Florida is a paradise for people who enjoy bicycling—whether you’re looking for a vigorous workout or a leisurely cruise. It is vital to take appropriate safety precautions, of course, like wearing a helmet, protective clothing, and riding in bike lanes. Despite taking safety precautions, you can only control your actions. If you encounter a distracted or negligent driver, you can become a victim of their behavior.
That’s why you must know what to do after a bike accident. That includes understanding the legal process after a bike accident. You never want to be stuck with bills that should be the responsibility of the driver or their insurance company. If you are prepared to take action, you can receive the fair compensation you deserve.
Remember that the person best qualified to understand your legal situation is an experienced attorney. You may feel that your injuries are minor and don’t warrant legal action, or that engaging a lawyer might be too big of a time or financial commitment. You should still get the opinion of a legal professional before making your decision.
Many people every year “write off” a bike accident only to discover that they have injuries they weren’t aware of, or that their injury treatment will be more extensive than they thought. These undetected injuries can cause mental and emotional distress and financial trouble, such as struggling to pay your rent or mortgage, or being unable to care for your family.
Below are five steps you should take if you are involved in a bike accident. Ensure your safety, first and foremost, then ensure you have an attorney in your corner to protect your interests.
#1: Call 911 and Request Police and EMS to the Scene
Obtaining first aid after a bike accident should be your top priority. No matter how minor an incident appears to be, you should call the police. Many cyclists don’t realize they are injured or how serious their injuries are until hours or days later, when they have a chance to calm down and more carefully assess their condition.
Don’t discuss the accident with the driver at any time before or after help arrives. They may share anything you say to them with their insurance company, and your statements can be used against you later.
Ask the police to ticket the driver as part of investigating and documenting the incident, then find out where you can get a copy of the report. If first responders recommend transporting you to an emergency room, do not refuse. It is crucial to receive the medical treatment you need.
#2: Get the Contact Information of the Driver and Witnesses
Make sure to document the make, model, and license plate number of the at-fault vehicle. You should never assume that the police will handle that. Even if they do, it’s essential to have your own records as backup if needed.
If you can get contact information from witnesses and their descriptions of the incident, you should do so. They may be able to help your case later by confirming your version of events and providing additional evidence of negligence by the driver.
#3: Document What Happened
The more visual and written information you can collect at the scene, the better. Take pictures of your injuries and any damage to your bicycle and the vehicle that hit you. Take written or recorded notes about what happened and how it happened, as well.
It’s best to capture this information while it is fresh in your mind rather than waiting until you get home or to the hospital. Even seemingly minor details, like whether it was sunny or overcast, can help jog your memory if someone asks you to describe the incident in the days or weeks after.
#4: Visit a Doctor
If you do not get transported by ambulance to the emergency room, you should still seek medical attention immediately after the accident, even if you aren’t in pain.
Many accident victims do not feel pain right away because of a surge of adrenaline. Later, when that adrenaline has left their system, they discover issues like significant back and neck pain. At the moment, you may not think to perform movements like lifting your arms over your head, or bending or twisting in specific ways that can elicit pain. Your doctor will perform an exam to detect those types of issues.
Be sure to mention any aches, pains, and discomfort that may be related to the accident during that exam. The medical record your doctor creates serves as proof of your injuries and will note their extent.
#5: Call a Personal Injury Attorney Promptly
Do not discuss the accident with an insurance company representative until you have spoken with an attorney. Contacting an attorney helps ensure you receive all the compensation you deserve under a policy.
Be aware that you don’t need to own and insure a vehicle to collect under an auto insurance policy. Your attorney can seek compensation through the at-fault driver’s personal injury protection (PIP) coverage.
Getting in touch with the experienced personal injury attorneys at Ginnis, Krathen, & Zelnick, P.A. is an important step in your recovery, and one that can give you welcome peace of mind. Our attorneys will advise you every step of the way, helping you understand what actions you need to take and why.
Get the Compensation You Deserve After a Bicycling Accident
In Florida, drivers must yield the right-of-way to cyclists in the bike lane. If a driver does not obey this law and you or a loved one suffers an injury, you need an experienced attorney on your side.
Insurance companies do everything they can to deny claims. You need an advocate doing all they can to ensure you are fairly compensated and remain financially stable as you recover from the incident. Proper legal representation can make a very stressful process much more manageable.
If a driver injures you or a loved one while bicycling, follow the steps above and call Ginnis & Krathen at (954) 905-4600 for a free case evaluation.