What to do following a cycling accident

By Dave Escandell
Published: 06:03PM BST 15 Aug 2012


Cycling can be one of the most pleasurable and safest modes of transport. However, if you do have an accident, there are some important tips you need to remember:


Self-awareness

Be aware of what's going on around you. Start from the possibility that other road users may have blind spots, tend not to see cyclists, and are not expecting cyclists. As a cyclist, you're the most vulnerable road user, so having a 'right of way' always comes with the risk you'll be knocked off of your bike.

Keep safe

If you are knocked down, the first thing to consider is your own safety. Are you still in the road and open to be hit by other vehicles? Your priority has to be to get yourself out of the road and to a footpath or kerbside. If you're unable to move, ensure you're visible in any way that you can.

Exchange details

It is a legal requirement to supply personal and insurance details after a collision. As a cyclist, you may not have insurance cover, but all motor vehicles on a public road should have it. In addition to names and address, always make a note of the vehicle registration plates, as well as make, model and colour.

Are there any witnesses?

In addition to the driver of the vehicle, as a cyclist it's often essential to get details of any independent witnesses. If you're injured and unable to do this yourself, ask a sympathetic passer by for assistance and prevent stop the driver and any witnesses from leaving the scene. Statements and evidence from independent witnesses carry a lot of weight should there be any dispute.

Police and medical assistance

The majority of injuries suffered by cyclists tend to be more severe than those suffered by other, better protected, road users. If you're injured, always contact the police and call an ambulance. Not only will they assist with the exchange of details, but their reports could prove to be very useful should a personal injury claim be made. Get the details of the attending police officer and an incident reference number, and keep them to hand.

After the event, and if you've been injured, always visit your GP and get checked over,  regardless of how minor your injuries may at first appear.

Evidence gathering

If you have a camera or mobile phone with a camera, take photos of the accident scene and the position of the vehicles. Always be wary of any driver that wishes to move their vehicle, even if it is to a 'safe' place. Take any photos before the vehicle moves if possible. If the other vehicle is damaged then photos of the area of damage would also be beneficial. The surrounding area is also important, so if possible take photos of parked vehicles, distances from junctions and any road markings or signs. Photos on mobile phones are useful, as they carry a time and date of when the photo was taken.

If cycling in a built up area, consider whether there may be CCTV footage available. Mention it to the police and find out who may be responsible for the CCTV cameras that are in the area. Are they under the control of the local authority or a private company?

In addition to photos write a full account of the accident and draw a sketch plan, too. The police should also have carried out a similar process, and it's always worth asking for a copy of or access to reports they've made. If the police intend to prosecute any party, ensure they're aware you'd like updates on the prosecution itself.

Your bicycle and goods

Bicycles aren't cheap. Remember there's potential compensation for the cost of repair or replacement.

This also extends to damaged clothing, helmet and accessories. Keep all damaged goods. If you're seeking to repair your bicycle, get more than one quote and keep them all. If you have receipts for any of the damaged items, now is a good time to dig them out.

If you've incurred financial losses as a result of your injuries, such as for medication, treatment or loss of earnings, collate documentation in support of these losses and keep them together in a safe place.

Compensation

If the accident wasn't your fault, you may be entitled to compensation.

Not all solicitors are experts in personal injury claims, particularly cycle accident claims. Your local high street solicitor may not be best suited to represent you.

These claims can pose there own challenges in respect of the injuries suffered and the stance taken by insurance companies or the party at fault. It's advisable to get early legal advice from a solicitor who not only specialises in bicycle accidents, but who through their work is sympathetic to the risks faced by cyclists.

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