Being a victim of a bike vs. car crash is different than being the victim in a car vs. car collision for a few obvious reasons. For one, vehicle occupants often aren't seriously injured in a typical car crash. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, there are 6.75 million traffic collisions annually. No one is injured in over two thirds of these collisions. Of the roughly 29 percent of traffic collisions that do involve an injury, both parties are generally injured if they are each driving a motor vehicle. This is not true of bike vs. car collisions, in which the driver is almost never injured and the cyclist is virtually always injured to some degree, though they may not fully know it until they get home and the adrenaline wears off. Because the driver is uninjured and the cyclist is usually seriously injured, the power dynamic is imbalanced; while the injured cyclist is in a state of shock, the driver is still thinking (mostly) coherently, and therefore has more say in creating a narrative of how the crash occurred and whose fault it was, which brings us to the second reason why being the victim in a bike vs. car crash is so much different than being a victim in a car vs. car collision: fight or flight. With adrenaline flowing in the crash victim's veins, they likely want to just leave if they are able to. Bike crash victims may even mistakenly assume fault, or agree that the cause of the crash was mutual, just to get away from the scene and flee home to safety.
To ensure that your injuries and damages are properly addressed, and the at-fault party is held accountable, we encourage you to follow the steps below if you are ever the victim in a bike crash with a driver. If the driver caused a life threatening injury, your only objective is to stay conscious until help arrives. Otherwise, to the extent that you are not compromising your health, complete as much evidence gathering and identification of eye witnesses as you can.
- Stay at the Scene—There are too many stories of crash victims, thinking they are mostly fine, rolling their bike into a nearby parking lot and calling their spouse to be picked up, only to later find out that not only was their $4,000 bike frame cracked, but so too was their clavicle. Adrenaline from shock can mask pain in unfathomable ways.
- Move Off The Road to Safety—If needed for your own safety, and you are physically able to do so, get yourself out of the roadway and well onto the shoulder or sidewalk, away from traffic. If possible, do not move your bike, and ask the driver not to move their motor vehicle until a law enforcement officer arrives.
- Call 911—Whether you are seriously injured or not, you need to call 911 immediately to ensure that first responders arrive on the scene as soon as possible. This will also ensure that police show up to conduct an official accident investigation, which can be helpful later if personal injury and/or bodily injury claims need to be made. Law enforcement can be very helpful in gathering evidence that can be used in a personal injury lawsuit if one is needed.
- Photograph the Vehicle and the Scene—If you have your phone with you, quickly snap a few photos of the vehicle, the license plate, and the driver before they have a chance to drive off unidentified. If you are not in immediate danger of passing out from your injuries, this step can quickly be taken even before dialing 911.
- Gather the Driver's Information—In this scenario, the driver stayed at the scene. Law enforcement officers will gather this information, but if for some reason that is at risk of not happening, exchange the following information with them: full name, driver's license (theirs since you likely do not have yours with you), and address. Taking a picture of their driver's license is often the easiest and quickest way to accomplish this. You should also take a photo of their auto insurance card.
- Gather Contact Information From Eye Witnesses—Hopefully at least one other party saw what happened and decided to stick around. Get their name and contact information, and listen to what they have to say. Use your video feature on your phone if your injuries limit your ability to scribe the information.
- Refrain From Arguing With the Driver—Stifling the "fight" aspect of fight or flight can be a challenge. However, do not engage with the driver if the discussion turns into an argument. Walk away, ask them to give you space, and wait for the police to arrive.
- Give Your Statement to the Police—Tell your side of the story to the police. This will be used to create an official accident report.
- Get to the Hospital—If you are clearly injured, don't be reluctant to utilize an ambulance, and definitely do so if you are critically hurt. If circumstances are such that you can't take an ambulance, you still need to get a ride to the hospital for an immediate check up in the ER. Call a significant other or friend if possible. If you are stranded on a rural road and have no other options, and you need medical attention immediately due to serious loss of blood, for example, you may need to convince the driver who hit you to take you to the hospital. If you still haven't gone to the hospital or scheduled a doctor's visit days or weeks after the crash, but were injured and are still dealing with pain or immobility, it is not too late. Go to an urgent care center or call your doctor. Cyclists are typically tough by nature, but delaying needed care is not good for your physical recovery, or for your injury claim.
Step 10: Call Attorney Brad Tucker at Colorado Bike Law
The final step is to contact a personal injury attorney after you've received medical attention. You do not need to do this the day you were hit, but it is generally best to contact an attorney within a day or two if you are capable of making the call. For any legal questions you may have, we encourage you to contact Brad Tucker at Colorado Bike Law today.