If you’ve been a roadie for any length of time, it’s almost certain that you know someone who’s been hit by a car while riding. It’s the nightmare scenario for all of us who ride on the road, to be sure.
And while we all do our best to ride safely, it’s a potentiality that we really cannot afford to focus on. That said, have you ever thought seriously about what you should do, from a legal perspective, if it happens to you and you manage to avoid serious immediate injury?
In an eminently useful velonews.com article, former competitive cyclist and long-time cycling lawyer Bob Mionske provides a series of Do’s and Don’ts of how to handle a post-hit-by-car scenario that assumes you are relatively unscathed.
What makes this a really useful list is that more than a couple of Mionske’s exhorations defy our normal, typical human-nature-driven responses to the situation and related fallout.
For instance, he says: “DON’T volunteer that you are ‘OK.’ Ever. If an entirely legitimate injury develops later, it will look fishy to the insurance company if you initially assured the driver that you were OK. If you feel you have to say something at the scene, be vague about your sensations, and be clear that you need to go to a doctor for a medical evaluation.”
That makes perfect sense when read dispassionately from a distance, doesn’t it? But in the heat of the moment, and after taking stock personally of your condition, it’s almost instinctual to want to both reassure yourself and anyone around you that you’re OK.
One other suggestion Mionske makes also goes against the grain of a cyclist’s natural tendency: “DO preserve your evidence. You may want to get your bike repaired right away — DON’T! Leave your bike in exactly the state it was in after the crash. Take photos. Have a mechanic take a look at it but don’t fix anything. What you need is the mechanic’s expert opinion about the condition of the bike after the crash. Keep your bike in exactly that condition until after you settle with the insurance company.”
This sounds to me to be almost as hard as not saying you’re OK after the crash. It would drive me nearly crazy not to repair my bike at my earliest opportunity. But it’s sound advice.
One thing Mionske doesn’t mention is doing the same thing with the gear you were wearing. Save it, and take photos, if it’s ruined. We can easily be wearing a few hundred dollars’ worth of clothing, shoes, helmet, gloves, etc., on a ride.
Take a few minutes to read the velonews article and keep it in the back of your mind – just in case.