Hit and Run Bicycle Accidents: What Can Cyclists Do?
Although hit-and-run bicycle accidents are less frequent than hit-and-run auto accidents, they are still more common than most people realize, particularly in big commuter cities where cycling is a common form of transportation. In the United States each year, there are about 50,000 bicycle crash injuries treated in hospitals, and over 700 of those are fatalities.
Most often, these accidents occur when vehicles don’t pay attention to bike lanes and they enter those lanes or a crosswalk with their cars. If you are a cyclist, hopefully, you will never have to experience this type of accident, but it is always a good idea to be prepared should this ever happen to you.
Why Do Motorists Flee The Scene?
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While most motorists will do the right thing and stay at the scene, many will flee the scene. Most often, they flee because they are alcohol-impaired. Another common reason for fleeing is that the driver has no license or has a suspended or revoked license, or has no insurance. Finally, the driver could have outstanding arrest warrants or be fleeing from another crime when he or she hit the cyclist.
What To Do At The Accident Scene?
First, always call the police or have a bystander call for you. These accidents must always be reported to the police because insurance companies look for a police report in order to consider your claim. Police are on a timetable, so when you give your report, stick to the facts of what happened—the time, the location, the situation, traffic lights, right of way, and other similar details. The police will need to come to the accident scene and denote your injuries. Police will call paramedics if your injuries are severe enough to require emergency room treatment. Even if you don’t feel injured, always get medical attention. Many people don’t feel symptoms until days or even weeks later. Err on the side of caution—it is better to be safe than sorry. You’re probably more injured than you think you are.
After your injuries are addressed, it is important to preserve all the evidence from the accident scene. Your wrecked bike is the most important thing to preserve, as is torn clothing or a damaged helmet. Take as many photos as you can of the accident scene, including all your visible injuries. Get contact information from all witnesses at the scene, and ask them if they’d be willing to make a statement or perhaps even testify on your behalf. They may have seen something or may remember something later that could help you or the police. Pedestrians are always key to helping cyclists in these situations; they can be a huge help by calling police and paramedics, taking pictures, and talking to other witnesses about what happened.
Lawyers refer to what to do at the accident scene as the “three P’s”—police, photos, and people (witnesses), so remember these the next time you’re on your bike.
What To Do Soon After The Accident?
Call both your motorist insurance and your medical insurance. The sooner you file a claim, the better. If the driver is never caught, your own insurance policies may be your only source of help. Contact a lawyer right away, and save every medical bill that you incur.
Locating the Driver
Only about half of drivers in hit-and-run accidents are found. If you are lucky enough to find the driver, a lawyer from our firm can help you file a claim or lawsuit right away. If the driver has insurance, be aware that his or her insurance company will try to lay some of the blame at your feet as the cyclist. Their insurance company will try to get you to give them a written statement or an audio recorded statement, and they might even try to get you to give them a medical authorization. Don’t do it. Instead, contact your own lawyer first.
You must always show an effort to try to find the hit-and-run driver. Perhaps a witness got a license plate number or a description of the car. If the driver still cannot be found, your insurance policy may cover the accident. You can still try to seek compensation through your own insurance company, but this can be difficult. Your insurance company will try not to pay the claim, therefore you may need a lawyer to help you fight your own insurance company.
The Importance of a Lawyer
It is always important to contact a bicycle accident lawyer as soon as possible after any bicycle hit-and-run. Our Bellevue law firm has extensive experience working on these cases. We offer a free consultation and case evaluation, and while we prefer to see you in person to discuss the case, we can potentially handle this over the phone or even by email. When you initially contact us, there is absolutely no further obligation on your part. If you do decide to retain our legal services, no fees are due from you unless we obtain a settlement on your behalf. Our goal is always to obtain a maximum compensation for you, in hit-and-run cases, we always want to start the investigation as soon as we can, so contact us today. We’ll get started working for you.