This is a guest post by attorney Mike Bomberger, who practices bicycle accident law.
In almost every state a bicycle is considered a “vehicle,” therefore just like motorists, cyclists are required to follow the rules of the road. Unlike pedestrians, bicyclists do not always have the right-of-way and must adhere to all signs and signals. The issue of liability lies with whichever motorist or cyclist failed to obey the law.
Contrary to popular belief, only 11 percent of bicycle accidents involve a collision with a car. The other 89 percent either involve other bicyclists, pedestrians or are due to cyclists losing control of their bikes because of hazardous weather or road conditions. If you are ever part of that 11 percent it is important that you know your rights and the proper steps to take after the accident:
- Remove yourself from any additional danger. Be sure to get yourself and your bike out of the road to ensure your safety, and to prevent any additional vehicles from hitting your bicycle.
- Notify the police. You and the motorist are legally obligated to remain at the scene if you or anyone else has been injured, or if there has been any property damage.
- Gather as much information as possible after the crash. Take photos, preserve evidence, write down the driver’s license plate number, note any road hazards and traffic signs that may prove liability and obtain the driver’s insurance information. You should also check for witnesses and obtain contact information and/or written statements form them.
- Never negotiate with the motorist. With your adrenaline running high, your body may be masking the extent of your injuries and you could have more bodily damage than you think. Even if the driver accepts blame at the scene of the accident, they could later change their mind and deny blame, or even the accident altogether.
- Although insurance companies may appear to be on your side, never negotiate with them or admit any fault. They can use everything that you say against you in order to avoid paying out.
- Be sure the police take your report, and not only the motorist’s. Have the police document any injury or damage to yourself or your bike, regardless of how minor it may seem at the time.
Before contacting your insurance company, you should speak with a personal injury attorney who can advise you on how to deal with them. An attorney can also help you receive compensation for medical bills, lost wages, bike repair, pain and suffering and disfigurement.
Mike Bomberger is a seasoned litigation and trial attorney, who has been involved in numerous multi-million dollar recoveries for his clients. He is a founding partner of the California bicycle accident law firm, Estey & Bomberger, LLP. http://www.esteybomberger.com