As she sped into traffic, I witnessed a bicyclist being hit by a large SUV driver. The SUV driver was unaware that she had struck anyone. She continued rolling forward crushing the front fork of her bike, while the rider stumbled away. She realized her mistake only after he started screaming at him.
I was struck by the incident and began to think about what the rider should do. There is a good chance that he won’t have insurance to cover the bike costs (it looked nice before the SUV-driving soccer mom pancaked it). Here’s what I found:
First, it is important for the rider to maintain their cool. Your ability to keep your cool in the aftermath of an accident, even a bike crash, can have a significant impact on your recovery for injuries and damages to your bike. It could also impact the outcome of any lawsuits that result from the accident.
You should always call the police in most cases. You should wait for the police to arrive on the scene of an accident so they can file a report. Sometimes cyclists don’t realize that they are injured until hours, days or longer after an accident. By then it is too late to record the scene. You may not be able identify the driver at fault if you leave an accident scene without filing a police report.
Don’t try to negotiate with the driver. Most drivers will initially apologize and take responsibility, but later they may deny or change their mind. Wait for the police to arrive so that they can record everything in the police report. Waiting for the police to arrive is another advantage. They might ticket the driver which could be helpful in settling the case.
Include your version of events in the Accident Report. Sometimes the officer will only take the statement of the motorist, and not speak to the cyclist. Respect the officer but try to get your side of it into the police report. Do not hesitate to report any injuries, no matter what they may be. Keep in mind that minor injuries can later turn into more serious.
You can request that the accident report be amended if the police refuse to include you statement, but this could require a visit to the station. You can get as much information as you need from the scene, including witness and driver information, if the officer refuses to take your statement on the spot. As much information as possible about the driver, witness, address, phone numbers, driver’s licence numbers, and driver’s vehicle number, as well insurance information, should be obtained. Don’t assume that the police report will contain all this information. You should not assume that the police report will include all of this information if you are hurt and can’t get it yourself. Your admission to medical attention is proof of your injuries. Medical records will also document the extent of your injuries. Take photos of your injuries as soon after the accident as possible. Keep a record of any symptoms that you may have in case they become more serious.
After an accident, don’t forget to leave your bike or other property. You should not begin cleaning up the accident scene until police arrive. After you return home, don’t wash your clothes, especially if they are blood stained, and don’t send your bike, helmet or other equipment to anyone but your attorney. Photographs of damaged equipment are best, but not photos taken before repairs were made.
Most likely, the driver’s insurance will cover the accident. However, you should not speak with insurance companies without consulting an attorney. Any communication you make to an insurance company could be used against your later. This is why calls are often taped. Sometimes, a letter sent by an attorney to the insurance company can resolve your case and get you the maximum amount of compensation. Most injury cases settle without going to trial. However, if litigation is necessary, you need to ensure that your case is properly handled and that the insurance company doesn’t make rash statements in an attempt to stop you from obtaining all the rights you have.
If you have any questions regarding your bike accident, it is a good idea to consult an attorney. Many personal injury lawyers will take on such cases on a contingency fee basis. This means that you don’t have to pay upfront for the attorney and that any fees they collect are deducted from the recovery from the driver/insurer so you don’t have to spend a lot.