What Should You Do After a Bicycle Accident?
The first thing you should do after a bicycle accident is to call 911 if you are able, or to make sure someone else does. The dispatcher will send law enforcement and emergency responders to the scene.
You should seek immediate medical assistance, even if you are unsure if you are injured. Many injuries can be masked by adrenaline or simply not be obvious to you until much later. Emergency responders and physicians will know what injuries to look for, order the proper diagnostic testing, and diagnose any injuries.
Documentation is critical to a personal injury claim. If you can get the name, contact, and insurance information from the driver, do so. Additionally, get the names and contact information for witnesses. When you have the opportunity, and while the accident is still fresh in your mind, write down what you remember. Ask law enforcement for a copy of the crash report and request copies of your medical records and bills for accident-related treatment.
Finally, retain the services of a personal injury attorney. Your attorney will know what evidence to collect, handle all contact and negotiations with the negligent driver’s insurance company, and if necessary, file a lawsuit and litigate your claim.
What Laws in Hawaii May Affect My Claim?
Bicycles must adhere to the same rules of the road as vehicles, and everyone on the roadway owes others a duty of care. Here are a few of the laws pertaining to the safe operation of a bicycle:
- Bicycles must be registered in Maui.
- Riders under age 16 are required by law to wear an approved helmet.
- Riders must sit on the seat attached to the bicycle.
- Passengers are not allowed unless the bicycle is designed for them.
- The bicyclist must not carry anything that prohibits keeping both hands on the handlebars at all times.
- If there is a designated bike lane adjacent to the roadway, bicyclists should use it unless they are riding at the speed limit or if the lane’s condition makes it unsafe.
- Bicyclists must ride in the far right side of the roadway in single file if in a group.
- If the lane is too narrow for both a bicyclist and a car, the former may ride in the center of the lane.
- On a one-way road with two lanes, the bicyclist may ride on the far left side of the left lane.
- They may also move to the center of a lane when preparing to make a left turn.
- Bicycles ridden 30 minutes before or after sunset must be equipped with required lamps and reflectors.
Laws Pertaining to Vehicles
Even if the rider is traveling under the speed limit, the vehicle must remain behind them until it can safely pass the rider. Vehicle drivers should not expect bicyclists to move off the roadway for them because they are equally entitled to travel on the road.
A vehicle passing a bicycle rider must observe the same rules as when passing another vehicle. They cannot pass without leaving at least three feet between them and the bicycle and can only pass when it’s safe and not just because the bicycle is traveling slower than traffic. Furthermore, motorists must yield to bicycles when attempting to cross a bike lane.
Drivers who fail to give bicycle riders adequate space and time and cause an accident are at fault for their failure to provide the required duty of care and to abide by the law. Bicycle riders likewise must observe the rules of the road, uphold their duty of care, and abide by the law, or they can be held fully or partially liable for an accident and any resulting injuries. So long as you are less than 51% at fault, you can still pursue a claim.
How Can I File a Personal Injury Claim?
If you or a family member was riding a bicycle hit by a car or another bike, and the other operator was negligent, you can file a personal injury claim against their insurance. For vehicle operators, you would file a claim against the bodily injury liability coverage on their auto insurance policy. If another bicyclist was negligent, your attorney will help identify other sources of insurance that may provide coverage for them.
Bear in mind that insurance companies never want to pay claims, so they will attempt to deny your claim or to place blame or liability on you instead of their insured. An experienced personal injury attorney knows how insurance companies work and how to investigate a claim, document evidence, and value your damages. If the insurer will not negotiate a fair settlement, you can file a lawsuit and allow a judge and jury to decide.