Proper Procedure Following an Accident
Los Angeles is well known as one of America’s most perilous cities for cyclists. As of 2011, Census data showed 84% of LA-area commuters drove to work, with about 43% taking 30 minutes or more to reach their destination. By contrast, less than 1% of commuters were cyclists.
In 2013, almost half of LA traffic accidents were hit-and-runs. In these conditions, cyclists need to be cautious whenever they are biking.
If you are struck by a car while cycling, you should do the following:
Contact 911 – Get Police and EMS on Scene
Contacting police does not guarantee an accident report will be filed. That said, taking this step makes it more likely. If an officer questions you about the accident, speak to him or her – and no one else. Bear in mind that any statements you make to other people at the scene of the accident could later be used against you by the driver’s insurance company. You can and should ask the officer to write the driver a ticket.
Get Contact Information from Witnesses
Too often, an accident comes down to the victim versus the driver. If you are able, get the names and phone numbers of witnesses on the scene. If you’re injured, ask someone else to help you do this. The police are responsible for getting information from the driver, but you should verify they have done so. Even one witness can make a huge difference.
Talk to the Officer About the Accident Report
Before police leave, go over the details of the incident again. They are only human, and can misinterpret statements – it is much easier to correct any errors on-site. You will most likely not be able to get a copy of the report from the officer at the time of writing, but should verify how to get one once it is filed. The police department or local courthouse typically retains these records. Ask the officer for an incident report number. Also, obtain identifying information about the driver, his or her car, and insurance coverage.
Take Pictures of the Car, Bike and Bike Lane, Surroundings, and Car License Plate
For taking photos of the scene, a digital camera that automatically records the date and time is best. Be sure to document any damage to the car or bicycle. Photograph the road, the curb, the environment, your injuries, any security cameras that may have recorded the crash, and the driver’s license plate.
If Injured, See a Doctor
If you’ve sustained any injuries, especially an impact to the head, see a doctor – even if you don’t have symptoms. After a collision, a concussion, whiplash, and other serious conditions can go undetected for days. Documenting injuries helps your attorney understand the damages to which you may be entitled.
Don’t Talk to the Driver’s Insurance Company
Insurance companies focus on undermining and undervaluing claims. Even when the facts are clearly against them, they may try to intimidate you into accepting an unfair settlement. Do not talk with an insurance representative, even if they act like your friend. Always let your attorney be the contact point with the driver’s insurer.
Contact a Reliable Bike Attorney in LA
When you need an LA bicycle accident attorney, it’s important to use the right law firm. Josh Cohen is the top bike accident lawyer in LA because he speaks from experience. He is a bicycle commuter and Los Angeles resident who fully understands the risks facing bicyclists daily. He uses his membership on the board of directors of the California Bicycle Coalition to advocate for laws and research that protect and benefit cyclists, improved funding for programs and infrastructure that benefit cyclists, and more. He is in the trenches, fighting for you.
Protect your rights: Call The Law Offices of Josh Cohen for a free consultation at 323-746-8531.