What are Three Common Things that Can Wreck Your Bicycle Accident Case?

Video Transcription:

Jim Dodson: Things that could wreck your bike crash case. I wanna talk to you this morning about some of the most common things that we run into when we talk to cyclists after a crash. The three things I wanna cover this morning are that the first thing is to do is to report the crash. We'll talk about that. When you see your doctor, you wanna tell your doctor everything, I'll explain why. And finally, I'll tell you why it's so important to obey the law. It sounds trite, but I'll give you some examples of why it actually is important to follow the law.

Welcome to our livestream. A lot of the things I wanna talk about today really come out of actual conversations that I've had with cyclists and experience in handling, you know, literally hundreds of cycling cases. You know, I've talked to people, the first one is report the crash when you've been involved in one of these incidents. I talk to people frequently who have a car cuts them off or does something, there's a crash. They don't think they're that injured, and there's a tendency the driver wants to move on, sometimes they'll exchange information and never call law enforcement. I kind of understand how that could happen to someone who's on the side of the road. You want to make a decision. You want to keep riding. You don't want to be there for an hour-and-a-half waiting for the police to come. I get all that.

Here's what you run into. I've seen experiences where someone does not report the crash to a police officer, no report is taken, and then, the driver later denies that it happened or they deny that it happened the way the cyclist said. And now, there's no independent proof of it because the officer wasn't there to take a statement of the driver and take a statement of the cyclist and potentially any other witnesses.

Another thing you run into when there's a dog involved, not only do you wanna report it to the police, but you wanna call animal control and make sure that the animal is identified and that the person who owns the dog is identified. Certainly, if it's a bite situation, you wanna get the quarantine information, their vet vaccination history on the dog, and they will do all of that for you rather than someone having to track down the owner and get this information for them 'cause animal control takes care of that.

Usually good things don't happen when you don't report a crash after an incident and get a police report. You know, I think that it's so important when you're at the insurance adjuster level working with an initial evaluation of the case, particularly where the cyclist is clearly not at fault to have that police report that clearly shows the officer's position was that the cyclist was not at fault. Hugely influential with the adjuster in sort of initially establishing fault and setting their reserves on evaluating the claim.

So, morning Jennifer, great to have you on the call today.

It's much more difficult to locate the owner of an animal after the fact than if you get their information and report it to animal control right away. All right, so those are the, that's the first way that you can sorta derail a crash case by not reporting it.

So the second thing is, tell your doctor everything. Unfortunately, I have to talk to men a lot about this. You know, I understand, what I respect so much about cyclists and handling cycling crash cases is that people wanna get back on their bike. All they wanna do is, you know, when's my bike gonna be repaired or replaced and when can I start riding? I get it. Everybody says that. I always remind people that you've got two competing issues going on here when you have a bike crash. You have a life and you want to live your life and ride your bike and do the things that you enjoy doing. And secondly, you have a potential case and the decisions you're making that affect your life are also going to affect your case. So we just need to keep those things in mind. While it may not be your primary concern to pursue a case, when you have, particularly in those situations where you're having surgery, you could have a substantial case and you don't want to necessarily just walk away from that by not doing the things that are really needed to be done to protect yourself and to protect your interest.

One of the, Amir, how are you? Great to have you on the call this morning.

Why is it important to tell your doctor everything? I have seen so many situations where there's a crash, it is evident that the person has a knee injury, for instance, or a back injury, and that's the primary concern. They may go to the doctor and describe their knee or back issues. But what's also going on is they have an ankle issue, they've got a hip issue, they've got a concussion, they're not the primary concern, they don't mention those things to the doctor. Several weeks go by or a month goes by. The initial problem may tend to resolve itself, may not be as serious as you thought it was, but another issue, that hip or knee that wasn't your main concern, suddenly, it's getting worse and it's getting worse. Now you come back to the doctor and it's been two months, say hey doctor, my knee's been bothering me since the crash and now it's getting worse. When you look at those records two months down the line, it looks as though it's a new problem and the argument would be that, well, something's happened in the intervening 60 days. The argument is that it must not have happened at the time of the crash. We've actually seen that occur and it sorta puts us a little bit on the defensive trying to go back and prove that these things were going on initially. It's so much simpler to go into the doctor and say, hey listen, my primary concern is my collarbone, but I'm also having hip pain, I'm having knee pain, and just list everything that's going on so that you put it right in the record right out of the box, and when you go back to the doctor continue to say I'm still having an issue. My primary concern is my collarbone, but I'm having headaches, I'm having vision problems, having balance issues, I'm having knee pain and left hip pain and all the things that we can be talking about.

