- Be safe, be smart.
- All bikes should stop as soon as it is clear, safe and legal to do so.
- If you’re uninjured, check on others.
- Call 9-1-1. Include the exact location (look at street signs, landmarks) and mention any injuries.
- No cell phone? Ask a witness to make the call. Get their contact information in case the police or insurance company needs to speak with them later.
- Injuries? Explain the injury to 9-1-1 operator and take advice from them.
- Leave as much of the scene intact as possible.
- Remain on site until the police arrive. Ask the other person(s), including witnesses, to do the same (medical emergencies notwithstanding).
WHN TIP – Safety: Keep safety in mind — traffic may not see you until it’s too late. Do not stand in front of a pulled-over car; it may be hit from the rear.
If a Vehicle Was Involved
Documented information can help if there is a disagreement. You do not need to wait for law enforcement to arrive to begin gathering this info.
- Don’t be shy. Ask bystanders for what you need: pen, paper (napkins can work in a pinch) and a camera or their cell phone to take pictures.
- If someone is uncomfortable handing over their camera or cell phone, ask them to take pictures for you. Be sure to get their contact information (name, e-mail, phone number) so they can send you the pictures later. If they are using their phone, give them your contact information so they email or text the images.
- Begin taking photographs. Keep in mind that you want your photos to show the overall context of the accident. Take pictures of the accident site before vehicles are moved (vehicles and any property they may have damaged, etc.).
WHN Expert TIP – Car and Scene: “Take pictures of the car and of the scene itself,” says Dave Mannato, Matador Insurance Agency, Latham, NY. “Also, take a picture of the other car because claim reps will need to know the color and license plate of the other car so be sure to get the license plate of the other vehicle(s) involved.” Your photos should show the overall context of the accident so that you can make your case to a claims adjuster.
WHN TIP – It’s All Important: Don’t take the time to consider noteworthiness. You may not be able to see the importance of, a broken tail light for instance, but it could help a professional reconstruct the accident.
WHN TIP – Listen and Write: Listen carefully to what the other bikers and drivers say about the events leading up to the accident, e.g. “I didn’t see you,” and write it down.
- When the police arrive, they may provide an accident form packet – the info may be similar to the fields below.
- If no officer is present or responding to the accident, use our Accident-Another Driver Involved form to jot down contact details and accident info. It includes this info:
- Nearest Intersection
- Weather conditions
- Road conditions (bumpy, potholes, road signs and signals)
- Bicycle damage
- If a car was involved, include the following:
- License Plate Number
- Registration Number (VIN)
- Write down info on the driver(s) and passengers
- Description (physical/other traits – ie., intoxicated, aggressive, helpful)
- Insurance company
- Policy number
- Name on policy
- Agent’s name (if they know it)
- Passengers: Name/Address/Phone Contact Details/Injuries
WHN TIP – License Plate Number: Be sure to jot down the license plate number! If the driver provides false contact details, it’ll be hard to track them down.
WHN TIP – Who Are They? If the driver’s name is different from the insured’s name, find out the relationship between the two; get the name and address for both people.
- If possible, get contact information from witnesses
- Witness #1/Name/Phone/E-mail
- Witness #2/Name/Phone/E-mail
- Witness #3/Name/Phone/E-mail
- Witness #4/Name/Phone/E-mail
- Either you or someone on the scene should draw and photograph the accident site:
- Streets, traffic signs, any obstacles in the road – anything that provides details of the accident
- All directions of travel (for cars and bikes) and lane directions (one-ways, etc.)
- Landmarks to help you later to determine where you came to rest.
- Jot down any other important details that you think might be of use to you or the insurance company later.
When Authorities Arrive
- Once the authorities or medical personnel arrive on the scene, get (or ask someone to get) the following information:
- Police Officer/Name/Badge Number
- Police Officer/Name/Badge Number
- Paramedic Name/Badge Number
- Paramedic Name/Badge Number
- Ask the police for an accident report, you’ll want a copy.
- If an ambulance responds, get examined even if you think you are okay. Your condition can change and refusing treatment after an accident can be used as evidence that you were not really hurt.
- No ambulance? Seek medical treatment on your own.
- Tell your physician about the accident, what happened and how you felt afterward (even minor physical problems)
Later at Home
- Start an accident folder to store all receipts and documentation related to the accident. Keep copies of police reports, medical visits, repair receipts and so on. These will be important for insurance claim purposes and also for when you file your taxes. Prefer digital? Scan all your paperwork and save to your computer or the cloud.
- Call your home owner’s insurance agent to file a claim. Your bike may or may not be covered under that policy.
- Document the damage and take pictures of your damaged bike. Add these to your folder.
- Make an appointment to get an estimate for repairing your bike. You may need to purchase a new bike if the damage is considerable.
- Make an appointment to see your physician to get checked for injuries.
- Consider hiring a lawyer if needed.
WHN TIP – Store This: Download these two forms and bring them on your next bike ride (just in case!): Accident-Another Driver Involved. Accident-No Other Driver Involved. Also, download the free RedCross first aid mobile app – just in case!
The information provided here is not meant to be a substitute for professional legal or medical advice. These tips are from first responders, lawyers, insurance agents and people who have shared real-life experiences; always check with a doctor or appropriate professional you trust before making any legal or health-related decisions.
Thank You …
A special thank you to the industry professionals, lawyers, insurance agents, first responders and people who gave us their time, insight and real-life advice.