I was in a motorcycle accident. What will I get?
February 27, 2011 10:08 PM   Subscribe

I had a motorcycle accident (I hit a car). The other driver is at fault. My bike will most likely be totaled, I went to the hospital, and some of my other stuff is broken. What will happen, and what should I be doing to make sure I recoup my damages?

I ride an older bike (a 1989 Kawasaki ZX7), and today a car pulled out in front of me. I couldn't stop in time, and I hit their front bumper and went over my handlebars. Although I didn't get a good look at the bike before I got carted off to the hospital, I'm fairly sure that it will be totaled. My phone, which was in my pocket, and my laptop, which was in my backpack, are both broken. The other driver was insured.

I put in a claim with my insurance company this evening, and an adjuster is supposed to call me back tomorrow- I'm not sure how much I'm supposed to trust this person.

I know that the other driver will pay my medical bills (right?), and the cost of towing my bike to the impound lot (right?). What will I get for my bike? Will they have to pay the cost of replacing the bike? Will they pay the value of the bike as it was before the accident (which is probably less than the replacement cost)? Is the amount I receive a function of how much haggling my insurance company does?

As for my laptop and my phone, will they cut me a check for their value or their replacement cost? Will they want to keep the broken laptop/phone?

Should I be going around and pricing replacement bikes, or double-checking their repair estimates, or blah blah blah? I'm not sure how proactive I need to be through this whole process.

Thanks for any help - I'm new to this process, so please be gentle and extra-verbose.
posted by aaronbeekay to Travel & Transportation (23 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Get a lawyer. Get a lawyer. Get a lawyer.
posted by Mister Fabulous at 10:28 PM on February 27, 2011 [5 favorites]

Yes, always lawyer-up for medical bills.

Check prices of similar Ninja's (cycletrader.com, craigslist, etc) so that you can discuss it's real value in the marketplace.
And, if you added any upgrades (I see the V&H cans, but could include other things like windscreen, seat, carbon fiber, lightweight rims, etc) you'll want to add them, though some insurance carriers won't allow for them.

I would highly suggest taking pics ASAP of the scene as well as details of the bike (before & after) when you or someone you know are able.

My Ducati took a hit but the other driver's insurance was very fair. No medical bills, tho.
Sorry this happened to you. Great that you will be able and happy to get on the horse again!
posted by artdrectr at 10:34 PM on February 27, 2011

Since it's the other person's insurance paying, you're probably going to get screwed. That means that you'll get next to nothing for the bike, and only original purchase value on the phone and the laptop. The two insurance companies will probably figure out some shared liability, and you'll end up with the short end of the stick.
If you can afford, you should get yourself some representation. Unfortunately, your insurance company is not that interested, and the other drivers' insurance is actively working against you.
Not sure about medical, but given their record on liability, I would not expect too much. 2nding the suggestion to lawyer up.
posted by Gilbert at 10:38 PM on February 27, 2011

The process for insurance claims when you are not at fault was covered very thoroughly in this previous AskMe that may be of use to you. I'm unclear why people tell you to lawyer up if there are medical bills, but I have not had car insurance in the US in many years.
posted by DarlingBri at 10:40 PM on February 27, 2011

And here's a follow up to that post, which also covers the art of dealing with slack adjusters.
posted by DarlingBri at 10:47 PM on February 27, 2011

Not sure where you are or what type of injuries you sustained. I had an accident years ago. The guy went through a stop sign. I was on a bicycle. One of the best things I did (and this might sound a little gross to some) was to take pictures of my injuries. The sooner the better. Have a family member or friend do it. Better to have them and not need them than to need them and not have them. I know there will be medical records to verify any injuries, but if push comes to shove later on, pictures can say so much. Reading that there was bruising and seeing the actual pictures of any bruises can add substantially to your claim. I think each case might be different as to what personal items are replaced and which ones aren't. Insurance policies ( coverage) can be very different depending on where you are located. Also keep close track ( written records) on any and all money you are out of pocket. Meaning any lost wages, medical needs, or even travelling expenses to and from follow-up doctor or hospital appointments. One last thing. Find out if the other person was charged. And of course get a lawyer as others have said. But keeping accurate records is a big one.
posted by Taurid at 10:47 PM on February 27, 2011 [2 favorites]

I'm unclear why people tell you to lawyer up if there are medical bills, but I have not had car insurance in the US in many years.

