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Property Damage in Bicycle Collisions

Property Damage In Bicycle Collisions

After a collision a claim for bike and equipment damage should be pursued against the driver. This is called a property damage claim (as opposed to a personal injury claim) and is made against the property damage limit of the at-fault driver’s insurance company.

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Usually, the same liability adjuster will handle both the property damage and personal injury claims after a wreck. We help our clients make their property damage claims by obtaining written estimates of repair or replacement from bicycle and outdoor shops. For a more detailed legal analysis see our post here.

Sometimes insurance companies issue lowball repair or replacement offers on expensive damaged equipment. For some collision victims, this is an early warning that the insurance claim process is not going to be fair. At the first sign of an unfair evaluation, it is important to have help in making the claim. Unfortunately, contingent fee lawyers usually cannot make a fee on property damages claims without a personal injury that is sufficient to pay for the time spent and insurance companies know this and sometimes take advantage of the unrepresented claimant. If you feel like you are being treated unfairly on a property damage only claim see our article on the Oregon Unfair Claims Settlement Practices Law and consider making a complaint to the Oregon Insurance Division.

A collision victim may find out when they want to get their bike repaired that the insurance company representing the driver is taking an unfair hardline on who was to blame for the collision. Time and time again riders call our office upset after they learn that they were also to blame for a collision, even after it was clear that they were blameless, or that the driver admitted at the scene that the collision was all their fault.

These early warnings on liability—if accepted as part of the property damage portion of a claim that includes bodily injury—will come back to haunt the injured rider when they seek damages later on for their personal injuries. Thus, signs like this are often the first of the unfairness to come.

Early warnings like this usually happen because insurance companies often attempt to apply the same discount for comparative negligence and because property damage claims may be settled right after the collision, while the injured rider is still recovering from their injuries. Therefore, the property damage process should not include a release for any personal injuries and may be pursued separately since it is from a different section of insurance coverage from the bodily injury coverage.

Occasionally a bicyclist may receive a notice from the driver’s insurance company making a claim against the bicyclist for the damage caused to the motor vehicle in a collision. If this happens it is important for the rider to learn about what basis the insurance company has for placing blame on the rider for damage to the motor vehicle. Even more common, a bicyclist in a collision with a motor vehicle may be pursued for damages for any injuries sustained by other people involved in the collision. While infrequent, it is important to obtain whatever documentation there is in order to understand how the process led to someone pointing the finger of fault at the bicycle rider.

The Bicycle Blue Book is a great resource for determining the value of your bike.

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