Protect Your Rights with Help from a Bicycle Accident Attorney
Every year, around 720 bicyclists die due to crashes, as any bicycle accident attorney will tell you. Although cycling only accounts for 1% of all modes of transportation in the U.S., deaths related to cycling account for a total of 2% of all fatal vehicular accidents every year. Statistics also show that 11% of all road accidents involve hit-and-run drivers.
People flee from the person they injured because they can get away with it, especially in areas where there are no witnesses. They flee the scene because they are hiding something. Maybe they are drunk driving or have contraband and illegal drugs with them. Some people do not have a driver’s license, have too many traffic violation tickets to deal with, or are in the country illegally. Some are just completely inhumane and refuse to take responsibility.
Whatever their reasons are, hit-and-run is a crime. Anybody who leaves the scene of the accident without stopping to offer aid is committing a crime. They are legally liable to go to jail.
But the question remains: if you are the victim of a hit-and-run accident, what should you do?
Call the Police and Gather Evidence
Unless you are severely injured, the first thing to do is to call the cops. In all states, a hit-and-run is a criminal liability. And because of this, the police force has to provide assistance. However, the reality is that the case is not going to be a priority. It is very likely that they will assign your case to the traffic enforcers or CAPERS (crimes against persons).
If you are lucky enough to know the car’s plate numbers, the police will quickly identify the owner and apprehend him. In this case, it makes sense to contact a bicycle accident attorney to help you with the legalities. If you do not have the car’s details, you better start talking to witnesses.
Eyewitnesses are critical to an investigation and conviction. Even if you have the plate number, you must positively identify the driver. What you have to do is to start talking to people who live around the crime scene, or were there at the time of the accident. If the accident happened in an urban location, you have to talk to business owners and ask for their camera footage. If they refuse, your bicycle accident attorney can help you get a subpoena. In a smaller neighborhood, start asking people. They may know who the driver is if you tell them the car’s color. Some of them may even volunteer information – that they saw the driver speeding away, for instance.
Call Your Insurance Company
You need to do this within 24 hours. In most states, you only have a 24-hour window to report an accident. By filing a claim, you can recover your medical expenses and the damages to the bike. In some insurance policies, they will cover your lost wages and repair bills. Do not worry about your rates going up when it is time to renew because the accident is not your fault.
On the other hand, you may be successful in identifying the driver. In this case, the insurance benefits will come from the driver’s insurance company, not yours. This claim is called a personal injury compensation claim. This claim should easy. If the driver refuses, just tell him that you will sue.
However, if the driver has no insurance at all, a lawyer can help you make a claim with the Motor Insurers Bureau (MIB). It is an organization that deals with cases of damage and personal injury for uninsured drivers (at fault) or victims of untraced drivers. Although you can deal with this organization yourself, the process is complicated, so it is best to ask for a lawyer’s help.
Call Your Health Insurance
Even if you are not severely injured, you should go to the hospital and talk to a physician. Medical tests will ensure that your bones and internal organs are fine. Ideally, you should do this also within 24 hours of the accident.
A lot of bicycle accidents involve serious injuries that only manifest later on. It is best that you also ask your doctor to recommend a brain or skull x-ray if your head is in pain or feels off at all. This test is to ensure that a headache you are feeling is natural and it is not due to the accident. Internal bleeding can also happen and will only show signs and symptoms a few days after the crash, so it is best to get medical help as soon as possible – before it is too late.
Accidents happen. You can’t do anything about that fact. However, you can take steps to strengthen your claim after a crash happens. It is ultimately up to you to hold the driver accountable. Remember, if you do not take the right steps, and you only report the accident a few weeks later, insurance companies and the police will find your statements doubtful and your claim won’t have any legs.