Are you a cyclist in South Florida, wondering what you should do after a bicycle crash?
You’d probably know what happened, who’s at fault, and if you’re injured very quickly. Have you considered how you’d prove this liability in the weeks and months following the accident?
According to the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT), drivers are only found to be at fault in 28 percent of bicycle crashes. If you don’t want to risk being blamed for an accident that wasn’t your fault, you need to file a police report.
We’re going to explain what to do after a bike crash, and why you should call the police and file an official accident report. We’ll also explain what might happen if you don’t file a report, so keep reading!
What to Do After a Bike Crash
Are you up to date with all the Florida bicycle regulation statutes? As a bicyclist, you are at a greater risk of physical injury when a collision occurs. Sometimes, you can do everything in your power to stay safe on the road, but a bike crash still happens.
When you’ve just had a bicycle accident, dialing 911 might be the last thing on your mind. Immediately after a crash, the first thing you should do is remove yourself from the road if your injuries do not prevent you from doing so.
Next, you should call the police, who will be able to direct traffic safely around the accident scene if necessary. If you are injured, then dial 911, but if not, you can still dial the non-emergency number for the local police station.
If you can take photos of the accident scene, go ahead, if not, ask someone else to do it for you and email them to you. Try and get some photos of the overall scene, especially with landmarks, to identify the location, but do not put yourself in harm’s way.
Don’t minimize or dismiss the possibility of injuries to anyone, as only a medical evaluation can provide these answers. Saying you are fine when you aren’t could reduce the amount of a future insurance settlement.
Why Call the Police?
Why is it so important to call an officer to the scene? For one thing, in the direct aftermath of a bicycle crash, the party at fault is more likely to be truthful because they are probably in shock.
Once they have calmed down and are thinking beyond the crash, they have a greater incentive to bend the truth and shift the blame to you.
The initial statement of a driver who is at fault will come back to haunt them if they try to lie. An attempt to later change their story will not be very convincing during legal proceedings or an insurance claim.
A responding police officer may also pick up on other factors that may have contributed to the bike accident.
If the driver who caused the crash appears to have been drinking or using drugs, they can test for this and record the evidence. There may be other indicators of distracted driving inside the vehicle at fault, and a police report should record this.
The more evidence you have of blame, the better chance you have of receiving the maximum settlement for your injuries.
Why File a Police Report?
When filing an insurance claim, it is important to have others validate your version of events. Both witness statements and an official police report carry much weight when attempting to prove your case.
The police are trained to obtain witness statements and document vital evidence that may prove the liability in your bicycle crash.
Police officers will often note their personal views regarding how the bicycle crash occurred. Having the opinion of a responding police officer agree with your story is powerfully persuasive when settling a claim.
A police report may also prove that you complied with all the bike laws of Florida.
Importantly, a police officer’s report should be able to tie your injuries to the crash. In legal terms, this is referred to as causation. Establishing causation will prevent an insurance agency from attempting to cast doubt that your injuries may have already existed or manifested at a later date.
Failing to File a Report
The fact of the matter is, that if you don’t file a police report, your financial compensation may be reduced.
What happens if you don’t call the police to the bicycle crash scene? A police report can still be filed down the line, it just may not be as effective at proving your claim. This is because the officers who write the report won’t have first-hand knowledge of the accident scene.
Witness and driver statements may still be useful in a delayed police report, but stories may have changed. Filing a late police report is better than not filing one at all, so do this as soon as possible.
Remember that you aren’t just up against the at-fault party, you will have to fight their insurance company too. As a business, it’s their job to do all they can to dismiss your claim or reduce compensation. Unfortunately, this can sometimes include unethical tactics such as rewriting history.
If you can prove the truth, your claim will be immune from false accusations. Police reports have among the highest evidential authority, so you must have one on your side.
When you can, call the local police station that responded to your bicycle crash to ask for a copy of the report. You can also request the report in person if this is more convenient.
Once you’ve obtained the police report that backs up the facts, you have a solid foundation to prove your case. Your next job is to call the best South Florida bike accident attorney.
Had a Bicycle Crash?
We’ve shown that after a bicycle crash, a police report is a valuable piece of evidence for proving your claim. Don’t let insurance companies attempt to push the blame on you.
If you’ve been hurt in a bike crash, we can help you seek compensation for your injuries. We are the law offices of the leading bike accident lawyer in South Florida. We protect cyclists in Westin, Pembroke Pines, Key Biscayne, Boca Raton, Deerfield Beach, and Hillsborough Beach, FL.
Contact us today for your free consultation.