Couple of reasons why this is important. We tend to focus on the big issue, I understand that. Your collarbone needs surgery, and we're gonna get that repaired. But in evaluating a claim, everything that happened to you, every issue that you have physically, is all part of the claim. Insurance adjusters can value a case based on what's in the medical records to add value. Continuing issues with knee pain. Scarring from road rash. Continuing headaches and all the things associated with a concussion. While maybe not your primary concern as the patient 'cause it wasn't what you had surgery for, it's all gonna be in the mix for adding value to your case. Whether you really appreciate it or not, when you start down this road, at the end of the day, most everyone wants to make their case as valuable as possible simply to get compensation for what actually occurred to you. It's so important to tell the doctor everything.

Kind of a corollary with that is do the things the doctor suggests. You have a right, obviously, if the doctor wants to do injections, maybe you don't want to have the injections. Or the doctor's recommending that you have a surgery, you have a right not to have the surgery if it's an elective kind of thing. I understand that. We'll discuss it and we'll make decisions about it. But if the doctor's suggesting that you need physical therapy and you need it twice a week, you need it for 60 days, if you don't do that, that indicates in evaluating your claim that you don't need it, therefore, it indicates that you're minimizing the effect of the injury on your life. So it's just from a claim perspective, it's important that you do the things the doctor suggests. If you're not going to do something, if I'm representing you, let's talk about it, let's determine why you don't feel comfortable doing it. Is there a work around? Is there something that we can do instead of that? There's a lot of options we have, not simply just not doing what the doctor suggests. So tell the doctor everything.

And the final thing I wanna talk about, number three is obey the law. This gets to be kind of old hat, I understand, because everybody talks about it, every bike club talks about it. Many times the bike clubs will go through this litany before they begin the ride. But we still have a recurring issue of cyclists not doing the things the law imposes on us the requirement to do.

I had a call recently from a rider who was riding with ear buds. Now, ear buds are specifically prohibited from anyone operating a vehicle, and a bicycle, of course, is a vehicle on the road. So we can't operate our automobile using ear buds or listening to music. The theory is that you're not gonna be able to hear approaching traffic and other things that might warn of an impending crash, okay? But it applies to cyclists, as well. The irony is that in the situation I had with this particular caller, they were not aware that a vehicle was approaching them from behind. Now, it was one of those windy days where you have a lot of wind through our helmets and it's sometimes hard to hear approaching vehicles anyway, but you magnify that wearing ear buds and listening to music. If they were going to bring a claim based on contact with a vehicle in that situation and they put themselves in a position where they could have avoided the vehicle but they didn't because they didn't hear it coming and they're wearing ear buds, you know, you're giving kind of a gift to the claims adjuster to put partial fault on the cyclist in that situation. Every percentage of fault they can successfully argue that the cyclist failed to do something, to obey the law or was comparatively at fault themselves is going to reduce the cyclist's claim, the value of the claim by that percentage. If they have an argument that you're 25% at fault or doing something or failing to do something, the value of your claim is going to be reduced by 25% if they're successful in pursuing that argument. So you just want to eliminate that. It's just so easy to eliminate those issues by simply obeying the law, obeying the rules.

One of the most common things I think I see is failing of cyclists to yield to oncoming vehicles. We all, I understand, we ride our bikes, we come to stop signs, we come to stop lights. In my view, there is no justification for ever going through a stop light when the light is red. You just can't do that. Stop signs, it's the same issue, and in particular we run into this on trails. You can't assume that a driver has seen you when you approach a stop sign on a trail unless the driver is specifically looking at you and waving you forward, okay? Just because the car stops and you haven't made eye contact and the driver hasn't specifically waved you on, if you go and this driver goes, then you're gonna have an issue where if you didn't stop, the driver goes as well, you know, it's gonna be partially on the rider at least in the eyes of the insurance company.

