You ride on the same roads as cars and follow many of the same laws. But how can you protect your rights after a crash?
Whether you're injured or not, follow these steps after an accident.
The first and most important thing you should do after an accident (whether you're injured in Pittsburgh, another town in Pennsylvania, or anywhere else) is call 911. Hopefully the driver of the vehicle stops to see if you're okay. Even if your injuries are minor, you should still see a doctor. It will help document what happened, in case you want to file a claim against the driver's insurance company for your medical bills or property damage.
Next, file a police report. Remember to only discuss facts about the accident with the police. It's understandable that you may be angry. Accidents are stressful. But it's important to remain as calm as possible and to refrain from blaming anyone.
Take photographs and video of the accident scene. Always carry a phone with a camera on it when you ride, or store a disposable camera somewhere on your bike.
If you're taken to a hospital, try to get someone to take photos for you as quickly as possible, or contact Edgar Snyder & Associates. We have investigators who will head to the scene of the accident right away to collect evidence before it disappears.
Be sure to get the following information from the driver (and any other drivers involved):
Document everything you possibly can and keep all the information together, including the photos, information listed above, the responding police officer's badge number, copies of medical bills, etc.
If the driver left the scene of the accident, try to at least remember the make and model of the vehicle. And, if possible, get the license plate number. There are no guarantees, but it may help catch the driver who hit you. Get contact information for any witnesses as well.
The next step is to contact the insurance company through which you have your Pennsylvania car insurance policy, because your policy's medical benefits coverage carries over to a bicycle accident. Notify them that you've been in an accident, but don't give a recorded statement until you've spoken with an experienced attorney.
If the driver's insurance company contacts you, don't give a recorded statement to them either – and don't sign anything. Their insurance company won't look out for your best interest.
If you don't have car insurance but do have bicycle insurance, chances are you'll have to rely on other health insurance options for medical treatment. (Bicycle insurance tends to only cover property damage.) Refer to your policy booklet on how to file a claim for property damage.
Last, you can file a claim against the driver's auto insurance company.
If you notice unsafe road conditions or can pinpoint a troublesome location for cyclists, contact your city councilperson and the Mayor. You can submit a 311 form to discuss the issue.