Biking is one of the best ways to get around in the city. You’re not subject to traffic and parking issues that make ride-sharing and driving cumbersome. And it’s often faster than taking public transit.
However, collisions with automobiles are a major risk for cyclists here, making bicycle accidents a common cause of serious injury. A recent accident involving bicyclists on the 28th Annual NYC Century Bike Tour illustrates this point. An unlicensed driver who was likely drunk rammed four bicyclists with his car at a stoplight in Brooklyn. One victim was taken to the hospital in serious condition, and another was treated for minor injuries.
If you ride your bicycle for transportation in New York, it’s important to know what to do in the event of an accident – both to stay safe and to keep open the possibility of filing a personal injury lawsuit in the event of serious injuries.
What steps should you take after an incident?
Get off the Road
To prevent more damage from occurring, it is essential to get off the road after a bicycle accident. This prevents further injury to you, and may prevent a collision between motorists attempting to avoid the scene.
Directly after a collision, you may be unaware of the extent of your injuries due to adrenaline. To keep from injuring yourself further, take a little bit of extra time getting up. Absolutely do not attempt to get back on your bicycle until you’re sure that you’re not injured and the bicycle has not been damaged.
Basic First Aid
Before you get up, check your body. Do you feel your limbs? Are your bones intact? Do you have cuts or abrasions? Is there a lot of blood? If you are seriously injured, you should not risk moving too much without medical attention.
Monitor for a Concussion
Concussions are a major risk for bicycle accidents, and require immediate medical attention. Check to see if your helmet is cracked or bent. If you’re disoriented or confused and don’t know where you are right away, it’s likely that you have one, and should seek out emergency medical care.
Wait for Police to Arrive
Even if you don’t suspect that you’re injured, you should call the police as soon as possible (911), and wait for them to arrive on the scene. Some cyclists don’t realize they’re injured until several hours after a bicycle accident because (as mentioned above) adrenaline often masks pain. If you leave the scene of the accident and later discover that you have been injured, you are unlikely to ever identify the at-fault driver.
Make Sure You Give a Statement
Police will sometimes take a statement from the motorist and not bother to talk to the cyclist after a bicycle accident. Make sure to get your side of the story into the accident report. Report all of your injuries, even if they seem minor at the time, as they may be more serious later.
Keep Contact Info and Plate Numbers
Take a picture of the motorist’s license plate with your phone, and if possible get some pictures of the scene. Also make sure to retain the motorist’s contact information by taking a picture of their license and insurance registration. Remember to ensure they give you the correct phone number. A good way to do this is to offer to call their phone so that they have your number, too. Further, collect contact information from anyone who witnessed the accident.
Don’t Negotiate with the Driver
An uneasy motorist may attempt to negotiate with you in order to get out of being held liable for their actions. A driver can apologize and accept blame. Then he or she may have second thoughts afterwards and may even deny having been at the scene of the accident. Do everything you can to keep the motorist at the scene of the accident with you until police arrive.
Document Your Injuries
If you think that you may be injured, seek emergency medical attention. It is likely that your injuries are worse than they appear at the time of the accident. So, regardless, you should be checked out by medical professionals for your own safety. This will also document that you were injured, and that your injuries were severe enough to require emergency treatment in the event that you later decide to file a personal injury lawsuit.
Don’t Repair Your Bike
In the event of a personal injury suit, damages to your bicycle will likely be an important piece of evidence. Wait to repair your bike until you’ve verified that you are not injured.
Seek the Help of a Legal Professional
If you are injured in a bicycle accident and a motorist is at fault, you should consider seeking compensation for your injuries. Seeking compensation can address any financial concerns arising from the accident, and can hold the negligent driver accountable for his or her actions. A knowledgeable New York personal injury attorney can help to evaluate your case and fight for the compensation you deserve for your injuries.