Bicycle accidents can happen to anyone at any time—even when cyclists are following the rules of the road. Whether a car pulls out from a parking lot into a bicycle, a driver opens a car door right in front of a bicyclist, or a driver is blinded by the sun and fails to see a bicycle prior to turning, bicyclists are at high risk when riding in traffic and can be seriously injured. Not only can a collision with a car or truck destroy a bicycle, but the rider can suffer serious and even fatal injuries. This is why it is critical that you take certain actions after the crash to help your physical recovery as well as your financial recovery.
What Cyclists Should Do After a Crash
After a bicycle accident, the rider—or a friend or family member if the rider is not able—should take the following steps as soon as possible:
- Get the police involved. Stay at the accident scene until the police arrive. By staying at the scene, the police can get your statement as well as the driver’s statement and interview any witnesses. Sometimes police will ticket the driver, which can benefit your injury claim.
- Seek medical attention. Getting medical treatment in the emergency room or seeing your primary care doctor as soon as possible following the crash is essential to your health and to your potential bicycle accident injury claim. If you wait too long to seek treatment, the insurance company may question the seriousness of your injuries.
- Gather information. Depending on whether your injuries will allow you to take this step, it is a good idea to take photographs of the accident scene, including your bike and the other car, as well as your injuries. It is also wise to look for any and all witnesses to the crash and try to get their contact information. As with any accident, it is essential to exchange contact information with the driver and to write down the vehicle information as well.
- Preserve evidence. Many times cyclists will attempt to repair their bikes and will even throw away damaged helmets or equipment. It is vital to an injury case that all evidence is preserved until the claim has been resolved.
What NOT to Do After a Bicycle Accident
In the pain and confusion after an accident, people sometimes make mistakes that can harm any future accident claim. When you have been injured in a bike crash, do not do the following:
- Dismiss the collision. Many times bicyclists don’t know whether they are at fault or if they are really injured, so both parties agree to go their separate ways. However, injuries aren’t always apparent right away. If you don’t exchange information with the driver and you let him go, you will have no recourse against that person.
- Try to settle the matter privately with the other driver. Sometimes a driver will offer a cyclist money to repair the damaged bike or to even buy the cyclist a new bike, and sometimes a monetary offer will be given to a cyclist in exchange for settling the matter without insurance companies. The problem with this is that the extent of injuries aren’t always known in the moments right after a crash.
- Admit fault. The words, “I’m sorry,” are often said without thinking about the meaning, but it’s important to never say these words following a collision because the driver can use your words against you. You never know if the driver was making an illegal maneuver or did something wrong that caused the accident.
- Minimize your injuries. Oftentimes cyclists try to get back up too quickly and don’t take the time to see if they are really injured. Sometimes what seems to be a minor injury may develop into a serious injury later.
- Negotiate with the insurance company without an attorney. Insurance adjusters are trained to minimize claim payouts and will do anything they can to pay you as little money as possible. They will make you think that you have to sign medical release forms and provide them with a recorded statement, but an experienced attorney knows how to protect you and how to get you the most compensation possible.
Whether you think your bicycle injury claim warrants the help of an attorney or not, it is important that you at least meet with an experienced lawyer to review your claim. Please feel free to contact us. Our law firm offers free initial, no-obligation consultations.