11 Things You Need to Know About Bicycle Accident Insurance Claims in San Antonio
- 1. 1. Seek Medical Treatment Immediately
- 2. 2. Document Everything You Can
- 3. 3. Insurance Coverage Often Depends on Who Is at Fault
- 4. 4. You May Have to File Claims With Multiple Insurance Companies
- 5. 5. Many Drivers Are Uninsured (or Flee the Scene)
- 6. 6. Insurance Companies Will Try to Settle for Less Than Your Case is Worth
- 7. 7. Personal Injury Claims Cover More Than Just Medical Bills
- 8. 8. You May Have a Property Damage Claim
- 9. 9. San Antonio Law: Safe Passing Ordinance
- 10. 10. San Antonio Law: Bicycle Light Ordinance
- 11. 11. There Is a Time Limit for Filing Your Accident Claim
- 12. If You Are a Cyclist Who’s Been Injured, Call Crosley Law Today for a Free Consultation
Cycling is a great way to get some fresh air, a little exercise, and save on gas money. So it’s really no surprise that bike commuting is increasing in popularity
But even with dedicated bike lanes and increased awareness of cyclists, motor vehicle accidents are still a serious concern. While San Antonio has made great strides in becoming more bike-friendly, the city remains one of the nation’s most dangerous for bicycle riders.
Many of our bicycle accident lawyers are avid cyclists, so we are very familiar with how easy it is to have a near-miss or accident with a car. Unfortunately, when a bicycle and motor vehicle collide, the cyclist often suffers serious injuries.
If you were involved in a car accident while riding your bike, you may be able to make an insurance claim to help you pay medical bills or damages. If you have serious injuries, keep reading to find out how a free consultation with a San Antonio bicycle accident lawyer can help you get the compensation you deserve.
With that in mind, here are 11 things you need to know about your bicycle accident insurance claim:
1. Seek Medical Treatment Immediately
Regardless of whether you think you have any serious injuries or a claim with insurance, the best thing to do after any bike accident is seek medical treatment.
Adrenaline can mask the pain of injuries, so even if you do not feel like something is wrong, you may be hurt. This is especially true for bicycle accidents; you may not realize that you’ve been badly injured because you attribute the pain to road rash or general soreness.
Delaying treatment is not only bad for your long-term health, but it’s also bad for your insurance claim. Many people resist going to the doctor at first, expecting their pain to get better on its own. They may put up with days or even weeks of discomfort, with no improvement, before seeking help.
The longer you wait, however, the harder it is to prove that your pain was directly caused by the bike crash, and the more likely the insurance company will accuse you of either exaggerating your symptoms or trying to get them to cover an unrelated injury.
RELATED: 5 Common Bicycle Accident Injuries
2. Document Everything You Can
Insurance companies are generally more concerned about their profits than fair payouts to claimants, so they’ll look for any potentially valid reason to reduce or deny your bicycle accident claim. You, or your bicycle accident attorney, may need to build a case to show that you were not at fault.
The easiest time to collect the evidence is right after the accident. If possible, gather all the information you can, including:
- Information on anyone involved in the accident, including their driver’s license and insurance details
- Names and contact info for any witnesses
- Photos or videos of the scene, which will help reconstruct the accident later if needed
- report of the accident
The more documentation you can provide, the easier it will be to build your case.
A bicycle accident attorney can help you continue to gather and build evidence even after the incident (for example, by legally obtaining security camera footage, following up with eyewitnesses, or speaking to accident reconstructionists), but the sooner you contact one, the more likely they can help you.
3. Insurance Coverage Often Depends on Who Is at Fault
Texas is an at-fault state, so the at-fault party (usually via their insurance company) is responsible for paying out.
In many bike accidents, the driver of the car is at fault, so the driver’s insurance company will bear the primary responsibility to cover your injuries. This is pretty straightforward. If the cyclist is at fault, however, their homeowners or renter’s insurance policy may cover injuries, as well as property damage for the other vehicle.
Determining fault can be challenging, and sometimes the fault may be split between multiple negligent parties. This is why it is important to document every detail about an accident if you are able.
In one case that Crosley Law took on, a cyclist named Wayne was hit by an 18-wheeler and, unfortunately, lost his life. Since there were no other witnesses, the police believed the truck driver’s statement that Wayne ran a stop sign and was at fault for the accident.
