There is a lot happening on our roads. Dangerous driving and uncontrolled traffic are leading to road hazards multiplying daily. What’s interesting is, there is a parallel phenomena on the rise. People are opting for pollution free modes of transport that can also double up as a physical exercise.
Walking and cycling are obviously the go-to options. However, this trend is also creating much fear and tension on the roads, owing to the large number of cyclist related accidents. A bicycle accident is innately dangerous and highly prone to fatal injuries. A look into the statistics strengthens this fact.
According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in 2013, in the U.S there were 900 bicyclist deaths and an estimated 494,000 emergency department visits due to bicycle related injuries. Bicyclists experiencing traumatic injuries in accidents are increasing continuously. While statistics definitely help to pin down the root causes of the accidents, and devise and implement prevention routines accordingly, what also needs to be extensively discussed, are the legal aftermath of the accident and the emotional support that the victims and their family will need.
This post tells you how you can get maximum compensation post a bicycle incident, why you will need a legal expert, and how to recover from the traumatic incident and get back to normal life.
Get to a Doctor and Collect On-Site Evidence
Call the police and ambulance immediately, if you are in a position to do so. Always have a person listed in your phone who needs to be reached during emergencies. Enable the settings in a way that this person can be reached even when your phone is locked.
Remember accident site details matter greatly in the investigation of a case. So if you are badly injured, do not hesitate to take help of passers-by to take photos of scene (including injuries, damage to property), collect witness information, registration details and the likes. If nothing else, take the driver’s vehicle registration at least. This is the primary evidence needed to trace the driver.
Wait for the Police
An accident can never be a pleasant experience. It’s understandable that you want to get out of it as soon as possible. However, it is absolutely pertinent that you wait for the police to arrive at the scene of the accident if you are not unconscious, and want to get compensated for your damages and injuries. Discussions and undocumented deals with the driver at-fault prior to police arrival must be avoided at all costs. He might completely deny any responsibility later, if there isn’t enough proof.
When the police come to the scene, the bicycle accident injury will be documented thoroughly in the police report. Make sure as a cyclist, you get your version of the story mentioned into the accident report. Mention all your injuries, even the minutest ones, because you never know when any of these seemingly harmless injuries become serious. Besides, the police may ticket the driver, which may be useful in settling the case with the insurance company.
Consult a Legal Professional
A bicycle accident injury is more serious than you think. Many times the injured party trivializes the case thinking they have received none or very less injuries, only to later find out that the hurt or injury has grown into something bigger and is causing serious health problems and depleting monetary resources. Avoid this behavior at all costs. Do not trivialize your side in the accident and even if the police do it, don’t let them do it either.
The next step you will need to take is consult a well known legal professional. Though you know who is the driver at-fault, the police knows it, and you have his registration details, it does not automatically entitle you to receive your damage compensation. There are several legal complexities in a bicycle accident. You will need an attorney who is well versed in the state laws and has prior experience dealing in such cases. Do your research and find a local legal genius, or use the multiple online directories to contact an able attorney.
Most attorneys offer a free first consultation. Take advantage of this and schedule meetings with a couple of attorneys. Pick the one you feel understands your case and compensation best. Your legal consultant will then guide you on how to proceed in the case. Do not make the mistake of talking to the insurance company before talking to your attorney. This never helps. An attorney is always a better negotiator. If you are lucky, a letter from your attorney to the insurance company will resolve the case and fetch you your damage compensation.
If, however, the driver does not admit liability, or insurers undervalue the case,your attorney can represent you in a lawsuit, and go to trial to fight for your due compensation. The chances of such a situation arising is rare. There are ways and methods attorneys use to delve into the case and achieve favorable results. Let them do their job, co-operate with your attorney, preserve all evidence and hide no facts from him.
Recover, Recuperate and Re-Cycle
Many individuals give up cycling completely post a bad cycling accident. The mental and physical trauma is too overpowering. But nothing can help you overcome this mental and physical trauma better than recovering gradually,and then taking on the roads again. Cycling has various health benefits, and is a fine means of transport. So why not get back to it? Besides, this will prevent any fear from setting in and restore normalcy in your life post a traumatic accident. However, take proper precautions while venturing out. Wear a superior quality helmet at all times. Carry basic bike tools and first-aid supplies and have an app installed in your phone that reaches your emergency contacts if you are involved in an accident.
Speak Up and Create Awareness
Though we have a high number of cycling accident cases reported annually, it only covers a small percentage of the actual bicycle accidents happening in America everyday. As a result the actual figures are never known. If you are involved in a bicycle accident injury, make sure you talk to the police, take legal course of action, fight for damages and medical expenses, and most importantly create awareness.
The more awareness there is about the perils of cyclists, the better the road conditions, safety standards and rules to protect and safeguard each one of you cyclists on the road.
About the Author
Matt Conner is an associate attorney at Brett McCandlis Brown Law Firm. Matt has undergraduate degree from from Willamette University in Salem in mathematics and economics. Matt likes playing soccer, fishing, skiing and camping.