Safety is paramount when riding a bicycle, but no matter how safety conscious you are, the odds are against the bicyclist. The motor vehicle always, always wins! The bicyclist can be “right” and “win the battle” but “lose the war” in the form of a serious injury or worse. At some point, you or a fellow rider may be in a crash involving a motorist; and, sorting out the details in the aftermath can be complex and confusing—particularly if injured or dazed. Knowing what to do in the immediate aftermath can make a difference in how well you protect your rights, or those of a companion who may be severely injured (even if not obvious e.g. closed head injury, internal organs).
The following checklist can help you maintain some control and preserve critical information:
- Check on Welfare of all Drivers, Passengers & Bicyclists!
- Call 911 – Wait for Police to Arrive
- Never Argue or Negotiate with the Motorist
- Obtain Driver & Witness Information
- Document What Happened
- Make Sure the Police Take Your Report & Insist They Prepare an Official Crash Report
- Seek Immediate Medical Attention and Document Your Injuries
- Preserve Evidence
- Never Negotiate with Insurance Companies
- Seek Advice from a Known Bicycle Rights Advocate
Don’t Contact Your Insurance Company Before Talking to an Experienced Bicycle Injury Lawyer
Preferably one who rides as a lifestyle, like you and thus fully understands your love of bicycling while understanding bicycle laws inside and out. And not just “any personal injury lawyer” will do. Select one known in the community and state for advocating and in representing the safety and rights of the Indiana Bicyclists. Advertising alone is not enough. Contact your local bicycle club or organization for a referral or suggestion and a direct referral is always the best if possible.
And just because you contact a lawyer does not mean you have to hire that lawyer. Likewise, it does not mean the lawyer is obligated to take your case. At the appointment stage, make clear you would like to make sure there is an offering of a “Free No-Obligation Consultation” to weigh your options. You are seeking counsel and suggestions at that stage before contacting or responding to a claims adjuster. A true bicyclist advocate will honestly assess whether you even need to retain him or her in the first place and give you some guidance and education what to do next. Not every bicycle crash necessitates a need for a lawyer, but if your does, you are wise to allow your advocate to do whatever is necessary to protect your interests by establishing liability first, then maximizing your damages in the form of securing reimbursement for medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other numerous damages to be discussed.
Don’t forget, insurance companies may use anything you say against you later. An attorney can negotiate with insurance companies on your behalf, hire a bicycle accident expert to investigate the accident and represent you in a claim or lawsuit if necessary. At a minimum, he or she should put you on the right track before moving forward in your claim—whether the bicyclist is at fault or not.
Remember that as a bicyclist you have the same rights and responsibilities as the drivers of motor vehicles. Drivers need to respect the rights of bicyclists and be mindful of sharing the road and avoiding accidents, but it is also in your best interests to take the proper steps after an accident to make sure your rights are protected.