Whether it’s a routine fender bender or a serious collision, being involved in a car accident is an overwhelming and frightening experience. This situation can be intensified if you were riding a bike when the accident occurred, but your rights are substantially the same. Safety is the biggest priority immediately following the crash, so if you are seriously injured and unable to move, wait until emergency responders appear on the scene. Keep in mind that your actions directly following the accident play a critical role in the legal actions that may result, so it’s important to understand the protocol described below.
When it is safe to do so, try to gather and record information about the other parties involved. Record the driver’s name, address, phone number, driver’s license number, vehicle license number and insurance information. In addition, see if there were any witnesses to the accident and record their contact information if possible. If you do not get cooperation from the driver of the other vehicle don’t hesitate to call police to the scene to make sure that identifying information is recorded. You should try to do your own information gathering even if police are on the scene, but don’t interfere with their investigation in the process. Due to the complexity of the majority of accidents, don’t automatically assume that the police will include all of this information in their report.
Additionally, avoid trying to settle the issue on the scene and negotiate with the driver just to get through the process quickly. If it is evident that the driver’s negligence caused the accident, drivers will oftentimes admit fault and opt to verbally accept responsibility, only later to deny negligence or involvement. Wait for the police to take your statement and document your version of the story along with any associated injury, no matter how minor they seem.
After you document the information of everyone involved, including witnesses, make notes of everything that happened prior to the accident, during the accident and after the crash took place, including your location on the street or sidewalk when the vehicle struck you. Write this information down as soon as you are able to – don’t rely on your memory. When or if the time comes that you need to relay the incident, the chances of you recalling every detail significantly decreases as time passes.
Throughout the entire process of reporting a vehicle crash while riding a bike, one of the most important actions to take is to preserve the tangible evidence, such as your damaged bike or helmet. Don’t worry about fixing anything or seeking inspection until the situation is resolved. A damaged bike can be a key piece of evidence for your case if you wish to take legal action and receive compensation for your injuries.
Many accidents between vehicles and bicycles involve complex legal issues that require more time to resolve. Consulting with a personal injury attorney can prove to be advantageous in numerous ways because he or she can guide you on how to proceed with your case, if it’s worth pursuing, negotiate on your behalf with insurance companies and represent you in a lawsuit if necessary.
For more information about bicycle accidents or your individual legal circumstances, contact the attorneys at Alperstein & Diener.