Bicyclists are often in the presence of multiple vehicles, in a variety of settings. There is always the possibility of being struck by a large vehicle, truck, or tractor trailer, the driver of which could be unaware that an accident has even occurred. A bike rider needs to know what to do in that situation, when most likely (s)he will not have insurance coverage for the bicycle, and may have suffered injuries resulting from the accident.
Importantly, you should maintain your composure. Actions occurring immediately after any accident may impact recovery for injuries and damages to the bicycle, and may significantly affect the outcome of any subsequent lawsuit.
Report the Accident to the Police
As a bicyclist, you should call the police when an accident has occurred. Even if uninjured, you want the police to come to the scene of the accident, interview witnesses and the parties to the accident, so that they can prepare a police report. The report is important, as it summarizes and documents the the accident shortly after its occurrence. A cyclist may realize that (s)he is injured days after the accident, and without a report will be hard-pressed to document present sense impressions of the parties and those witnessing the collision.
Do not try to negotiate with the driver of the vehicle. Often, drivers initially apologize, accept blame, and thereafter deny any negligence or even deny their presence at the accident scene. You should wait for the police to document everything in a report. Further, the police may issue a ticket to the driver, which would be useful in negotiating with the driver’s insurance carrier. Also, it is important to ensure that your version of the events are reflected in the accident report. Make sure that the police listen to and record your side of what happened. Report and seek treatment for all injuries resulting from the accident, regardless of how minor they may seem. Remember, minor injuries could later become more serious.
Get the Facts at the Accident Scene
If the police officer refuses to take a statement from you at the scene, write down every fact you can remember, as soon as you can. Also, if the police fail to include your statement in the accident report, you can go to the police station and have the report amended. Obtain as much information from the scene as possible, including driver and witness information (names, addresses, phone numbers, driver’s license numbers, and the driver’s vehicle license number and insurance information).
Seek Medical Treatment
As soon as you can, seek treatment for any and all injuries. Medical records document the extent of your injuries, and will be required for any claim against the driver. Further, take picture of your injuries as soon as possible, to reflect your physical state at the time of the accident, and take notes of subsequent physical symptoms of the injuries.
Do Not Disturb the Evidence
Do not disturb your bicycle or other damaged property after the accident; there should be no cleaning up of the scene before it is documented by the police. Also, preserve your equipment after the accident, as it is the best evidence that you may need to document a claim against the driver.
Most likely, the driver’s insurer will cover your loss from the accident. However, be careful not to communicate with the insurance company or the driver before speaking with an attorney. Anything you state to them may be subsequently used against you. Sometimes a claim by an attorney on your behalf made with the driver’s insurance company may be settled informally. But if an action is commenced and litigation proceeds, you want to avoid an emotional and/or inaccurate statement from preventing you from obtaining the relief to which you are entitled.
Call for a Free Consultation with a Monmouth County NJ Personal Injury Attorney
If you or someone you love has been injured in a bicycle accident and you would like to discuss legal liability in New Jersey, contact the Monmouth County law offices of Chamlin, Rosen Uliano & Witherington for a cost-free consultation. Our highly skilled personal injury attorneys can answer all of your questions and outline your available options.