If you are injured in a bicycle accident caused by another party, it is important to take the proper steps to ensure that you receive fair response from the police and collect information you may need to support your claim. Whether you seem injured or not – the effects of your injuries may not be immediately apparent – follow the checklist below. You do not want to jeopardize your health, not to mention your accident injury claim, due to an oversight.
The Immediate Aftermath of the Crash
- The driver who hit you is legally required to stay at the scene of the accident until the police arrive. If they leave without providing identification, write down their license plate number and state of issue, in addition to their and their vehicle's description, if able.
- Call (or request that somebody call) 911.
- Speak to any witnesses and get their contact information, if possible. Also, ask them to remain at the scene until police arrive.
Interacting with Police
- The police should make an incident report.
- Ask for the reporting officer's name and badge number.
- Ask the police to get statements from witnesses, if applicable
- If you've been doored, request that the officer give the driver a citation for dooring. If you suspect that the driver was using a mobile device or otherwise distracted at the time of the collision, notify the police and make sure he or she has included that detail in the report.
- While you do not need to take an ambulance, you should report any pain to the police and get a medical report for insurance purposes.
In the Following Days
- Contact witnesses and request a written account about the accident from each of them.
- Take well-composed, clear photos of your injuries and any bike damage. The bike shop should provide you with a written estimate before making repairs.
- Request a copy of the police report.
- Keep a detailed journal containing all information relevant to the accident – descriptions of the incident and all involved parties, a daily log of your injuries and pain, records of any resulting financial expenses, etc. Documentation and organization are essential to a successful claim.
- Get medical treatment immediately. The record of your injuries will prove valuable down the line when it comes to your claim. Your medical provider may accept a lien in lieu of payment.
- You are well within your rights to refuse to speak with the insurance adjusters. Instead, relay all communication with the insurance company to your trusted attorney.
Statute of Limitations
- The time limit for personal injury claims, also known as the statute of limitations, in California is generally two years from the date of the incident.
- If the liable party in your case is a governmental entity, you must file your claim within six months of the incident.
- It is best to file sooner rather than later. Contact an attorney as soon as possible to get started on your claim.
Only by taking the right steps to protect your legal rights and to establish the foundation for your injury claim will you help ensure the full recovery of your losses.