RIBike was approached recently by a writer from a Personal Injury Law website, with an offer to write content for us about what to do in case of a bike crash. Thanks to Deanna Power for submitting the pieces and to RIBike volunteer CJ for helping make the pieces work for Rhode Island bicyclists! The first article is here and the second is here. Do you have experience with personal injury claims for bicyclists? Let us know!
Winning a Personal Injury Claim as a Bicyclist
In addition to calling the police (and an ambulance if anyone is hurt badly), the first thing you need to do is get the insurance information of the driver who hit you, because a personal injury claim in Rhode Island is initially filed via letter to the motorist’s insurance company.
To win a personal injury claim, you must prove the motorist was at fault. In that letter, you’ll demand a payment based on how severe your injuries were, what police found in their report, and what medical bills you’ve accumulated. Many people add additional charges to their claim to factor in pain and suffering. An insurance claimant will review all of the information you’ve submitted to determine how much you are entitled to.
If an agreement cannot be reached with the motorist’s insurance company, the claim is taken to court. It is always a good idea to hire a personal injury attorney if you are taking a claim to court.
Keep in mind that Rhode Island uses comparative fault when evaluating personal injury claims. If you were riding your bicycle at night without a headlight, or riding your bicycle too fast, you may be found at fault for the accident. If you are found less than 50% at fault for the accident, you can still file a claim — you will just not receive the full amount of your award settlement.
For example, if you hit an open car door but police determined you were riding your bicycle well over a safe speed, you could be 20% at fault for the accident. If you were awarded $10,000 for your injuries, the settlement would be reduced to $8,000 to compensate for your fault.
This article was not written by an attorney, and the accuracy of the content is not warranted or guaranteed. If you wish to receive legal advice about a specific problem, you should contact a licensed attorney in your area.