What To Do After a Bicycle Accident
California has beautiful weather and gorgeous scenery, so many local residents and visitors choose to make their way around our state on bicycles instead of cars. During the pandemic, going outdoors and exercising only increased as a way to leave our locked down lives, and many cities around the country reported increased bicycle accidents as a result. Despite many Californians riding bikes, motor vehicle drivers still considerably outnumber cyclists, leading to many bicycle accidents. So, just how common are bicycle accidents and what should you do after a bicycle accident?
According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety or IIHS, each year about two percent of motor vehicle crash deaths are among bicyclists, and deaths among cyclists aged 20 and older have tripled since 1975. An estimated 675 cyclists were killed in accidents in 2020 and California had the highest number of bicycle accident fatalities at 118. Despite local, state, and federal government efforts to increase cycling safety – including the addition of many new bike lanes across the country – the number of bicycle injuries and deaths continues to increase.
California Bicycle Laws
The State of California has passed a series of statutes that regulate bicycle riding in the California Vehicle Code. Generally, a person who uses a bicycle has the same legal rights as the driver of an automobile (see California Vehicle Code §21200). These regulations also provide protection for victims of bicycle accidents. In addition to state law, the various California counties and even specific cities may have their own separate regulations related to bicycling. With the recent increase in bicycle riding throughout the state, many cities and counties have enacted new regulations to help to ensure the safety of riders.
Eight Steps to Take After a Bike Accident
With California having the highest rate of car-related bicycle injuries in the country, it is important for cyclists to know what to do after a bicycle accident. Drivers need to respect the rights of bicyclists and be mindful when sharing the road to avoid hurting others. It is also in a cyclist’s best interests to take the proper steps after a bike accident to make sure their rights are protected. Here are some of the first things you should do after being injured in a car versus bicycle collision:
- Ensure your own safety by moving yourself and your bike out of harm’s way (out of the flow of traffic) if you are able to do so in your current medical condition.
- Call the police to report the accident and ask for medical assistance. Wait for emergency services to arrive to see if you can be treated at the scene or if you need to go to the hospital in an ambulance. Also wait for the police to ensure your bicycle accident is documented, unless you need urgent medical care and must be transported before they arrive.
- Take videos and photos of the accident scene, the affected bike and vehicle, and your injuries. If you are able to make a voice memo or type into your phone’s notetaking app, you can document your thoughts immediately after the crash when they are freshest in your mind.
- Collect information from the at-fault driver and any witnesses, including the vehicle’s license plate number, make, and model, the driver’s contact information and insurance information, and contact information for any witnesses.
- Seek immediate medical treatment and follow up with your own doctor one to two days post-accident as well
- Keep all of your medical records and bills, any receipts for parking or gas to receive treatment, medication documentation, and any other financial or medical records created as a result of your bike accident injuries.
- Don’t negotiate with insurance companies. The at-fault driver’s insurance carrier will likely reach out to you after the collision. Do not say you’re sorry, admit fault in any way, or negotiate or talk numbers with anyone from any insurance company on your own.
- Seek the advice of an experienced personal injury lawyer. Consultations with virtually all personal injury lawyers who represent the rights of injury victims are free and confidential. You have no obligation to hire them and can get free legal counseling from someone who knows what they are talking about, so there’s really no downside to speaking with a trial lawyer.
Northern California Bicycle Accident Lawyers
Bicycle accident claims require experience and knowledge of traffic laws, potential juror prejudice against cyclists, bicycle manufacturer issues, insurance claims, more. The experienced personal injury trial lawyers of Curtis Legal Group have over 100 years of combined experience handling all types of motor vehicle accident claims, including bicycle accidents. You and your loved ones matter to us and we would be honored to speak with you, free of charge, and give you an honest evaluation of your situation. Contact us today for more information on how we can help.