The risk of severe injury is always present when riding a bicycle. However, what can make matters worse is that those in cars and trucks can cause injuries either by not following traffic laws or not respecting the rights of those riding a bike. The cyclist can fight back and hold negligent drivers accountable for their actions or inactions.
The 5 basics for building a solid case
Sometimes victims are too severely injured to do these at the time of the crash, but they can still follow up on some of these steps as soon as they can. Every crash has its unique set of facts, but here are some general guidelines put together by bike advocates:
- File a report: The police or traffic report is an essential asset for building a strong case. It is best to have an official record of events before details start to fade from memory. Review the report to ensure that there were no factual errors and request a change if it is necessary.
- Avoid making other statements: An insurance agent may collect the information you provide and subsequently use it to avoid paying damages or compensation. Try to avoid saying you are uninjured until seeking medical care. Also, avoid apologizing or admitting fault to the driver or anyone else.
- Get contact info for the driver and witnesses: The report may include these, but it is best not to leave that to chance. Tracking someone down after the fact can take additional time, effort and money, thus slowing down the case. Get the driver’s license, insurance, and registration information; as well as up-to-date contact information.
- Make notes: It may not be possible to write details down at the scene of the injury, but it is best to write down what happened, when it happened, how it happened, and why it happened. Other essential details include weather conditions, damage to the vehicle and bike, any information provided by eyewitnesses, medical care and injury details. Save damaged property and other things relevant to the case, even if it is broken or destroyed.
- Speak to an attorney: It is important for those injured to contact an attorney to discuss potential claims to recover for bodily injuries and/or property damage, especially when the insurance company is in a hurry to settle or the driver wants to “keep the lawyers out of it.
So bicyclists should remember that they have rights and options available to them when injured in a crash involving a motor vehicle. It is best to seek consultation from an experienced attorney soon after the accident.