5 Myths About Bicycle Accidents Involving a Car
Handling personal injury claims has, like everything in life, gotten to be very complicated. Here are some of the mistaken beliefs I encounter when discussing cases with clients.
Mistaken Belief 1: Everyone is insured and has lots of coverage.
In Texas, the required liability minimum limits are a mere $30,000. For injured cyclists, that is often grossly insufficient to cover even the medical costs. Moreover, approximately 20% of North Texas drivers have no insurance coverage at all.
There is something you can do about it. Make sure that you have Uninsured/Underinsured (UM) and Personal Injury Protection (PIP) coverage under your auto policy. I recommend getting as much UM coverage as you can afford. It can save your financial future if you are ever involved in an accident with an uninsured or underinsured individual.
Mistaken Belief 2: My medical expenses will be paid as they accrue by the other person’s insurance.
The insurance company for the person that hit you does not pay for your medical treatment on an on-going basis. If you, the hospital or any of your doctors send a bill to the liability insurer, it will not be paid timely.
This means that you should pay for your medical treatment as if you didn’t have a claim. Make sure that your health insurer pays its part, that you get the negotiated reduction and that you pay your fair portion.
When the case settles, you are reimbursed for the costs of medical treatment. (Your health insurer is also paid back based on its “subrogation” claim.)
It’s important to note, your current primary care doctor may not treat you. When it comes to a personal injury case, there are billing concerns that often dissuade doctors from getting involved.
Mistaken Belief 3: The claim shouldn’t take long to resolve.
Bike claims are never open and shut. Even if the fault is absolutely clear, the extent of your damages is not. How bad were you injured? How long did you treat? How much were your total medical expenses? How much time did you miss from work? How did the injuries affect you in your day-to-day life? All of these take time to come into focus. A short quick answer is that settlement of your claim should not be considered until you have finished treatment and you have reached “maximum medical improvement.” How long it takes to resolve a claim depends on how long you treat.
Mistaken Belief 4: The other side’s insurer will be fair because it was clearly their driver’s fault and I was badly injured.
An insurance company for someone else was not created to do justice but to make a profit. And they make profits by minimizing the amount that they pay to people like you that have been injured.
Yes, the adjuster you talk with might be nice, but you’re kidding yourself if you believe that the adjuster wants to be “fair.” Insurance companies view of “fairness” is whatever makes them more money.
Mistaken Belief 5: My claim is worth at least 3x my medical expenses.
This is an urban myth. First, there are many other factors that must be considered besides just medical expenses, such as the nature of the injuries, if there is contributory negligence, the appearance of the parties, etc.
Second and most important, is that jury verdict results in the country determines the value of any claim. Jury verdicts are the focal lens, the “Blue book” of claims evaluation. There Attorneys and insurance companies have a solid idea based on experience, plus there are jury verdict service companies that provide reports on a weekly basis.
Thus, if your medical expenses are $10,000, an insurance company won’t pay $30,000 to settle your case if week in and week out, juries in that county rarely pay $12,000 for similar cases. can consider jury verdicts to be sort of the “Blue Book” for claims valuations.
A simple rule of thumb is to consider the political persuasion of the county where the incident occurred. If the county is overwhelming Republican, and given that Republicans are “Conservative”, you can count on them being just as conservative when it comes to awarding money to an injured cyclist.