Bicycling is a cheap and eco-friendly form of transportation and great exercise. However, motorists don’t always pay attention to bicyclists or give them the respect they deserve. As evidence, in Australia, cycling deaths increased by 80 percent, and in the U.S. alone 857 bicyclists were killed in traffic accidents in 2018.
A bicycle accident can be a life-changing event with serious, life-threatening consequences. While a bicycle accident can’t be predicted, it is critical for you as a bicyclist to know what steps to take if you should be involved in an accident. Here is a list of seven actions to guarantee just and fair compensation after a cycling accident:
01. Gather Information at the Scene
Never leave the accident scene. Call the police and stay at the scene until they arrive, even if no one seems injured. Because some police departments have a policy of not filing a report in the case of a bicycle accident, if no one is injured or there isn’t sufficient property damage, ask the responding officer to make an official report of the accident. Be certain you detail all your injuries to the officers, no matter how minor. Make sure you receive the accident-report number, so you will be able to obtain a copy of the report.
Obtain the name, address, phone number, license, and insurance information of the driver as well as contact information for anyone who was a witness to the accident. Write down any important details about the accident, including exactly what happened, where the accident took place as well as the road conditions and weather. If possible, take pictures of the scene and any damage to your bicycle and equipment. You should also take photos of the motor vehicle involved in the accident.
02. Get Medical Attention
Even if your injuries seem insignificant, you should have a thorough exam performed in the emergency room or by your doctor immediately after the accident. Injuries are not always readily apparent and often take days or weeks to manifest after an accident has occurred. Even minor injuries can become life threatening.
Winning your personal injury case means that you will receive fair and just compensation for your injuries and associated losses. However, this requires you have an accurate depiction of your injuries. This requires having a healthcare professional to document all your injuries, determine a prognosis, and prescribe a treatment. Carefully follow the treatment plan, including any suggested physical and psychological therapy. All of this will be critical documentation in proving your injuries and will help encourage your adversary to come to the negotiation table with a higher settlement offer.
03. Mind You Tongue
It is natural to want to talk right after an accident, but it is crucial you say as little as possible. Never apologize or suggest you may be at fault, as anything you say in regards to the accident can, and probably will, be used against you later on.
Everyone is familiar with the phrase “Anything you say can and will be held against you.” However, not everyone realizes this applies to social media as well. Remember another saying, “Lose lips sink ships.” If you are claiming catastrophic injuries, but your Facebook feed shows you out snowboarding, it will most likely ruin your case. Bear in mind the driver’s lawyer is watching, so the best thing you can do to help your case is stayed quiet and let your lawyer do the talking. The safest approach is not to talk to anyone, anywhere, at any time about any aspect of your case, until your case is settled.
04. Don’t Wait to File a Lawsuit
There are statutory time limits to file a case after your injuries occur. This is why it is crucial to bring your suit as soon as possible, so as not to risk time running out. You may not be able to recover any damages at all if the statute of limitations does run out.
Formally filing a lawsuit allows you to use the legal system to gather evidence officially. This can be a critical aspect of properly preserving the necessary evidence to start building your case. It also shows the other side you are serious about taking the case to court and receiving a fair settlement.
05. Reject an Initial Offer
It is normal to want to get some money in your hands as soon as possible when you are hurt. However, accepting the initial offer will almost always keep you from getting all the compensation you are entitled to. The insurance companies know many people are willing to jump on a first offer, and they are masters at using this to their advantage.
In order to get the best settlement offer, you must be willing to show the other side, you are willing to fight it out, if necessary. This almost always means rejecting their first, second, and sometimes even third offer. Here is where having an experienced lawyer can help you to know if you are receiving a fair offer.
06. Understand Your Claim
Many people are not aware they are entitled to various types of damages after an accident where injuries occurred. There are various types of damages you may incur during an accident, and you may not even be conscious of all of the injuries and losses that you have sustained.
Of course, you can claim compensation for injuries that resulted in a loss of regular use of bodily functions, such as mobility. However, you can also receive compensation for emotional issues, such as PTSD, and property damages, as well as any out-of-pocket expenses incurred as a result of the accident.
07. Contact a Lawyer
One of the biggest mistakes accident victims make is to try and handle their case on their own. Bicycle accidents often involve complex damages issues that are best left to a lawyer with experience in these types of cases.
It is imperative you speak with a qualified and experienced personal injury lawyer before you make any statements to the other parties’ insurance companies. Your lawyer will know the right actions to take to maximize the chances of you receiving the compensation you deserve for your injuries.