So those are really critically important things. I'm concerned when I see riders just blow through a stop sign. We have a four-way stop in the community where I go back and forth to work, and it's a busy intersection. I have seen bicyclists blow through that stop sign with cars at each of the four stop signs without them slowing down at all. Cars then have to avoid, they're putting on their brakes. It really does two things. In the event the, you know, the cyclist ends up hitting a car, it's gonna put comparative fault on them, but think about what the information we're conveying to every driver at the interaction. You know, I call it polluting the jury pool. They don't respect us when we don't respect them. Every time we blow through a stop sign in the presence of a car or blow through a stop light, god forbid, in the presence of a car, those people are just getting ticked off and it infects their attitude about all cyclists. We need to be kind of cognizant of that.

Now, the other big things are lights, you know, running lights during the day, tail lights during the day, helmet for children under the age of 16, all of these things are, anything that's required of us to do we need to make sure that we're actually doing them. No one leaves in the morning or in the afternoon or whenever you're taking your bike ride, you never take off on your ride with the anticipation that you're gonna have a crash. It just doesn't happen. I'm in a unique position because I hear and talk to so many people and see so many circumstances, I'm constantly thinking about them when I'm on my bike. I've heard this, I've seen this, this is the kind of thing that we need to avoid. I get it, most people aren't thinking that way because they're not running into the kind of information that I receive on a daily basis. But every crash is an unexpected event. When you do something that puts you in a position where you are comparatively at fault, you failed to stop, you failed to yield, you ran through a stop sign on a trail even though you couldn't make eye contact with the driver and assumed that they saw you, then the unexpected happens, and now, not only do you have a claim, but your claim may be compromised to some extent by the argument that you were comparatively at fault. So it's important from a claim standpoint, it's important from our being ambassadors for cycling when we're out on the road, to do these things, it's simply the right thing to do, and it won't bite you later if you get caught in a situation where you really want to try to collect on your claim because the other person did something wrong. You just don't want to do something that adds to the argument that you could have avoided the crash, as well.

I think sometimes I feel like I'm preaching to the choir to an extent. I just, you know, I love helping people and I don't like it when I can't help people as, you know, as thoroughly as I want to because of some incident that's come up that could have been totally avoided leading up to the crash.

One other thing I wanna talk about briefly, you know, we represent cyclists across Florida. It's my passion, it's what I want to do, I enjoy working with every cyclist that we have an opportunity to work with. But I also love and respect the fact that so many of you refer your friends and family if they've been involved in a cycling crash. I've got a team of people that have been trained in what to do and how to handle all the cases we handle. I want you to understand that anybody you refer will be handled by our team to the best of our ability, and I appreciate and respect every referral. So if we can help you, we're only a call away.

Finally, a reminder about uninsured motorist coverage. I had another conversation, again, this week, with someone who had good bodily injury coverage on their automobile but no UM, and they were hit by a driver with no bodily injury liability. Big injury, no insurance. Making note to yourself if you haven't done it, pull the declarations page on your auto policy. My recommendation is you don't leave home without $100,000 in coverage on your uninsured motorist policy. I really recommend that $250 is the minimum I recommend for cyclists to actually carry. Of course, you all have to make your own financial decisions about those kind of things. I can just tell you it is so easy to have a surgery with $100,000 in medical bills when the unexpected happens. It's rare, thank god, but it isn't rare when it happens to you or someone that you know.

I appreciate your comment, Amir, about being proactive.

It's good talking to all of you. I want to remind you, here's what we talked about this morning, I'll give you a little visual aid. You want to always report the crash. You wanna tell your doctor everything. And you want to obey the law, so we don't want to have any arguments that you were comparatively at fault.

We have an offer today for our Florida Bicycle Accident Handbook. Kati’s running a bitly link across the screen, you can get it there, we always make it available to cyclists. If there's anything, any of our resources that you need, just call the office, email us, we'll send 'em to you right away. I'm Jim Dodson, The Florida Bike Guy. Be safe, I hope to see you on the road. Take care.

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Jim Dodson
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A Florida injury lawyer, family man and avid cyclist who clients have trusted for over 25 years.