is paramount when riding a bicycle, but no matter how safety
conscious you are the odds are against you - cars far outnumber
two-wheelers in Los Angeles. At some point, you or a fellow
rider may be in an accident involving a motorist. Knowing
what to do in the immediate aftermath can make a difference
in how well you protect your rights, or those of a companion
who may be severely injured. The following checklist can
help you maintain control and preserve critical information:
Wait for the Police to Arrive
You and the motorist involved in the accident are legally
obligated to remain at the scene if there have been injuries
or property damage. Even if you believe you have not been
injured, wait for the police to arrive. You may not realize
you've been injured until later. Once you have left the
scene, it may be impossible to track down the motorist.
Never Negotiate with the Motorist
Don't negotiate with the driver even if he or she apologizes
and accepts the blame. You may not be aware of the full
extent of your injuries and damage to your bike, and the
driver may change his or her mind later and deny the accident.
Obtain Driver Information
Exchange information with the motorist, including: name,
address, phone number, driver's license number, license
plate number, make of car and insurance policy number.
Obtain Witness Contact Information
Write down the names and phone numbers of witnesses.
Document What Happened
Remember every detail about the accident: when, where and
how it happened, and road, traffic and weather conditions.
As soon as possible, write everything down. Draw maps or
diagrams showing the position and direction of everyone
involved. You should include streets, signs and traffic
lights. As general advice, carry a cell phone with a camera
whenever riding. Visual documentation can be important.
Make Sure the Police Take Your Report
Police are sometimes more concerned with recording a motorist's
version of events than a cyclist's. Make sure your statement
of what occurred is included in the report. Report any injury,
no matter how minor it may seem (it may develop into something
major later on). If you cannot get your statement included
in the report at the scene, you can ask to have the report
modified later. In any case, get the accident report number
and write it down. Note the name and the badge number of
the police officer who takes the report.
Seek Immediate Medical Attention and Document Your Injuries
Even if your injuries are minor, consult a doctor immediately
and get a written evaluation. Have photos taken of injuries
and record symptoms for several days.
Keep any damaged clothing and don't wash it. Keep damaged
bike parts and do not have your bike repaired. If it is
absolutely necessary to have it repaired, take photos first
and get a written document of the damages.
Never Negotiate with Insurance Companies
The driver's insurance company may call you and attempt
to settle before you have all the information ready to make
a case. Don't negotiate directly with any insurance company.
Seek Advice from a Professional
Don't contact your insurance company before talking to a
personal injury attorney experienced in bicycle accident
cases. Insurance companies may use anything you say against
you later. An attorney can negotiate with insurance companies
on your behalf, hire a bicycle accident expert to investigate
the accident, and represent you in a lawsuit if necessary.
that as a bicyclist you have the same rights and responsibilities
as the drivers of motor vehicles. Drivers need to respect
the rights of bicyclists and be mindful of sharing the road
and avoiding accidents, but it is also your responsibility
to take the proper steps after an accident to make sure
your rights are protected.