You’re biking along, and come to an intersection. You have the green. As you head through, a car coming in the opposite direction tries to make a left turn. They clearly don’t see you coming through, and they hit you – hard.
Stories like this one are more common than most of us would like to think. The U.S. saw 45,000 non-fatal bicycle accidents in 2015 – and those are just the ones reported to authorities.
Many people in bicycle accidents don’t know what to do, or assume they have no legal recourse. Read on to learn more about your next steps.
First Things First
After your accident, you may think certain legal options are off-limits to you. Keep the following two things in mind:
- Even if you’re not feeling pain, you should seek medical attention. Many signs of serious injury may not occur until hours, days, or even weeks after your accident. Don’t assume you’re fine just because you feel fine. Seek out a qualified medical professional to give you a full examination, as soon as you can after your accident.
- Even if you’re worried you’re at fault, you should protect yourself and seek legal help. Many people are very hard on themselves after an accident and may take a dim view of how responsible they were – even if a judge, jury, or insurance company would disagree. Even if you were genuinely at fault, there are still actions you can take to protect yourself legally. Always seek a personal injury lawyer for the best possible outcome.
Step by Step
After your accident, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. Follow these steps:
- Get out of the road. Bring yourself (and your bike) to the curb as soon as you can. This prevents you from getting hit again.
- Trade contact information with the driver, and get their insurance information. You’ll need this to follow up with the driver in the days and weeks ahead, and to follow up with their insurance company.
- Take down their license plate information. Write it down, or take a quick picture with your phone. This can be useful for legal and insurance purposes.
- Call the police, and only make statements to them. The police will investigate the scene and write up an official accident report. These are the only people you should make statements to — not the driver, and not bystanders. You should be absolutely certain you don’t admit fault, or say anything that could get confused later on.
- Seek medical attention. Again, you’ll only know you’re OK if you check with a medical professional. Car-bike collisions can be serious, so don’t put it off!
- Write out your own account of the incident. As soon as it’s safe to do so, you should sit down and write down your own version of what happened. Don’t forget to update it over the next few days with updates on your physical and emotional condition.
- Avoid sharing your personal life and your accident in social media. What you say can be used against you, as can those pictures of you riding your bike again when your claim says you’re having a hard time getting around.
Why You Should Talk to a Lawyer
(besides the fact that it is free)
You should talk with a lawyer as soon as you can after your accident – definitely before you talk to the insurance company who will in most cases try to pressure you into settling for a sum that doesn’t reflect the damage done.
Plus, even if your accident was mild, you may still experience serious medical and financial difficulties for a long time. Insurance companies know this and try to get you to settle early so they won’t be on the hook for future medical bills.
[Read why you should beware of insurance companies here.]
Case in point, a client suffered a torn rotator cuff as the result of a rear-end accident. After 6 weeks of treatment, she thought she was healed and went back to work as a dance teacher. Had she settled then, she would have been in trouble because a month later the pain came back worse than it was before, and now four months after the injury she still can’t go back to work. A personal injury lawyer knows not to rush to settlement and will stand between you and the insurance company to ensure you get compensated for all current and future losses that come as a result of the accident.
In accidents that pit cars against bikes, the bicyclist almost always comes out worse. By following these precautions and obtaining legal counsel, you will have the best chance of getting full restitution for any damages you’ve experienced.
If you were in a bike or car accident in the Danville, Pleasanton, or Livermore areas and need a personal injury attorney, I can help get you full compensation.
There is nothing to lose when calling my office to inquire about your car or other vehicle injury case, but there might be a lot to lose if you don’t. So call me now. I will listen and take the time to carefully evaluate your case. If I can’t take your case, I’ll tell you why and give you advice on what to do next. Let’s get started!