Our advocacy colleagues in Chicago at the Active Transportation Alliance have put together a quick list of what to do if you’re involved in a collision. I’ve wanted to put together my own what-to-do-in-a-crash bulletin but why reinvent the wheel when this solid organization has already trued a fine one? As bike advocates get progressively more organized in our grand renaissance of the bike (just over a century ago it transformed mobility in British and American cities) we find that there exist much information to access and great models out there to emulate. Consider these important points if you are involved in a collision!I’ll capture the key points here with my own annotations and steer you to the Alliance’s page for the original information. Remember, mentally preparing for the inevitable collision is as important as getting yourself together for the ride. You wouldn’t ride on a cold day without an insulated jersey or jacket, nor ride in the rain without proper clothing. Why leave home without identification or a copy of your insurance card and emergency contact information?
- Never refuse paramedics’ help. [ A ride in the ambulance is a good idea if you’re equivocating. Besides, you should be reimbursed by your insurer and would be covered should you reach an accident settlement.]
- Call the police and file a report. Insist that police come to the scene of the crash and file a report. [Can’t overstate the importance of recording the event and persisting if law enforcement is reluctant to file it. I’ve had my Animal Services Dept. report mysteriously go missing later, so be sure to get the report number – and the identifying info of the taker at the scene.]
- Get the drivers license and insurance card and if possible note the license plate. Get witness name and contact information.
- Revisit the scene at the same time of the day and ask businesses owners or neighbors if they remember anything. [This is especially important if physical conditions contributed to the collision. I’ve skidded out on a downhill, decreasing radius curve because a hillside resident decided to empty their swimming pool – and regret not pursuing it.]
- Document injuries and damage with photographs. Keep all medical documents and receipts. [Can’t overstate this one too. Have somebody help, and pay attention to lighting. Photo evidence is very hard to refute, and it establishes a basis for a pain & suffering claim.]
- Be circumspect when giving a statement to those who may represent the other party. An insurance company may call you to ask for a recorded statement about your crash. You do not have to give a statement. It is strongly advised that you seek legal advice prior to speaking with an insurance company.
That covers the basics. I will leave it to the attorneys to advise on how best to pursue a civil claim or a criminal case. There is another step you can take to ensure that the cycling community benefits from your unfortunate experience: log it with the hazards map on both Bikeside and Bikewise. By all means post the particulars of the collision and if possible attach the actual report. Report the drivers license number and plate because a later search for the same driver should turn up your record. We’re all in this together!
Thanks again to the Active Transportation Alliance’s collision page for this great start. If you know of good post-accident tips or want to share a link, please comment!