Megan Hottman of www.TheCyclist-Lawyer.com
Megan Hottman, lawyer with Hottman Law Office
If you are involved in an accident while riding your bike, and with a motor vehicle, consider doing the following:
2. If the driver flees the scene, even if you are injured, do your very best to note the vehicle type/color/plates/driver description or ask a bystander to help you with this. If the driver stays around you should not say ONE WORD to the driver. (when this happens cyclists tend to blurt out "i'm so sorry" or "it was my fault" KEEP YOUR MOUTH SHUT. but-listen for statements like this from the driver, i.e. "I didn't see you."
3. Whether or not your injuries do not warrant an ambulance/medical care -- this is a judgment call. If you are harmed, allow medical care providers to render care to you. This is why you have health insurance! Do not decline an ambulance ride if you think you may have serious injuries. Make your medical care top priority. Document all of your healthcare needs and services provided to you. Keep copies of all of the paperwork given to you at the hospital. Keep receipts of deductibles you pay, prescriptions you fill, etc.
4. As soon as possible, take photos of your injuries and damages - body injuries, bike damage, cycling clothing, phones, shoes, glasses, etc -- use a camera that will denote time and date on the photo. Document everything. write down your version of what happened and every detail you can remember. write down witness names and numbers. save your GPS/garmin data to prove your route/path/point of impact. If your bike/accessories are totaled - begin a spreadsheet detailing every item on the bike and its original cost as well as ancitipated replacement cost (do this quickly using online bike parts prices) to assemble a replacement total. Include any items damaged in the accident.
5. Decide if a police report should/can be filed. If the driver was clearly at fault and/or witness statements substantiate that the driver was at fault, they will be cited for hitting you. Sometimes if it is a "he-said, she-said" situation (driver vs cyclist stories), the policeman may not be able to determine fault and may not issue a citation. If the driver stayed at the scene and offers you his/her information and insurance information, it is a judgment call whether to leave the scene with this information (recognizing that it may be fake) or whether to call the police. If in doubt, call 911 and report the accident. Later on, you should request a copy of the police report (or your attorney may do so on your behalf).
6. After the crash - if you have to spend time going to doctor's appointments, if you incur medical costs or costs associated with bike repair or replacement -- document all of these items. Did you miss work? Did you miss training? How did the accident affect your life?
7. Consider whether your situation warrants an attorney's involvement. If so, contact a lawyer familiar with bike law, not just any personal injury litigator. Certain lawyers, like me, will provide a free initial consultation, to help the client determine what their damages are, what the course of action should be, and whether their case warrants an attorney. If it is a case that does not warrant an attorney's involvement, I will help walk my clients through the process of working with the driver and/or the driver's insurance company.
Cyclists should always remember that if they are breaking the law when an accident occurs, they may be cited. This includes running stops signs or red lights, turning in front of a car, or riding in a large group that impedes traffic flow. Protect your rights while you are out riding, by being sure to carefully obey the law.
Check out next week when Megan offers additional advice for cyclists who observe a bike accident (ie in your group ride)
Hottman Law office, LLC specializes in cycling law and personal injury litigation. Megan Hottman is licensed in Colorado and Missouri. She also races nationally and internationally as a professional road and track cyclist. If you are involved in a cycling accident, car accident, or a "I'm not sure what my case is called but I suspect I may need a lawyer" situation, Megan is happy to help and/or refer you to an attorney who handles cases like yours. Visit www.TheCyclist-Lawyer.com to read more about the practice.