I am an avid bicyclist. I ride trails. I cycle in triathlons. And sometimes I commute to work. I appreciate the North Carolina Department of Transportation’s efforts to build more bike-friendly roadways, such as complete streets that help promote cycling and make it potentially safer and more convenient. On the other hand, a 2014 article in the Ashville Citizen Times reported North Carolina ranks among the nation’s top 10 “most dangerous states for cyclists.” I understand why. I have seen a rise in the number of distracted drivers and this concerns me.
Rising Bicycle Accidents Put North Carolina Riders at Risk
North Carolina cyclists need to be aware of what to do in the event of a cycling accident, and how to protect both their health and their legal rights.
Protecting Your Health
The most important step an injury victim can take toward recovery is to ensure that the proper medical attention is administered as soon as the accident occurs and throughout the recovery process.
If urgent symptoms are not immediately noted, accident victims should nonetheless consult with their primary care provider just to be safe. The head of our medical review department, Naa Atsoi Adu-Antoh, urges anyone who has sustained a personal injury to have a medical evaluation to see if there are any potential issues that may be underlying. If your condition worsens over time and you have to make a medical claim, this initial documentation is largely what insurance companies use to determine the extent of your injuries.
Naa is an attorney as well as a Johns Hopkins-educated and trained nurse. She explains, “When you're in an accident there's a lot going on in your body, and sometimes you may not feel pain right away, especially with soft tissue injuries. Your body is reacting on adrenaline, and adrenaline helps keep pain away for a while."
Or maybe you're like many of us and are just too busy to go to the doctor for what you think is just a skinned and bruised knee. That skinned and bruised knee could turn into something else when you start overcompensating for it.
The longer you wait to go to the doctor about your pain, the more you could be hurting your recovery and your legal case, if you have one.
Ongoing medical care is often required after an accident. This may involve consultations with specialists, medical pain management, physical therapy, or chiropractic services. Accident victims should carefully consult with their providers to determine which specific services are right for them. Injuries which are not properly treated may tend to get worse over time.
Protecting Your Legal Rights to Claims for Damages
When officers respond to the scene of the accident, they will often take statements from everyone who was involved as well as witnesses. Give the police a concise statement including just the facts of the accident. Make sure to ask how you can obtain a copy of the police report once it has been completed. If possible, tangible evidence such as photographs, video, and audio recordings can go a long way toward trying to present the best possible evidence for your personal injury litigation. Smartphones have made it increasingly easy to take photographs and video recordings of an accident scene.
Injury victims should also be sure to document any symptoms or losses caused by the accident. These can include physical injuries – such as bruises, scars, and cuts – and should be documented to help support your personal injury claim.
And make sure to photograph and document damages to your bike, and preserve the bike if you can. Some bikes can cost thousands of dollars. Whether your bike needs to be repaired or replaced, the insurance adjuster may have little knowledge of the real value of certain bikes.
Keep a record of any time missed from work as a result of the accident to help support your claim for lost wages, if you have one.
In today’s instantaneous digital society, it is highly tempting to want to update friends with news of an accident or injury, but this can sometimes compromise your personal injury claim. We would caution you from posting any information about the accident or recovery on social media until your claim has been settled or resolved at trial. We have known some insurance companies to troll social media accounts in an effort to find any evidence they can use to try to minimize or deny your claim for damages.
Once you leave the scene of the accident, it is important to consult with a personal injury attorney as soon possible. Statements made on the scene of the accident and to an insurance representative can be used against you. So keep conversation to a minimum and stick to the facts only.
Insurance companies will contact you after an accident to obtain a recorded statement of what happened at the scene. While this is a necessary step in the investigative process, the recorded statement can sometimes be a trap for the unwary. Insurance adjusters may use the recorded statement against the claimant when it comes time to settle for monetary damages.
Your best course of action with regard to a recorded statement is to let an attorney handle it for you. Or at least we can be on a three-way call with you, so we can object to any potentially damaging questions.
NC Bicycling Accident Lawyers Offer Free Case Evaluation
If you or someone you love has been injured in a cycling accident, contact one of our bicycle accident attorneys as soon as possible. Click here to contact us right away (24/7) or call 1-866-900-7078.