A common misconception about bicycles is that they are a completely safe form of transportation. Yet year after year bicyclist fatalities continue to increase at an alarming rate. Indeed, bicycle-related crashes make up a disproportionate amount of traffic fatalities (2%) when one considers how “bicycle trips account for only 1% of all trips in the United States.” Riding a bicycle may seem to be a relaxing and fun experience, but it carries real risks.
Bicycle Laws and Your Rights
In most states and local municipalities, bicyclists are expected to follow the same rules of the road put in place for motorists. Speed limits, intersection lights, and traffic lanes should be respected equally by bicyclists and motorists. In the same spirit, automobiles should treat bicyclists as if they were other automobiles, yielding to them when necessary, respecting their lanes, and exercising ordinary care.
Similar to car crashes, accident claims involving bicyclists require the establishment of negligence. If the driver has been found to have been negligent by either speeding or ignoring traffic laws, then it follows that they are liable for any damages suffered. Eyewitness testimony or video footage can go a long way in proving liability.
However, if the bicyclist is shown to be the negligent party, for riding the wrong way down a one-way street or cruising through stop signs, then they could be shown to be the at-fault party. Determining who was negligent for a collision is the crux of most any bicycle accident claim.
What to Do After a Bicycle Crash
There are a number of important actions you can take immediately following a bicycle accident. The first, of course, is to check yourself for any major injuries, such as excessive bleeding or broken bones. If you believe you have suffered a serious injury do not hesitate to contact 911 or have someone contact them for you.
However, if you aren’t in need of urgent care, here’s a helpful list of what to do after a bicycle accident:
- Remain at the scene of the accident until the police arrive
- File a police report
- Provide an accurate statement for the accident report
- Write down the driver’s information: name, contact info, license plate number, insurance
- Obtain contact information for any witnesses
- Document any and all injuries
- Contact an attorney
Attorneys know better than most how to negotiate with insurance companies, track down medical records and providers, and navigate the arcane labyrinth of filing a lawsuit.
Many victims make the mistake of communicating with insurance companies before consulting with an attorney and eventually find their words are used against them down the road. If you’re a bicyclist who has been involved in an accident, hiring an attorney might be the best decision you can make for both your recovery and for your future.
This post was submitted to Collins Legal by The Advocates law firm with offices throughout Montana.