I Hit a Bicyclist With My Car. What Should I Do?
Bikes are more popular than ever in Austin. That’s evidenced by the fact that the number of bike lanes in the city tripled between 2008 and 2017. However, not all roads in Austin have dedicated or protected bike lanes. As a result, bicyclists are often forced into traffic alongside larger vehicles. Unfortunately, car accidents involving bicyclists happen quite frequently.
What happens if you’re driving along on Guadalupe Street when, all of a sudden, you hit a bike? The rider flies off, lands on the street, and hits their head. They’re furious, in pain, and already thinking about filing a lawsuit. What can you do? What are your legal options? Here’s what you need to know.
Do Not Leave. Remain at the Scene.
The last thing you want to do is leave the scene of an accident. First, doing so is a crime. The last thing you want is to face hit and run charges. Second, the fact that you’ve been involved in a bicycle accident is going to complicate life enough on its own. Criminal charges will just make a difficult situation much, much worse.
Get the Injured Cyclist Medical Help
Call 911 immediately to report the accident and ask to have an ambulance dispatched to the scene. The bicyclist will need medical attention to make sure that any injuries – including internal ones – are promptly diagnosed.
Wait For the Police and Make Sure They Complete a Police Report
You might think that a police report is the last thing you want right now. However, the report might play a critical role down the line if you’re ultimately sued by the injured rider. The officer completing the report will include details about your accident that might be forgotten by parties involved or lost over time.
For example, you might not remember what time of day the accident happened or what the weather was like. Those details, however, could be really important down the line. Maybe the weather conditions caused the cyclist to slip on the slick road surface, or maybe the sun was in their eyes. Either way, those details, while seemingly unimportant, could be critical to your case. Your attorney will need every detail of the crash at their disposal, and a police report can help to make sure that happens.a
Don’t Admit Fault. Provide Short Answers When Questioned.
Do not admit fault after an accident. That’s true, even if you honestly believe the crash with the bicyclist was your fault. In reality, you don’t know all of the details. You only know what you saw in the moment. You might not be aware of external factors that may have also (or entirely) contributed to the crash.
For that reason, make sure you only provide short answers to any questions you’re asked by the police or insurance agents. Don’t expand and don’t offer any details that you’re not asked about.
Call an Experienced Austin Personal Injury Lawyer
Once you get home, your first call should be to an experienced attorney in Austin who handles personal injury cases. Why?
First, you want to make sure that you can direct all communication to your lawyer. Your lawyer can handle questions and protect you from manipulative tactics designed to get you to accept responsibility.
Second, you want to make sure that your accident is thoroughly investigated. An investigation, conducted by your legal team and experts, can help to shed light on what caused the accident.
Accidents are complicated and, in truth, rarely happen for just one single reason. If you do share blame, you’ll want to make sure that you’re able to identify other factors that caused the crash. Once you determine why it happened, it’s easier to identify everyone who may share blame.
It’s possible that the cyclist, themselves, might have contributed to the accident. Maybe they weren’t paying attention or maybe they violated one of Austin’s bicycle laws. If the cyclist shares fault, that will affect their ability to recover compensation. If they’re allocated enough of the blame, it might prevent them from getting anything, at all. At the same time, it might also make them liable to you for any injuries or damage you sustained in the crash.