Whether you ride your bike occasionally for fun or regularly for exercise, you face risks every time you ride. Although cyclists have the same rights and privileges as drivers, many drivers treat bicycle riders as inferior road users.
If you’ve been cycling for long, you’ve likely experienced many dangerous situations, such as:
Drivers coming too close to your back wheel
Drivers passing you without providing adequate room
Drivers failing to see you on the road
Make no mistake about it; it’s dangerous to ride your bike on city streets. In fact, statistics from the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) indicate that bicycle accidents accounted for 814 fatalities annually during a recent four-year span.
Here are the most common types of bicycle accidents you need to be aware of and some simple steps to take if you are involved in a traffic accident.
Most Common Bicycle Accidents That Cause Injuries
These are the most dangerous types of bicycle accidents:
- The Right Hook: The right hook is one of the most common kinds of bicycle accidents. It occurs when a driver makes a right turn onto a cross street, parking lot, or driveway and runs into a cyclist who is on the driver’s right. The driver may not see the bicycle rider, or they may think they have enough time to turn before he or she gets there.
- The Left Hook (a.k.a. The Left Cross): The left hook happens when a driver makes a left turn at an intersection and directly blocks a cyclist who is crossing the intersection in the opposite direction. Again, these accidents are often the result of the vehicle driver’s failure to see the cyclist.
- The Door Prize (a.k.a. Dooring): Dooring occurs when a cyclist is passing a parked car, and a person in the car suddenly opens their door directly in the bicyclist’s path. Even though doorings don’t involve a moving vehicle, the injuries from this type of accident are often very serious.
- Rear End: Whenever a bicycle rider needs to move over into the left traffic lane to make a left turn, they are vulnerable to a rear-end collision. Rear-end collisions also occur on streets with no bike lanes where the cyclists are left to share the road with traffic.
What Should You Do in the Days After an Accident?
Even though most cyclists understand the potential risks that come with riding, most do not know what to do in the event they are in a wreck. Of course, you should first attend to your injuries and, if you can, the injuries of others. And the usual accident protocols are in order, such as getting a police report and exchanging contact and insurance information.
But then what? If you are injured, how do you pay your medical bills? How do you protect yourself from an insurance company claiming that the accident was your fault? Here is a checklist of best practices to consider.
Seek Medical Attention
Naturally, if you are dealing with injuries from a bicycle accident, seek professional medical care immediately. Even if you don’t notice any injuries at the scene, it’s a good idea to see your doctor, as many serious injuries don’t show symptoms until later. Make sure to follow any treatment plan and follow-up appointments your doctor prescribes.
Get a Copy of the Police Report
Many bicycle collisions are not serious enough to warrant a police report. Also, some law enforcement agencies do not show up for bicycle accidents unless there is a serious injury. But for most bike vs. car accidents, the police will show up on the scene and write a report of what happened.
Contact the police department and ask for a copy of the report. It can act as a credible record of the accident that can help to protect you from being wrongfully blamed for causing the accident. It can also support your claims should you seek compensation for damages
Document the Accident
Document the accident while the details are still fresh in your mind. You never know when you may need it. It could come in handy if you ever want to pursue financial recovery for damages.
In your report, write out how the accident occurred as you remember it. List contact information you may have gathered at the scene from other parties and witnesses. Pictures of your injuries, the location of the incident, the other vehicles involved, and your bike are also good evidence.
Consult a Bike Accident Attorney
Just as seeing a physician is important for your recovery, consulting a lawyer is vital to protecting yourself legally and financially. A bicycle accident lawyer can answer your questions, review the accident details, and discuss the viability of your case. In addition, if you proceed with a claim, a lawyer can ensure that you get all the compensation the law allows.
Do Not Ride Your Bike While You Heal
If you are pursuing financial recovery compensation, you will want to keep your bike in the same condition it was at the time of the accident. In addition, if you engage in physical activity, the insurance company may use it as a way to reduce your settlement offer.
Keep Copies of All Medical Bills and Receipts
If you are dealing with injuries from the crash, keep all your medical bills and receipts as well as any documents you receive from insurance companies and other parties. Your accident attorney will need all the information you can provide to support damage claims.
The Bottom Line
The sad reality is that if you ride a bike, the odds are you will be in a bicycle accident at some point. If you’ve recently been in a bike accident, take care of your health first and foremost by seeing a doctor and following the suggested treatment plan.
While your doctor is overseeing your medical recovery, make sure you get help from a bicycle attorney to oversee your financial recovery and legal protection. A bicycle accident attorney can help you obtain the money you need to cover your medical bills and other damages, including lost wages, reduced earning capacity, pain and suffering, and emotional distress.