There is information about what to do after a car accident on the Internet and from insurance companies. There are even pages of our law firm’s web site that provide detailed instructions about the steps to take after a car crash. However, there appears to be less information about how to respond after a bicycle accident.
A recent article in Gothamist, the online magazine of big-city living, details the steps to take after a bicycle accident. With the increase of bike riders on the streets on New York, this is timely information. We are happy to provide a summary of the tips here.
You are covered by the driver’s insurance – up to a point
The first thing to know is that even if you don’t health insurance, you are covered by the vehicle driver’s no-fault insurance. This means that you should always seek medical care after you are injured, even slightly, in a bicycle accident. Your medical bills will be covered, although there are limits.
Does this sound good? However, navigating New York’s no-fault insurance system can be daunting. To reduce frustration during the process, here are some reminders:
At the scene:
- Call 911.
- Make sure the driver stays at the scene.
- Don’t move unless to do so would be dangerous.
- Get the names and contact information of any witness in addition to the driver.
- When the police arrive, get their cards or contact information.
- Ask the officers where you can get a copy of the accident report.
- Go to the hospital when the ambulance comes to get checked out. Even if you feel OK, it’s important to obtain a medical evaluation.
After the accident:
- Within 30 days of the accident, send the driver’s insurance company a certified letter referencing the driver’s insurance policy (which you get from the accident report if you didn’t get it from the driver) and stating your intent to file a claim.
- The insurance company will contact you to give you a claim number.
- Use this number to send your medical bills to the driver’s insurance company. This must be done within 45 days of receiving treatment.
- If your injuries are severe enough that you cannot work, you can receive income replacement from the driver’s insurance company as well.
- Having your medical bills and lost income covered is time-consuming but generally doable. Getting property damage covered is a different matter. Payment for property damage, such as damage to your bicycle and items you were carrying such as a phone or laptop, is based on fault, and an insurance company is likely to fight your claim. It is important to have documentation about the value of the damaged items. A receipt is best.
If your personal property claim is denied, don’t give up. Many insurance companies routinely deny initial claims in the hope that you will give up, and be careful. But if you sign away your right to file a property claim, be careful that you don’t sign away your right to file a personal injury lawsuit if you were seriously injured and your medical expenses might exceed the limits of the driver’s no-fault medical coverage.