your injuries, even if minor as they may develop into more serious conditions later.

Get Information –Download our app!

The best and easiest way to get all the information you will need is to have our app on your phone before you are in an accident. It is free! (more info.)

  • Obtain Driver and Witness Contact Information
    • Name of the automobile driver, address, phone number, driver’s license number, vehicle license number, and insurance information.
  • Witness Information
    • Names and contact information for everyone who witnessed the accident. (Police report may not include this information)
    • If you can’t get this on your own ask someone to get it for you.

Document Your Side of the Story

  • What happened and What Your Injuries Are
    • What happened
    • How it happened
    • Where it Occurred
    • Other Conditions
      • Road conditions, traffic, weather, lights or stop signs etc…
  • Record Your Injuries
    • Take photos if you can of your injuries and start a photo journal documenting the progress of them.
  • Seek medical attention. Even if minor to get an accurate record and description of your injuries.

Contact Our Office

  • Many accidents between bikes and cars involve complex legal issues.
  • You need personal injury attorney who understands bicycling and who has handled bike accident cases.
  • Once you contact us we will handle all the details of your case allowing you to get back to your life.

 

Other Important Issues:

  • Don’t negotiate with the driver. Many drivers initially apologize and accept blame, only to later deny their negligence.  Getting a police report will document the incident from a neutral 3rd party. This information will be very helpful in negating with their insurance company who will attempt to deny responsibility.
  • Preserve Evidence. Don’t get your bike fixed, wash your clothes, send your helmet to be fixed or replaced. Keep all evidence in it’s original state until your attorney advises you otherwise. This can be very valuable evidence for your case.
  • Don’t negate with the insurance company. They have hired big guns to negotiate you down and get you to take the bare minimum. Are you a professional negotiator? They have professionals on their side so should you!

How To Ruin Your Claim

You have been hurt while riding your bike and you think you might be entitled to recover some money to get your bike fixed, pay medical bills etc. There are a few things that you can do to RUIN YOUR CLAIM.

1. Fudging the Facts

You may be tempted to exaggerate your injuries, downplay your role in the accident, or just plain not tell the truth. While it may seem like this can help your case it will do just the opposite. Fudging on the facts will always come back to bite you and possibly even ruin your entire claim. So when talking to the police or your attorney always “tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.”

2. Negotiate with the Insurance Company Yourself

When the insurance company calls you they are not your friend, no matter how friendly they are. These companies hire the big guns to try and get you to discredit your story, minimize the other parties role in the accident, and mostly to get you to take the least amount of money for a settlement as possible. Anything you tell them on the phone or in person, they can use against you in your case. These people are skilled and make big money by taking yours away. Your best bet NOT TO TALK TO THEM. Hire us and tell them to talk to your attorney! 

3. Not Taking Care of Yourself

It may seem like your injuries are minor. You may not have time to go to appointments. You might think that you will just get better on your own, but taking good care of your injuries is vital to your case. Injuries can worsen in the hours and days after an accident. It is very difficult for a regular person to evaluate the extent of injuries, especially head injuries. These can be serious or even life-threatning but feel like no big deal. Seek good medical attention and make your health a priority after your injury. Not doing so could cause the insurance company and judge to believe you were not actually hurt and ruin your claim!

4. Not Hiring a Good Personal Injury Attorney

Legal matters are very complicated. There are forms, deadlines and language that must be met and accurate or your claim will be void. The system is difficult to navigate and without an experienced guide you will get lost. With all that you are dealing with in recovery handling investigations, police reports, filings, depositions and filing fees are the last thing you want to do. Hiring a good attorney is your best chance at getting your life back.

Law Offices of Thomas F. Forsyth specializes in representing bicycle accident victims, it is our passion. For more information on filing an injury claim, call (626) 240-4633 or Contact Us Online.

No Fee Until You Get Paid

After a traumatic experience the last thing you need is to worry about how you will pay for the services you need. We work on your case with no cost to you. Our fees are paid out of the settlement.

Filing a lawsuit, paying court costs, hiring investigators and even expert witnesses can add up. Having these pieces of information is invaluable to the success of your case. At our office we pay upfront for these costs to get you the best possible settlement. If you go it alone you may have to take a small settlement from an insurance company if you can’t pay these costs yourself.

Our full service firm takes care of every detail of your case allowing you to recover and get back to your life.