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Cycling home in the dark a car pulled across me to enter a super market car park. Apparently the car that let him cross didn't remove their full beam so he didn't see me in the cycle lane and I hit the side of him.

Apart from the initial shock I'm basically OK. Hip & shoulder feels a little bruised but thats about it from what I can tell.

Bike for the most part from what I can see also seems mostly OK apart the handlebars.

We exchanged details etc a witness also stopped and gave me her details. And I had a friend come and pick me up as I was a little shocked.

The driver admitted fault and seemed genuinely concerned and offered to pay for damage to the bike, it sounded like he was a cyclist himself.

I'm not planning on any injury claims as apart from a bruised/sore hip and shoulder for a few days I reckon I'll survive.

My bike is basically my workhorse for commuting and everything in between so the quickest possible turnaround with the least path of resistance to having it fixed would be the most ideal.

Should I just take my bike to a local shop have them look it over and quote me then contact the driver, I may need to pay for it to be inspected first? Or should I go via their insurance? How fast do I need to act etc. I probably won't be able to get to a bicycle store before Friday.

(I tried to add a photo of the handlebars but apparently I need 10 points first).

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What are your local laws regarding riding in the dark (IE - some places require lights on a bicycle after dark; if you didn't it might have a serious impact on deciding who is at fault, and the obligation the driver has to you) –  Rob P. May 22 '13 at 11:52
    
I'm curious. Now can you post a photo of the handlebars? –  Matt May 24 '13 at 0:40
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4 Answers 4

up vote 16 down vote accepted

Report it to his insurance company first. Period.

If for whatever reason the driver decides to renege on his admittance of fault and declines to pay damages to your bike, you're basically screwed if you're past the insurance company's reporting threshold. However, do not sign any paperwork the insurance company asks you to (which may limit their liability or waive some of your rights) and inform them that you're having a bicycle shop prepare a quote for damages.

After you've contacted the driver's insurance company, take your bicycle to the nearest shop and have them fully inspect the bike and quote you for any necessary repairs. Ask them to be thorough and include the cost of absolutely everything that may have been damaged in the crash: wheel re-truing, handlebar tape rewrapping, etc.

When the bike shop gives you a quote, give it to the person who hit you. If he reimburses you, then you're done. If not, you'll have to work through their insurance company. It's probably best at that point to contact your own insurance company and see what steps they will take to help you receive payment.

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Thanks this seems like sound advice, however on the last point I don't have insurance for my bicycle, does that affect my position? –  Josh Jan 16 '12 at 20:04
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Not much. Your insurance company will usually negotiate with the other insurance company on your behalf, but if not you can simply go it alone. Odds are he'll pay you out of pocket. If not, I'd come back here and ask for more detailed advice about filing a claim against his insurance. Dealing with the companies on your own can be a royal PITA. –  Stephen Touset Jan 16 '12 at 21:08
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@josh -- If you have homeowner's insurance it may cover your bike. –  Daniel R Hicks Jan 16 '12 at 22:11
    
I was considering mentioning that, but from the description it's unlikely that the damage is above his deductible. However, your homeowner's insurance (or renter's insurance) may be able to chase the claim for you. –  Stephen Touset Jan 16 '12 at 23:27
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"do not sign any paperwork the insurance company asks you to" I can't second this enough. Also, you might feel fine now but in a few months ([insert your state's statute of limitations here]), you may have discovered an chronic ache/pain. –  Zian Choy Jan 18 '12 at 4:45
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You should probably contact your own insurance company (let your insurance company and the driver's fight it out) and find out how they want you to handle it from here. The bike wouldn't seem to be as much of a time issue (from an insurance standpoint) but I'd also get thee to the bike store as quickly as possible; if they have to order stuff it'll take time and that's time you're not commuting.

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John Duggan wrote an excellent checklist for what to do after a bike/car crash.

It sounds like you've already handled the first part pretty well, but here are the steps he advises:

  • Do get the necessary medical treatment.
  • Do have your bike thoroughly inspected by a reputable bike shop.
  • Do take photographs of the accident scene, your injuries, your bike and all other involved vehicles (your new camera phone may come in handy!).
  • Do not minimize your injuries or your bike damage.
  • Do not give a statement to the vehicle driver’s insurance without first consulting with an attorney.
  • Do not rush into any settlement until you know the full extent of your injuries and bike damage.

I will say that in my experience with an accident like yours, an attorney (like John Duggan, so he's a little biased) will not get directly involved since the stakes are quite low, but it can be handy to have one on hand if the insurance company decides to be difficult. They can answer legal questions applicable in your jurisdiction that the internet can't. And remember, just because the driver admitted fault to you at the scene does not mean they will admit fault to their insurance agency.

I'd also advise going to the doctor and getting looked over just in case you do have some more serious injuries. This should ultimately be paid for by their insurance (your insurance will likely ask you if any other insurance is billable for this), including any lost wages if you need to miss work and a pain and suffering payout (typically 3x medical bills). If your collision was anything like mine, be prepared to wake up stiff and sore for a couple of days.

John also points out that the claim will cover damage to not only your bike but to any of your accessories or clothing - bag, gloves, pants, lights. Make sure all of these things are undamaged.

Take your time here - you do not want to accept a settlement from their insurance and then subsequently discover belatedly that your frame is cracked and you've got a torn ligament that will require surgery.

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Thanks, that's an excellent link with some great tips. –  Josh Jan 16 '12 at 22:47
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First of all, call 911 and ask for the police and EMS. If you said to a witness “I didn’t see the car before it hit me” the insurance company hears “I wasn’t paying attention”. If you said “the car must have moved into my lane to hit me” the insurance company hears “ I wasn’t in my lane when the car hit me”.

However, you won’t want to remain silent after the crash. If a law enforcement officer is at the accident site asking questions about the crash, make sure you give the officer your version of what happened along with providing your name and address. If you have a bicycle insurance policy - consider yourself lucky. Don’t assume that the police have prepared or will prepare an accident report. These reports are only completed if the police investigate an accident, and policies on accident reports will vary from one law enforcement agency to another. If an accident report is prepared, make sure that it is accurate.

Read more here: What to do after a collision with a car

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