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  1. #1
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    Accident and preparing an insurance claim

    I apologize if this information has been covered but after working through searches I wanted to bounce some ideas out to make sure that I'm understanding the basic elements in filing an insurance claim. I have never been through this type of experience before and feel kind of "lost" but don't have funds to hire an attorney, etc.

    Basically, last week I rode to an intersection at a cross street (two way stop, one on my side and one opposite) and stopped to wait for cross traffic. A driver pulled up across the intersection and also stopped. When things were clear, I looked at the driver, thought he saw me, and since he was pausing and I had right-of-way, I began to pull out. He then pulled out (making a left turn) and hit me as I was about 1/2 way across the intersection.

    The police came and a report was filed. The driver was not cited, but was given a written warning. I presume it was a warning rather than citation as it was "his word against mine" as to whether I stopped (I am certain that I did--I couldn't accellerate out of his way because I was clipping in).

    I received scrapes, numerous small bruises, and one severe muscle bruise (I feel very lucky given some of the injuries that I've read about on here). I went to a family physician and had injuries documented--I have health insurance and was covered. I took photos of everything. The bicycle frame is bent beyond repair as are the cranks, pedals, rims, etc--I estimate about 85% totalled.

    At the time, the driver assured me that he would pay for all damages as he did not want to pay a large deductible and risk an increase his rates (this was before the officer decided to give him the warning rather than citation). I have now tried to contact him and he is not returning my calls, so I may need to contact his insurance company. Because I have a homeowner's deductible that is greater than my bike's value I am sort of in a spot as my insurance co. won't represent me unless I pay the deductible.

    What types of information should I gather, procedures should I follow, etc., if (when) I approach the insurance co? I can pretty well document cost of all of the parts as they are new--within the last 6 mos; I didn't buy a complete bike, but assembled from parts. I plan to take it to a shop and have it assessed for cost and replacement issues (the frame is no longer made). I'll also get the copy of the police report, perhaps an injury report from my doctor, etc.

    I have heard that it is going to be quite difficult to get the insurance company to replace the full value of the bicycle. Does anyone have experience with this, suggestions, etc.? My post is already too long so I'll stop here, but if you need more explanation, just let me know and I'll post back.

  2. #2
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    Hire a lawyer.

  3. #3
    Senior Member reef58's Avatar
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    Did you get his insurance information? If you did call his company, or agent and file a claim. There will be an investigation of the facts to determine liability. If the investigation shows he was at fault an offer will be made.

    Good luck
    Richard

  4. #4
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    Collect all the paperwork you can such as the crash report and injury and bike bills. It may come down to your word against his. The one thing that might save you is the warning. Even if it isn't a ticket, it is a warning and might lean towards fault. As a police officer, I seldom write tickets for causes of crashes because I haven't witnessed the crash and can't swear under oath that one person or the other was at fault.

  5. #5
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    Thanks for your replies. I genuinely appreciate it.

    foofoosmoo: I considered hiring a lawyer but just can't afford one. Why is one so necessary in these circumstances? I have heard that the adjusters for the other insurance company will try various maneuvers to either lessen the claim or get me to drop it. Any suggestions about what to watch out for?

    reef58: I did get his insurance information. It was a very new policy and he said he had a rather high deductible (I think in the 1k range), but I do have it and will use it. How do people typically approach the insurance company? That is, should I just put together an envelope that contains a letter and all documentation, should I call first? Sorry for the lame questions; I just want to start the process off on the right foot.

    Sentinel: That definitely makes sense and I had a feeling why the officer may not have written a ticket. I did get a copy of the accident report. Today I'm headed over to the scene of the accident to try to track down a witness (there was a woman who offered to call the police and I didn't get a chance to get her name, but I hope that she works in the area). In a "his word against mine" scenario, since I am dealing with his insurance company, are there any particular things (i.e., characteristics of the accident, types of damage, etc.) that tend to sway a somewhat antagonistic audience to my perspective?

  6. #6
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    Why would his deductable play a part in this? I think that only pertains to his damages and if he had to fix his car, not your damages (not positive as I've never had a claim but that is my understanding). His rates will go up though but if he was worried about that, he'd return your calls. I'd also talk to a lawyer, many offer a free consultation and may pick up your case on a percentage basis if they feel it is sufficient (this I have been through before).

    Sorry to hear about your accident!

