Riding a bike is therapeutic for many people. It not only lets you enjoy the weather and scenery in Chicago, but also works your muscles and blood circulation. However, in many situations beyond your control, biking can result in a serious accident or even a fatality. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), cyclists are more vulnerable to serious injuries—and fatalities—than people in other types of vehicles. This is mostly because cycling does not provide an exterior to protect the cyclist’s body from impacts. Because the biker is exposed to many dangerous injuries, it is extremely important to know your rights following an accident.
Step 1: Contact the Authorities ASAP
No one plans for an accident. It is normal to feel frazzled, confused, or overwhelmed following a crash. As a cyclist, your duties are similar to a driver in any other vehicle. Make sure to call the authorities as soon as possible. Safety should be your number one priority, as well as the safety of others. The adrenaline or shock from the accident can mislead you into thinking you are not injured and that you do not need to get yourself checked out. However, a lot of times due to the shock, the body does not experience symptoms from an accident until later. Calling 911 ensures emergency medical personnel are dispatched to assess and transport any injured individuals to the hospital, and ensures that traffic will be is diverted until the crash site can be cleared.
Calling the authorities may also help with filing an insurance claim. The authorities should make an accident report that is accessible to you and that you can send to the insurance company, which also serves as a documentation of the accident details as reported at the scene. One of the most common mistakes that people make after an accident is failing to file a police report.
If you fail to call the authorities or fail to seek medical attention, it can be more difficult to recover compensation for your injuries. It is better to be safe and to contact the authorities immediately after an accident, regardless of how minor you think the damage and any injuries may be.
Step 2: Contact Your Insurance Company
As important as it is to contact the authorities, it is equally as important to contact your insurance company. You want to contact your insurance company before the opposing party’s company contacts yours. It is important to keep them posted on your version of the accident, so they are best prepared to help you when necessary.
It is also important not to say too much to the opposing insurance company. You should always have an experienced attorney handling all questions from the opposing insurance agent. It is especially important to make sure not to let the other insurance company record anything you say or to get a statement from you. This can help prevent making any preserved statements that may be used against you. Your injury lawyer will have more experience in what to disclose and what not to disclose to an insurer. This could be vital for your case because any communication you have with the other party or their agent could be held against you and your claim. The right personal injury attorney who is experienced in handling accident claims can make a substantial difference in the outcome of your case and the amount of the settlement or damage award you recover.
Step 3: Document Everything and Preserve Everything in Its Original Condition
It is imperative to document everything that played a role in your accident. At the end of the day, it may be just your word against the opposing party. Your attorney can work to gather any evidence in your favor from the scene of the accident. It can only help to document everything you can. Take pictures of the scene of the accident right away, if you can. Also, make sure to take pictures of not only your bicycle but also the other vehicle that crashed into you. The police report and the insurance company will most likely be able to assist you better if your attorney can provide them with any evidence that you think they might have failed to collect. Similarly, it is also important to keep track of all your medical bills arising out of the accident. That should not be limited to the medical bills from the day of the accident, but also any pain or check-ups following in the days or even weeks after the accident. Document any medical expenses arising out of the accident to help keep track of your total damages.
In addition to documenting everything, you should also preserve everything in its original condition. You should not get your bike fixed before the insurance company or the police officer has had a chance to inspect it, or possibly even before the claim is settled. The same rule may apply to your clothing or any items that may have been damaged in the accident, such as a cell phone. When in doubt, preserve and document everything even if you think it could only make a minor difference in your claim. Your attorney can also advise you on what to do and what not to do in the wake of a crash.
Step 4: Contact a Chicago Attorney for a Free Consultation
Most accidents involving a negligent driver hitting a cyclist have significant legal ramifications for the negligent driver. In order to ensure you have the best chances of recovering the full compensation you deserve for your injuries and losses, you should have a Chicago bicycle accident law firm on your side. At Abels & Annes, P.C., we focus on personal injury cases and have extensive experience handling claims for cyclists injured by negligent drivers. Call us today at 312-924-7575 for a free consultation, or send us an email through our online contact form.