by Noah Manion
One of the scariest things about cycling in a city is the thought that you might get into a crash. Fortunately you can keep a bad situation from turning into a worse one if you consider a few things both before you ride and if the worst case scenario happens. Preparation starts before you even get on your bike when you consider things like insurance, cameras and a plan for what happens if you do get into a crash.
Before You Ride
You may not have considered it, but there are bike components that can help you in the event of a crash: Cameras. Oftentimes it will be your side of the story against that of the other person. Having bike mounted cameras can help Accident Investigators piece together what happened. Finally, let a family member or friend know that you’re riding with cameras in the event that you’re not immediately able to tell your side of the story, the footage can be seen. Bike Lane Uprising has compiled hundreds of reviews on bike mounted cameras that you can use
One thing that’s very important, especially if you often ride with others, is to create a plan of what to do if a crash occurs. While the remainder of this article will outline the best things to do after a crash, having a plan in place with a riding partner can help in the traumatic moments immediately after a crash. Finally, emergency workers are trained to look at your phone’s contact list for contacts labeled ICE or “In Case of Emergency”. They can then contact your family and friends about your condition and whereabouts if you’re unable to do it yourself.
If you get into a crash
Okay, now onto the scary part. What should happen if you’re involved in a crash on your bike. The first thing you should do is... Nothing. Stay down. Your first inclination might be to
stand back up, but you may end up injuring yourself further. While you’re down, figure out what body parts you can and can’t move and where you’re feeling pain. If you find that you have neck pain, feel numbness, can’t move a limb or are in pain, have a bystander call 911. If you’re relatively okay with little pain and can move limbs then you may be able to get up and call 911 yourself.
If you’re able to get up, the first thing you should do is document everything about the crash. Take pictures of the scene, your bike as lies, the car, especially license plates. If possible, take videos of any potential apologies of admissions of fault by the driver as someone who initially admits fault may change their mind once they realize they’re on the hook for damages.
You should also exchange information with the driver. You’ll want to get their full name, phone number, email, home address, insurance policy provider and policy number. If the police are called, you should also note the name and badge numbers of the responding officers. Depending on where you live, you may be able to get an “Accident Report” immediately or you may need to wait and get the report in a few days. You should make sure to ask when and where you can get a copy of the “Accident Report”. If you need medical attention, save the paperwork for reimbursement by the driver’s insurance company.
If you’re unable to locate witnesses (or even if you are), security cameras can be a good option to get evidence. When you’re feeling better, return to the scene of the crash. Look around for any businesses that have external security cameras and don’t forget to look on light or telephone poles. Some cities have installed cameras at select locations. If there are any businesses nearby that don’t have visible cameras, it can also be helpful to call and let them know you were involved in a crash nearby and if they have any cameras that might have captured what happened. If you do decide to canvass for camera footage, do so quickly as many systems record over existing footage within a few days.
File a claim
Assuming you have information for the other party, reach out to their insurance company and let them know you were involved in an accident. The insurance company will likely need your information and a copy of the accident report. They’ll also likely ask you what happened, so describe honestly what happened. It’s best to be as detailed as possible. I’ve had times where the driver filed a claim and the insurance company reached out to me and I’ve also had experiences where I was the first to contact the driver’s insurance company.
Something to note about fault: some states have “no-fault” laws where insurance companies don’t try to assign fault to a particular party and will reimburse you for damages, medical bills and any lost wages. Please note that not all medical bills may be covered.
As far as getting damages to your bike reimbursed, it’s important to remember that most adjusters don’t have much experience with bike damages. I’ve had experiences with insurance companies who simply asked me to get a repair/replacement estimate from a bike shop and I’ve had other companies who have asked for an estimate and then cross referenced that with other sources.
A lot of insurance companies use a service called Bicycle Blue Book. Bicycle Blue Book IS NOT IN ANY WAY affiliated with Kelley Blue Book. It’s important to know that BBB is a company that was formed by several bike enthusiasts to help buyers determine pricing for a bicycle marketplace they run. In my experience, the prices listed for a lot of models are well below what you’d be able to find on sources like eBay or Facebook Marketplace. Do research and find pricing for similar models at bike shops and online marketplaces. Remember that in order to get reimbursed, you’ll need to agree that you won’t seek additional damages
Lastly, be sure to see a medical professional to make sure you're ok- adrenaline can mask a lot. There are also attorney's who specialize in bike law who can help you navigate the legal aspects. Depending on the severity of the crash, you can make sure your bike is safe to ride at a local bike shop.
Disclaimer: The information provided above is aimed to provide useful information. This should not be confused with legal advice.