Bicycles are much smaller than motor vehicles, which makes them difficult to see when they’re approaching a busy intersection or riding along a row of parked vehicles. Drivers, on occasion, simply don’t see the bicyclist or pay enough attention, but that’s not to say people on bikes never make mistakes. This is why, apart from the health of everyone involved, the focus of any investigation into a bicycle accident will be on who was negligent and to what degree. The driver’s insurance company will try to claim at least a certain degree of negligence on the part of the cyclist in the vast majority of cases to avoid having to pay anything.
Some dos and don’ts if you’ve been involved in a Portland bicycle crash
It’s not something anyone wants to think about, but if you’re a cyclist and end up being involved in an accident involving a motor vehicle, there are things you should and shouldn’t do. Failure to heed these suggestions could lead to any potential claim being seriously undermined. So remember:
- Always wait for the police to arrive, even if you think at the time you haven’t been seriously injured. It’s important to have an official report available, especially as a means to confirm the identity of the driver that caused the accident.
- Never negotiate with the driver! It is more than common for a driver to initially admit liability and promise to pay damages, then later change his or her mind and try to shift the focus of responsibility to the bicyclist. In a number of documented cases, the driver may suddenly decide they were never even in the area on the day of the accident. They may also give false information regarding their name, address or insurance details. Let the police handle it.
- If you’re physically able after the accident, make sure that your version of events is included in the accident report. Police sometimes don’t wait to speak to the cyclist before filing their report, especially if the cyclist has been taken to the hospital and the police have already decided, based on what the driver told them, that the cyclist was at fault. If, on the other hand, the driver has received a ticket, this could be very helpful to you should you decide to file a claim.
- Get the driver’s name and contact details, or if you’re too injured to do so, ask a witness to the accident to do it for you.
- Put on your detective hat and start investigating. Get someone—even if only with a cell phone—to take photographs of skid marks, your bike, any damage to the car, etc. Also try to get the names and contact details of additional witnesses. Your bicycle accident attorney will conduct a thorough investigation, including getting the accident scene measured and diagrammed, so any information you can give them would be helpful.
- Get medical treatment immediately after the accident. This achieves a number of things, including:
- Allowing doctors to determine the extent of your injuries, which could be more serious than you think they are. This could help doctors head or limit potentially serious and long-term damage.
- Proving to the insurance company that you were definitely injured in the accident.
- Generating medical reports that could be very useful if you make a claim and it ends up in court
- Get photos of your injuries as soon as possible after the accident and keep a journal with entries every couple of days to record your progress, physically and emotionally.
- Never communicate with the driver’s insurance company unless and until you’ve spoken to your own bicycle accident attorney. Any statement you make could be twisted and construed as an admission of your own liability. Get a good personal injury attorney on your side, and let them handle all the negotiations with the insurers.
An interesting and pertinent fact is that simply by teaming with a good personal injury lawyer, you’re far less likely to end up in court than if you didn’t have legal representation. Insurance companies are far more likely to settle out of court, with far more reasonable settlement offers, if they know they would be facing an experienced litigator inside the courtroom.
Try to pick a Portland bicycle crash attorney. They should be familiar with things like local bicycle traffic laws, the names and functions of bicycle components, the speed at which bikes travel and how they corner and brake, as well as how to establish the monetary value of lost riding time in addition to injuries, pain and suffering and other out of pocket expenses.