Per The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 840 bicyclists were killed in traffic crashes during 2016. Crashes are more common in the evening between 6 and 9 p.m.
A lot of the things you should do after a bicycle accident are things you hopefully have planned for before you set out. Ride with a helmet and safety gear on. Wear light, reflective clothing. Have flashing lights installed on your bike.
Inspect your bike before you leave your house. REI not only sells bicycles and other sports equipment, but they also have a comprehensive pre-ride bike inspection that you should check before heading out. Finally, invest in a helmet camera to use in the event of an accident or road rage incident.
Always Ride Defensively
Once you’re on the road, you must follow the rules of the road, too. You’re bound by the same rules that drivers are. If you’re ignoring them, you could be liable for any damage or injuries you cause. Things you must do:
- Use hand signals for turns
- Stop at traffic lights and stop signs
- Yield to oncoming traffic when you don’t have a green arrow
- Check blind spots often
- Stay in the bike lane or to the side of the lane if there is no bike lane
- Watch for drivers who are not paying attention to you
- Ride with traffic and not against it
- Use a bell or call out to pedestrians when you’re approaching them
Six Common Forms of Accidents Between a Bicycle and a Vehicle
No one wants to be in a bicycle accident. It’s not always avoidable, however. If you’re in an accident, there are things you should do. Many of them depend on your condition following the crash. These are six of the common types of crashes between a bicycle and vehicle.
- Ignoring a Stop Sign – You have no stop sign at an intersection and proceed to go through the intersection without stopping. A car did a quick look, didn’t see another vehicle, and goes through the stop sign.
- Leaving a Driveway or side street – The driver is backing out of his or her driveway or side street and doesn’t see a vehicle and proceeds to go even though a smaller bicycle is coming down the street.
- Turns – A car is turning left or right and doesn’t notice a bicycle to the side that’s also about to make that turn and cuts into them. Or, a bicycle is coming from another direction and doesn’t have to yield to the car turning, but the car fails to yield.
- Car Doors – A car has just finished parking and opens up the driver door as a bicycle is about to ride past.
- Night Time – It’s evening and now dark and a car doesn’t notice reflectors or flashing lights in the dim lighting and hits a bicycle crossing an intersection or riding down the road.
- Drunk or Distracted Driving – The driver of the vehicle is drunk or using a device to change songs or radio stations and doesn’t see a bicycle until it’s too late.
If you’re injured following these common accidents or a less common one, you could ask someone to get photos for you. If you’re unconscious, you’ll have to rely on the police photos. This is one area where a helmet camera can really help you. If you’re able, do these three things as quickly as possible.
Focus on These Three Things First
After a bicycle accident, there are three things you need to do. Delay them only if necessary. Make them your priority as soon as you’re able to leave the hospital or scene.
Get Checked Out by a Professional
You must be the first priority after a bicycle accident. If you’re injured, stay where you are and get checked over by an EMT and doctor to make sure there are no internal injuries. You’re in shock and it can take a few hours for the full extent of your injuries to appear.
Once you have the all clear, you still need to take it easy. You may need to have someone stay with you for a day to monitor you for a concussion. Don’t ignore the doctor’s recommendations. Ask for any receipts and medical reports before you go home.
Take Plenty of Photos
If you’re able to, get as many photos as you can. Get the photos to cover the “who, what, when, and where” questions that you might need to prove in a courtroom setting. For example:
- Who – Take photos of your bike, any vehicles or objects that hit you or that you hit, and people who may have been hit in the process of the accident.
- What – Get photos of signs, road conditions, and traffic levels at the time of the accident.
- When – Take photos that clearly display the lighting at the time – full sunlight or dawn/dusk – and make sure all photos are time and date stamped.
- Where – Get photos of intersections, yards, and street signs that show the location where the accident occurred.
If you have a helmet camera, make sure the footage is stored. When you can, save a copy of the footage to a computer or cloud service.
Arrange Legal Representation
Whether you caused the accident or were a victim, talk to an experienced attorney. An expert in personal injury is there to help you navigate your legal options. Schedule a free consultation with Carpenter, Zuckerman, and Rowley now.