Wayne’s family was heartbroken, but they knew that Wayne was a very careful cyclist and did not believe he would have been reckless. They knew they would need a lawyer to help them prove what really happened.
Tom Crosley took on the family’s case and, after extensive investigation, found that the 18-wheeler had cracked axles, bad breaks, and a nonfunctional turn signal. He also found that the truck driver’s license had been revoked. Neither the truck nor the driver should have been on the road!
Crosley Law’s detailed investigation showed that what most likely happened is that Wayne was riding carefully, as he always did, when the truck turned without proper warning due to the broken turn signal. Because of Tom Crosley’s hard work and diligence, the insurance companies settled with Wayne’s family for over $1 million.
RELATED CLIENT STORY: A Cyclist Loses His Life in a Truck Wreck: Wayne C.’s Story
4. You May Have to File Claims With Multiple Insurance Companies
Even when the other driver is 100% responsible for the crash, it’s very common for the full amount of medical expenses, lost wages, and other damages to exceed the liability limits of the at-fault driver’s auto insurance policy. Texas only requires that drivers carry at least $30,000 per person in injury liability insurance; although this sounds like a lot, it won’t go far if you need multiple surgeries or expect to lose significant time at work.
When liability coverage limits aren’t enough, other insurance companies or supplemental insurance policies may help with compensation if they are available.
These may include your own uninsured and underinsured motorist (UI/UIM), personal injury protection (PIP) or MedPay policies. Yes, your own auto insurance can step in even though you were on your bicycle rather than driving your car.
If the driver was working at the time of the accident—for example, as a delivery truck driver—the employer’s insurance policy would provide another source of liability coverage, typically with much higher coverage limits than personal policies.
Crosley Law represented the family of a young cyclist who was struck by a delivery truck driver and suffered significant, lasting brain injuries. The lifetime cost of his medical care was estimated at $12 million. After pouring our hearts and souls into this case (and investing more hours than any other case at the firm) over nearly 3 years, we were able to reach a confidential settlement that will provide for his long-term care.
A skilled lawyer will find out which policies can kick in additional coverage when you’ve been the victim in an accident.
RELATED CLIENT STORY: Crosley Law Settles Major Brain Injury Case: Raymond’s Story
5. Many Drivers Are Uninsured (or Flee the Scene)
Even though Texas drivers are legally required to purchase liability insurance, not everyone follows the law. According to a 2021 study by the Insurance Research Council, approximately 8.3 percent of Texas drivers are uninsured.
On top of that, research shows that drivers are more likely to flee the scene after a collision with a pedestrian or cyclist. Outside magazine tracked nearly 700 cyclist deaths in the United States in 2020 and found that more than 1 in 4 of those fatal accidents were hit and runs.
If you’ve been the victim of an accident with an uninsured driver (or a hit and run), will you get any help with your medical bills?
If you know the identity of the driver, you may be able to sue them directly. But typically, if the driver is not paying for insurance, they will not have the funds to compensate you for injuries and damages.
In these scenarios, as mentioned above, you will likely need to look to your own auto insurance policy. Your uninsured motorist coverage can act as a substitute for the liability insurance that should have been available to you, and help you pay for your medical bills and pain and suffering. PIP and MedPay can also help cover some of your financial costs.
6. Insurance Companies Will Try to Settle for Less Than Your Case is Worth
Insurance companies are not working for your best interests. The less they pay out in benefits, the higher their profits. This means that even if you have a valid claim, they will try to pay as little as possible to settle the claim.
You should almost never accept the insurance company’s first offer, as it’s likely to be for much less than what your case is truly worth. Instead, counter with a higher (and fairer) amount.
This is an area where experience matters a lot. The insurance company has lots of experience calculating claims and negotiating payouts, and also understands how much they could potentially lose if a case goes to trial, and the payout is determined by a jury. You probably don’t. Working with a personal injury lawyer greatly improves your chances of reaching a fair settlement or jury verdict and getting the compensation you deserve, particularly in complex or high-value cases (as bike accidents often are).
7. Personal Injury Claims Cover More Than Just Medical Bills
When a motor vehicle and a bicycle get into an accident, the cyclist is likely to suffer significant injuries that impact their daily lives for a long time—and sometimes permanently. Insurance, however, may try to compensate you only for your medical bills, with little else to acknowledge other kinds of damage and trauma.
