A bicycle accident is a fearful experience. The human body is no match for a speeding automobile or hard pavement. Even the most careful and experienced bicyclists can easily find themselves on the wrong side of the handlebars.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that a bicyclist is fatally injured every 6 hours, and nearly half of all the people killed in bicycle accidents are children under the age of 16.
Unfortunately, many serious bicycle accidents involve inattentive car drivers. While collisions with cars account for only one third of all bicycle accidents, they account for the majority of catastrophic injuries and deaths. In most cases, the driver’s fault consists of failing to yield to the cyclist, backing out of a driveway, opening a car door as a cyclist rides by, running a stop sign, driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol or simple inattentiveness.
As with any accident involving vehicles, there are a number of steps you need to take to ensure everything with your claim goes as smoothly as possible.
For your medical problems, see a doctor as soon as possible. Often times, an injury from a bike accident can be underestimated. You may feel fine right after the accident, but some injuries, particularly neck and back injuries, can become quite painful and debilitating in the long-term. A paper trail is also important throughout the process.
Get as much information you can about your accident. Key items include the names, numbers and addresses of all the people involved, including witnesses. You will also need to keep track of insurance information and the reporting process. Make copies.
Please do not talk to anyone about your accident other than law enforcement personnel. Anything you say to insurance company representatives or investigators could make it harder for you to settle your claim. It is also a good idea not to sign anything, particularly a release form of any kind, without talking to a lawyer first. This is just a smart way for you to protect yourself.
By all means, save your bike, and don’t fix anything until photographs have been taken. Save all of the lights, reflectors and accessories on the bike so that your lawyer can show the jury the condition of your bike after the crash. Many times clients remove the lights and reflectors, or throw away the bike, or by accident, destroy, important evidence. The defense loves it when these types of mistakes are made. They can say that you did not have any lights on the bike, or you did not have adequate reflectors. All these, and other excuses will be used to reduce paying the full value of your injury claim.