If you’re ever hit by a car while cycling, you should count yourself fortunate if you walk away uninjured. But what if your bike sustains damage in a crash?
For many Miami-area commuters, bikes provide an essential, cheap, environmentally friendly source of transportation, exercise and enjoyment. Modern bikes can be pricey, with some carbon-fiber models rivaling used cars in cost.
If you have been involved in a crash, consider these important steps.
Seek Medical Attention if Needed
Individuals involved in bicycle wrecks shouldn’t simply pick themselves up, get back on their bikes and ride away. If you’re involved in a crash, you might be in shock from the trauma and not realize that you need medical attention. In addition, your bike might not be safe to ride.
Even if you don’t feel that you’re injured, it’s a good idea to be examined by a medical professional — at the least, an emergency medical technician who responds to the scene of the accident.
If you have any injuries at all — even scrapes or bruises — seek medical attention, and document everything the doctor says. Keep any paperwork the medical staff gives you regarding the accident and your injuries in case you need it later for legal action.
Be sure to follow the doctor’s instructions, and follow up with your regular doctor as needed. Have photos taken of your injuries, and keep copies in a safe place with your other documentation.
Report and Document the Accident
Assuming you don’t require immediate transport to an emergency room for injuries, wait for law enforcement to arrive at the scene of the accident so you can get a formal police report. Even if you believe you’re not injured, the existence of a police report will help you recoup any expenses you incur as a result of the accident — including damage to your bike.
Don’t try to get compensation directly from the driver who hit you. The individual may apologize but then later deny any fault. Talk to a lawyer instead, and share the police report and other documentation.
Get Everyone’s Contact Information
Try to get the name, phone number, address, email, driver’s license number, vehicle plate number and insurance information from the driver who hit you as well as any other drivers involved in the accident. Don’t rely on the police report to include all the information you might need later.
In addition, attempt to get as much contact information as possible from any witnesses to the crash. If you’re hurt and can’t get the information, ask a witness or bystander to do so for you.
Find a Ride Home
Even if your bike doesn’t appear to be damaged, do not ride it home. It could have cracks in the frame, damage to gears or other problems you may not immediately notice but that could cause another crash and serious injuries to you.
Call a friend or family member to take you and your bike home. Once back home, try to preserve as much evidence as possible. Don’t have any work done on the bike without talking to your lawyer, and keep your clothes, shoes, helmet and any items damaged in the crash intact.
Assess the Damage
You should talk with your attorney before having work done to your bike, but you can take steps to begin to assess the damage yourself. Global Cycling Network offers a video tutorial on looking your bike over for subtle damage after a crash.
Don’t ride the bike until you know it’s safe and your case has been adjudicated or settled..
Buy a New Helmet
If you’ve been in a crash, you must assume that your helmet is structurally compromised and not suitable for reuse. The foam portion in your helmet is constructed for one-time use only. Once it has been crushed, it will no longer protect you in a subsequent accident.
You may hesitate to retire your helmet if it looks fine, but understand that if you continue to use it, you are risking a serious or fatal head injury in the future. Although you won’t be using the helmet again, you should retain it along with other evidence of the crash.