Riding a bicycle is a great way to stay in shape, an environmentally friendly mode of transportation, and on top of that, it’s fun. But it does come with a few downsides. Notably, if you’re riding on the road, you could be putting yourself in an inherently dangerous situation.
You’ll be surrounded by cars far heavier and traveling far faster than you, and if even one of them isn’t able to spot you, you could end up hit by a vehicle—and dealing with the pain of a personal injury.
What should you do in this situation?
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After You’re Hit by a Car
You’ll likely be taken aback by the event, and unable to respond in a calm, coherent way. Try to gather your wits the best you can and follow these steps:
1. Look up and around.
Hit and run accidents are extremely common with pedestrians and bicyclists, with 65 percent of hit and run fatalities associated with these demographics. Hit and runs are especially common against pedestrians and bicyclists because they often aren’t able to engage in pursuit. Your only defense in a potential hit and run is to provide an accurate description of the vehicle, the driver, and preferably, the license plate. You may only have a few seconds to do this, so try to look up and around, and take a visual assessment of the vehicle that hit you. Take note of the license plate, if possible, and mentally log any unique characteristics that could help police find the car. Hopefully, the vehicle will stay.
2. Get to safety.
If you’re on the road, you’re going to be in significant danger, so it’s important to get yourself and your bike to safety. If you can move, get to the side of the road immediately. If anyone else was injured in the accident and you’re mobile, try to check on them and get them to safety as well.
3. Contact emergency services.
Your next job will be to contact emergency services. Take a look at your body; you may have injuries, but no pain, due to the adrenaline rushing through your body. If your injuries look or feel significant, it’s a good idea to call an ambulance to check you out. Otherwise, it’s important to get police officers on the scene so you can file an official police report. This police report will serve as official documentation of the event, which you can use if and when you decide to take legal action.
4. Get the information of the offending driver.
Assuming the driver that hit you stuck around, talk to them and get their personal information. It’s also a good idea to take note of anyone else who was in the car with them, and any other details worth noting on the official record—like whether you notice the smell of alcohol on their breath, or if they weren’t using their headlights in rainy conditions. Be sure to get their full name, their driver’s license information, their license plates, and their insurance information. Do this even if the police are on their way—it never hurts to have a backup.
5. Take photos of the damage.
You’ll need visual evidence to back your claim, regardless of whether you accept an insurance settlement or take legal action. Take photos and/or videos of the entire scene, including the damage to the car, your bike, your body, and any other people or property in the vicinity.
6. Talk to eyewitnesses.
If you have time before the police arrive, try to flag down and talk to any eyewitnesses who saw the events of the accident. This includes any bicyclists on the road, pedestrians, as well as other drivers. Get audio recordings of their eyewitness accounts if you can. The more evidence you have, the better.
7. File the police report.
When the police arrive, tell them everything you can in objective detail. Avoid admitting fault or pointing blame; instead, report what you experienced and witnessed as calmly and as accurately as possible. Be sure to mention any details you think are important so they’re included in the official log.
Talking to a Lawyer
After the accident, you may have a chance to receive an insurance settlement, or you may not (especially if this was a hit and run). Either way, it’s a good idea to talk to a lawyer about your accident. You may be able to take legal action to receive compensation for your injuries, your pain, and suffering, and any damage to your bicycle—above and beyond what the insurance company is offering you. Initial legal consultations are usually free, so take advantage of it, and talk to a lawyer to see if you have a case.
Featured image source: Freepik