How are bicycle accidents different?
Here are some common questions and answers you may have about your case.
Do I have a case?
How much is my case worth?
Can I go to the doctor?
How Do I Find A Doctor?
Will my insurance go up if I sue?
Who Pays My Medical Bills?
A bicycle accident case is a personal injury case where a bicyclist has been injured in a collision involving a car or other vehicle. The accident is not the injured person’s fault. These are not personal injury cases. Most bicycle accidents involve claims for medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, as well as property damage. There are two basic parts of a bicycle accident case. Both liability and damages must be present for there to be a case. If one is missing you do not have a case. Liability deals with the cause of the injury or how the accident happened. If the injury was caused by your own actions in most circumstances you do not have a case. If your injuries were caused by the actions of another person you may have a case. This depends on whether the other person did anything wrong or their actions were negligent. This does not mean that they intentionally caused your injury. They do not have to mean to do it. If a person isn’t paying attention by talking on a cell phone and hits your bike there is liability. If there is a dispute as to liability or how the accident happened you may have a case, however, it will likely go to court.
There is no formula or process that someone can use to determine the exact amount of money that a bicycle accident case is worth. A case is worth an amount of money that is needed to compensate an injured person for their injuries. You can sue the at-fault party for as much as you want, but in reality you should sue for what your case is really worth. What you are able to collect, however, is a different story. If the Defendant had insurance on his car at the time of the accident you can collect the value of your case up to the liability limits of their insurance policies. These limits may be as low as $25,000, which is the minimum amount of insurance you need on your car to be legal in Kentucky. If your case justifies more than the policy limits of the defendant you will need to look at the defendant’s personal assets to see if there is sufficient net worth to forgo the insurance and sue them personally. If you settle for the policy limits you will look at the defendant’s umbrella policy or your own under insurance policy for additional recoveries.
The value of your injuries are the damages, which include past and future medical bills, lost wages, loss of power to labor and earn money, property damage and pain and suffering. Pain and suffering is the most difficult damage to place a value on. Factors such as pain, agony, disability, loss of enjoyment, inconvenience and mental anguish are considered in pain and suffering. This is different for every person and every situation because they are subjective and this is difficult to place a value on.
The injured person’s personal injury attorney and the at-fault person’s insurance company (or the defense attorney if the case is in litigation) is continually trying to evaluate how a jury might look at the case and how much money a jury might award. Based on the evaluation each side will assign a value or a value range, and try to negotiate a settlement within each side’s own range. This will be based upon your attorney’s experience, review of jury verdict reports and the extent and severity of the person’s injuries. The type, extent and frequency of past medical treatment and the need for future treatment are also important considerations.
When I evaluate a case, I rely on other factors; such as the client’s likeability as a witness and their credibility, the facts of the accident giving rise to the case, the extent and permanency of the injuries, the client’s age, whether the client missed time from work, the identities of the at-fault insurance company and its defense attorney, specific legal or evidentiary issues involved in the case, the county or venue, whether the case has been or will be filed in Court, and the amount of settlements and verdicts for similar types of cases that I and other lawyers have obtained in the past.
There used to be a formula for evaluating these cases when I began practicing law in the late 80’s. You would take the amount of medical bills and multiply that by 3-5 times to get the settlement range. This is not used at all today. In an effort to bring down settlement amounts insurance companies have developed computer programs, such as COLOSSUS and TEACH, to evaluate and place a range of settlement on a case. The purpose of these programs is to limit the value of a case. To make sure low amounts are paid out. It has worked. Although, there is no formula now it is important that your attorney knows how these programs work and how they can be used to your advantage to increase the settlement value of your case.
You should go to the doctor as soon as you can get there. Go to the emergency room and get checked out and make sure you are okay. If any injuries or problems are found get treated. Do what your doctor says. Follow your doctor’s treatment plan. This will give you the best chance of a full recovery. It will also eliminate many of the arguments that the insurance company can use against you when evaluating your bodily injury claim. One of the absolute worst things you can do after being in a bicycle accident is not go to the doctor. If you have any pain, no matter how minor you believe it is, you should get checked out. The wrong thing to do is to think that the pain will go away and do nothing. For many people who have been in a car accident it does go away, but for many others it does not. If you do not immediately go to the doctor and your pain doesn’t go away you will eventually have to get medical attention. This delay or gap in treatment is almost always detrimental to your personal injury case. You will hear the insurance company argue that if you were hurt you would have gone to the doctor immediately. This is one of the most successful tactics in convincing the jury that you should not receive a verdict of any money awarded to you for your pain and suffering. Jury after jury gives a zero verdict for pain and suffering when there is a delay or gap in treatment.
I am often asked by clients what doctor they should go to. Although I don’t pretend to practice medicine I often direct a client to a doctor that I know does a good job. Some attorneys think that this is a good practice. There are other attorneys that think this is an awful idea and hurts the case. I am somewhere in between. As an attorney I am in the position of working with doctors, chiropractors and physical therapists on an almost daily basis. You are able to see who does a good job and who does a bad job. Which doctor helps their patients and which ones do not. A doctor that documents poorly or has a bad reputation can damage your accident case. So I think it is beneficial to give a recommendation and that it actually helps your case. What hurts your case is if the attorney refers people to one doctor exclusively. This does create a problem.
