What You Need to Know When You Are Involved In a Crash
New York Bike Crash Attorneys Jim Reed and Dan Flanzig offer NY Cyclists Some Handy Advice…
We hope you never need this advice but knowing what to do in the seconds; minutes and hours after you have been hit can make a huge difference. Jim, who has been involved in a serious crash, is all too familiar with the experience. Let this knowledge, together with our combined 50 years of experience representing injured NY cyclists, provide you with some guidance.
Let’s first state the obvious: do everything in your power to NOT get hit in the first place. We don’t want to receive that phone call from you. Ride defensively, wear bright clothes, use strobe lights and positon yourself properly on the roadway. Try to avoid dangerous roadways and situations that make you more vulnerable to being hit.
Unfortunately, even doing everything right is no guarantee that you won’t be hit, so it is critically important that every cyclist know exactly what do after you have been involved in a crash.
After the crash, try to remain calm, SLOW DOWN and THINK.
We know this sounds impossible. If you can remain calm, you will be able to avoid further injury to yourself and be able to make critically important decisions. Being hit creates a tremendous amount of adrenaline making it very difficult to remain calm. Consciously tell yourself: “SLOW DOWN AND THINK.”
Get to a position of safety.
If you are physically able to, get off the roadway, over to the shoulder or another place of safety. Don’t expose yourself or your rescuers to further injury.
Assess your injuries.
Are you bleeding? Perform a body assessment. Can you move your limbs? Can you breathe freely?
Don’t be a hero. If injured, call 911 or seek immediate medical care and report ALL injuries.
It is important to report all injuries because it is our natural inclination only to focus on the most serious of injuries but oftentimes it is an injury that originally seems minor that becomes more serious later. You want to make sure all injured this body part gets properly examined.
ALWAYS call the police even if you don’t think you are injured. We believe it is necessary to file a Police Accident Report in EVERY collision for insurance purposes.
ALWAYS tell the officer you want to file a formal accident report even the officer suggests a report isn’t necessary. If the officer refuses to file a report, ask for a supervisor. If that still doesn’t work go immediately to the police station yourself and politely insist on filing a report “for insurance purposes”.
You need to tell the officer politely your version of how the collision occurred. If you believe, the motorist is at fault you need to explain clearly to the officer exactly what the motorist did wrong. Please understand that some officers are openly hostile to cyclists so if you encounter a hostile officer it is important that you remain calm and politely insist on speaking to a supervising officer.
Gather accident information.
Get as much information about the driver who injured you, specifically name, phone number, address, insurance and vehicle information including license plate number.
Get the names and contact information of any witnesses. Asking for a business card is a great way to collect the witness information. DO NOT rely upon the police to do it for you. I have countless cases where the witness information is not on the police report once it is obtained.
If you can, take pictures. If you can, take pictures of the scene, including the car and its license plate, damage to your bike, road signs, and any road defect that may have caused or contributed to your crash.
Think before you speak.
What you say to the driver, police or witnesses can be used against you in determining fault. Don’t apologize or negotiate with the other party.
Be very careful about what you say to insurance companies.
Remember, most of your conversations with insurance adjusters are being recorded. Don’t be fooled. They are trained to sound sympathetic to your injuries. However, they are paid to minimize the compensation paid to you. Part of this involves getting you to admit that you were fully or partially at fault or to admit that you were not badly injured. Do NOT fall into the trap of thinking any insurance adjuster is on your side as their goal is save the insurance company money, NOT help you.
Report your bike collision to all appropriate insurance carriers.
Figuring out the correct insurance carrier(s) responsible for paying the bills in your bike case can be difficult, and that is we recommend speaking with a bike crash lawyer ASAP. An experienced bike crash attorney will know the correct carrier(s) to report your collision. Any good bike crash lawyer will provide this guidance for free.
Typical insurance carriers that might be involved in your case include the driver’s insurance carrier who provides both liability and no fault coverage, your car insurance carrier for uninsured or underinsurance claims, your disability insurance carrier and even potentially your own health insurance carrier if the car has inadequate coverage to cover your medical bills. If it is a hit and run or the car is not insured, you may need to pursue a MVAIC claim. It is critically important that all appropriate carriers be promptly put on notice, or your claim may be denied.
Get your bike checked out by an experienced bicycle mechanic.
Sometimes the damage to your bike can be very subtle, especially in the case of carbon fiber bikes. It is important that you have your bike carefully checked out by a mechanic to make sure it is still safe to ride.
Have the mechanic document ALL damage, even subtle damage, because you will need an estimate of all necessary repairs to present to the insurance carrier for reimbursement.
Make a list of all add-ons and modifications. Did you change your cranks or gear set? Those items should be included in addition to the cost of the bike.
Take detailed pictures of ALL damage to your bike.
These are some of our guidelines on what to do if you are involved in a Bike or Bike Share crash or accident. They are provided by Daniel Flanzig Esq. of NewYorkBikeLawyers.com (Flanzig and Flanzig, LLP) and Jim Reed, Esq. of Zifflaw.com. We are New York Attorneys focusing in the rights and protection of cyclists across New York. Nothing on this page should be construed as legal advice nor does the use of this page or column create an attorney/client relationship. The advice on this page offers a general overview of the laws in New York. Remember, every incident or claim is specific, and the guidelines may not be applicable to your particular case. As always, we suggest contacting an attorney with any legal claim or issue before taking action on your own behalf.
For more essential Bike Law information, check out NYBC’s Wheels of Justice blog and the selections below:
- What You Need to Know When Your’e Involved in a Crash
- What to Do after a Bike Share Crash
- A Guide to Understanding Bicycle Damage Claim in New York State
- A Summary of New York State Bike Laws
- Vulnerable Road User Law
- Another NYBC post on Vulnerable Road User Laws
- Understanding No Fault Laws in New York
- What to do if you’re involved in a hit-and-run crash or collision with an uninsured or underinsured vehicle?
- What Is a Safe Passing Distance for Motorists?
- Insurance Coverage