Bike Safety: What to Do After An Accident

By on February 22, 2017
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With the nice weather comes an increase of bicycles on the road, and also an increase of bike-related accidents. We know our FSN readers are intelligent, and if you do ride on the road regularly, we know that you observe traffic rules and wear protective gear. You do all the things you are supposed to do because you’re smart. Unfortunately, accidents can happen to the best of us, and it’s imperative you know what to do if you should be involved in one.

What Should I Do After an Accident?

You may or may not be thinking clearly after a collision. In fact, you may not even know you have been injured until several hours or days later. The actions immediately following an accident can determine your recovery, recovery assistance, and outcomes of potential lawsuits.

Call the Police

If someone hasn’t already, the first thing you should do immediately following an accident is call the police, then wait for their arrival. Do not leave the scene, even if you think you are not injured. If you were in a collision with a car, do not tell the driver you are OK, and do not attempt to negotiate with the driver. Many drivers will apologize and accept blame only to later deny their involvement or say it wasn’t their fault.

Once the police arrive, they will document everything in a report. Be sure the officer includes your side of the story and report all injuries, even minor injuries, of which you are aware. Be sure to obtain a copy of the police report in case you need it down the road.

Obtain the Driver’s Information

Before leaving the scene, be sure to get the driver’s information. Ask them for their:

  • address
  • driver’s license number
  • insurance information
  • license plate number
  • make and model of their car
  • phone number

It’s in your best interest to all get the names and contact information of anyone who witnessed the accident. Ask a bystander to help you if you are injured and cannot gather this information.

Document Your Experience

As soon as you can, write down exactly what happened before the details become muddied. Document the following information:

  • a detailed account of the accident
  • location of the accident
  • road and traffic conditions
  • time of the accident
  • weather conditions

If you are not sure, ask a bystander or call one of the witnesses to help you remember. Most people are wiling to help in these circumstances.

Document Injuries

Obviously, you should seek immediate medical attention for any injuries, even if you think they are minor. Minor injuries can worsen over time. Seeking medical attention is not only a good idea for self-preservation, but it also proves you were injured. Your medical records serve as official documentation of your injuries. If you have visible injures, take photos and include them with your records. It’s also a good idea to start a journal of your symptoms, in case your injuries do worsen over time.

Keep Damaged Property

Hold on to your damaged property even if it is beyond repair. Document and take photos of all damaged items, but do not fix anything. Do not wash your clothing or helmet either. Your lawyer may ask for these items in case of a lawsuit, so be sure you have everything you need.

Talk to a Personal Injury Lawyer

If you do not have a lawyer, consult a personal injury lawyer for an accident such as this. Personal injury lawyers understand the legal issues involved in bicycle-car collisions, and they can advise you how to proceed, negotiate with insurance companies, and represent you in a lawsuit. They can also engage experts to investigate the accident if necessary.

Whatever you do, do not talk to an insurance company without first consulting with a lawyer. Anything you say can be used against you. A letter from your lawyer can help you avoid and resolve legal issues, oftentimes without ever going to court.

Who is at fault?

In almost all states, a bicycle is considered a vehicle, and just like a driver of a car, a cyclist must follow traffic laws. When a collision occurs, who’s fault is it, the bike or the car?

Who’s fault it is typically boils down to who has the right of way. Right-of-way rules are different depending on whether or not there are traffic signals at the collision site.

When there are no traffic signals…

When there are no traffic signals, the first vehicle to approach the intersection has the right of way. If two vehicles approach at the same time, the vehicle to the right has the right of way. This rule holds true if there is only a stop sign at the intersection. If the intersection consists of a minor street intersecting a major street, then the traffic to the major street has the right of way.

When there are traffic signals…

When there are traffic signals, who has the right of way is determined by the signal. Sometimes a signal sensor cannot detect a bicycle. In this case, the cyclist can wait until it is safe to cross or cross at a crosswalk.

Additional considerations come into play when vehicles are turning or violating signals. That’s why it’s important to document exactly what happened.

Chances are you know the right-of-way rules, and traffic laws, but drivers do not always pay attention while operating a vehicle, and some driver’s may become aggressive toward cyclists because they feel you should not be on the road. One tactic I learned in bike safety class, which by the way is time well spent if you intend to ride in traffic, is to make sure the driver sees you. Every side street and driveway is considered an intersection. Make eye contact with the driver and make sure they see you before taking off. On the flip side, cyclists do no always practice safe riding or obey traffic laws. Don’t be that guy. Be safe, follow the rules, and have fun, but protect yourself. If you are in an accident, wait for the police, file a report, seek medical attention, and consult a personal injury lawyer. Even if you think you’re OK, it’s better to be safe than sorry.

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About Toni Banks

Contributing writer for FSN - As a professional writer for the Legal, Finance, and Technology industries, Toni understands there is an overwhelming amount of information available to you and wading through confusing terminology and difficult concepts can be difficult. Her primary aim is to offer focused, clearly-written information on current topics that resonate with her readers. Find Toni on !

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