What to do After a Bicycle Accident
Cycling accidents frequently result in severe, life-changing injuries. Thankfully, there are ways for injured victims to pursue justice after being hit by a negligent driver. Similar to the lawsuits filed by those involved in car accident, personal injury claims filed by cycling accident victims all come down to liability. Proving that injuries were the direct result of a driver’s reckless or negligent behavior is often the key to successfully pursuing compensation after an accident. Much of this evidence can be gathered in the moments shortly after the incident occurs. If you or someone you love has been hurt in a bicycle accident, be sure to take the following steps to ensure the best health and legal outcomes possible:
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Move Off the Road
When accidents result in injuries, it’s important to do all you can to prevent a secondary accident. Move out of the roadway is possible and call 911 to report your accident and request medical attention. While this first step might seem like common sense, accidents have a way of stressing out even the most level-headed among us. If you are not seriously hurt, it’s best to move out of the road to exchange insurance information with the driver involved and take pictures of the damage done in the wreck. Collect the driver’s contact information, driver’s license number and license plate information to ensure you can follow up if necessary. If you’re injured, ask a bystander for help getting the information.
Call the Police
Even if you don’t believe yourself to be injured, you should always call 911 to inform them of an accident. By calling 911, you can put the ball in the court of the authorities. If they believe the incident to be serious enough, they will come to the scene and police will make out an accident report. Involving police allows you to get official documentation of the wreck and ensures that the driver is interviewed. If they are under the influence, police are likely to spot their behavior and administer a breathalyzer test.
Police can also help that the moments after the accident are handled with legitimacy. Many at-fault drivers will attempt to negotiate with accident victims to mitigate the impact the crash has on their driving record or insurance rates. While they may seem apologetic in person and willing to accept blame, they could change their mind later and deny ever being involved in the wreck. Calling police to the scene gives you the legal advantage, especially when it comes to settling with the insurance company.
Authorities can also help you understand your accident with a little more clarity. It’s easy to go on the defensive when you’ve been hit by a car, but police can help point out mistakes you made that might have contributed to the accident. Many incidents are not solely the blame of the driver or the cyclist. Determining your role in the accident can help you understand whether or not you’re eligible for compensation from the driver involved.
Seek Medical Attention
After being involved in a bicycle accident, it’s important to always seek medical attention, even if you believe you’re okay. Many injuries commonly associated with bicycle accidents are not always immediately obvious in the moments following a collision. When your adrenaline is pumping and you are concerned about the damage to your bicycle or other people involved in the crash, you’re not always in the best position to judge if you are actually hurt. Symptoms of brain, neck and back injuries can all take weeks to become evident. To avoid making your condition worse and to ensure you get the care you need, see a doctor for a thorough exam.
Take Notes, Photos and Video
Technology affords us a number of luxuries that might not have been possible a decade ago. One of which is the ability to quickly snap photos and video of a crash scene. Take pictures of the damage done to your bicycle, the car involved and any injuries you sustained. Ask any witnesses to go on the record and make a statement on video. Be sure to get their contact information when doing so.
Don’t have your phone on you at the time if the accident? Even minor notes jotted down into a notebook can prove valuable later on. Information about the weather at the time of the crash, notes about the road condition and details about the traffic pattern can give you the upper hand when it comes to filing an insurance claim. Be sure to take down this information before you leave the scene, though. You’d be surprised at how quickly details can slip away once you leave the scene.
Seek Legal Guidance
An attorney can be a valuable ally in the face of a bicycle accident. Because liability isn’t always immediately clear in the face of a wreck, an experienced bicycle accident lawyer can offer unique insight into your plight. They can help you understand driver negligence versus bicyclist negligence and ensure you have a viable case before proceeding. Should your bicycle accident lawyer determine that you were indeed the victim of a negligent or reckless driver’s behavior, they will assist you in filing an insurance claim, and if necessary, a personal injury lawsuit.