What to Do After a Bicycle Accident
The one thing you don’t want to do is brush off the accident and think to yourself, “I’m not really injured that badly,” or just casually jot down the vehicle driver’s information for your insurance company and then pedal away, providing your bicycle will let you.
For a valid claim, you need thorough documentation and you need to seek immediate medical evaluation. Even if your pain feels minor, injuries have a way of worsening, or sometimes not surfacing until later. Get examined and keep copies of every document you can, even if it’s just the bill from the doctor, clinic, or emergency room. Get copies of your medical records as soon as you can.
While on the scene and everything is fresh, take as many pictures as possible from every angle, including weather and road conditions, the vehicles involved, your bicycle and any damages, and any physical injuries you suffered — get it all.
Report The Incident
On the scene, the number-one task is to report the incident to the police and let them investigate. You can seek a copy of their report once they’ve finished and filed it. This will help in any legal claim you make.
If there are witnesses, try to get their statements and their contact information to share with your insurance company and/or your personal injury attorney.
Speak with an Attorney
After you’ve reported your claim to your insurance company — yes, your automobile insurance often covers your bicycle accident — get an experienced personal injury attorney involved to proceed from there.
You really don’t want to deal with insurance adjusters whose main goal is to low-ball or deny your claim or get you to accept the first offer they make so they can shut the book on your claim. Let me negotiate with the insurance companies while you recover from your accident.
Filing Your Claim
Florida is a “no-fault” insurance state, which means you must first file your claim with your PIP insurance company. If you do not have an automobile Personal Injury Protection (PIP) policy, you may qualify for PIP benefits through a resident relative's automobile PIP policy. If you do not qualify for PIP benefits through a resident relative's policy, you may qualify for PIP benefits through the automobile insurance on the vehicle that struck you. In addition to qualifying for PIP benefits, you can also file a personal injury lawsuit against the driver. You are entitled to recovery past and/or future medical bills. You can also recovery past and/or future pain and suffering if your injuries meet the following threshold:
- Significant and permanent loss of an important bodily function
- Permanent injury within a reasonable degree of medical probability.
- Significant and permanent scarring or disfigurement.
Some of these terms may be open to interpretation, which is another solid reason you need to get an experienced attorney involved if you intend to pursue your claim to the fullest. A personal injury legal claim will cover pain and suffering and other noneconomic losses, which your insurance coverage will not.
Florida's Statute of Limitations & Pure Comparative Fault
The statute of limitations for filing a personal injury lawsuit in Florida is four years from the date of the accident. But, you should file the claim as soon as possible. If the accident involves a government vehicle, the window is even shorter. Check with your attorney.
A wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of a family member killed in a bicycle accident must be filed within two years of their death.
Florida also follows what is called a “pure comparative fault” rule in assigning liability in personal injury cases. This means that you could be found partially at fault for the accident and resulting injuries. Say the jury finds you to have been 20% at fault and the settlement awarded to you is $100,000 in compensation — the amount awarded to you would be reduced by 20% to $80,000.