Legally, a bicyclist’s injuries in an accident deserve the same consideration as a car driver’s or passenger’s. Unfortunately, because they don’t provide revenue in license and registration fees — or maybe just because a bike doesn’t look as impressive as a big shiny car — the legal system doesn’t always give cyclists the same consideration.
D.C. lawyer Bruce Deming says that police often take a casual attitude toward reporting bicycle accidents. He cites a case where a cyclist was seriously injured and the police were there to report the accident, but they didn’t even take down witness names, causing serious difficulty with the rider’s subsequent insurance claim.
In Bethesda, Maryland, a driver struck and killed a cyclist and was fined for failure to avoid a collision, failure to pass safely, and negligent driving, yet was not charged with any crime.
In Portland, Oregon, a truck struck a turning cyclist, causing the loss of his right leg. The cyclist had the right of way. No criminal charges were filed.
The situation will vary greatly from one location to another, but cyclists often find it difficult to get treatment as first-class citizens of the road. You can improve your chances by treating a crash like any other accident involving a motor vehicle, getting identification, waiting for the police to arrive, and filing a report. Make sure the police take your report, even if they’re only interested in the driver’s story. Get witnesses if possible. Be careful of what you say to the driver’s insurance company. Talk to a lawyer if necessary.
Please contact us if you need legal assistance concerning a bicycle accident in the greater Los Angeles area.