However, you could be entitled to coverage for much more than that. Other kinds of economic losses you may be able to claim, apart from current and future medical bills, include lost wages, reduced future earning capacity, and ongoing treatments.
You also can receive compensation for non-economic losses, such as pain and suffering, emotional anguish, disfigurement, or loss of enjoyment of life. These are damages that don’t have a fixed price tag like a medical bill, but are still a clear cause of suffering that deserves fair compensation. In many cases, the amount of noneconomic damages awarded to bicycle accident victims exceeds the amount of economic damages—sometimes significantly so.
A good bicycle accident lawyer will have experience with calculating the full extent of your damages. Most lawyers offer a free consultation, so it doesn’t hurt to ask a firm like Crosley Law what your case may be worth.
8. You May Have a Property Damage Claim
You may be entitled to compensation for more than just your injuries. Many bicycles, especially e-bikes, can cost as much as a small car and be very expensive to replace.
Fortunately, this property loss or damage may also be covered by insurance. In Texas, drivers are required to carry a minimum of $25,000 in coverage for property damage. This could be used to replace not only your bike, but also your helmet, clothing, and other biking accessories or gear.
9. San Antonio Law: Safe Passing Ordinance
In 2010, San Antonio passed a bike ordinance which requires a safe distance between vehicles and vulnerable road users, including cyclists and pedestrians. This distance is 3 feet for cars, and 6 feet for commercial or large trucks. Violators are subject to fines of up to $200, though enforcement is often difficult.
If a vehicle violates this ordinance and the cyclist crashes, the driver may be at fault for the accident even if there was no direct contact. For example, if the vehicle suddenly cuts off the cyclist or forces them to swerve to avoid a collision, the driver can still be held responsible.
RELATED POST: How Can We Improve Bicycle Safety in San Antonio?
10. San Antonio Law: Bicycle Light Ordinance
San Antonio also passed a bike ordinance requiring cyclists have a front white light, and a rear red reflector or red light when operating a bicycle at dusk or at night. If you were not in compliance with this ordinance, you may be found at fault, or partially at fault, for the accident. For both legal and safety reasons, it is in your best interest to stay highly visible and behave in a defensive manner when cycling.
Consider Carl’s story. A witness said that Carl was not using a light, and police cited “failure to use a headlight” as a factor in the accident that occurred when a Ford F-350 truck ran into Carl’s bicycle.
Carl suffered severe injuries that required ongoing medical care. Insurance tried to deny his claim, saying Carl was at fault for not using a headlight. Crosley Law did extensive research, including consulting accident reconstruction experts, to build a compelling case for the jury. Their hard work paid off, and the jury awarded Carl $1.5 million for his injuries.
Crosley Law made sure Carl got the settlement that he deserved.
11. There Is a Time Limit for Filing Your Accident Claim
In Texas, you have two years from the date of the accident to file a claim with insurance and file a lawsuit. If you pass this deadline, the insurance company has no obligation to pay for your damages.
Don’t wait until the statute of limitations runs out to file your accident claim. In fact, you shouldn’t even risk getting too close. It takes time to gather and evaluate the evidence and go through multiple rounds of negotiation with the insurance company. The sooner you get started, the more time you and an experienced attorney will have to build a successful personal injury case.
If You Are a Cyclist Who’s Been Injured, Call Crosley Law Today for a Free Consultation
Our firm has avid cyclists who know what a joy—and what a danger—bicycles can be. If you are a cyclist who’s been injured in a car accident, let our experienced team provide the representation you need to get the settlement you deserve.
If you have any questions about your case, or you’d like to schedule your free consultation with a bicycle accident lawyer, complete our online form or call us at 210-LAW-3000 | 210-529-3000. Bike accidents can be stressful and have lifelong implications, so let the team at Crosley Law help you recover and get the care you need.
Insurance Research Council (22 March, 2021). One in Eight Drivers Uninsured. Retrieved from https://www.insurance-research.org/sites/default/files/downloads/UM%20NR%20032221.pdf
Whelan, L. and Fox, M. (29 January 2021). What We Learned from Tracking Cycling Deaths for a Year. Outside. Retrieved from https://www.outsideonline.com/outdoor-adventure/biking/what-we-learned-tracking-cycling-deaths-year/
The content provided here is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject.
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