Bicycle accidents are rarely fun. The only thing that’s less fun than that is having to deal with an insurance company immediately after the accident.
They have a reputation for playing hardball. The general consensus is that they don’t like to pay and if they can get away with it, they’d leave you with a truckload of medical expenses and injuries you have to nurse with your own funds.
Basically, they’d screw you if they can. Unfortunately, they can and often do screw with many victims of accidents. They use a lot of tactics that help them assert their rights to refuse claims or pay out substantially reduced sums to claimants.
While they’d generally stop short of doing anything illegal (that’s what we like to believe), many of their tactics can catch you out and make you feel like you’ve been cheated. They’d tell that as far as they’re concerned, they’ve played it straight as an arrow.
If you have been involved in a bicycle accident, you know you have a chore on your hands dealing with the at-fault party’s insurance company or even with your own insurer. But it doesn’t have to be so difficult though and you don’t have to get screwed over.
You can definitely come up trumps in dealing with insurance companies and this article shows you exactly how to do that.
#1: Understand what you’re dealing with
You probably know this already, but we’ll just be safe and tell you again. The insurance company is not your friend. They’re not out there looking for your best interest. Even if they’re your own insurer, their principal aim is to look out for their own interest, not yours.
Another thing you need to understand is that the loss adjuster is not playing on your side. Even if he/she calls you up sounding so concerned about your welfare and asking about your family, it’ll do you well to remember that they’re calling to find ways to reduce the insurance company’s liability, not to help you.
Even if they call and tell you that the insurance company accepts liability, it’s still their job to pay you as little as they can. So, remember that they have a job to do. Their job is to leave you without a penny if they can and yours is to squeeze them for all you can.
#2: Give yourself a chance
Your best bet against the insurance company lies in doing everything you can to set your claim up properly. If they can find anything to pick on in your claim, they will and it may affect your chances of getting compensation.
The period immediately after the accident can be fuzzy, and in many cases, full of pain. But there’s a lot you need to do at that period, if you can. The first thing you need to is check yourself over to see if you have any physical injuries. If you do, note them.
Look around you at the accident scene. If it was caused by the driver of a vehicle, you can check the bodywork of the vehicle and note any marks from the collision.
Note any skid marks on the road and take pictures with your phone if you can. If the at-fault driver comes over to talk to you, listen carefully to everything they say because it may be vital to your claim later on.
Ask those around if they saw what happened and get the general story from them. You can also take down their contact information so you can use them as witnesses later. Take down the at-fault driver’s information too, including the details of his insurer.
It is very important that you remember to call the police too. If you fail to call the police, the insurers can pick on that as a flaw in your case. Besides, the police report that will be made after the police arrive can help support your case.
#3: Go straight to the hospital
Very important. Don’t go home directly from the accident scene. That would be a pretty bad idea for many reasons. First, if you go home straight you may aggravate injuries you didn’t know you had.
Second, if you go home, knowing you have injuries that have not been attended to, the insurer can deny that those injuries were sustained at the scene of the accident or that the injuries you sustained were not so serious as what you want treatment for.
Basically, going home first instead of the hospital gives the insurer a lot of room to question your story and that’s not something you want. So, go directly to the hospital first.
Even if you feel you don’t have any injuries, there may be some hidden damage you’re not aware of. Some may take two or three days to become apparent and they may be serious.
Ensure you do a full body check at the hospital. Comply fully with all the doctor’s orders, go back when asked to and do everything you’re asked. If the insurance company can latch onto some negligence in seeking treatment on your part, you’d be giving them a wide target to hit.
#4: Don’t admit anything
Seriously. Don’t. Loss adjusters are generally quick to call after the accident but it’ll be a bad idea to give them audience immediately. Since you’d still be shaken up after the accident, it’d be better to wait. You can refuse to speak with them immediately.
When you do accept to talk to them, make sure it’s on your own terms and at a time you’re most convenient. Be careful with your choice of words when speaking to them because even though they seem nice, they can pick on things that seem trivial and use it against you.
It’s best overall to listen much and say little. Don’t admit to anything either. If you don’t remember something, don’t guess at an answer. You have the right to reserve your answers to any questions that they ask.
So, you can tell them you’d confirm and get back to them. If you give a wrong answer on facts you’re not sure of, they can claim that you’re dishonest.
#5: Don’t give a recorded statement to the loss adjuster
The law, in most states of the US, is that you must be told if your conversation is being recorded. If the loss adjuster fails to inform you of that fact, they would be committing a crime and the recording would be useless against you in court.
If they ask you to let them record the conversation, refuse. A recorded conversation can do you a lot harm. This is because if you slip up on even a tiny bit of detail, they can use the recording against you in court.
They can also ask you misleading questions with the aim of catching you cold and when your conversation has been recorded, seemingly innocent things like even a long pause can be used against you.
#6: Don’t fall for tricks
Insurers use many tactics to try and browbeat or trick claimants. They may call you up asking for your previous medical records, saying they need to use those records to determine your compensation.
You must be wary though because they can go hunting for things to use against you. If you had a previous issue with your neck and the same neck was injured in the accident, they can claim the injuries you’re complaining of are related to the prior condition. If they get away with that, it can negatively affect your claim.
Another trick is to offer to pay you some money if you promise not to file a lawsuit. Don’t fall for this either as they would generally offer peanuts compared to what you should be entitled to. If you accept the payment, then you’re done.
#7: Get yourself a good lawyer
When all is said and done, your best bet to coming up trumps against the insurance company it to rely on good legal counsel. When you have a tested personal injury lawyer making and answering calls on your behalf, the insurance company is much more likely to take you seriously.
You will get valuable hands-on guidance on how to proceed with your claim and you don’t have to worry about being sucker punched by the insurance company. You lawyer will help you understand exactly what to say and when to say it.
Dealing with an insurance company may be difficult but with good legal counsel, you can be confident of successfully navigating the minefield.
If you have any questions about the ways you can avoid being hard done by insurance companies, feel free to get in touch with our bicycle accident lawyers for a free consultation.