Both bicyclists and motorists are tasked with sharing the road safely but, if bicycle traffic accident statistics are any indication, they aren't always successful in this endeavor. Motorists who fail to watch for bicyclists can inadvertently crash into them, run them off the road, or open a door into them. When this happens, serious injuries and even deaths can occur.
In fact, approximately 45,000 bicyclists were injured—and more than 800 killed—in motor vehicle traffic accidents in the United States in 2015 alone, according to data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Being involved in a collision with a vehicle is bad enough but, for some bicyclists, the situation is made worse by a motorist who drives away from the scene of the accident, leaving the victim injured, confused, frustrated, and unsure of what to do next.
Fortunately, bicyclists hurt in hit and run accidents aren't entirely without recourse. If you or a loved one were riding a bicycle and struck by a motorist who fled the scene, here's what you need to know to protect your rights.
Steps to Take After a Hit and Run Bicycle Accident
After a hit and run bicycle accident, there are several key things that victims can do to protect their ability to file an insurance claim or personal injury lawsuit. Of course, what a victim is able to accomplish at the scene depends largely on how badly they're injured. However, performing these steps, if possible, may make it easier to seek compensation for injuries and other damages:
- Contact the police. Leaving the scene of a collision may be a misdemeanor or felony offense, depending on the severity of the accident and injuries, so it's important to call the police immediately and file a report. Failing to do so may make it difficult, if not impossible, to file an insurance claim or lawsuit.
- Document the scene of the accident. Conditions at an accident site can change quickly, but photos help convey what the scene was like at the time of the hit and run. Take photos of the accident scene, being sure to note any relevant weather conditions, as well as any physical injuries and damage to the bicycle.
- Obtain contact information from witnesses. Witnesses are particularly invaluable in hit and run cases, as they may be able to provide information about the fleeing driver, his vehicle, or his license plate number.
- Seek medical attention as soon as possible. After an accident, it's important to see a doctor and get any and all injuries on the record. Continue to see the doctor regularly and complete all recommended treatments. Keep all medical bills and receipts to use as evidence when seeking compensation.
- Notify the insurance company. If the hit and run driver isn't caught, accident victims may need to seek compensation for their injuries under their individual insurance policies. Fortunately, many car insurance policies also cover bicyclists. Inform the insurance provider of the accident and discuss benefits provided by uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage.
- Consult a personal injury lawyer. Legal counsel can be invaluable for injured bicyclists, whether they're seeking compensation through an insurance claim or personal injury lawsuit.
Potential Damages in Hit and Run Bicycle Accident Cases
If the hit and run driver is identified, the accident victim can file a personal injury lawsuit in civil court to pursue a financial recovery for a wide range of damages, including associated medical expenses, bicycle repair or replacement costs, and wages lost during the recovery period, as well as non-economic damages such as pain and suffering.
A Bicycle Accident Lawyer You Can Trust
If you were hurt in a hit and run bicycle accident, experienced personal injury lawyer Randy Sevenish can help you investigate the crash, and all possible avenues for compensation. Contact Sevenish Law today to schedule a free, no-obligation initial consultation to discuss your hit and run bicycle accident case.