What you do in the immediate time following a bike accident will have a huge impact on your case, affecting any lawsuits you bring as well as how much you might be able to recover in damages. Here are the most important things you can and should do after an accident:
Emotions can run high in the aftermath of an accident, but it is in your best interest to keep calm and be careful of what you say and do.
DON’T LEAVE THE SCENE
If you walk away from the scene of the accident, your chances of recovering damages or being able to file a lawsuit drop dramatically. Remain at the scene and make sure your side of the story is heard.
DON’T TAMPER WITH THE SCENE
Try to leave everything exactly as it is following the accident. Leave your bike where it is along with any other damaged property. If you clean up the scene before the police arrive, the accuracy of their report may suffer. You may also want to refrain from repairing your bike and any other equipment before the case has been settled as they could provide the most convincing hard evidence.
CALL THE POLICE
Even if you aren’t injured, you should still call the police so they can file an official report documenting the accident. You may not realize you’ve been injured until a few days after the accident and once you do, you’ll be glad you got the police involved. Additionally, without a police report, it may become impossible to identify the at-fault driver.
While you’re waiting for the police to arrive, resist the urge to negotiate with the driver. They may apologize and accept blame at the scene, but then deny any guilt later. Its best to wait until the police are present so there is an official record of anything the driver says at the scene. The police may also ticket the driver, providing more evidence that may help your case with the insurance company.
TELL YOUR SIDE OF THE STORY
In some cases, the police officer may only take a statement from the driver and not the cyclist. Be polite but firm in your attempts to get the officer to take down your version of events. In your statement, make sure to list all of your injuries, no matter how small – they may become more serious over time. If the police refuse to take your statement, make sure you write down everything you remember about the accident and then go down to the station and have the report amended to reflect your side of the story.
Don’t assume that the police report will include all the information you need. Take it upon yourself to get info from both the driver and any witnesses. Get their names, addresses, phone numbers, driver’s license numbers, vehicle license number and insurance info. Don’t be afraid to ask a bystander to help you gather this information if you are injured and can’t do it by yourself.
SEEK MEDICAL ATTENTION
It’s important that you get medical attention as soon as you can following the accident. Medical records will serve as proof that you were actually injured in the accident and provide evidence of the extent of those injuries. Taking photos of your injuries can provide further hard evidence if your story is called into question.
SPEAK WITH AN ATTORNEY
Don’t go to the insurance company before you speak with your attorney. You may hurt your case if you talk to the insurance company yourself. Instead, let your attorney handle things and guide you through the process.