The other driver's insurance company has one goal at this point: to pay you as little as they are legally obligated to pay. Often times, they will use any of the several thousand insurance laws to work their way down to the lowest possible settlement to give you, the victim. Even if your lawyer does nothing, and I do mean nothing, the mere existence of your lawyer can be enough to drive their settlement upwards, sometimes much more than you even paid to have a lawyer.

The other way of thinking of it is this: insurance companies have lawyers. Lots of them. It really wouldn't hurt to have one on your side.

Taurid's suggestion of taking pictures is excellent. Do it today.
posted by Mister Fabulous at 10:59 PM on February 27, 2011 [2 favorites]

I was in a very similar accident several years ago, on an old beater bike. The stereotypical Woman in a Volvo stopped at a stop sign, looked both ways, then proceeded to cross the 45mph-speed-limit thoroughfare directly in front of me. I swerved to go behind her, she jammed on her brakes, and I impacted the side of her car. I'll never forget the look on her kid's face as I went over the handlebars and smashed into the window just inches away from him.

My situation was different than yours in that I didn't have insurance so my options were to deal with her insurance company myself or lawyer up. She had admitted fault, and the police report indicated the same, so I was in a good position, but after one phone conversation with her insurance adjuster it was clear that I was going to get screwed if I wasn't very careful, so I looked through the yellow pages and found an attorney that advertised as an advocate for motorcyclists. I went in for a free consultation, and about a month later was calling him to say, "Yeah, I realize that she may have more assets you could go after, but her insurance policy's maximum payout of $50,000 (less your 1/3 cut) will cover all my expenses, my lost wages, and replace my bike. So let's accept that." I ended up feeling a little slimy by the process, but I don't think there's any way in hell I would have gotten a fair resolution if I'd have tried to deal with the insurance company on my own.
posted by Balonious Assault at 11:00 PM on February 27, 2011 [1 favorite]

Relevant ask.metafilter link: Car insurance, how does it work

The answers to your questions should all be easily answered by your insurance company/agent.

Cynical me advises: If you don't FULLY trust your insurance company, get a lawyer now and don't make ANY statements to ANYONE on the other side about the matter without their advice.

If you do generally trust your insurance company, they are the ones that would provide guidance for all of this. If you are unhappy or confused at any point, ask them more questions until you are satisfied.
posted by fief at 11:21 PM on February 27, 2011

Also: make sure you get a copy of the police report, and that the police report backs up the fact that you are not at fault. You should ascertain this right away, to avoid nasty surprises.
posted by arnicae at 11:28 PM on February 27, 2011

Lawyer will not only more than pay for him/herself, but will save you an absolute nightmare of bullshit and paperwork and stress and dirty tricks.

Once you have a lawyer, they handle it all. You don't need to be making calls, or getting documents from a to b by certain times. You don't need to taking calls, and having the same questions asked over and over by hostile parties that you have to humor, who are operatin gin bad faith in the knowledge that you don't know enough to not eventually say something that can be used against you.

Your life will be simpler, easier, and better, to let a lawyer handle this. This is what they do. It's what they're for.
posted by -harlequin- at 11:58 PM on February 27, 2011 [1 favorite]

Thanks for all the help so far, everybody, especially the links to previous AskMes that I was apparently too tired to find. I'm a little bit surprised at all the recommendations to lawyer up - I assumed that my insurance company's role was basically to do the work my lawyer would do. I'll start looking for recommendations for a lawyer today.

I would highly suggest taking pics ASAP of the scene
I wish I'd had the presence of mind to do this when I crashed, but I was kind of dazed until the ambulance got there, and the bike has been towed away by now. I'll get the police report and see if there are pictures there, but I kind of doubt it.

That means that you'll get next to nothing for the bike, and only original purchase value on the phone and the laptop.
Is "original purchase value" what I paid when I bought the phone and laptop? Because that's just fine. I understand this may be something that I hash out with some adjuster.

The other way of thinking of it is this: insurance companies have lawyers. Lots of them. It really wouldn't hurt to have one on your side.
Again, sorry if I'm missing something, but isn't this the job of MY insurance company's lawyer? Or is my insurance company also trying to give me as little money as possible? I thought that because they were being reimbursed by the other driver's insurance company, they don't really mind if I get a lot of money.

