Step by step guide to a bicycle accident claim
A five-step guide to a bicycle accident claim.
According to the NHTSA, California takes the lead as the state with the most bike fatalities nationwide. Of the total auto accident deaths reported in the state, it is estimated that 3% to 4% involves cyclists. This is despite the state being the first to enact the bicycle helmet law. Other statistics show that more than 500,000 bicycle accidents survivors are hospitalized each year around the country.
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In an article in the San Diego Union-Tribune, Olinger and Ferrier of the Circulate San Diego express a concern that in most cases, there is a likelihood of officers deciding blame to favor motorists even when they are in the wrong. As a matter of fact, BikeSD has compiled some cases where a driver should have faced charges of the injury or death of a cyclist but didn’t.
With the rising number of bicycle-related accidents in San Diego, cyclists are more likely to continue bearing the burden even when they are not in the wrong. If you are a cyclist, being aware of your rights and the process of laying a bicycle accident claim will help you get a just legal redress.
Here is a step by step guide on what you should do from the scene of the accident to getting help from a professional San Diego bike accident lawyer.
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Wait for the police to respond.
When an accident occurs, do not attempt to negotiate with the at-fault driver even when they look remorseful. Most cyclists make the mistake of assuming that just because their injuries are minor, there is no need of involving the authorities. Just after an accident, you may feel okay, but have complications later. By then, the at-fault driver might change their story or even deny being involved in any accident. Also, in an outside negotiation, the driver might give inaccurate information about their identity, vehicle ownership, and insurance coverage. Avoid getting into a discussion with the driver about whose fault the accident was.
If you have to leave for the hospital before the police arrive on the scene, ensure that you record a statement with the state police as soon as possible.
Ensure that the accident report is accurate.
A complete accident report should entail the at-fault driver statement, the witness statement, and the cyclist statement. More than often, biased officers tend to leave out the cyclist statement in the report. In such instances, the officer may be trying to imply that the cyclist is at fault. In case you are involved in an accident with a motorist, ensure that you also record a statement. Also, ensure that you get the name, contact information, license plate numbers, individual license number, the vehicle model, and the name of their insurance provider and the policy number.
If the at-fault driver is hesitant to offer insurance information to you, ask the investigating police to get it for you. The law mandates the law enforcement officer to get insurance proof from the driver involved in the accident. If you missed recording a statement on the scene, consult your San Diego accident lawyer for a way forward. If your injuries are such that you have to leave the scene of the accident, ask a bystander or a witness to help you to collect the details of the accident.
If possible, get accident scene photos.
Apart from the evidence collected by the law enforcement officer, you might need some evidence of your own. If you are involved in an accident, taking photos of the scene with your Smartphone or camera is the best way to collect evidence. The photos may come in handy with your lawyer or insurer if you decide to pursue a legal action. Taking photos immediately after the accident will ensure that every piece of evidence is captured before it is lost.
If your bicycle has suffered damage in the accident, you should have it photographed and leave it as it is until the case is settled.
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Seek immediate medical attention for your injuries.
Even when the sustained injuries may look minor, ensure that you seek treatment the soonest. The medical report generated in your examination will be used as proof that you have been injured in the accident. Have photos of your injuries taken and keep a journal of your physical symptoms, starting from the day of the accident.
If an ambulance shows up and after examination, it is recommended you be taken to the hospital emergency room, go with them. Otherwise, ensure that you get someone to drive you to the hospital not long after the accident.
Contact a bike accident attorney.
Before you start communicating with your insurer, ensure that you contact a lawyer who is experienced in bike accident related cases. Contacting the insurer before the attorney will give them an opportunity to gather information to be used against you. With the best San Diego bike accident lawyer, you will be advised of the best approach to a legal action. If possible, get a lawyer who is a cyclist for they are likely to understand better the situation.
The bike accident lawyer will not only represent you in a lawsuit but will negotiate with the insurance company. If need be, the lawyer will also advise you on the best bike accident expert to conduct an investigation of the accident by collecting evidence on the scene.
Even when most motorists are likely to harass cyclists on the road, being aware of your rights and taking the necessary steps after a bike accident will help you present a case and get compensation. With the rising awareness of the rights of cyclists, there is a ray of hope that the number of bike related accidents will reduce. If you get involved in a bike accident or motorcycle accident, always ensure that you get help from a San Diego motorcycle attorney who is experienced in such cases. With the best San Diego injury lawyer, you will get advice on the best approach to your case and your insurer. Always remember that it is not advisable to negotiate with the at-fault driver even when they have accepted liability.
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