What to do in a Bike Crash
By your friends at Bay Area Bicycle Law
A cycling accident is always a traumatic experience, but depending on the severity of the accident and how the accident happened you may or may not need an attorney. The safest bet is to always speak with an attorney after you are injured on your bicycle, but knowing these five tips can help ensure that you protect your rights.
1) File a Police Report
A police report, often called a "Traffic Collision Report," can be an important tool to protect yourself after a crash, whether it involves another vehicle, bike, or dangerous road condition. Filing a police report will help document that the incident happened and gives you an opportunity to have your side of the story incorporated into an official record. Be sure to contact the reporting officer after you view the report to make certain that your statement was taken down accurately.
2) Obtain the Driver's Contact and Insurance Information
You are entitled to obtain a driver's contact and insurance information after even a minor collision and a driver's failure to do so may constitute a hit and run offense. If you are able to do so at the scene of the collision take a photograph of the driver's vehicle, license plate, driver's license, and proof of insurance. If you are involved in a serious accident or have lost consciousness, this information will be contained in the police report as well.
3) Do Not Make Statements that May Be Used Against You
Most people know that when you are under arrest you have the right to remain silent and that anything you say may be used against you. The same can be true in bicycle injuries. In the aftermath of an accident many people are in shock and don't realize the full extent of their injuries until hours or even days later. Therefore, when asked by the driver or police officer if you are injured, it is important to tell them what symptoms you feel, but it is okay to say "I don't know yet, I might be in shock." Do not feel pressured to keep calm and cycle on.
4) Document the Damage
When dealing with the court system or insurance companies, documents are your best friend. Unless your injuries prevent you from doing so, you should take photographs at the scene of the accident, at the hospital, and at home to document your injuries and damages to your property. DO NOT THROW AWAY DAMAGED PROPERTY. A cracked helmet may not be much use for cycling, but it can be a strong piece of evidence in your insurance claim or law suit. Although you may want to get back on your bike as soon as possible, before you get it fixed be sure to take photographs of your damaged property.
5) Talk to an Attorney
The insurance companies exist to protect their drivers and pay you as little as possible. It is important that if you are planning to file a claim for injuries sustained in a bicycle accident you should talk to an attorney first.