You were riding along the road when out of nowhere a car hit you. Now you're on the side of the road wondering what to do. Don't worry. We'll walk you through it.
After an accident, safety should be your top priority. If you are able to do so safely, move off to the shoulder of the road. You don't want to run the risk of another vehicle hitting you because you are below their line of sight. If you are witnessing a crash, get nearby motorists attention and direct them away from the fallen cyclist until he or she can be moved to safety.
Contact the police as quickly as you can. They can assist in redirecting traffic and help document everything that happened. Be sure to tell the dispatcher if someone was hurt in the crash so an ambulance can be sent as well.
Write down or take a picture of the driver's license, registration, insurance, and license plate. If you were the victim of a hit-and-run, ask if anyone saw the license plate so you can eventually identify the car and its driver.
When the police arrive on the scene, given them a detailed report of what happened. This can help the police identify who was at fault and creates a record of what you remember right after the accident. Time, injuries, and normal recall issues can alter your memory of a traumatic event over time, so the most reliable report is the one you make right away. Make sure you ask the officer for a business card with the incident number so you can follow up later.
Use your cell phone to take pictures of the vehicle, your bicycle, and any visible injuries. These can be used to prove your injuries and reconstruct the accident if you have to go to court to recover your damages later on.
If anyone saw what happened, ask for their name and contact information. They may be able to help you recover your damages or prove the driver negligent when you go to court.
Whether you are taken to the emergency room in an ambulance or make an appointment with your doctor's office, make sure you are examined by a doctor right away. Report every symptom, even if it is just a headache. Some injuries take time to develop, and others may not show up right away, so your doctor needs to know all the subtle clues that something bigger might be going on. Bicycle accidents are especially likely to cause concussions or traumatic brain injury. Your bike helmet won't protect you in a high-speed collision. Make sure you get screened for a head injury right away.
Once your immediate health needs are met, it is time to contact an attorney that focuses on bicycle accidents. An attorney will help you decide, among other things, whether to file a negligence-based lawsuit against the driver who hit you.
Most insurance providers will require prompt notice of any insurance claim resulting from a bicycle accident. Your policy will say how quickly you will need to file that claim. Don't provide any written explanations of what happened. Instead your bicycle accident attorney can help you provide proper notice without making any statements or admissions that could hurt you later on.
A lot depends on what you do in the minutes and days immediately following a bicycle accident. Be prepared so you know what to do, who to talk to, and what not to say to protect your rights and your claims against the driver and your insurance company. An experienced bike accident lawyer can smooth out the process and help you get the payments you need to heal and get back to riding as soon as possible.