I sustained very, very minor injuries, and I hardly needed to be hospitalized - the only medical bills I'll have to deal with are as a result of being admitted as a trauma patient. I have medical insurance, too, so I think I'm OK on that front.
posted by aaronbeekay at 5:33 AM on February 28, 2011

The auto insurance company I worked for (many years ago) would not reimburse you for the phone and laptop at all because they are not part of the vehicle. Your homeowners insurance might cover it. Read your policies.
posted by interplanetjanet at 6:16 AM on February 28, 2011

Ah. Well, I just talked to my insurance agent- it seems clear that they're not going to be doing much representing on my behalf. The agent said, "you only have liability coverage, so you need to be talking to Other Driver's insurance- here's their number". So I'll be finding a lawyer.
posted by aaronbeekay at 6:43 AM on February 28, 2011

Again, sorry if I'm missing something, but isn't this the job of MY insurance company's lawyer?

This is the way I thought it worked too, but I haven't had to use my insurance much.

What kind of coverage do you have? Liability only? Collision?
posted by ArgentCorvid at 6:44 AM on February 28, 2011

My husband had this exact accident October 22nd of last year. I'm more than happy to go into details if you want but GET A LAWYER!!!


Also, feel free to pm me if you need a recommendation or details.
posted by Sophie1 at 7:25 AM on February 28, 2011

Your medical insurance is going to find out it was a motorcycle accident and not cover your bills and leave you trying to get compensation through the other driver. So thank god you're getting a lawyer.
posted by kpht at 7:36 AM on February 28, 2011 [1 favorite]

Depending on the state you're in, you may be forfeiting representation from your own insurance company if you retain your own legal counsel. When I lived in New Jersey, I remember that my insurance policy made me sign a waiver promising not to sue the other party in the event of a personal injury in an accident.

No idea if this applies here, but I suppose a lawyer would be able to answer that question for you.
posted by schmod at 7:59 AM on February 28, 2011

Things have been moving very quickly. Here's an update.

- My insurance company (Progressive) is not going to be doing anything for me. The representative assigned to my case told me that she would "give [other driver's insurance] a call and make sure they know what's going on"—how kind.

- I will need to deal with the other driver's insurance on my own to get any kind of money out of them. I'm getting a lawyer to do this.

- Although kpht warned that my medical insurance would find out I was in a motor vehicle accident and deny my coverage, so far that doesn't seem to be the case. It looks like they will go after Other Driver's Insurance for the cost of my hospital visit, but that hasn't involved me yet.

Thanks for the help, everybody - I feel much more prepared than I did twelve hours ago. I'll come back with updates if things need updated, and please keep posting advice or tips if you have them.
posted by aaronbeekay at 9:22 AM on February 28, 2011

I would highly suggest taking pics ASAP of the scene
I wish I'd had the presence of mind to do this when I crashed, but I was kind of dazed until the ambulance got there, and the bike has been towed away by now...

I wasn't clear, I didn't mean the vehicles, I meant taking pics of the street(s) layout where accident happened. Your lawyer may do this, but don't count on it.
posted by artdrectr at 10:44 AM on February 28, 2011

Oh, yeah - go to the tow yard if you can and take photos of the bike - call the tow yard first to see what you need to bring with you because I seem to remember needing a bunch of information for them to identify you.

Also, get to the police station to pick up the police report. Send this to your lawyer ASAP.
posted by Sophie1 at 10:49 AM on February 28, 2011

I was in your position three years ago. The other driver's insurance paid for everything -- bike, medical bills, rehab, jacket, helmet, watch, sunglasses. Plus I got a big settlement out of it. I guess I was lucky -- I didn't have a lawyer involved, and the other insurance company never gave me a hard time about any of it. They were actually a pleasure to work with!
posted by BurntHombre at 1:48 PM on February 28, 2011

A few more things you didn't ask, but I'm going to mention anyway:
1. My attorney was all about American-made, go-fast-in-a-straight-line bikes. I was a crotch rocket kid, all about knee pucks and twisties. It didn't make a lick of difference, like it might have on the road or in a bar.
2. Get a new helmet. Even if it was a minor crash, please don't put your noggin at risk by assuming that there was no structural damage to your helmet. Hopefully there won't be another crash in your future but if there is, and you're wearing a helmet that has been compromised, you could really regret it.
3. O-H!
posted by Balonious Assault at 5:04 PM on February 28, 2011

« Older How do I rent a sag-wagon?   |   Soaked Mattress a Goner? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.