Many people are so stunned and hurt at the scene of a bike crash that they forget to collect basic information that will help them later. Dazed, they do what seems to make the most sense at the time—only to realize later that they forgot to collect vital information that they need to resolve matters.
The best way to avoid this problem is to know in advance what to do. I honestly hope you never need the information in this post. But I want you prepared, just in case.
1. Be thorough with the driver.
Swapping insurance information is not enough. If a driver has hit you, insurance information is a good place to start. But, you should get more than just the insurance company name and policy number. Collect the driver’s full name, address, phone number, driver’s license number and license plate number.
More information means more protection for you. It will help keep the driver accountable and leave you prepared in the event that the driver’s insurance company asks for more information or says that they are unable to help you.
2. Talk to witnesses.
The driver is not the only one whose information is important. Witnesses to the accident may be critical later, especially if the driver denies responsibility or the insurance company refuses to pay compensation.
Do not let witnesses leave the scene of your bike crash without first speaking with you. If you let them leave without collecting their information, you may never be able to find them again.
Ask witnesses what they saw. Gather their names, phone numbers and addresses. Some witnesses may be reluctant to share their information. Try to be as persuasive as possible. A witness’s statement can have a huge impact on the outcome of a bicycle accident case.
3. Talk to the cops.
If you are injured, the police will often keep their distance while you get treatment from paramedics at the scene or arrange to visit the emergency room. Take the initiative and talk with them. Become your own advocate. Make sure that your side of the story—not just the driver’s—is reflected in the police reports. Try to remain calm and recount what happened in as much detail as possible. Make sure that the police are listening and that they are recording the details.
4. Take pictures.
Take pictures of everything. Don’t limit yourself to one shot and put the phone away; take pictures from multiple angles. You will never get a chance to take these pictures again, so be thorough.
Take close-ups and distance shots. Document the street signs and lane markers. Were you in the bike lane? How was the intersection marked? What was the weather like? Were there skid marks? Debris?
Pictures are important for several reasons. For starters, human memory isn’t perfect—especially in times of stress. You may find that you don’t remember the details of your bike accident, especially as time passes. Pictures can help keep the facts straight.
Additionally, pictures can be extremely useful if you end up pursuing legal action against the driver. You and your lawyer can use the pictures as evidence to recreate the accident and actually show the court what happened.
Of course, we hope that you stay safe while on your bike and that you never need to sue. If you do need legal help after a bike accident, an experienced attorney can help. And remember, accident attorneys work on a contingency basis and offer free initial consultations—there is no financial consequence to you for reaching out to a lawyer to learn about your options after an accident.
Attorney Daniel J. Brazil of The Law Offices of Daniel J. Brazil is an experienced personal injury attorney with offices located in Uptown. He has a passion for the outdoors, especially cycling and climbing.
Learn more about Dan and his practice by following him on Twitter (@LawDanielBrazil and #MplsBikeAttorney).