Wait for the Police to Arrive
It is vital that you wait for police to arrive at the accident scene so that they can take and file a police report — even if you think you are not injured. Some cyclists don’t realize they’ve been injured until several hours after the accident. And sometimes seemingly minor injuries later develop into serious and permanent problems. If you leave the accident scene, you may never be able to identify the at-fault driver.
Don’t attempt to negotiate with the driver. Many drivers initially apologize and accept blame, only to later deny their negligence or even deny they were present at the accident. Instead, wait for the police to come so they can document everything in the police report. Another advantage of waiting for the police: They may ticket the driver, which may be useful in settling the case with the insurance company.
Get Your Version of Events into the Accident Report
Sometimes, the police officer will take a statement from the motorist and not bother to talk to the cyclist. Do everything you can to get your side of the story into the police report. And by all means, report all of your injuries, no matter how minor. Remember, those minor injuries may later become more serious.
If, despite your efforts, the police refuse to include your statement in the accident report, you can later have the report amended.
Obtain Driver and Witness Contact Information
Document What Happened
Document Your Injuries
Seek Advice from a Professional
Many accidents between bikes and cars involve complex legal issues. You may want to consult a personal injury attorney who understands bicycling or has handled bike accident cases. Such an attorney can:
• advise you on how to proceed
• negotiate with the insurance companies, or
• represent you in a lawsuit.
Don’t communicate with the insurance companies before consulting an attorney. Anything you say to the insurance company could be used against you later. Sometimes a letter from an attorney to the insurance company will resolve issues while avoiding legal pitfalls. In fact, most injury cases are settled without ever going to trial.