Bicycle injuries can be serious and traumatic. Many cyclists ride on major roads and are vulnerable to serious injuries when they collide with another vehicle, are forced off the road, or hit a tree or other street side object. Some of the most common types of injuries incurred from a bicycle accident include head traumas, spinal injuries, facial disfigurement, neurological damage, bone fractures and death. In 2017, there were 777 deaths from bicycles accidents nationwide.
Cyclists can experience steep medical and repairs costs as well as lost wages if the injuries are incapacitating. In order to maximize compensation to cover costs associated with a bicycle accident, the cyclist should take several important steps and contact a bicycle accident lawyer.
1. Don’t Leave the Scene!
Even if there appear to be no injuries or serious damage, don’t leave the scene. It may be tempting when staying feels like an inconvenience and when other parties to the accident want to leave, but leaving may weaken your case should more serious injuries and damages manifest later. Stay put and encourage other parties to the accident to remain at the collision site.
2. Call 911 or the Police
If there are any injuries, call 911. The police and Emergency Medical Services (EMS) will arrive at the accident site . If there are no injuries, then call the police directly. Always have a police officer investigate the accident scene.
Having the police present is an important step in documenting the accident scene; getting data from other parties, including those involved in the accident and witnesses; and taking photos of the damaged bike, injuries, and important elements of the accident scene. The police will make an official accident report. The report will include the date, time, and location of the accident; vehicle information of any car involved, including the make and model; statements from involved parties and witnesses; and contributing factors, such as speed, alcohol consumption, weather conditions, and road conditions. Cyclists need to be sure that their side of the story is included in the accident report. Be sure to get a copy of this report for your records and for your personal injury lawyer.
The police may also help facilitate the exchange of insurance and contact information between the cyclist and any other party to the accident.
3. Exchange Information with Other Parties
Always exchange insurance and contact information with all parties involved in the accident. While the police often include this information in the accident report, getting the information yourself is an extra safeguard should the police fail to include this information. This information is important even when there are no apparent injuries or damage to property. Often, injuries and ailments manifest days after the accident, so in order to make any claim for those injuries, information must be collected.
You will need the following information from the other party involved in the accident:
• Phone Number
• Insurance Company’s Name, Policy Number, and Phone Number
• Make and Model, VIN, and License Plate of the motor vehicle involved
In addition, get the contact information of all witnesses. Your bicycle accident lawyer will likely need this information if a lawsuit is filed.
4. Contact the Insurance Company
Contacting the insurance company is another way of documenting the accident. If the bicycle accident involved a car or other motor vehicle, then the auto insurance of both the owner of the motor vehicle and the cyclist may cover costs. If a cyclist was a victim of a hit-and-run, then his auto insurance may cover for medical expenses. The cyclist must have personal injury protection (i.e. “Med-Pay”) on the auto policy for coverage.
If the auto insurance does not cover a bicycle accident, then renters, homeowners, or personal injury protection may cover it. Your personal injury attorney can help with insurance matters.
5. Document the Scene
In general, the police will do this for you, but if your injuries aren’t too severe, take photos and notes of the accident scene yourself, including any possible contributing factors and evidence of the accident itself. Useful photos are those that show obstructions in the road (e.g. misplaced construction cones, fallen limbs, trash, tire remnants, animal carcass, etc.) weather conditions, skid marks and the area of impact. Take photos of your injuries, the bike, and any motor vehicles involved. Look for evidence of paint transfer from the motor vehicle involved in the accident to the bicycle and photograph any evidence of paint transfers. Take as many useful photos of the accident site and surroundings as you can and include a date imprint on the photos if possible.
6. Maintain a File of Records
Get a copy of the accident report from the police. Keep this and all additional documentation of the accident scene that you made in a file. In addition, all medical records that document the injuries incurred and the treatment of those injuries, including rehabilitation, should be kept as evidence for a personal injury case . The file should also include any receipts for the repair or replacement of the bicycle.
7. Contact a Personal Injury Attorney
A bicycle accident lawyer Los Angeles can help gather the necessary evidence for your case, determine likely fault, help with insurance matters and contact expert witnesses if needed. A personal injury lawyer can expertly advocate for your rights to receive just compensation for medical expenses, repairs to damaged property and lost wages that resulted from the accident. Contact a bicycle accident lawyer Los Angeles for an initial consultation.