While you may do your best to be safe on the road, accidents can still happen. It’s best to be prepared and know what to do if you are involved in a cycling collision. After scouring bike safety blogs and cycling legal advice Websites, here are seven key tips I found to keep under your helmet in case you are ever involved in a collision with a motorist.
1. Make sure you’re safe
Do NOT rush getting up. The adrenaline rush of being in a cycling collision can make you feel fine when you may not be. Take a moment and collect yourself. Check in with your body, wiggle your fingers and toes, check your motions, and whether or not you are bleeding. If (and only if) you feel ready, sit up and re-evaluate how you are doing.
2. Wait for the police to arrive
Don’t speak to anyone about the crash. The key here is to avoid placing blame or getting into an argument with the other party. Do not let yourself become frazzled and say, “I’m fine” because you are in a rush or embarrassed. Remember, anything you say may be evaluated by the driver’s insurance company and potentially used as evidence against you.
If the driver flees the scene, try to get their license plate number. Check with witnesses who may have seen the license plate number. If there are no witnesses, talk to surrounding businesses or building managers to see if any footage was recorded.
3. File a police report
Make sure an accident report has been filed by the officers on the scene. Again, you may be more injured than you think and filing a report will provide you with evidence in case you need to a file a claim or lawsuit. Additionally, accident reports provide data that is often used when developing safety programs dealing with cyclists. In essence, your accident report could help to prevent other accidents. That’s definitely a bright side.
To get a copy of your accident report, you will want to submit a request to the police department that took the report. When you receive a copy of the accident report, make four copies--one for the Department of Motor Vehicles, one for the police department, one for the motorist’s insurance company (if requested), and one for your personal records.
4. Take personal information
Ask to see the driver’s license and vehicle registration. Snap a photo of it if you can. Prior to taking the photo, check the expiration on both the license and registration. Then take contact information from any witnesses. This will greatly assist you in filing a claim.
5. Document the events
Take notes on the following details:
Description of the collision
Name and license number of parties involved
Insurance of parties involved
Any injuries that occurred (pain is included)
Photos of the intersection, your bike, your injuries, etc.
6. Document damages and losses
Keep records of damages to your bike and reports for medical visits required for your injuries. If you pay out of pocket for any medical visits, keep all receipts and document the purpose of the visit. For example, have your doctor write a short note stating that you visited them regarding an accident that took place on date of ____ and the findings from the visit are as follows.
Regarding your equipment: Take photos of everything you were wearing and any accessory on your bike that may have been broken (helmets, bottle cages, wheels, computers, pedals, cycling apparel, bags, etc.).
If you think your bike is okay, fully check it before riding it again. Even a miniscule crack in the frame can cause another accident. Here is a great resource from Bicycling magazine for checking your bike over.
7. File an insurance claim
Upon receiving the insurance claim forms, fill them out and turn them in with all the receipts from:
- Medical Visits
- Equipment Repair
- Lost Wages Documentation
Make a copy of everything you submit.
For more information on cycling collisions, I would highly recommend visiting the San Francisco Cycling Coalition website.
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