Many New Jersey residents prefer using bicycles as a form of exercise, leisure, and transport. However, regardless of the safety precautions you take, there is always a likelihood of being involved in an accident.
Though no one gets on a bike expecting to get in an accident, knowing the steps to take should you be involved in one is essential in helping you stay in control of the situation and ensuring that your rights are protected.
Common Causes of Bike Accidents
The following are some of the common causes of bike accidents in New Jersey.
Poor Road Quality
It is not uncommon to come across a road full of potholes or other obstructions. Unfortunately, it can be challenging to avoid some of these obstacles, especially when traveling at night or high speeds.
Drivers pose one of the most significant threats to cyclists. On top of that, the injuries sustained after a collision with a car at full speed can be fatal.
Pedestrians and Other Cyclists
If you often ride your bike in areas populated with other cyclists, you could easily end up colliding with another rider. Pedestrians could also cause you to crash your bike.
You could also cause an accident, especially when you are not paying attention to the road and your surroundings.
Regardless of the cause, bike accidents can lead to severe injuries, such as:
- Broken Bones: The accident’s impact can cause broken bones and, in extreme cases, spinal injuries.
- Head Injuries: A hard fall could lead to head injuries that might develop into lifelong issues.
- Fatalities: In extreme cases, a bicycle accident could cause fatalities, especially in crashes involving vehicles.
Steps To Take After Being Involved in an Accident
Ensure Your Safety
The first step after crashing your bike is getting yourself away from further harm. If you are in a position to, get off the road.
Once you are at a safe distance, take a moment to recollect yourself and assess your injuries. If you feel light-headed, sitting or lying down can help. You could get one of the bystanders to call an ambulance for you if your injuries are more severe.
Call 911 and Wait for the Police To Arrive
You must avoid talking to anyone about the accident, especially the person who could be at fault. Their insurance company could use anything you say as potential evidence against you.
For instance, if you say, ‘I did not see the car before it hit me,’ an insurance company could claim that you were not paying attention. Instead, call 911 and wait for the police to arrive at the scene.
Neither you nor the motorist should leave the accident scene, even if you believe your injuries to be minor. Injuries that seemed insignificant at first could develop into permanent and severe problems later.
Don’t Negotiate With the Driver
Do not attempt to negotiate with the driver, even if they accept blame and apologize for the accident. Some drivers might accept responsibility only to deny their negligence later. Some might even deny their presence at the accident.
Also, you might not know the full extent of your injuries and the damage to your bike. The driver could try to take advantage of this, knowing that they would be liable for a lot more when the true extent of the injuries and damages are revealed.
Document What Happened
Document what occurred as you wait for the police to arrive. Try to make mental notes of how the accident happened and where and when it occurred. We recommend writing all this information down, including the traffic, road, and weather conditions.
If you have your phone with you, take several photos of the accident from different angles. Also, take pictures of the damage your bike has sustained.
Document Your Injuries
Remember to document your injuries as well. Even if they are minor, it helps to seek medical attention because the medical records will prove the extent of your injuries. You should also take photos of the injuries as soon as possible after the crash.
Obtain Driver Contact Information
If the accident involved a motorist, get their name, vehicle identification number, driver’s license number, insurance information, address, and phone number. The car’s color, make, and model could also be helpful information. You could ask a bystander to do it for you if you cannot do it yourself.
Obtain Witness Contact Information
It also helps to get the contact information of any witness who’s willing to give an account of what they saw happen. It is not uncommon for the one at fault to change their story later on, so having someone the police can contact to back your story up is crucial.
Ensure the Police Take Your Report
Sometimes, the police officer might only focus on recording the motorist’s version of events, neglecting your side. Do all you can to ensure that the officer includes your version of events in their report.
Ensure that the officer has noted the correct details and let the officer know that you are aware of the laws the driver has broken. Also, be sure to report all the damages and injuries sustained, no matter how minor they are.
If even after your best efforts, the officer refuses to write your statement in their accident report, you can write the report number down and request that the report be modified or amended.
Request a Copy of the Report
The accident report could help if you decide to file a claim with the motorist’s insurance company, so ask the officer how to get a copy for your records.
Preserve All the Evidence
Remember that the burden of collecting evidence will fall upon you. Therefore, ensure that you preserve all forms of evidence, such as medical reports and accident photos.
It is also essential that you leave your bicycle and any other damaged property in the same state after the accident. If your bike or its accessories have damage from the accident, do not replace or fix them.
Instead, take your bike to a repair shop and get a written document of all the damages. You should also get a quote, in writing, for the repairs. If your bike is a write-off, get a quote for an exact replacement. Also, ensure that you keep all the damaged clothing and do not wash it.
If you incur any costs resulting from the accident, like public transportation costs because you cannot cycle, keep the receipts.
Never Negotiate With the Driver’s Insurance Company!!!!!!!!!!!
You might decide to file a claim with the motorist’s insurance company. However, it is essential that you avoid speaking or negotiating with the insurance company directly. Sometimes the company might take an adversarial position, taking advantage of the things you say and to whom you say them.
Also, insurance companies are experts at mitigating claims. In some cases, the driver’s insurance company could call you to try and settle before you can gauge the extent of the injuries and damages caused.
Instead, only deal with your insurer if you have one. Though it is not a mandate, some cyclists choose to get accident and third-party liability cover through cycle insurance policies, household insurance policies, or cycling organizations. If you do have insurance, refer any correspondence from a third party to your insurer.
Seek Advice From an Attorney
Many of the bike accidents that occur usually involve complex legal matters. If you do not have insurance and would still like to file a claim, do not proceed before seeking advice from a professional personal injury attorney who deals with bicycle accident cases or understands bicycling.
The attorney will advise you on whether you have a valid claim and will also negotiate with the motorist’s insurance company on your behalf. Sometimes, it might take a simple letter from your attorney to resolve the issue without going through the legal pitfalls.
Your attorney could also represent you in a lawsuit should the case proceed to court. Additionally, you could have a bicycle accident expert investigate the crash. The expert could photograph the scene, measure and diagram the area, speak with the witnesses, and obtain skid mark measurements. If necessary, they could even represent you in a lawsuit.
Finding a Personal Injury Lawyer in New Jersey for Your Bike Accident
Having a personal injury lawyer handle your case would allow you to focus on your recovery, knowing that your legal matters are in the hands of a professional. However, finding an attorney you can trust is not always easy.
Are you finding it challenging to find a personal injury lawyer in New Jersey who can handle your case? If you are, turn to Sadaka Associates.
We understand how stressful and complicated filing a personal injury claim can be. As such, we have a team of personal injury attorneys who are ready to offer you legal assistance and representation throughout the entire legal process.
Reach out to Sadaka Associates today at (800) 810-3457 for the legal assistance you need.