Cyclists get hit by cars.
Because bicycles offer little protection to riders in motor vehicle collisions, these events can be especially traumatic and can result in serious personal injuries.
If you are a cyclist with a love for the road, the day that you are hit by a car may very well be the worst day of your life. However, it is important to make sure that the days, months and years after your accident are not equally unpleasant. It is vital to conduct yourself in a manner that preserves your right to paid rehabilitation and compensation for the injuries and trauma that you sustain. Therefore, every cyclist should be familiar with the seven steps that can help preserve your legal rights in the event of an accident.
1. Get to Safety
To minimize your injuries it is important to move to a place of safety as quickly as you can after an accident. The middle of the road is no place for a nap. If you can move, get to the curb or sidewalk. A secondary collision with another vehicle is always a worry.
2. Keep Cool
The person who strikes you with a car is likely not going to be your new best friend, and, needless to say, you probably will not be in the best mood after a collision. However, your conduct will be remembered, documented, and can be used against you. Since the collision cannot be undone, you might as well be polite to everyone at the accident site.
3. Call 911
Please, call 911. If you tell the operator that you are not injured, you will be asked to attend a Collision Reporting Centre (“CRC”) to complete a form documenting the accident. If you have any reason to believe that you might be injured, even slightly, you must tell the 911 operator as they will send an officer and ambulance to the accident site. It is far better to err on the side of caution when asked if you are injured. The police will make an accident report that can be used as evidence in your action. The paramedics will perform a medical assessment, provide you with first aid, and advise you if hospitalization is necessary. When you are on the phone with the 911 operator, make sure to identify yourself and the driver of the vehicle that hit you, provide the driver’s license plate number, and describe the vehicle that hit you.
A driver may ask or beg you not to involve the police or their insurance company in an accident. You must not oblige this request; you have too much to lose. The repercussions to you can vastly outweigh the driver’s ticket or deductible. You may be throwing away your ability to receive compensation for your injuries and medical benefits that are integral to your recovery. While failing to contact the police will not necessarily destroy your claim, you will regret it.
I have been informed by Bike Friendly that accident reports are integral to their efforts to make Windsor and Essex County a friendlier place to cycle as they generate useful statistical information. If you needed another reason to contact 911 in the wake of an accident, then you should do it to improve your community.
4. Record Witness Contact Information
Witnesses at the scene of the accident may be useful or necessary to prove who is at fault. If you are able, get the names and contact information of anyone who saw the accident occur.
5. Take Pictures
If you have a cell phone with the ability to take photographs and are not immobilized by your injuries, consider snapping photos around the accident site if you can do so safely. Take photographs of the damage to your bicycle, any visible injuries that you have sustained, the license plate and damage to the vehicle that hit you, and the accident location. You do not need to hobble around the accident site if you have difficulty moving; do what you can if you can. Photos are a bonus, not a requirement.
6. Do Not be a Hero, Get Treatment
If you are stiff, sore, bruised, cut, scraped, or have any other signs of potential injuries, tell the 911 operator and indicate that you are not sure of the extent of your injuries (you’re not). The least you can do for your body is to accept a medical assessment and first aid. If the paramedics provide you with any recommendations, follow them. While this might involve a few hours at a hospital, limping home from an accident site only benefits the defendant insurance company in the long run.
7. Call a Personal Injury Law Firm
With some narrow exceptions, claims for personal injuries arising from bicycle accidents must be brought within two years. However, the sooner that you contact a personal injury lawyer, the better. If you have been hit by a car while cycling, it is important retain a lawyer that focusses on personal injury law. Do not communicate with the driver’s insurance company until you have spoken to a lawyer and, most of all, do not sign anything that they put in front of you.
Although a bike accident and the recovery that follows will never be pleasant, it is important not to compound your troubles by damaging your claim at its outset. If you follow the steps that I have mentioned, you will put your lawyer in the best possible position to help you with your bike accident case and get you the compensation that you deserve.
For more information you can visit www.Katzman-Wylupek.com
Eric Katzman is a lawyer at Katzman, Wylupek LLP with a personal injury practice that includes bicycle accidents. If you have been injured in an accident and need representation, contact Eric at 519-254-HURT (4878) for a free consultation.
The materials provided on this site are for information purposes only. These materials constitute general information and do NOT constitute legal advice; you may not rely on the contents of this website as such.
The contents of the website do not necessarily represent the opinions of Eric Katzman or Katzman, Wylupek LLP. If you require legal advice, you should retain a lawyer to advise you.