Bicycle Safety: What to Do If a Car Hits You

In a car-bicycle accident, there are important steps the bicyclist should take to protect his or her rights.

Although less than 1 percent of all trips taken in the United States are taken by bicycle, bicyclists run a higher risk of injury while traveling than do those in motor vehicles. Smart cyclists can do a lot of protect themselves from injury by wearing helmets and following traffic laws. As careful as you may be as a cyclist, accidents do happen. If you find yourself in a car/bike accident, here is what you need to do.

Safety first

Your primary concern in an accident situation needs to be safety. If at all possible, move yourself out of the street. If you cannot move your body out of the street, ask the driver of the car to help by putting out flares or other warnings until the police arrive. Always bike with identification, a cell phone, emergency contact information, and medical details, such as drug allergies.

Get assistance

Even if you feel unharmed initially, ask the driver to stay while a police report is filed. There may be pain or other injuries that appear after the initial shock of the accident. Call 911 and file an official police report to document the accident. Copy the information of the police officer, and ask when the official report will be available. You will want to make sure you review the report afterward to make sure it is accurate. Even though the police will likely be obtaining contact information, make sure you get contact and insurance information from the driver, and contact information from any witnesses.

Document everything

While you should never hold a camera or phone while riding a bicycle, using a helmet- or handle-mounted camera such as a GoPro is an easy way to help you document an accident and prove that a driver was at fault.

If you do not have such a device, take pictures of your bike, your injuries, and the car after suffering an accident, if you are able. If it is a hit and run, try and get a picture of the car as it drives off, even if you cannot get a clear picture of the license plate. Take pictures of your injuries over time as they will likely change. Keep a journal or a record of your discomfort and recovery. Finally, track and document all medical appointments, costs, and interventions required.

Seek medical attention immediately

As stated above, injuries are not always clear right away. The adrenaline and emotions from an accident can mask the real nature of your injuries. As soon as the police say it is permissible, go to the doctor or emergency room if there is any chance you are injured. This is particularly true if you may have a head injury. Medical reports may be important for later claims.

Contact an attorney

Before giving a final statement, particularly to the driver's insurance, contact an experienced attorney. He or she will be able to assist you in understanding your rights, and ensure that you are fairly compensated for all of your injuries. By following the steps above, you will make it much easier for your attorney to effectively assist you. It can be overwhelming to deal with a car/bike accident. Don't feel like you have to do it alone.