This is the next post in our series on the handling of bicycle accidents in Fort Worth, Texas. Our last post discussed how comparative fault impacts bike accident cases. Even if a rider is partially at fault, the individual may possibly still recover damages. The article also reviewed how a Fort Worth ordinance requiring children to wear helmets while riding can limit recovery of damages for minors. It is important to retain an experienced personal injury lawyer as soon as possible to understand your rights to compensation. In this article, we will discuss what one should expect while their counsel is working with the defendant’s insurance company. If you or a loved one has been injured, it is imperative that you speak to an attorney immediately to protect your rights.
First and foremost, a party injured in a bicycle wreck should seek appropriate medical attention. Secondly, if the rider is struck by a vehicle, it is not uncommon for the driver’s insurance company to contact the rider shortly after the accident. The insurance adjuster will likely try to record a statement from the rider and may make a settlement offer. To preserve your rights to adequate compensation, it is essential to involve counsel as soon as possible.
The bike accident victim’s attorney will notify the driver’s insurance company that the injured party has retained legal representation. From this point on, the lawyer (instead of the victim) will work directly with the adjuster. Counsel will begin the process of gathering evidence about the accident, the injuries sustained and any property damages. This will help the parties understand the defendant’s potential liability. Information such as witness statements, photographs, accident reports, medical records and potentially expert advice will be reviewed to determine possible damages. If the rider’s injuries are serious and require ongoing medical treatment, the victim’s medical prognosis may take significant time to ascertain, and the case may enter a “holding pattern” until the full extent of the injuries are known.
Once the attorney has gathered enough facts about the accident and the long-term medical prognosis is more clear, counsel will send a demand letter to the defendant’s insurance company. This letter will include the calculation of damages and evidence supporting the claim. The adjuster and lawyer will negotiate the terms of a settlement. If they are unable to reach an agreement on the amount of damages, then the victim’s lawyer will file a lawsuit against the defendant.
It is imperative to understand that the process described above may take a significant period of time. Depending upon the seriousness of the injuries suffered in the accident, it may be necessary to involve experts to ascertain the total liability. If the injuries include brain trauma, for example, the person may never fully recover. Specialists such as economists, physical therapists or vocational experts may need to be consulted. A “quick settlement” may be attractive after this type of event, but would not likely result in a victim being fully compensated. Hiring an attorney with experience and substantial resources to handle your case thoroughly will help ensure that a victim is not being short-changed by an insurance company. If you are injured in a bicycle accident in Fort Worth or in other areas of Texas, we suggest working with a law firm with multiple attorneys and experience in personal injury law. We also suggest hiring an attorney who is Board Certified in Personal Injury Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization.