What Are Your Responsibilities After a Bicycle Accident?

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What Are Your Responsibilities After a Bicycle Accident?

Whether you’re hopping on your bike to get in some exercise or it’s your preferred mode of transportation, you always have to be on the lookout for potential hazards.

Whether it’s oncoming traffic or debris on the road, bicycle accidents can occur at any time. In fact, Oregon saw 475 statewide bicycle crashes in 2020 alone. While this doesn’t come close to the number of vehicle collisions, it does show that bicycle accidents are on the rise.

Did you know you have responsibilities after being involved in a bicycle accident? Some are similar to the steps you take after a car wreck. If you’re not sure what your responsibilities include, here’s a look at the steps you should take.

Report the Bicycle Accident

The Oregon DMV has strict guidelines on when you need to file a Traffic Accident and Insurance Report, which include:

  • When injuries or fatalities occur
  • If a vehicle is towed from the accident scene
  • Vehicle damage exceeds $2,500

You must also file an accident and insurance report if any other type of property damage exceeds $2,500, and this type of property can include your bicycle or something like a laptop in the vehicle.

You have 72 hours from the date of the accident to file the report. You can take care of this online or show up at your closest DMV office. Yes, there is a penalty for failing to submit the report. You can face a possible suspension of your driving privileges.

Something else you should know is an accident and insurance report is different from a police report. As a bicyclist, Oregon doesn’t require you to report the accident to the authorities since this typically only applies to motor vehicle drivers. However, it’s still a good idea to report any accident to the authorities. Your police report can be invaluable if you decide to pursue a personal injury claim.

Steps to Take After a Bicycle Crash

Okay, so you already know you’ll need to file an accident and a police report after a bicycle accident if you sustain injuries. Even if you’re not sure if you’re injured, it’s still a good idea to file out and submit the forms. So, what are the other steps you should take after a bike wreck?

Make a Doctor’s Appointment

Hopefully, your protective gear, like a helmet and pads, prevented severe injuries. You may feel a little banged up and bruised, but you escaped broken bones and other severe injuries. Even if you feel fine after a bike crash, it’s still a good idea to seek immediate medical treatment. You can skip the ride to the hospital in an ambulance, but you should make an appointment with your primary care physician.

Some injuries can take a while to appear. For example, soft tissue injuries can take anywhere from several hours to days and even weeks before symptoms become obvious. Along with protecting your health, you’ll need your medical records to prove the accident is the direct cause of your injuries.

Just like the police and accident reports prove the incident occurred, your medical records show you sustained injuries.

Document the Accident Scene

If your injuries are too severe or you’re still shaken up, don’t worry about documenting the accident scene. This information will be available in your police report. However, sometimes it’s nice to have corresponding evidence.

Documenting your accident scene doesn’t necessarily mean turning into an amateur detective. This isn’t a role you should play and it has the potential of harming your injury case. You may end up discussing your case with others at the accident scene. Don’t forget that the insurance company will look for ways to reduce your claim amount. They may be able to use something you said against you.

What you can do is take pictures of the damage to your bicycle. You can also take some photos of your injuries. If you can get some shots of the accident scene, go ahead and take a few. Sometimes, being able to see the position of the vehicles, including your bicycle, can help support your negligence claim.

Don’t Engage the Other Involved Parties

Whether only one or multiple drivers are involved in your bicycle accident, don’t engage in conversation with anyone. This doesn’t mean not saying anything, but don’t discuss the accident or events leading up to the collision. Once again, anything you say may be used against you.

You can reassure everyone you’re alive and coherent, but don’t discuss your injuries—this advice also applies to any questions from law enforcement. They will ask some questions for the accident report, but keep your answers short and to the point. Something you never want to do is offer an apology. Your apology can be taken as an admission of guilt and this can hurt your injury claim.

Get Contact Information From Any Witnesses

If witnesses are present, get their contact information. Chances are it will also be in the police report but getting the information now can help get your claim process rolling.

Use the same caution with witnesses as you are with the authorities and other involved drivers, which means not discussing the details of the accident or your injuries. Keep the conversation to simply exchanging contact information.

Contact Your Insurance Provider

As a bicyclist, you’re not going to contact your auto insurance provider. Instead, you’ll probably call your home or renters insurance company. Your policy should cover the damage to your bicycle. Your health insurance should take care of your medical expenses.

From there, your insurance may contact the at-fault driver’s policy provider. If you’re responsible for the accident, your insurance may be covering damages sustained by the other involved parties. What you don’t want to do is accept an initial settlement offer from the insurance company. You’re only letting the company know you’re getting ready to file a claim.

Work with an Attorney After a Bicycle Accident

Your bicycle accident has probably left you shaken, injured, and with a damaged bike. After alerting your insurance provider that an accident occurred, your next call should be to a personal injury attorney.

An attorney can help ensure your rights as a cyclist are protected and you receive compensation for your damages, even if you’re the one who’s at fault.