After you have been involved in a bicycle accident, the first most important thing to do is to seek medical attention.
At the accident scene:
- Get the driver's contact information as well as insurance information.
- It is important to also get the names and contact information of any witnesses.
- Pictures at the accident scene can also be very useful in conveying the truth of what happened later on.
If you are involved in an auto accident in Oregon, you must file an accident report form with Oregon DMV within 72 hours when:
- damage to your vehicle is over $1500,
- damage to any vehicle is over $1500 and any vehicle is towed from the accident because of damages resulting from the accident
- when injury and or death resulted in the auto accident
- when damages to any of the party's property involved in the car accident is over $1500
These Oregon DMV Accident Reporting rules obviously are problematic to bicycle riders. Many bicycle commuters may not be riding a bicycle that is valued at $1500.
After an accident, adrenaline is pumping and very often, you may not realize how badly you are injured, or how messed up your bike is.
Therefore, the best thing I can advise you to do as soon as you are able, is to take advantage of a free no obligation consultation with me, and we can discuss your situation and protect your ability to make a claim.
You'll need to contact your own insurance company and file a claim for your personal injury protection benefits. You will need to do this as soon as possible in order for your benefits to start kicking in so that they pay your medical bills.
If you have to miss work because of your injuries, you will also need your wage loss protections. You will need to document your wage losses and any other expenses you incur.
I advise everyone to not make any recorded statement to the other driver's insurance company until you have consulted with an experienced attorney. This is for your protection.
Your Oregon auto insurance policy provides you coverage while you are on your bicycle or even as a pedestrian.
Your Oregon auto policy provides medical coverage if you are in your car, on a bike, or a pedestrian. All Oregon non-commercial auto insurance policies have no-fault Personal Injury Protection (PIP) healthcare and wage loss coverage.
Oregon personal injury protection provides a minimum of $15,000 in medical coverage, as well as up to 52 weeks of wage loss. This personal injury protection is no-fault medical coverage which means that it covers you regardless of whether the accident was determined to be your fault or the other driver's.
Additionally, your auto insurance policy protects you from uninsured drivers, hit and run accident, and even other cyclists in the event of a bicycle v. bicycle accident. Your liability part of your auto insurance also protects you if you are at fault from damages to a car or other property.
If your Oregon personal injury protection coverage limits are reached, the other driver’s personal injury protection may also cover you if you do not have healthcare insurance. If you do not have healthcare insurance, you will be billed personally for any amounts in excess of your personal injury protection coverage. Oftentimes I can work with providers to get them to wait for payment until the case is resolved.
If you do not own a car, and do not have health insurance, some bicycle commuters get signed on as an additional driver to an auto insurance policy so that they do have the coverage of personal injury protection insurance, even though they rarely, or even never, drive the car, just so that they have this coverage while they on their bicycle.
It is a good idea to get more than the minimal personal injury protection insurance required by law if you do not have your own health care insurance. Buy as much as you can afford.
I tell every client to buy as much uninsured and under-insured motorist insurance (UM, UIM) as they can afford as every year, I deal with clients with permanent, disabling injuries caused by drivers with little or no insurance. It is fairly inexpensive to boost this coverage and it will give you added protection and help.
Insurance companies also offer umbrella policies, and these are an excellent idea. The right umbrella policy can protect your personal assets if you are sued, but more importantly protects you if you are badly injured by an uninsured or under-insured motorist. Do not buy an umbrella policy unless this policy includes uninsured and under-insured motorist coverage, and work with your insurance agent to thoroughly understand the coverage that you have in place. Many of these umbrella policies are fairly inexpensive and an offer you over a million dollars in coverage for just a few hundred dollars a year. You'll have to consult with your own insurance agent to find the best fit for you.
Insurance companies, including your own, are not always helpful when you need their help.
In Seattle, this bike lawyer had issues getting her auto insurance policy, where she was named as an additional driver, to pay for her medical bills after she was struck by an uninsured driver from behind on her commute home.
Last year, I was hit by an uninsured driver on my ride home from work and utilized the Insurance Fair Conduct Act (RCW §48.30.015) when my insurer claimed that I was not insured when riding my bike. The Insurance Fair Conduct Act (IFCA) was approved by voters and signed into law in 2007. IFCA provides remedies for people whose claims are unreasonably denied by their insurance companies or if their insurance companies fail to comply with particular regulations governing unfair claims settlement practices. [...]
The insurer then proceeded to variously accept and deny coverage, ultimately determining that I was not a "named insured." Although I was named on the policy, the insurer had unilaterally chosen to list me as a "friend" on the policy rather than as a "named insured" as my partner had requested. Apparently, being added as a "friend" translates into "no uninsured motorist coverage." This listing was ambiguous enough to confuse the adjuster, but evidently not so ambiguous that the insurer would agree that I was covered. [...]
The insurance company quickly deposed me and my partner. After we served it with extensive discovery requests in state court, the insurer removed the case to federal court and sent us a copy of a Western District Court order dismissing another bicyclist's UIM claim on summary judgment for not being a "named insured" on the policy. Undeterred, we moved forward with initial discovery disclosures. Interestingly, we received an offer of judgment that was close to 10 times the amount of my medical bills, but that expired before the insurer's discovery was due.
Read the whole story. It is a very good explanation of why you sometimes need an experienced attorney to fight for you. It is also very illustrative of how insurance companies will delay, deny, obfuscate matters. Lessons learned, also point to the importance of making absolutely sure that you have the insurance coverage you think you are paying for, and get protected for uninsured drivers, before you need this coverage.