What Should I Do After a Bicycle Accident?
The first thing you should do if you are in an accident while riding your bicycle is to call 911 if you are physically able to do so. The dispatcher will send the appropriate emergency responders and law enforcement to the scene.
Also, if you are physically able to do so, obtain the name and contact information of anyone else involved in the accident and any witnesses to it. If you were riding a bicycle hit by a car, get the driver’s insurance information.
If you can, take photos of the scene of the accident, including the position of your bicycle and the vehicle as well as debris from the crash. Take photos of the surface where you were riding, especially if a pothole or other condition contributed to the accident.
Seek medical attention. Even if you don’t think or aren’t sure if you are injured, you should be examined by an ambulance crew and a doctor. Bicyclists are prone to suffer injuries to soft tissues, hairline fractures, and closed head injuries that may not be immediately apparent.
Moreover, adrenaline can mask pain and symptoms of injury. Your health is paramount, so seek a thorough examination. A delay in intervention can lead to injuries that later become critical, such as a traumatic brain injury, or others that never heal.
Finally, call a personal injury attorney. Most people don’t know what to do and what not to do following a bicycle accident. A knowledgeable and experienced personal injury lawyer will know exactly what to do to investigate the accident, determine fault, find insurance coverage, and help you navigate the claims process so you can focus on recovering from your injuries.
What Oklahoma Laws Affect Bicycle Riders?
Bicycle riders, pedestrians, automobile drivers, and those responsible for maintaining roadways all owe a duty of care to everyone else on those roadways. There are some laws specific to the safe operation of bicycles in Oklahoma.
When riding a bicycle at night, it must be equipped with a headlight visible from 500 feet and a rear reflector visible for up to 300 feet. Brakes must allow a bike to stop within 25 feet on dry, flat pavement from a speed of 10 miles per hour. The bike should carry no passengers unless designed for one. No packages or other items can keep the rider from having both hands on the handlebars, and helmets are not required.
Bicycles must obey the same rules of the road, such as traffic lights, speed, yielding the right of way to pedestrians or vehicles when entering a roadway, and signaling turns. They are not required to use a bike lane if they choose not to and should ride no more than two abreast in a lane of traffic. Although bicycles should stay to the right of the lane as far as is safe, they can assume the full lane when passing, turning, or when avoiding obstacles such as parked cars.
Vehicles may only pass a bicycle when it is safe and must keep three feet of clearance when doing so. Drivers can't block bike lanes and are obligated to look for bicycles before opening doors into the roadway. Furthermore, bike lanes have the right of way which means motorists are required to yield to bicyclists in those lanes.
Can I File a Personal Injury Claim?
Oklahoma is an at-fault state for personal injury claims. That means any party whose negligence caused injury to others is financially responsible for compensating victims. Of course, you will need to prove that someone else was negligent, such as another bicyclist, a vehicle operator, or an entity responsible for maintaining safe roadway surfaces and conditions.
To prove negligence, you must provide evidence that the other party owed a duty of care, that their failure to uphold that duty caused an accident, and that as a result, you suffered injuries and other damages.
Oklahoma is also a comparative negligence state, which means more than one party can be held liable for an accident. If you are deemed to share fault for the accident that caused your injuries, you can still recover damages so long as your share is less than 50%. However, your recovery will be reduced by your share of fault.
There is a time limit, or “statute of limitations,” for filing a personal injury claim. It is two years from the date of the incident (or the date of death in a wrongful death claim). You have two years to either settle an insurance claim or file a lawsuit against the negligent party in civil court. If the negligent party is a governmental entity, the statute of limitations is only one year.
How Legal Counsel Can Help
If you file a claim against a liability insurance policy of a negligent party, that insurer will attempt to deny or devalue your claim. The insurer will attempt to assign fault to you for not adhering to the rules of the road or laws pertinent to bicyclists. They will also dispute the seriousness of your injuries and the value of your damages.
The goal of your personal injury attorney is to provide evidence of negligence, uncover insurance coverage and assets, and hold those who caused your injuries financially responsible for compensating you for them.