Recently, an Episcopal bishop was accused of drunken driving and texting following a hit-and-run death of a bicyclist. Her actions were obviously wrong. Unfortunately, over 18% of fatal pedestrian crashes are hit-and-runs. This brings me to my first point:
Assist the Injured. If someone is hurt, call 911. Even if you are at fault for the collision, help anyone who is hurt. You are going to be in a lot more trouble if you leave the scene.
Call Police. Many crashes are difficult to determine who is at fault. It’s easier if the Police have cited the other person. Unfortunately, police occasionally cite the wrong person, especially in crashes involving bicyclists. Many of our clients have been wrongly cited by police and still recover from the insurance companies for the truly at-fault parties.
Exchange Information. Police are not required to prepare reports for accidents with minimal property damage or where a collision occurs on private property. If the police don’t show up, be sure to get the name, address, phone number, and insurance information for all involved people. Also write down or photograph license plates. Seemingly earnest people can give out fake information, especially when they are at fault.
Don’t Move Your Car or Bike. Unless the vehicles create a hazard for other traffic, leave them be until the police show up. The positions of the vehicles (including bikes) can be important for determining who is at fault. Take pictures if you can.
Get Witness Information. Many witnesses leave by the time police arrive. If you can, write down witness names and phone numbers. License plate numbers can also help.
Get Treatment if You Are Hurt. If you aren’t injured, don’t waste your time and money on treatment you don’t need. But, if you are hurt, you should accept that ambulance ride to the emergency room so that your injuries don’t get worse. At least consult with your primary care doctor. Many people delay seeking treatment in the hopes that they will recover on their own. Unfortunately, often they don’t. Insurance companies then use delay or lack of treatment to argue that people aren’t genuinely injured.
Report the Crash to Your Insurance Company. If you are involved in a crash, you should let your insurance company know about it, especially if it might be your fault. You also may be contacted by insurance adjusters for other people involved in a crash. Insurance adjusters usually ask to take a recorded statement. If you are thinking about hiring an attorney, now is the time to get one. These statements can and will be used against you if at all possible. Even your own insurance company may use your statement against you.
Consult a Lawyer if You Are Seriously Hurt. You know whether you are seriously injured. What you probably don’t know is the value of your claim. Insurance companies exploit this information imbalance in settling claims with unrepresented people.
Remember Anderton Law Office - Washington Bike Law. Consultations are free. Call (206) 262-9290 or firstname.lastname@example.org
by, Bob Anderton
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