As a stressful event, an accident that involves a car and a bicycle ranks high on the emotional scale. While the tension can make clear thinking quite difficult, you need to focus on actions that require immediate attention. The number of things that you need to address at the scene may surprise you. How you react immediately after a car accident can protect your welfare and ensure the safety of others.
Carr Accident: Your Car Hits a Cyclist
Either a car or bicycle accident can create traumatic experiences for drivers that you hope never to experience. However, you can prepare to handle either one. Both require the readiness to react with a calm and organized approach.
- Staying at the Scene
States have different requirements about leaving the scene of an accident, and all of them oppose it. As a responsible driver, law-abiding citizen and compassionate human being, you must see if the injured rider needs help. Even if everything seems OK, your only acceptable course of action requires you to remain at the scene until the police and medical personnel arrive. While you wait, you have many things to do.
- Remaining Calm
As you may expect, injured riders often experience pain and even anger. You may feel angry and upset as well. However, you can only make things worse by losing your temper. Try to stay calm and keep your emotions under control.
- Calling for Help
A call to 911 alerts police and EMS vehicles to a bicycle accident. The unequal size of cars and bicycles increases the risk of injury to a cyclist. Not surprisingly, most injuries and damage occur to the one that has the least protection from impact. Even when a rider may insist that they feel fine, they may not know that for sure if they experience shock. Still, the EMS drivers can assess medical conditions and make necessary recommendations. They may suggest that you receive treatment as well.
- Exchanging Information
The procedure for a bicycle accident requires the same steps as a car accident. While cyclists do not usually carry insurance, you still need to exchange personal information. Make sure to get the biker’s name, address and phone number in case you need it later.
- Gathering Evidence
Accidents eventually resolve by decisions based on evidence, and photographs provide some of the best. The pictures you take of any damage to your car and some shots of the bike provide an accurate description. Police or others may take pictures too, but you need them for your own benefit. Try to get a picture that shows the positions of your car and the bike. While it may feel awkward, try to take a photo of the rider’s visible injuries.
- Making Notes
Ask any bystanders who saw the accident to act as witnesses possibly, and you need to ask for their contact information gently. Record the date and time in your phone, and make sure to note the weather conditions too. If road construction or other hazards contributed to the accident, in your opinion, jot down a few details.
- Cooperating with the Police
Your cordial cooperation with an officer investigating your accident helps move things along as smoothly as possible. The paperwork that seems time-consuming may prove valuable later. Make sure to ask for the investigating officer’s name and a reference number assigned to the case. Both can make it easier when you request a copy of the accident report you may need for insurance coverage and potential legal actions.
- Submitting a Report
In some cases, the police may not show up even though you called 911. If that happens, you need to call and report the car accident. Failure to report a car accident can create problems with your driver’s license.
- Keeping Records
Along with the accident report, your records of the bicycle accident may include videos, the photos you took, your notes from the scene and anything else that seems important. When the scene clears and no longer shows the vehicles involved, the records you keep may prove helpful.
- Informing Your Insurance Company
The trust that your insurer places in you entitles them to know about things that happen to you on the road. Even when you do not plan to submit a claim, you need to inform them as soon as possible. An alert to your insurance company lets them prepare to handle an accident, and it protects your interests at the same time.
Without your firsthand knowledge, your insurers have no access to your description of what happened. Any time that you get involved in an accident of any kind, it becomes a matter of great importance to them. In fact, your failure to inform your insurer may produce consequences that do not favor you. The evidence, photos, police report and your written notes may provide the information they need. Inaction on your part may invalidate your policy.
- Avoiding Assumptions
Despite the huge size discrepancy between cars and bikes, it does not mean that the car must carry the at-fault burden. Things may not turn out as simply as they seem until experts examine them. In many cases, your opinion may mean nothing more than a guess. Something that seems obvious to you may have a completely different meaning to a knowledgeable authority.
- Maintaining Respectful Silence
In the chaos and confusion of an accident scene, it may seem OK to chit-chat with others. Some may feel upset or angry, and a response from someone under stress can create unpredictable outcomes. You need to say as little as possible to anyone except the police at the site. Officers expect to receive the factual information that you can provide, but try to remain virtually quiet otherwise.
Avoid any expression or behavior that implicates you in any way. Most especially, avoid talking directly to the injured cyclist, their insurance company or attorney without a lawyer representing you.
- Scheduling a Doctor’s Appointment
When you have a moment to do something for yourself, go ahead and set an appointment to see your doctor. Even if you feel no effects of the bike accident, you need to let a physician examine you. In some cases, symptoms of injuries from a car accident may not show up for days or even weeks. Your health deserves the same consideration that you provided for the injured driver.
- Obtaining Legal Representation
No matter how badly you may feel about a bicycle accident, you need to find an attorney to represent you. With the concerns that you demonstrate for the welfare of an injured driver by calling 911, you have taken as much care as you can. Beyond that, you need to anticipate the possibility of legal charges against you. A knowledgeable traffic violations lawyer can prepare a potential defense and discuss it with you. As you may know, cars often get the blame for hitting cyclists. It may not need to turn out that way in your case.
You may know the importance of legal representation for a car accident that involves other vehicles. However, you may not understand that a bike accident deserves it as well. You want to avoid facing liability for injuries and damage that you did not cause. When you take responsibility that does not rightfully belong to you, it can create a threat to your financial future.
Bicycle Crashes into Your Car
While it does not happen often, a bicycle crash may occur without any way to avoid it. An inattentive cyclist may not see you in time to take evasive action, resulting in a crash that damages your car. Situations may pop up that surprise a cyclist and cause an accident. When you open your car door on the traffic side, it may make avoiding a crash almost impossible.
More likely circumstances produce the likelihood of an accident occurring. If you turn left in front of an oncoming biker that you did not see, the situation produces an almost certain crash. Similarly, when you make a right turn in front of a biker traveling the same direction, a crash can certainly occur. When you change lanes or take an exit, it may put your car in the biker’s path. Handling the aftermath requires some specific steps.
- Notifying Authorities
Call 911 to alert police and EMS, and stay on the scene until they arrive. Provide a brief and factual description of what happened to the investigating officer.
- Getting Contact Information
While bikers do not usually carry insurance, you need to know how to contact anyone involved in an accident. A name, address and phone number give you a starting point in case legal issues arise.
- Documenting the Scene
Photos of the crash make it easy to understand what happened, but the evidence disappears as soon as the scene clears. Take a picture of the bike, your car and any injuries for your records. Get contact information from bystanders, if possible, in case you need witnesses.
- Saying Little
Communication at an accident scene needs to occur through the police and not directly between you and the biker. By saying little or nothing, you do not risk taking the blame.
- Protecting Your Interests
As soon as you can, let your car insurance company know about the accident. No one likes to learn news after others hear it, and insurers may dislike it more than anyone. You may have to submit a claim to cover any damage to your vehicle. Even if a biker has car insurance, it usually does not apply to bikes. In some cases, a biker’s home or renter’s insurance may cover some of your expenses.
- Observing Your Physical Condition
If you notice a pain that you did not have before the accident occurred, you may want to schedule an appointment with your doctor just to make sure of no lasting problems.
- Checking with Your Attorney
A lawyer who understands traffic laws and regulations can advise you of potential risks that may face you. As you know, people can change the way they feel about accidents. A rider who seemed to accept responsibility may feel differently after some time passes. An attorney can represent you when an at-fault rider failed to stop at a stop sign, rode the wrong way or did not observe the rules of the road. Take time to schedule an appointment with a legal expert who can help you.