If You're In A Bicycle Accident
If you're involved in a bike accident, your first priority is your safety. Move to a safe place off the roadway and then follow these steps.
- If you're uninjured, check on others.
- Call 9-1-1. Provide the exact location (look at street signs, landmarks) and any details about injuries. (No cell phone? Ask a witness to make the call and provide you with his contact information in case it's needed later.)
- Remain onsite until the police arrive. Ask the other person(s), including witnesses, to do the same (medical emergencies notwithstanding).
- Leave as much of the scene intact as possible.
WHN Tip: Stay off the road and clear of any vehicles that are pulled over in case they are hit by other cars.
Gather important information
List as many details as possible, including comments from witnesses or others involved in the incident, such as "I didn't see you." If the police arrive, this information will be included on their accident form packet. Ask witnesses for their contact information.
- Date and time
- Location: nearest intersection
- Weather conditions
- Road conditions (bumpy, potholes, road signs and signals)
- Bicycle damage
- Make, model, year
- License plate number and state, Vehicle Identification Number (VIN)
- Name, address, phone and/or e-mail
- Description (physical/other traits: i.e., intoxicated, aggressive, helpful)
- Insurance company, policy number, name of insured, agent's name (if they know it)
- Passenger(s): Name/Address/Phone Contact Details
WHN Tip: If the driver's name is different from the insured's name, find out the relationship between the two; get the name and address for both people.
Document the event visually
- Use a camera or camera phone to take photos that show the overall context of the accident. (Borrow one if necessary or ask the owner to take pictures, and get his contact information so you can obtain copies.) Alternatively, sketch the accident site.
- Include streets, traffic signs, obstacles in the road—anything that provides details of the accident —as well as landmarks that identify where you stopped.
- Show all directions of travel (for cars and bikes) and lane directions (one ways, etc.)
- Photograph your bike from several angles to document the damage.
- Any other important details that you think might be of use to you or the insurance company.
Cooperate with the authorities
- Once the authorities or medical personnel arrive on the scene, note the name and badge number of those providing assistance.
- Ask police when you can obtain a copy of the accident report.
- If an ambulance responds, get examined even if you think you are okay.
- No ambulance? Seek medical treatment on your own.
WHN Tip: Refusing treatment after an accident can be used as evidence that you were not really hurt. Keep in mind that you may feel worse in the days and weeks following the incident.
Keep good records
- Start an accident folder to store all receipts and documentation related to the accident: copies of police reports, medical visits, repair receipts, photos and so on. These will be important for insurance claim purposes and also for when you file your taxes.
- Call your homeowner's insurance agent to file a claim. Your bike may or may not be covered under that policy.
- Make an appointment to get an estimate for repairing your bike. You may need to purchase a new bike if the damage is considerable.
- See your physician for an examination. Provide details about the accident: what happened and how you felt afterwards (even minor physical problems).
- Consider hiring a lawyer if needed.
WHN Tip: Bring a copy of this checklist on your next bike ride (just in case!)
The information provided here is not meant to be a substitute for professional legal or medical advice. These tips are from first responders, lawyers, insurance agents and people who have shared real-life experiences; always check with a doctor or appropriate professional you trust before making any legal or health-related decisions.
Thank you ...
A special thank you to the industry professionals, lawyers, insurance agents, first responders and people who gave us their time, insight and real-life advice.