In a bicycle accident case you may make a claim on your personal car insurance under the underinsured motorist coverage or uninsured motorist coverage if the car that hit you did not have enough insurance to compensate you for your injuries. Everyone worries about their insurance rates going up. Many accident victims simply do not file a claim because of this. Filing a car insurance claim does not mean that there will be an increase in your car insurance rates. This is a myth. There are many different factors which determine whether a claim increases car insurance rates. Making a claim does not automatically mean that your insurance rates will rise. Car insurance companies consider factors such as the severity of the accident, your driving record, and parties at fault. Also, the number of claims can affect your rates. Some companies will increase your rates just based on the number of claims made, whether they were your fault or not. This isn’t fair but they do it because they are in the business of making money. Your insurer may offer “accident forgiveness” programs for minor accidents. Remember that insurers love safe drivers; they hate the opposite. If your driving record is tainted or you are a type of driver to be higher risk, which is the time your insurance rates may jump. Insurance can be complicated. You pay for insurance and you should be able to use it. If you are concerned about a rate increase for filing a claim you should call your insurance agent and ask them, after all they want to keep your business.
The Kentucky legislature enacted a “No-Fault” Statute which requires your insurance company to pay your medical bills regardless of fault. In a bicycle accident case in Kentucky, the insurance on the car that caused the accident is responsible for payment of medical bills. This PIP insurance will pay our first $10,000.00 of medical bills. Once the PIP benefits are exhausted your secondary insurance, which is your health insurance, Medicare or Medicaid takes over. Your health insurance will pay the additional or excess medical bills as they occur. You are still responsible for any co-payments or deductibles as they occur. These payments can be collected back from the at-fault insurance company at the end of the case. Additionally, most health insurance plans have a clause that requires re-payment of these medical bills or the health insurance plan is covered by the Employment Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA). ERISA governs a majority of the medical benefits plans. Basically, ERISA is a federal law which requires re-payment of most medical liens in automobile accidents. As a rule of thumb, if the plan is an employee-employer plan and the employer is not the government or a church organization, then the plan is an ERISA plan. If the plan is not an ERISA plan then state law controls and there is a chance that reimbursement is not required. This would depend on the state law and how the individual health plan is written. If you collect money from the insurance company of the person that hit you or even from your own insurance company you must reimburse your health insurance company for all bills they pay that are related to the automobile accident. Reimbursement of healthcare benefits in an auto accident case is very technical. There are attorneys who concentrate in this area of law. The bottom line is that you should contact an attorney who is familiar with healthcare reimbursement to answer your questions in this area. Some health insurance companies will reduce this amount to help you out, but in many cases you have to reimburse exactly what they pay. This is another reason why it is important to have the proper insurance coverage.
With Mike Schafer and The Schafer Law Office as your bicycle accident attorney, you’ll be in good hands. The Schafer Law Office has been helping bicycle accident victims get compensated for more than 20 years. They know the challenges and pitfalls of bicycle accident cases, especially in Kentucky, all the tactics of the “other” side, and how to best present the facts. They can handle the brutal tactics of the insurance companies. In fact, before Mike opened The Schafer Law Office in personal injury and accident law, Mike worked for an insurance defense firm. As such, he really knows all the tactics the insurance companies have up their sleeves.
A bicycle accident can turn your life upside down. Once Mike Schafer and The Schafer Law Office is your attorney, you can quit worrying about the headache of dealing with the insurance companies and focus on recovering from the injuries you suffered in your bicycle accident. The Schafer Law Office will take care of all of the phone calls, paperwork and all the negotiations so that you can get on with your life.
Maybe you’re concerned about getting lost in an anonymous lawyer’s office. You’re afraid you’ll be just a number. As a client of The Schafer Law Office, you won’t have to worry about anything!
Mike Schafer is personally involved in every case.
Mike is a lawyer who will personally make sure everything is taken care of. Mike, your Case Manager, and the rest of your legal team will personally return your phone calls when you have questions. The Schafer Law Office is committed to giving your case the best possible chance at winning you the compensation you deserve. The Schafer Law Office will work to get you the settlement you deserve.
If you live in Louisville, Lexington, Shepherdsville, Elizabethtown or Richmond, Kentucky, or in any other part of Kentucky, contact The Schafer Law Office today and they will tell you what they can do for you. If you want to get fair compensation for your injuries and damages, you really need an attorney. Call an attorney you can trust. Call The Schafer Law Office at (502) 584-9511.
The Schafer Law Office can help you in any Kentucky city or county:
Louisville, LaGrange, Shepherdsville, Taylorsville, Shelbyville, Brandenburg, St. Matthews, Prospect, Middletown, Douglas Hills, Newburg, Elizabethtown, Frankfort, Carrolton, Bardstown, Munfordville, New Castle, Richmond, Bowling Green, Shively, Fairdale, Valley Station, Pleasure Ridge Park, Jefferson County, Fayette County, Franklin County, Carrol County, Bullitt County, Oldham County, Shelby County, Hardin County, Spencer County, Henry County, Madison County, Nelson County, Anderson County