After a bike crash, you may be tempted to jump back in the saddle and get on with your day. Many riders experiencing post-crash shock do just that, only to succumb to overwhelming pain when the adrenaline subsides. As a cyclist myself, I want you to know what to do immediately after a collision to protect your health and your right to compensation.
Steps to Take After a Bike Crash in DC
The first step after any collision is to call 911. If you have been struck by a careless driver, NEVER let the driver convince you not to call the police. When you call law enforcement to the scene, they create an accident report that records the other driver’s information and the details of the crash—something that will be invaluable when you file an insurance claim later.
I also recommend that you:
- Record the scene of the crash. If you are able, snap a few pictures on your phone while you are waiting for police and emergency responders to arrive. If your medical condition is too serious, turn on the video function and scan the scene. Try to get a shot of the driver’s license plate and the position of the vehicle, and ask witnesses to state their names and phone numbers into the camera so you can contact them later.
- Go to the hospital. Even if you only suffered minor injuries, you should always get medical attention after a crash. For one thing, a medical professional is the only person who can tell you how serious your injuries are and what your recovery will look like. Another benefit of prompt treatment is that it creates medical documentation of your injuries that can be used in making a claim. Finally, it stops a driver’s insurance company from claiming your injuries were caused by something other than the crash.
- Keep evidence intact. You may be in a rush to put your injuries behind you, but don’t hop back on your bike just yet. It’s important to keep everything from the crash— your clothes, bike, helmet, and gear—in the same condition it was after the wreck. If you wash your clothes or repair your bike, you are destroying vital evidence that shows the cause and severity of your injuries.
- Do not give a statement. The at-fault driver’s insurance company may contact you in the days after the crash, asking for answers to a few questions so they can get your claim processed. These statements are a tool the insurance company uses to get you to downplay your injuries or admit some fault for the collision on the record. Agents are trained to ask questions to provoke answers that will be used to reduce or deny you compensation. If they call, take down their information and tell them you’ll call them back when it’s more convenient for you.
- Follow your doctor’s orders. Your condition may take weeks or months of recovery, including outpatient care and physical therapy. It’s important to keep all of your appointments and follow any restrictions set by your doctor. Take time off work if your doctor recommends it. Not only will this give you the best possible recovery, but it also shows that you are a responsible person with real injuries who is trying their best to heal.
- Record your version of events. Your description of the collision is a key piece of evidence, but you shouldn’t rely on your memory to recreate the scene. Memories fade quickly in the days after the crash, especially when you’re focused on dealing with the pain of your injuries. As soon as you can, put everything you know about the crash down in writing (or record a voice memo on your phone). Include as many details as you can remember, including where you were going, weather conditions, people and businesses nearby, and people you spoke to after the crash.
- Stay off social media. The at-fault driver’s insurance company will be looking for any possible reason to avoid paying out on your claim—including your activities on social media. Say you are hit by a car on Monday. You were released from the hospital with your arm in a cast, you feel lousy, but your family reunion is coming up on the weekend. You force yourself to go, and your uncle posts a picture on Facebook of you and your family at a local park. The insurance company argues that someone who was really in pain would be at home recovering, not smiling in photos. Always disable your social media accounts until your claim is resolved.
- Speak to an experienced bike crash lawyer. It’s understandable that you would wait until the last possible second to hire an injury attorney. You may think that a lawyer is an unnecessary expense or that you don’t have the money to pay someone upfront to take your case. Fortunately, I work on a contingency fee basis, meaning I don’t get paid unless I secure compensation for you.
Do you have questions after a bicycle crash in the DC area? I’d be delighted to talk you through your situation at no charge. Call Kitchel Law, PLLC at 202-949-7109 today or fill out my online contact form to get the help you need.