Most car – bike accidents happen in the blink of an eye. Sometimes drivers are distracted or they turn in front of a bicycle. Bicycle safety is your responsibility regardless of how the scene plays out, it’s important to keep calm and know your rights.
Arm yourself in advance. You should always carry a copy of your health/insurance card and identification when you ride. Some cyclists opt for an identification bracelet such as a Road ID, which lists emergency contacts and vital health information. Carry a cell phone too. Besides calling for help, cell phones also have a camera— a handy device for documenting any damage.
Keep your cool. You may be terrified, angry or in pain immediately following a bike accident, but don’t confront the driver or lose your temper. According to cycling attorney Bob Mionske, anything you say to the driver can be used against you when an insurance claims adjuster considers your case.
Call the police. Be sure the motorist doesn’t flee the scene. Note and record any details about the motorist and the car, including the license plate number. Ask the motorist for a driver’s license and insurance information. Record this as well.
Give your statement. Even if you are injured, it’s vital that a police officer records your account of what happened. Check the statement for accuracy and be sure the officer prepares an accident report. Also gather names, addresses and phone numbers of any witnesses.
Don’t downplay your injuries. Just because you feel okay doesn’t mean you’re injury free. Get checked out by the paramedics or at the ER. This helps prove that you were in an accident and can be used to strengthen your claim.
Document the damage. Not only should you take photos of any injuries you sustain, but you should also snap pictures of your bike and any property damage caused by the accident. Have your bike shop document the damage, assess the value of your bike and any accessories damaged in the crash, and prepare a signed estimate. Mionske suggests waiting to make any bike repairs until you have reached an agreement with the insurance company. In the meantime, save any documents related to the crash.
Don’t rush a settlement. If you plan to file a claim, be sure to speak with an attorney before making your statement. Also check your state’s statute of limitations to find out the deadline for filing a lawsuit. Be sure to give yourself enough time to know the extent of your injuries and any damage before trying to settle the case.
Read our blog ‘Avoid a Bike Accident | Bicycle Safety’ to prevent such occurrences.