Defending Property Claims
Upon being involved in a bicycle accident, the driver or the insurance company for the driver will contact you. Due to being on your bicycle during the accident, your car insurance policy will not cover you in most situations. The insurance company for the driver could demand payment from you for the damages to the driver’s vehicle in a property claims case.
What to Do If the Insurance Company Demands Payment
When this occurs, you can:
- Pay the amount demanded, or
- Ignore the demand due to your not being at fault.
You might believe the accident was equally your fault and the driver’s fault. In such cases, you will offer to pay no more than 50% of the damages incurred in that situation.
You must seek proof of the amount necessary to satisfy property claims. You will find this proof in documentation, such as a repair estimate or bill from an auto repair shop.
Don’t Provide a Recorded Statement
The representation for the driver will seek to obtain a “recorded statement” from you. You are under no obligation to do so and it is in your best interests to not provide one. The insurance company will use the recorded statement against you.
Write a Letter to the Insurance Company
If you are not at fault, it is best to write a letter to the insurance company detailing the reasons you are not liable. Some facts to include in the letter include:
- Your memory of the accident,
- Statements by witness regarding the accident.
- Any information in your favor detailed on the police report, or
- Physical evidence that supports your case.
What Happens If You Refuse to Pay?
Do not ignore any collection notices received as a result of the accident. You must follow the instructions detailed on the notice if you choose not to pay the amount requested immediately upon receiving the notice.
If you refuse to pay, the insurance company might cease trying to collect. However, they can continue to attempt collection for their debt. If you continue to refuse payment, they will file a claim against you in small claims court.
What Happens in Small Claims Court?
You do not need a lawyer in small claims court. In fact, no one is allowed legal representation in small claims court. Some people hire attorneys to help prepare their case in small property claims cases.
Both you and the opposing side will present their case to the judge. Evidence is presented and witnesses testify to their knowledge of the case. The judge determines who, if any, is at fault. Upon losing, you will be responsible to pay the insurance company for the damages assessed. If you are successful in your defense, you will not be responsible for any of the insurance company’s property claims.
When to Hire an Attorney
In some situations, the amount of the property claim is too high for small claims court. If that occurs, the insurance company will sue you in civil court. It is highly recommended that you retain an attorney in those situations.