Accidents are a part of cycling. It is inevitable; if you ride your bike long enough, at some point you will crash. Overlapping a wheel, sliding out in a corner, hitting a pothole – all of these are common causes of bicycle accidents. What scares a cyclist the most is the accident that involves an automobile. Every year, cyclists are severely injured, and some even die, through the negligence of someone operating a motor vehicle. Although cyclists enjoy the same rights and responsibilities as motorists, and even if the accident is not the cyclist’s fault, we, the cyclists, usually wind up the big loser. Since cyclists don’t have airbags to deploy, seat belts to restrain our bodies from the impact or thousands of pounds of metal surrounding us to protect us, serious injury as a result of an accident with a motor vehicle is all but inevitable. To add insult to injury, the prevailing prejudice against cyclists is that we are somehow at fault and do not deserve to be riding our bikes on the roads in the first place. Based on my own personal experiences on my bike, as well as my experiences representing injured cyclists, I have learned that certain things must be done immediately to protect your rights:

  1. Always call the police and insist that the investigating officer files a police report;
  2. Make sure to exchange insurance information with the driver of the motor vehicle;
  3. Obtain the names, telephone numbers and addresses of all witnesses;
  4. Take pictures of your bike as well as any bodily injuries you have sustained;
  5. Obtain necessary medical treatment and keep all bills and records from these visits;
  6. Never give a statement to the defendant driver’s insurance company
  7. Never, ever give a statement to the defendant driver’s insurance company.
  8. No, really, I’m serious. Never, ever, ever give a statement to the defendant driver’s insurance company.

Of course, this is not an exhaustive list of what should or should not be done if you are the victim of a negligent driver. You, or someone working on your behalf, should remember to preserve evidence as soon as possible. This may include taking statements of all the witnesses and the defendant driver of the automobile, taking pictures of the bicycle and the defendant driver’s automobile and the intersection or roadway where the accident occurred.

Never lose your temper or become belligerent with the driver of the automobile. Most accidents occur as the result of somebody’s unintended negligence. Stay calm, contact a friend or a family member and immediately start building your case in order to protect your legal rights.

Click this link to view a panel discussion on Cycling Safety with WRAL’s David Crabtree, News & Observer Executive Editor John Drescher, Sheriff Donnie Harrison and Attorney Stacy Miller. Stacy Miller is an avid cyclist and a USCEF licensed racer.

For more information, contact Miller Law Group, PLLC, in Raleigh by calling 919-348-4361, or you may contact us online.