This is the next post in a series of articles discussing bicycle accident cases in Hartford, Connecticut. Our previous post discussed how our state’s comparative fault rules allow a victim to recover a portion of their damages from the defendant even if they are partially responsible for the crash. Given the direct correlation a comparative fault determination will have on the defendant’s financial liability, this issue can become contentious. The victim’s attorney must conduct a thorough investigation of the incident and present an effective case, both in settlement negotiations and at trial if necessary, to establish that the driver of the vehicle was primarily responsible for the crash. Our law firm has experience in such matters and is ready to assist you. In this article, we will address a topic that often confuses accident victims and their families: the process of working with an insurance company after being injured in a crash. Contact our office today to speak with an attorney.
After an accident, many people are unsure how best to respond to requests for recorded statements or other questions from insurance companies. In bike crash cases involving significant injuries or the death of the victim, this process can seem particularly intimidating. The insurance adjuster’s goal is, of course, to minimize the company’s financial exposure. This often means offering quick settlement options that may be far less than what a victim may have otherwise been entitled to if a complete investigation had occurred. Rather than handling the communications directly, we recommend contacting an attorney as soon as possible after the event to speak with the insurance company on your behalf. Once you have retained counsel, they will notify the adjuster that they will be managing the discussions for you until the case is resolved.
Depending upon the details of the accident, such as whether the defendant claims the victim was partially at fault, the nature of the victim’s injuries, etc., settlement negotiations may not begin for a significant amount of time. This is true for several reasons. First, your attorney will conduct a thorough investigation of the crash. It may be necessary to locate and interview witnesses or request other evidence such as traffic camera footage or text records. Expert witnesses, such as accident reconstructionists, may be necessary to establish that the victim was not responsible for the crash under a comparative fault theory. Second, very commonly a bike accident victim suffers serious injuries. In many cases, the victim needs ongoing medical treatment that may require months or more of care before a long-term medical prognosis can be determined. For instance, if the victim suffers a spinal cord injury, doctors may not know whether they will regain their ability to walk for months or years. While treatments are continuing, a case may enter a holding pattern before settlement negotiations can begin.
When the investigation is finished and once the victim’s long-term medical condition is fully understood, the attorney will estimate the damages to which the victim or their family may be entitled. This information is furnished to the insurance company in the form of a demand letter, which is the starting point for the settlement negotiation process. If a settlement cannot be reached prior to the expiration of the statute of limitations, generally within two years of the accident, then the victim’s lawyer will file a lawsuit against the defendant.
As stated previously, many bike accident victims are tempted to accept quick settlement offers to avoid drawn-out or potentially costly litigation. Often, however, such offers do not fairly compensate for the losses experienced, such as past and future lost wages or unforeseen long-term medical expenses. Working with an experienced attorney can help ensure that you receive a fair settlement or damage award at trial. If you need assistance, contact our Hartford office today to speak with a lawyer. We also serve the areas of Wethersfield, New Britain, Rocky Hill, West and East Hartford, Bristol, Glastonbury, and Manchester, as well as the Middlesex County cities of Middletown and Cromwell.