Steps To Follow Immediately After A Crash
If you’re involved in a bicycle crash, there are important steps to follow immediately afterwards as well as in the hours and days that follow. Remember these steps so you understand your rights and can protect yourself in the event of a crash.
STEPS TO TAKE IMMEDIATELY
Call 911 to request the police come to the scene and make a report.
- NOTE: Philadelphia police are not required to report to a crash where no injuries are reported and both vehicles can drive away. Getting police to treat a bicycle as a “vehicle” is sometimes difficult. If you are not injured but the police will not show up, you can obtain a crash report via phone or in person at a nearby police station.
Take It Seriously
Treat it like a car crash and obtain the following information.
- The license plate of the car.
- The names and phone numbers of any witnesses.
- The driver’s name, date of birth, contact information, and insurance information.
- The responding police officer’s name and badge number.
Ensure that the motorist waits for the police to arrive. If they refuse or do not provide ID, get their license plate number, state of issue, and a description of the person driving the car.
ONCE THE POLICE ARRIVE
Make sure to request an incident report from the police (this is required if there is personal injury or property damage). This incident report will be essential to settling the case with the driver’s insurance company.
- Note: You do not need to take an ambulance in order for there to be an incident report. If you do take an ambulance, do not count on the paramedics taking down information for a police report.
- If you’ve been “doored” (hit by a driver or passenger opening their car door), ask the officer to cite the motorist for “dooring.”
Even in cases where cyclists are badly hurt, the police do not always identify the vehicle or driver involved. The ambulance personnel will not include this information in their report; you must make sure the information gets recorded by the police. If it is a hit and run, you need to file a police report as soon as you can.
IN THE DAYS AFTER THE CRASH
Contact witnesses and ask them to email you their version of what happened while it’s fresh in their mind.
Write your own detailed description of what happened, focusing on relevant information.
Take good photos of your injuries and any damage to your bicycle.
Get an estimate for bike repairs from a bike shop. This is important for insurance and legal proceedings.
Contact a lawyer. There are two firms in the Philadelphia area who support the Bicycle Coalition and who have experience in bicycle-related cases.
To protect yourself and your liability, obey all traffic laws and keep your bicycle in working order.
If your bike route has a history of harassment or reckless driving, consider documenting your trips with an action camera that fits on your helmet or handlebars.