5 Things You Need To Do Right After A Bicycle Collision
If you’ve been injured in a bicycle crash, you are entitled to be compensated for your injuries and property damage. Of course, when you’re standing on the street right after a crash, you might not be thinking about medical bills and and insurance claims.
In order to make sure you don’t hurt any future case you might need to make against the driver who just hit you, make sure you do these 5 important things right after your bike collision.
1. Don’t make any statements except to the police
It’s natural to want to apologize or make the other person involved in the crash not feel bad, but it’s also a really bad idea to do so.
Any statements that you make to the driver — especially ones where you apologize, take blame for the crash, or suggest that your injuries aren’t that serious — can really hurt you in the long run.
If you apologize or take blame, the driver could use those statements to prove you were fully responsible for the crash and avoid paying for your injuries or damaged property, even if they were at fault. Similarly, insisting that you’re not that badly hurt can be used by the insurance company to claim that injuries you get treated for later on are made up.
Instead, just call the police after the crash and then only give your story to them. You are required to give them your ID, insurance, and contact information, but you should also make sure to clearly give them your account of the crash so that your version makes it into the official traffic collision report.
2. Make sure to get your side of the story in the official collision report
The traffic collision report is a police document that will weigh heavily on how blame for the crash is assumed. If it only includes the driver’s side of the story, then it’s likely that the whole story isn’t being told — and it’s possible that the driver may even skew the facts of the incident to make it look like you were at fault for the entire collision (even if that’s untrue).
When you are giving your report to the police, you should also ask how you can obtain a copy of the traffic collision report for your records. You’ll want to get a copy of the final version so you can make sure the story told in the official report is accurate, since it will have bearing on your case.
3.Get contact information for the driver and collect witness stories
If possible, do your best to get the driver’s contact information (some drivers will lie and give a fake phone number; however, you should still try) for future reference. At the very least, make sure you get their license plate number.
Talk to any witnesses who saw the crash and can give you their version of the story. These witnesses can back up the honest account of the crash and help you make a case for any claims you make down the road. If possible, get their contact information too, in case you or your attorney want to talk to them again later.
4. Collect evidence and write down your story
Memories can get fuzzy faster than you’d think, so make sure to write down a detailed (as detailed as you can make it — you never know what will be important later) account of the crash as soon as possible afterward.
You should also do your best to collect evidence at the scene, by taking photos of the crash site, your bike, your helmet and other gear, the driver’s car, the driver’s license plate, the weather conditions, the road conditions, nearby road signs, and anything else you think could be important.
The critical thing at this stage is to gather as much evidence as possible. Your lawyer (or you) can figure out what’s really important to your case later on. It’s better to have too much now than to not have enough later.
When you get home, keep all of your clothes and gear in the condition they are in. This includes your bike — don’t get it repaired. You need to keep all evidence in its current state until your case is completely done. It’s not ideal, but it will be important for getting coverage for all of your damages.
5. Contact an attorney for a free consultation
Before you speak with any insurance company investigator or representative, please take the opportunity to talk to an attorney who specializes in bicycle law.
Insurance investigators and representatives are looking for ways to not pay your claim; the insurance industry is for-profit, after all, so it’s in their best interest to not pay out any money. They have tactics for getting you to say things that work against you, and you don’t want to get tricked by someone.
A lawyer can help you understand what is expected of you and what you are legally required to say and do, so that you don’t get taken advantage of. And if you decide to hire an attorney, they can actually communicate with the insurance companies on your behalf, so you can have an expert negotiating for you.
Any reputable attorney will sit down with you for a free, no obligation consultation to discuss your case, so there is no downside to consulting an attorney to make sure you are on the right track; it can only work in your favor.
If you’d like to set up a free, no obligation consultation with a Bay Area Bicycle Law attorney, give us a call anytime at 415-466-8717.