After a car accident, injured victims can file a claim with the insurance company of the at-fault driver. This is referred to as a “third party claim,” as you are not the party directly insured under the policy. Bicycle-car accident insurance claims can be complicated, however, so it is imperative to have professional legal assistance throughout the entire process.
Even if you have made insurance claims before, a third party claim filed by a bicyclist can be significantly more challenging than a claim with your own insurance. This is because the insurance company may try to avoid liability in many different ways. Your claim can be reduced or even completely denied for several reasons, including:
- The insurer claims you were at fault (partially or completely) in the accident.
- The insurer questions the extent of your injuries or damage to your bicycle.
- The insurer claims your injuries or damages were the result of another incident and not the car accident.
In some situations, an insurance company may make a settlement offer that is much lower than you deserve for your losses. However, many injured bicyclists mistakenly believe they have no choice but to accept the offer because they do not know how to negotiate a higher offer. This situation can be have serious consequences because, once you accept a settlement offer, you lose the right to ever seek additional compensation for your injuries from that particular accident. This is the case even if you later realize the settlement was grossly inadequate to cover your losses. For this reason and others, you should always discuss an insurance claim with an experienced bicycle accident attorney before making any decisions.
How an Attorney Can Help During the Insurance Process
An experienced bicycle accident lawyer can help you obtain maximum compensation from an insurance company in many different ways. In fact, you should consider consulting with an attorney before you file a claim in the first place.
Filing a claim with a professional demand letter that comprehensively covers all of your accident-related losses can increase your chances of a successful claim from the start. An attorney will know how to compose a persuasive demand letter and to include as much evidence of your losses as possible. In addition, a lawyer can provide evidence to support your claims that the driver was at fault in the bicycle-car accident and lessen the chances the insurance company will assign blame to you instead.
A demand letter does not always result in an adequate settlement offer, however, and negotiations are often needed to ensure a bicyclist receives the full amount of compensation deserved the totality of the losses. An experienced attorney will know how to engage in negotiations with an insurance company to increase your settlement offer as much as possible. A skilled attorney will also be able to identify when a settlement offer is inadequate and can advise you to reject an offer. If it seems that an insurance company will refuse to offer the full amount you need and deserve, your attorney can help determine when it is time to pursue compensation through a personal injury claim in court instead of directly from the insurer.