According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), there were 14 bicycle fatalities in Washington and 8 in Oregon in 2015. In addition, there were over 50,000 bicycle accidents reported in 2015 nationwide, and it is estimated that this is only a small fraction. The vast majority, as many as 90% of these accidents, are not reported!
If you are injured in an accident while operating a bicycle it's important that you know what to do.
Identify the driver who hit you. This isn't always easy, as bicyclists are often injured or dazed by the impact. But if at all possible, do an information exchange like you would do in an auto accident - get their license info, vehicle info, name, address, and phone, insurance information.
If you have a cell phone and are able, take photos of the scene, the vehicle which hit you, and the location of your bike and the vehicle where they came to rest after the crash. This is especially important if the driver hit you in a crosswalk or a bike lane. A photo will stop any denial of this fact by the driver. Take photos of the license and insurance card if possible. If there are witnesses get their names and contact information.
The police will usually respond to an accident which involves a bicycle. Be sure to give a statement to the police, and to point out any witnesses or other important information to them.
You will also want the police to record any injuries - even a bruise or scratch. Get checked out at the scene. An injury will not always be obvious at first blush. You may feel fine but it's common for cyclists to have no idea of the extent of their injuries. When the adrenalin wears off, the pain may set in. If paramedics arrive, let them check you out. This is not the time to minimize your injuries or brush them off. You do not want to go home with an undiagnosed head injury or internal bleeding!
Get medical treatment
Again, if you have been hit by a car while riding your bicycle, it's important that you pay attention to any symptoms, no matter how small, and get prompt, appropriate medical care. In fact it's a good idea to get checked out by a doctor no matter what, even if you don't think you have any injuries. Be sure to provide as much information to the attending physician so that he or she can document and treat your injuries, and check for internal or hidden injuries. Medical records will be used to establish that you suffered an injury as a result of the accident.
The bottom line is, even if you feel fine at the time, get checked out!
Do Not Destroy the Evidence
Your damaged bicycle may be needed as evidence. Do not throw it away, repair it, or change its condition. This is also true of the clothes you were wearing at the time, your helmet and other equipment. Keep copies of your bills and receipts for medical care, prescriptions, etc. Give copies of the bills, as well as your accident scene photos, to your attorney.
Make an Insurance Claim
If the driver was insured, his or her auto insurance may also cover your medical bills. This varies from state to state but it's important to file a claim for benefits. If you have auto insurance you can also file a claim with your carrier. If the other driver does not have insurance, or inadequate coverage, your insurance may step in to provide medical and uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage.
Consult an Attorney
The goal of the insurance company is to pay as little as possible to injured parties, while protecting their insured from lawsuits. Remember that the insurance company is not your friend, and will use any information you provide, to protect their client. Not you. With that in mind, it is best to consult an attorney before giving any statements to an insurance company.
Your attorney will investigate the claim and advocate on your behalf, to make sure that you receive all of the benefits and compensation you are entitle to.
Jim Sellers has decades of experience fighting insurance companies on behalf of the injured. He has produced great results for his clients and will fight his hardest for you!