9 Things You Should Do If You Are In a Bicycle Accident
With gas prices on the rise, alternative methods of travel are quickly gaining in popularity. Many larger cities have even installed dedicated lanes for those wanting to commute via bicycle. An increase in the number of cyclists on the road can often lead to more accidents as drivers aren’t used to navigating their vehicles around busy (or new) bike lanes.
If you find yourself in a bicycle accident, you may not immediately think it could result in legal action. Your instinct is likely to get out of the road and keep going, but you shouldn’t do that—even if you feel perfectly fine and your bike doesn’t seem damaged. Here are 9 things you should do to preserve any legal action you may want to take in the future:
1) Do not negotiate with the motorist at the scene
If you’re hit by a car and don’t feel injured, you may be tempted to brush off the incident. The driver may even offer to pay you on the spot for any damage to your bicycle. DO NOT TAKE IT. It is a mistake to take any money at the scene because you do not know the extent of your injuries or the damage to your bicycle. In many instances, you will feel perfectly fine at first because your adrenaline is high. Once this adrenaline wears off, you could be left seriously injured with only $100 to handle your hospital bills.
2) Call the police
It may feel dramatic to call the police for a bicycle accident, but it is important because you need a police report of the incident. This will officially document what happened and aid you if you choose to take legal action. If the motorist doesn’t want to wait for the police and leaves the scene, call and wait there anyway. You are legally obligated to wait at a scene that involves property damage or personal injury. If they choose to leave the scene, that will only strengthen your case.
3) Take pictures
As soon as you are able, take pictures of everything: the driver’s car, their license plate, damage to the car, damage to the bike, injuries, the roadway, skid marks, bike lanes, etc. Pictures not only document the scene, but also include timestamps. This evidence can significantly increase your chances of success in a case.
4) Get the driver’s information
The driver may not want to give you their insurance information and might request that you handle the accident directly with them (without involving the insurance company). If you choose to do that, get their basic information anyway, which includes a photo of their drivers license and insurance, as well as their phone number.
5) Get witness information
If anyone stops to help at the accident, make sure you get their name and phone number. Try to contact them as soon as possible while the information is fresh in their mind and get their version of the events. It is best if you can hire an attorney right away and have them contact these individuals. Having a third party’s account of the accident can be highly beneficial to any case you may have.
6) Seek medical attention
What seems like a minor bump or bruise could turn out to be much more serious. Don’t let the driver’s attorney argue that your injury is a result of you not getting treatment when you should have. You also don’t want them to argue that you sustained your injuries after the accident.
Again, you may look and feel perfectly fine until the adrenaline wears off, and then you may feel much worse. Go to the doctor right away to ensure any serious injuries are accounted for.
7) Keep your dirty clothes/damaged bike parts
While it may seem gross, keep your dirty clothes (such as a bloody shirt or ripped pants). Don’t wash them or throw them away. This also applies to your damaged bicycle parts. If you can afford to go without your bicycle until the matter is resolved, do not get it repaired and leave it as-is from the accident.
If you need to use your bike, keep all of the loose broken bike pieces, take lots of photos of the damage, and ask the repair shop to make a detailed report of what they fix and the costs.
8) Hire an attorney
Handling the aftermath of a bike accident can be more complicated and stressful than you would ever expect. Do you negotiate with the insurance company or the driver? At what point do you file a lawsuit? Those judgment calls are what you need an attorney for. Make sure you collect as much information as possible regarding the accident, and then let an attorney take over.
Also, the adage of “anything you say can and will be used against you” doesn’t just apply to cops; it also applies to insurance companies. You don’t want to call an insurance company with the intention of resolving your case, and end up ruining your case altogether because you inadvertently or unknowingly used phrases that put you at fault.
9) Don’t negotiate with the insurance companies
You wouldn’t play a game of one-on-one basketball with LeBron and expect to walk away a winner. Negotiating with an insurance company by yourself, whether this is your own insurance or the drivers, drastically reduces your chance of success. Insurance agents spend all day negotiating claims with both lawyers and individuals, and they are pretty darn good at it. Let your attorney handle the insurance company.
The Bottom Line
Unlike a car accident, most people feel like they should quickly brush off a bike accident and move on with their day. However, that is the opposite of what you should do. You should treat this type of incident very seriously and take many of the same steps as if you were in a vehicle: call the police, take pictures, avoid talking with insurance companies, and collect as much information as possible. Then you should hire an attorney to help guide you through the process, regardless of whether you want to sue or not.