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What should I do if I have a bicycle accident?
Bicycle accidents can result in serious injuries and damages, and therefore should be taken seriously too. A bicycle is considered a vehicle under the Ontario Highway Traffic Act (HTA). Which means if you are cycling in Ontario, you have the same rights and responsibilities as those driving vehicles.
When it comes to automobiles versus cyclist collisions, it’s pretty obvious that the car or truck usually comes out on top. It’s easy to see why when you consider the opponents. We’re talking large motor-driven metal exoskeleton robots facing off against soft and exposed fleshy humans, precariously teetering on man-powered skeleton frames! Fair fight? I think not. And as the space on the road gets more and more coveted, more and more accidents and collisions are happening.
A lot of cycle accidents don’t involve other vehicles (darn those streetcar tracks!) but sometimes they do, and sometimes, that driver is at fault.
Some of the common injuries cyclists might be facing include:
- brain injury/concussions
- road rash/abrasions
- spinal/back injuries
- broken bones and sprained joints
- dental injuries
Additionally, all of these injuries listed above can also result in secondary issues, such as not being able to go to work, or having to pay for medical and rehabilitation costs related to your acquired injuries.
The events of a collision can be traumatic and emotional. However, it’s in your best interest to try to follow these guidelines directly after the collision (as best as you can).
Contact the proper authorities!
If you are hurt due to your bicycle accident, call 9-1-1 or have someone else call. If you do not need an ambulance, you should still contact the police. Any accidents that result in personal injury or damage over $1000, have to be reported. Sometimes the police will not come to a collision if the injuries or damage are not serious enough in car versus car collisions, however in the case of vehicle and bicycle accidents or vehicle and pedestrian accidents, they should attend.
Get all the information!
Do the best you can to get the driver’s information: Write down their name, address, phone number, driver’s licence number, vehicle licence number, and insurance information.
Try to obtain the information of any witnesses, their names and contact information should be sufficient at this point. If this is difficult because you are injured you can always ask a kind bystander to assist you in gathering this information. It’s best not to assume the police report will collect and record this information for you.
Document, Document, Document!
As soon as possible write down everything you remember; the when, where, what, who, and how of it all. Weather and road conditions are another factor to record. Sketching the scene can be a useful way to quickly and accurately record the incident.
Save the Evidence!
If your helmet, clothes, bike or any other personal belongings are damaged in the collision. Keep them as is. Don’t have them mended or repaired until your lawyer says it’s okay.
Seek Medical Attention!
If you are injured, even minor injuries, you should see a doctor. This will give you the documented proof you may require later on to ensure you were in fact injured as a result of the collision. You should also take photos of your injuries as soon as possible, and make dated notes of how your injuries progress so that you can retrospectively provide a detailed log of the impact of your injuries.
Be wary of speaking to insurance companies until you have contacted a lawyer, but act fast!!!
As a cyclist, you are considered an operator of a vehicle, therefore you are entitled to no-fault benefits if you are hit by a vehicle. If you happen to be a driver as well as a cyclist and have auto insurance, you can claim no-fault benefits through your insurer for any accidents that happen while cycling. If you don’t have auto insurance you can claim benefits through the insurance of the driver who you got in the collision with.
The insurance claim process can be tricky, and it is generally advisable to speak with a lawyer before you contact any insurance companies. However, you must act fast…really fast. Within the week of the incident in fact.
Lastly, if your bicycle accident results in a fall or collision that is due to faulty public infrastructure (e.g. potholes) you can make a claim to the municipal, provincial, or federal government. Again this claim must be made within a week of the incidents occurrences. You will want to follow the same steps above in order to be able to document and prove your damages and injuries.