When & How to Report a Bike Crash

Bicycling is on the rapid rise in the Twin Cities. Community efforts have led to great progress in creating more bike lanes and protected bikeways. Motorists are increasingly aware of their obligation to share streets and roadways. Still, car-vs-bike collisions and other bicycle crashes are far too common.

Do you know what to do if you're involved in a crash?

When Should I Call 911?

Call 911 as soon as possible after any bike crash involving another vehicle or a pedestrian. If you are not carrying a phone, ask a witness to the crash or other bystander to do this. If you and the other party or parties involved in the crash choose not to call the police at the scene, you have up to 72 hours after the crash to report it to the authorities.

If you are injured, please check in with your body.  Adrenaline can make you feel fine when you're not.  (Also take a minute to check over your bike.)

Generally speaking, the police that arrive on the scene will work to fill out a comprehensive crash report. This report can prove essential to protecting your rights. It will include information about:

  • Personal information of all parties involved
  • Location and time of crash
  • Weather conditions
  • Road conditions

The police will then work to gather information from each party to craft a narrative of the crash, as well as draw out a diagram of the crash itself.

Tips for Interacting With Police When They Arrive

You want to ensure that the police report includes as much information as possible that accurately reflects what you experienced. Your best chance at being heard requires you to be calm and truthful. But always be assertive—you are your only advocate at the scene of the crash. If you are unsure of how to start, the officers will be able to ask targeted questions to determine if a driver was reckless, distracted or in violation of other traffic laws.

Every crash is unique, but here are some examples of factors to point out if they are relevant in your situation:

  • If you were in a bike lane, signaled a turn or were otherwise traveling responsibly, make that clear.
  • If the crash occurred at dusk or nighttime, note your use of a light and reflectors.
  • Tell the police about any injuries you notice or pain that you are experiencing, whether or not you currently think these are severe issues.

Be Prepared for Anything

From “dooring” crashes to intersection collisions and sideswipe crashes, disputes about the causes of bicycle crashes are common. If you have significant injuries or need to file a substantial property damage claim, contact a local, cycling-conscious personal injury attorney to talk through what happened and get counsel you can trust.

Author Bio


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).

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