Bicycle crashes happen fast. One second, you’re riding your bike along the same old route you take every day home from work; the next second, you’re lying on the ground next to your twisted and tangled bike frame.
Unfortunately, while you’re in a state of shock and recovery after a collision, there’s actually a big responsibility on you to make sure the facts of the crash get documented correctly before you leave. (If, of course, injuries don’t prevent it.)
It’s a sad fact that, post-crash, many drivers will instantly start counting the dollars they might be on the hook for, and will begin to do their best to avoid giving you their information or taking responsibility for their part in the crash in the story they tell the police or their insurance company.
That’s why it’s in your best interest to document the facts of the crash right then and there, rather than just doing a quick exchange of contact info with the driver or riding away without taking any pictures (no matter how minor your injuries might seem at the time).
The more information you can get about what really happened — and even better, photos of what really happened — the better off you will be. While it’s not impossible to pursue a successful claim without critical details of the case from the scene of the crime, it will be much harder.
Luckily, a lot of the most information you need from the scene of your crash can be documented with photos, so if you have a smartphone or a video recorder with you on your bike, you can use it to record almost everything you need in a few quick snaps (instead of trying to find a pen and hang onto a driver who might be trying to get away as quickly as possible) so everything is stored in one simple place.
Here’s what you should try your best to capture at the scene of the crash, if at all possible.
The driver’s insurance
The driver should share their insurance information with you; if they do, take a picture of their insurance card. The police will also help gather this information for their report, but you should try to get it yourself if you can, so you that make sure you get it even if the police record it incorrectly or don’t show up.
The driver’s license plate
Another good thing to get a photo of is the driver’s license plate, as a backup identifier for the driver. Even if the driver does a hit-and-run, if you can capture their license plate, you can still find them later on when you contact the police.
The accident scene
Take pictures of everything you can; probably more than you think is necessary! You’ll want to take pictures of damage to the car, damage to your bike, any debris on the road, skid marks, and other visuals of the accident.
However, you’ll also want to document things like traffic signs and road conditions. Take pictures of the sky and any other indicators of the weather conditions. Take pictures of close-up details, and be sure to step back and take “big picture” photos of the entire road and accident scene.
These factors might not seem important at the time, but they also could be extremely important; as with most things in a legal case, you never know what small detail will make a big difference, so you want to document everything you can.
Your injuries are, of course, incredibly important. They will most likely change and begin to hurt more over time (you might not realize right after an accident that you’ve sprained a muscle or broken a rib), which is why it is important to document your injuries regularly in the days and weeks following your crash.
However, any injuries you are aware of on the scene are just as important as injuries you develop or notice later. Take a photo of anything significant, down to even cuts and bruises or torn/bloodied clothing. The more information about your injuries and experience post-crash, the better.
Not only will this record help you make a case about the severity of the crash, but it will be helpful for you as well as you track your recovery and work with doctors on treatment plans.
Your bike and any other damaged property
When you’re dealing with physical injuries, it’s easy to forget the other damages you’ve incurred during a bicycle crash. However, damage to your bike and other personal items that were with you during the crash can really add up, and you should make sure you know exactly how much you have lost as a result of the crash (especially if you plan to pursue a case).
If the police come to the scene of your crash, they can help with this. However, as with everything, it is best to be proactive yourself too, just in case. Make sure to get the name and contact information of any witnesses who saw what happened. You can try to record their accounts of what they saw, too, but just getting their name and number is a good start for your attorney to later follow up with them.
You can even ask to take their photo, which can help you remember who is who later on (since your memory might be fuzzy) — but of course, don’t take their photo if they don’t want you to.
Documenting your crash is key to a successful case
Once you have a solid record of key details from the scene of your crash, you are well on your way to making sure you get covered for all the injuries and damages that you suffered as a result of the crash. You should continue to document your post-collision experience and keep all records and receipts, so you have as thorough a collection of evidence as possible.
An attorney can help you organize and make sense of all the key information of your case, and help make sure you receive what you are owed.
At Bay Area Bicycle Law, we are always happy to take your call to discuss your case and help you sort out the evidence you have collected so far, and if you choose to work with our firm, we’ll help you get all the way to the best possible outcome. To get in touch, call 866-Bicycle-Law or 415-466-8717
Please be aware that these case results do not constitute a guarantee, warranty, or prediction regarding the outcome of your legal matter. Every case is different and case values turn on small facts and differences. Thus, the results achieved on one case do not necessarily mean the attorney will achieve the same result, or a similar result, even for a case which may have some similarities.