by Earl Lang, Acme Bicycle Shop, acmebicycleshop.com
1. Call the Police. Never accept a promise from a driver to handle your damage without reporting it. The police and insurance companies should be notified. By law all accidents must be reported. A police report is a professional report of what happened and can be very important to you.
2. Call an Ambulance. For Any Injury. If your were thrown to the ground or bounced around at all, go to the hospital and be checked out. I know how your think, “I’m not hurt, my bike can be ridden so, why ruin a good ride?” To my mind and more important is to ruin the day for the driver who hit you. In many cases, if you go to the hospital, the driver may go to jail until a determination is made. Injuries don’t always appear immediately, with the shock and adrenalin flow from being hit, it is easy to think you are all right at first, but later when the pain sets in…!
3. Call All Insurance Companies. Report the accident to your Insurance Company and in most cases they will communicate with the other company. Make sure you follow up to be sure both companies are onboard. You Personal Injury Protection (PIP) and your Underinsured Motorist Insurance (UM) will cover you if the other party doesn’t have sufficient coverage. If you are riding with someone, and have to go to the hospital, ask them to take over as your CSI because you are going to the hospital.
4. Become Your Own “CSI” (Crime Scene Investigator). Bag and save everything! Save the clothes you were wearing, your helmet, gloves, and shoes. Take lots pictures. You will never believe the cost of an accident, no matter how small. Gather and save the evidence until you feel better and have had time to make a rational decision on you next course of action. Sketch the Scene. Take pictures, lots of pictures. Do not rely on the police reports. They sometime are called into question when they pull off the street and into a parking lot to complete the report and use the location from their GPS. As soon as possible go back make a sketch of the scene; indicating vehicles, their direction of travel and their final resting place. Include your bicycle. Witnesses. Try to get identification from any witnesses. If you are riding in a group, ask one of the riders to make a list of names and telephone numbers of all riders. Offer the names of witnesses to the Police, but keep a copy for yourself.
Get the Driver’s Identification. Some drivers may not stop; others may stop then leave without warning. Write or memorize the tag number and description of the car immediately. If the driver stays at the scene, trade identification and insurance information with them.
5. Call An Attorney Who Specializes in Personal Injury. The local Bar Association can help you find one. You may not have a case worth pursuing, but the only way to know is to ask an Attorney. I have begun working with Jim Dodson Law in an effort to educate and improve treatment of riders. I believe that he will give you a straight answer. His office number is 727-446-0840.
As a mechanic and shop owner, I have seen my share of damaged bicycles and bodies. In most cases, all the rider got from the other party was a bicycle repair. Call an attorney for advice, you don’t have to use them or sue, but knowledge is powerful, and without consulting an attorney you are a “sheep being led to the slaughter.”
Biking guidebooks from Footprint Press: