If you have a bicycle accident with another party, like in any similar incident, you must get their insurance.
Next, you need the names of the witness’ on the scene. If a police officer arrives or is there at the location already, you need to get the police report eventually. In any case, take some pictures, document everything you can, including when the police get there since if the fault is not apparent, it will help you when you have a lawyer.
These Steps Four are Important
Assess the Damages
First, check that everyone involved in the accident is okay and call the medical help if needed. If it was only a minor accident and you weren’t injured in any way, you need to assess damages. Document everything: location, road conditions, weather, damage to your vehicle, and of course, the other accident participants’ vehicle. Take pictures – after all, they speak a thousand words.
Get the driver’s name, insurance number, phone address, and details also those of witness’. Don’t be shy here. If you can’t take pictures, perhaps a witness can share them with you via social media. The more data you obtain, the better, especially if witnesses need to leave before the police arrive and write their report.
Wait for the police
Any admission of fault carries a lot more weight in court if the witness is a police officer, even without the report, that is what they are trained to do: create factual reports about accidents.
Obtain legal advice
Seven out of 10 police reports indicate the cyclist is at fault, say seasoned lawyers at Pocrass & De Los Reyes, and add that seasoned bicycle attorneys will be able to cross-examine this during deposition. It’s recommended to look for a specialist in this area because the laws around bicycles are not as strong as those of other vehicles making bicycle accidents complicated legal cases.
What About the Damages
The primary reason for your concern in an accident is you and your well-being. Bike injuries are not only inconvenient, but many can be life-changing. Bike accidents can range from abrasions, bruises, dislocations, embedded debris to far more severe eye trauma, fractures, internal bleeding, lacerations, mild and traumatic brain injuries. You may have a delayed reaction after the accident, which is not uncommon with a concussion.
If it’s not you who is hurt, and your medical bill, time off work, pain, and suffering are not the first thing of concern, then the next item of damages is the bike. In some cases, your bike might just need a wheel readjustment or a paint job, but if you have bent the frame, it could well be written off. You may have been riding a Canyon Road light at about $1000 bucks, but equally, you may have just customized and been road testing your brand new Lamborghini Edition Bike at almost $20K. So the equipment is not cheap, and it adds up if you include items like new helmets, etc.
There are several types of insurance that might impact a bicycle accident claim. We cannot cover them all in detail here, but these are the essential things to consider about the types of insurance that can be involved in bicycle accidents.
- Other party’s insurance. In cases when the other party is at fault, and you claim from their insurance. A lawyer can help in this situation since insurance companies have nothing to lose if they first dispute your claim.
- Your bicycle insurance, not required by law but a smart thing to have if you are a bike commuter and at a higher risk of accidents.
- If you have car insurance covering uninsured motorists and medical, this might help if it was a hit and run.
- Medical insurance may not cover it all but should have an accident policy.
- Your homeowners or renters insurance may have some protection.
As with all legal matters, you should call an attorney to discuss the different types of policies and the situations in which they might help cover your expenses in a cycling accident.
The Accident Statistics
In case you were in doubt about why you need a lawyer or why it would be better to have insurance take a look at some accident statistics. To summarize, 2516 people died in the USA between 2016-2018, which is the last three-year period for which these statistics were made available. And 455 of these were in California, which is an increase in almost all Los Angeles County locations listed bar the: Orange, Riverside, and San Diego. In these three, the number of fatalities dropped by 19 in total, where the increase in the remaining seven cities was 105.
Not All Bad News
The California Vehicle Code Section 21200 states that bicyclists have the same rights and responsibilities as motor vehicle drivers. This means that anyone riding a bicycle is subject to the same consideration as if they were driving a car. In 2014, California passed the requirement that all drivers give cyclists at least three feet of space when driving alongside or passing them. Obstructing a designated bicycle path by stopping or parking in the path is forbidden. Perhaps the most misunderstood law is that cyclists have the right to “take the lane” to pass, turn left, avoid a hazard or the road becomes too narrow to share regardless of their speed.