Few things are worse than those first few minutes after a crash with a motorist. You might not be able to tell yet how injured you are, or if your bike is still rideable. You’re probably facing a driver who is just as distressed as you are. Emotions and adrenaline are running high for everyone. It’s a tough time to try to think clearly, but there are some things you need to do to make sure your rights are protected after the fact.
In order to make them easier to remember, I’ve narrowed the list down to two main points. After determining if you’re injured and calling an ambulance, here are the two things you need to think about following a crash (in order of importance):
1) the driver’s information, and 2) witnesses.
Sure, there are other things that matter, like not admitting fault (don’t do that) and giving a statement to the police (that can wait if you’re too shaken up), but those things are way down the list. Driver’s info and witnesses are at the very top—trust me on this.
1. Driver’s information: Once you’ve established that you’re ok physically, the most crucial thing to do is collect the driver’s info. All of it would be nice, but if you can only get one piece of data, make it the vehicle’s license plate. The plate number is linked to everything else you’ll need when it comes to getting your medical bills and bike repair covered, so it’s absolutely vital.
Any additional information helps (operator’s name, email, phone number, insurance company, etc.), but the plate is your #1 priority. Luckily, it’s right there on the outside of the car (sometimes twice). If you’re facing a hostile driver, you don’t even have to ask! Snap a quick photo with your phone, and move on to step 2.
2. Witnesses: A witness account can be crucial in breaking a he said/she said dispute with a driver and getting their insurance to pay up. The problem is, most injured cyclists never end up getting the witness’s name and number before being carted off to the hospital.
If someone comes forward to say that they saw what happened or to help you up, simply ask if you can get their name and number to contact them later. Be polite and don’t pressure them, and most people will be willing to help out.
It’s that simple; if you can remember these two steps, you should be covered. Best of luck, and may you never need them.
BONUS: What about the police?
-If you made contact with another vehicle, your crash is serious enough to call to 911.
-Once they arrive, you can trust police to handle #1, but they’re not always on top of #2.