What to Do After a Bicycle Accident
Immediately following an accident, there is a list of important things to do, both for safety and for your potential legal situation.
It’s not uncommon to downplay personal injuries at the scene of an accident. This is mainly due to the adrenaline-induced shock and mental confusion that takes place after being struck. It may not be immediately apparent what hurts or what is wrong. If you were struck by a car while riding your bicycle, you need to call 911. Don’t try to assess whether you are “fine” in order to avoid embarrassment or calling the police. First responders are key to getting the help you need and will know how to record basic information about the incident that you will need later.
Seek Medical Assistance
Unlike car accidents, when you are in a collision on your bike, you are much more likely to suffer broken bones or see blood from cuts and scrapes. It’s always a good idea to get checked out at a hospital or by your doctor, even if you feel okay immediately after the incident. There may be long-term effects that you didn’t spot when the accident happened and a concussion is always a risk — even if you didn’t hit your head.
Get Witness Info
Uninvolved witnesses can help sort out what happened in a collision. If other bicyclists or individuals were nearby and saw what happened, ask for their names and phone numbers. This is also a reason to immediately call 911. Responding officers will seek out any witnesses and help with recording information. Don’t worry about discussing details at the scene, just find a way to get in touch with them at a later time.
Document the Details
Use your phone to take photos of your injury, your bike, and the scene of the crash. Put everything in writing and make notes as detailed as possible. Record the date, time, place, how the crash occurred, and any information regarding your case. This information will be helpful to your personal injury lawyer later on.
Hire a Personal Injury Attorney
Injuries are very common in bicycle accidents. The aftermath likely includes a lengthy recovery period and substantial financial expenses. If you have been injured in a bike accident, your best option is to contact a personal injury attorney. An attorney can review your case and build a strong claim.
Wisconsin Bicycle Laws
Bikes are considered vehicles under Wisconsin law. This gives them the same rights as automobiles and cyclists the same responsibilities as drivers. The state’s bike laws are largely concerned with ensuring that interaction and interference between the two types of vehicles do not occur.
When riding on a public road, bicycle riders are required to ride to the right-hand side and in the same direction as the rest of the traffic. Riding on the shoulder of the road is allowed by law, as well as riding two bicycles riding side-by-side, as long as it does not impede traffic.
Helmets are not required while riding bicycles. Cyclists must make sure their bike is equipped appropriately at night — all bicycles are required to have at least one white front light, a red reflector on the rear, or red light on the rear.
Wisconsin requires that an operator of a motor vehicle overtaking a bicycle proceeding in the same direction exercise due care, leaving a safe distance — but in no case less than three feet of clearance — when passing the bicycle and maintain such clearance until safely past the overtaken bicycle.
Filing a Claim
Wisconsin law is governed by a tort system. All motor vehicle accidents must have an “at fault” driver and parties may sue this “at fault” individual for damages. In addition, state law requires any action to recover damages for injuries to the person — caused or stained from an accident involving a motor vehicle — to be brought forth within a three-year period.