    Steve

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by SteveAZ
    Why would his deductable play a part in this?
    Thanks Steve! Ah, I think that I'm not thinking about this deductible thing the right way (again, limited insurance experience). I was thinking that the deductible was sort of like a threshold cost against which he could determine whether he wanted to pay the expenses out of pocket or submit a claim to his insurance on his own. But, my thinking is coming at this backward. For example, when I was in a car accident and have a 500 deductible I would use that to determine whether I wanted to pay for the repairs myself or submit a claim (i.e., if the damage was over 500, then I'd submit a claim). In this case, the amount of his deductible doesn't play a role at least as far as I'm involved as if I submit a claim his deductible won't need to cover anything. Thanks for that comment as I'm still thinking about this from the persepective of someone who needs to use my own insuracnce to cover the damages.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chief Broom
    Thanks for your replies. I genuinely appreciate it.

    foofoosmoo: I considered hiring a lawyer but just can't afford one. Why is one so necessary in these circumstances? I have heard that the adjusters for the other insurance company will try various maneuvers to either lessen the claim or get me to drop it. Any suggestions about what to watch out for?
    For these types of cases, attorneys usually work on a contingency basis. They usually have a "no rocvoery no fee" system, where if they do not recover any damages then you do not pay anything. When/if they do settle, they usually take out 33% of the settlement.

    Hiring an attorny for a personal injury incident should not cost you anything.

  9. #9
    No one carries the DogBoy
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    1st, don't hire an attorney until you get no resolution on your own. Assuming you don't have any medical bills, you are talking about a claim of ~500 or less. I'm guessing you will be happy with a replacement bike. So, you need to contact HIS insurance company directly and file the claim. When you file the claim include all of the following:

    1. Details of the accident. Include a diagram of the intersections, and use drawings to illustrate what happened.
    2. Name/Badge number of the police officer. See if you can get a notarized statement from the officer that mentions the warning to the driver. If there is an accident report, also include that.
    3. Include the injury report from your physician, but be careful about claiming damages for injury that was covered by your insurance. If you had a co-payment with the medical care, include it.
    4. Include information about your bike, including the cost to replace with an equivalent bike, and pictures galore of the trashed bike. From your description I assume the bike is a total loss...get the mechanics to verify this. Go to several bike shops and get statements that the used bike market is essentially non-existant, and that it would take more time/money to replace your old bike than to replace with a new bike, including the cost of the new bike.
    5. Finally, prepare a nice booklet of all the above information in a neat, orderly fashion and submit it to the claims adjuster. They will have to verify everything independently, but having a nice neat easy to follow documentation trail will make it easier for them and may speed your claim.

    Don't talk to the driver anymore, only deal with his insurance company. If they ask you any questions, answer ONLY the question (truthfully), do not elaborate. Keep notes of everything they asked you and how you responded in case you need to hire an attorney later. If after going through this process you do not get resolution, THEN hire an attorney. I STRONGLY disagree with the person that said it won't cost you anything...it will cost you 1/3 of your loss, so you will only be 2/3 indemnified. Go it on your own for a bit and see what happens.

  10. #10
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    I was hit by a commercial vehicle , the driver was ticketed --I was not. I was taken by ambulance to the ER where a third party adjuster for liberty mutual tried to interview me ( i was high on pain killers) . Trust no one

    screw the insurance companies hire a lawyer. Good Luck if you do not, you will need it.

  11. #11
    Cycle Year Round CB HI's Avatar
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    Sorry you got hit. I have good success dealing with insurance companies on my own. The adjuster may lie, so be ready to call his BS for what it is. The adjuster probably will not know much about bicycles.

    Claim everything that had even a little bit of damage. Claim your helmet even if there is no visible damage to it. If the adjuster gives you BS on this, just look him straight in the eye and say “You and I both know that every helmet manufacturer tells people that helmets are no longer safe to use once they have been in an accident.”
    Since your bike is less than a year old, do not accept any depreciation on the value of the bike. Demand to be made hole - full replacement cost at current market price. Even if you plan on assembling the bike yourself, include what the shop would charge to assemble. Include taxes.
    If your bike is your primary transportation, rent a bike to use until you have your new bike in hand. Let the adjuster know in a subtle way that the longer it takes for them to pay off, the more it will cost them in rental charges. It gives you a ride and helps push them to settle sooner. You can also contract with a friend for a rental of the friends bike at the same rate a shop would charge.
    Include all medical cost and lost work time. Do not accept payment (as in cashing a check or signing a release form for medical) until you have a settlement for property damages.

    Since the guy did not call you back, just call the insurance company and tell them you want to submit the claim. Let the insurance company know that the driver promised to pay for your damages himself, but refuses to return you calls for settlement or an insurance claim number. It indicates the driver admitted guilt at the scene.

    Good luck and enjoy your new bike.

  12. #12
    Long Live Long Rides
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    I agree with CB HI on this one. I have had a bike stolen and the insurance company could not believe I paid $650 for a bike. I got several estimates at bike shops which helped.

    Claim everything you think is damaged. Take lots of pics. Get retail/replacement costs (not used values). It is some insurance agency policies that if the agent can save the insurance company money, he/she qualifies for a bonus. I had a lawer tell me this on a claim I was getting screwed on.

    Sorry about your accident. I hope things work out for you. Good luck!
    Jharte
    Touring...therapy for the soul.

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