11-22-07, 10:29 PM
This happened to my brother n law a couple weeks ago.
From what I've been told he was riding his bike in Emeryville,CA and a car ran the red light.
So far it is not known if the person was insured or not.
He has a lawyer.
He has a fractured leg and a broken knee cap.I'm guessing his bike is a total write off.
I'm just wondering if there is anything special he will need as a cyclist to help win a settlement or to make sure the insurance company doesn't get one over on him?
Been there, done that. I probably accepted too small a settlement ($2700 in 1976, equivalent to perhaps $7000 in 2007 dollars, for concussion, double fracture of the left clavicle, minor "dueling scar" over the left cheekbone, and totalled Reynolds 531 frame).
1) Document everything, including medical expenses, time off work, bicycle repair or replacement costs, etc. Do not skip any recommended visits to medical specialists. To maintain your personal credibility and ethics, do not "pad" your expense log or exaggerate your medical problems. Play it straight, but be 100% fair to yourself.
2) Talk very cautiously to the insurance adjuster, whose job is to hit you fast and just high enough to tempt you into a cheap settlement. He will present himself as a neutral third party, but we all know that he works for the insurance industry, not for you.
3) Do not sign anything on the spot. Read everything carefully, ponder it, and seek the advice of a trusted and experienced friend. The biggest danger is to settle based on immediate symptoms, only to find out a couple of months later that you have a permanent disability or other long-term medical problem resulting from the collision. If the release form includes something like, "I have no other injuries or property damage beyond those listed here," change it to, "This is a list only of injuries and property damage discovered to date. I shall advise of additional injuries or damages, should any be discovered."
4) When the adjuster presents the insurance company's initial offer to settle, say something completely noncommittal , such as, "Thank you. I shall take it under advisement and get back to you in a few days." If they ask whether you plan to contact an attorney, tell them that is your business, not theirs. Call them back a day or two later and ask for their "best and final offer."
5) If you are unhappy with the insurance company's best offer and you are confident that you can do better, now is the time to see an attorney, who will probably work on a contingency fee as high as 40%. I believe a settlement of property damage, lost wages, plus about 3 or 4 times total medical for pain and suffering is about the norm. If the insurance company comes in with an offer of $9K, an attorney could earn his keep only by pushing this above $15K. You are obviously better off taking a $9K settlement on your own than sharing a $12K settlement with an attorney.