Though biking accidents are preventable, they happen nonetheless.
And when they happen, they can be pretty devastating, especially if the accident is with a vehicle. But even then, accidents with pedestrians and other bicyclists can also be traumatic, so it's important to know what to do directly after a bike accident in Washington State.
For your own physical, mental, and legal protection, here's a brief guide on what you should do directly after a bike accident. Some of this may seem obvious, people often fail to do what they need to do to protect themselves.
1. Get Off the Road
If you were riding alongside the road, then you want to make sure you get off the road as soon as possible. Other vehicles will be coming by and they may not notice immediately if you are on the ground.
A lot of his has to do with the location of your bike and the surrounding environment. The road may be curvy and surrounded by woods or it may be straight and lined by open fields. The road may be busy or cars may be random and slow coming. Whatever the situation is, you pose a danger to yourself and a threat to others if you are on the ground and anyway on or near the road.
2. Assess Your Injuries and Call For Help
Once you are solidly off the road, assess your injuries -- if you can.
A bruise may not need medical attention, but even for the smallest of superficial injuries, you may want to get checked out by a doctor. The same is true if you hit your head but feel fine initially. Concussions or mild traumatic brain injuries can result but can result without apparent symptoms immediately after the accident.
That's why it is always important to seek medical attention. Doing so allows you to establish a medical record and a link from that medical record to the accident, which may be needed later if you file a claim or a subsequent lawsuit.
Sometimes, unfortunately, you may not be able to because the accident is traumatic that you can't move or maybe you are unconscious. In that case, you are at the hands of the other party to the accident or any witnesses and the emergency personnel that arrives on the scene.
3. Document What You Remember
If you remain alert and conscious at the time of the accident, then once you are able to do so, document everything you can remember. You may have partly documented what happened at the scene if the police arrived and asked questions. But immediately after an accident, you are often shaken and memory can trick and/or fail you.
As a day or so passes, you may recall things that you did not initially. Document these recollections and anything else -- you never know what may prove important.
4. Consult With a Personal Injury Lawyer
If it turns out your injuries were the fault of another party and that those injuries were (1) a direct result of the biking accident; and (2) monetarily quantifiable, then you are entitled to file a claim. Plus, property damage to your bicycle is also subject to a personal injury claim.
You may think it is easy enough to file a claim on your own, but there is one thing to keep in mind: insurance companies notoriously try to get out of paying for the victim's injuries. They will use their lawyers and adjusters -- specifically trained for these scenarios -- to find a reason to reduce or deny your claim. To top that off, the process itself can be time-consuming and confusing.
With a personal injury bicyclist attorney, you improve your chances of a fair and just settlement offer or award. So, consult with an experienced biking accident attorney in Vancouver, Washington -- there's no harm to you if it's a free initial consultation.