Getting hit by a car while you are riding a bicycle is a terrifying, traumatic experience. Even if you are wearing a helmet and being cautious at the time of the accident, you are still at high risk of sustaining serious injuries because cars weigh so much more than bicycles and bicycles offer little protection in a crash. The financial effects of a collision between an automobile and a bike can be severe as emergency room visits and all the hospitalization that comes with it is not cheap. You need the bicycle accident lawyers at Foster Wallace, LLC if you were in a collision with a car while riding your bike.
Take Pictures at the Scene of the Accident
Your cell phone is a lifeline at the scene of a traffic accident in more ways than one. If you want to call a family member immediately after the accident just for support or to ask them to come to the scene of the accident, that is understandable. Before you go anywhere, if it is safe to do so, you should make sure to take photos and videos of the entire accident scene. These provide valuable evidence that cannot be created later through witness statements, medical records, or even a police report.
The images and videos you capture at the scene can provide evidence that shows without a doubt which written and verbal reports about the accident are truthful. For example, you should get evidence of the following things:
- The weather conditions at the time of the accident
- The presence or absence of road signs, traffic lights, sidewalks, a road shoulder, or other things that would have affected the car’s ability to avoid hitting you
- The damage to your bike or the car
- The car’s license plate
- Insurance information from the driver
- Contact information from the other driver and any witnesses to the incident
- Your visible injuries
Keep your bike and do not throw away any bike parts or have it repaired. Take pictures of your bike to document the damage done to the bike. Keep any damaged clothing (and do not wash it) in a safe place as you will want to preserve it for potential evidence at trial.
Get a Medical Evaluation
In the best cases, you might feel like you can just walk home or load your bike onto the back of a car and get a ride home, but you should not do that. You should have a medical professional assess your injuries on the same day as the accident. Go to the hospital by ambulance if the police offer to call an ambulance for you. Do not worry that being evaluated in the emergency room will be expensive; there will be time to figure out who is responsible for the medical bills later (especially if you believe the fault is on the driver of the car).
There are two important reasons not to wait to have your injuries evaluated by a medical professional. First, your doctor will provide a written statement from someone unrelated to the accident, describing your injuries in an objective way, as well as saying when and why you came to the hospital. If you wait a day or more and you later decide to file a lawsuit, the defendant will likely argue that you might have gotten injured after the bike accident and before your trip to the hospital or that your injuries could not have been that severe because you did not immediately go seek medical attention; the longer you wait, the more credible that argument is.
Second, you might not even realize how serious your injuries are until a few days after the accident. Some muscle injuries, such as whiplash, can take a week or more before they start showing symptoms. Once the pain starts, it can be severe and can last a long time. It is a good idea to have documentation of the trauma you sustained in the accident so that you will have proof of its cause if it later turns out that you need expensive treatment.
Read the Police Report
Do not leave the scene of the accident, even to go to the hospital, until a police officer arrives. A police report is an unbiased account of what happened in the accident. The insurance companies will rely on it in determining fault and compensation for the accident. If you make a claim or have to eventually file a lawsuit because of a bicycle accident, the court may rely on the police report as evidence; without a police report, it is your word against the defendant’s about whether the accident even happened. Police reports are not infallible. If your police report has mistakes or missing information, submit an addendum to it with the police department.
Contact a Bicycle Accident Lawyer
The statute of limitations for filing a bicycle accident injury lawsuit in Missouri is five years from the date of the accident, but the sooner you contact a bicycle accident lawyer, the better. In Kansas, the statute of limitations is a mere two years. It is never too soon to get in contact with a personal injury lawyer after a bicycle accident. In fact, the insurance company for the negligent driver may try to reach out to you quickly and make you a low ball offer to settle your case. While you may want to take the money, it is never a good idea to settle a case too early. We have seen too many people take too little money and then find out their injuries are more significant than they expected. Once they settle their case, however, they cannot go back and ask for more money from the liable party (or their insurance company) because they signed a release in exchange for payment. Further, if you have hired a lawyer, that lawyer will deal with insurance company on your behalf and likely won’t be sharing any information with the defense that will harm your case.
What Not to Do After a Bicycle Accident
Mistakes that you make in the immediate aftermath of a bicycle accident can negatively affect your ability to recover damages if you decide to file a lawsuit. Here are some mistakes to avoid, and what you should do instead.
- Do not refuse medical treatment. You might worry that a trip to the emergency room when you feel fine is an unnecessary expense, but not getting examined and then later experiencing serious symptoms is even more costly.
- Do not tell the insurance company that the accident was your fault or that your injuries are not severe. In fact, do not tell the insurance company anything at all. Instead, tell the insurance company to talk to your lawyer.
- Do not negotiate with the negligent motorist after the wreck. Don’t take the motorist up on the offer to pay your medical bills in exchange for not reporting the claim/injury to his or her insurance company.
- Do not sign the settlement offer that you receive from the insurance company; it probably is not enough to cover your medical bills and lost income. Instead, have a bicycle accident lawyer review it and see if you have a good chance of getting more compensation.
Have You Been Injured in a Bicycle or Pedestrian Accident in Kansas City?
If you've been injured in a Kansas City pedestrian or bicycle accident you should speak with an experienced pedestrian accident attorney. Contact us online or call our Kansas City office directly at 816.249.2101 to schedule your free consultation.