The vast majority of bicycle rides end without incident. But unfortunately, even the most experienced cyclist can be involved in a crash. Some of the best ways to prevent crashes are to follow local cycling laws.
In Tennessee, bicycles are considered vehicles, so cyclists are subject to all applicable rules of the road. You should obey traffic signs and signals, communicate upcoming turns and other actions using hand motions (when safe to do so), and equip the front of your bicycles with a white light visible at 500 feet and the rear with a red reflector/lamp visible from 50 feet away. The latter requirement is used to increase your visibility around motorists at night.
State law requires motorists to exercise due care around bicycles. They must keep at least three feet between the car and the cyclist when they pass, and even be careful when opening their car door.
Unfortunately, not every motorist obeys these laws, and not every cyclist remains safe. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, there are hundreds of fatal accidents and thousands of injuries involving bike riders every year. Even the most diligent cyclist is vulnerable when sharing the road with motor vehicles, so a bike crash can happen to anyone. Here’s what you need to do if it happens to you.
Stay calm and get off the road
Unless you are too badly hurt to move, get up slowly and leave the road to avoid moving traffic. High adrenalin levels and shock may make serious and permanent injuries feel like minor ones, so do not run or hurry unless safety advises otherwise.
Talk to the driver and any witnesses
If the driver stops, get their name and insurance details. Be aware that he or she may not give you correct information, especially if it looks like they will face legal and financial repercussions. They may even deny later that they were at the accident scene, so take down their license plate number and collect the names of witnesses, who can help if the driver’s story changes. If you are physically unable to gather these details, ask a witness to help.
Call the police
Call the police and wait for them to arrive so that an official accident report can be taken and filed. A comprehensive report will include driver and witness statements. If the police ticket the driver, settling the case with his or her insurance company can be much easier.
The police will probably investigate the accident scene to determine exactly how the mishap occurred. They may measure skid marks, take pictures, and speak with additional witnesses.
Do not repair your bike
Leave your bike and any damaged personal effects in the same state they were in after the accident. As an added precaution, take photos. These images of a damaged bike and broken accessories will further your claim that the accident was severe enough to cause physical injury.
Seek medical treatment
Seek medical treatment immediately, even if you don’t think you were hurt that badly. A doctor’s examination may reveal otherwise. A medical report will prove that you were injured in the accident and document the nature and extent of your injuries. You should also have photos taken as soon as possible after the crash and keep a log of your physical symptoms. These will provide additional documentary evidence of how the accident impacted you physically and even emotionally.
For the sake of expediency, visit the Emergency Room of the closest hospital. In the Highland Rim, options include:
- Tennova Healthcare – Harton
1801 N Jackson St. Tullahoma, TN 37388. (931) 393-4766
- Saint Thomas Rutherford Hospital
1700 Medical Center Pkwy, Murfreesboro, TN 37129. (615) 396-4100
- Cookeville Regional Medical Center
1 Medical Center Blvd, Cookeville, TN 38501. (931) 528-2541
- Lincoln County Hospital
106 Medical Center Blvd, Fayetteville, TN 37334. (931) 438-1100
- TriStar Centennial Medical Center
2300 Patterson St., Nashville, TN 37203. (615) 342-1000
Draft a Demand Letter
To get compensation for your medical bills and wrecked bicycle, you will need to write a demand letter to the motorist’s insurance company.
A demand letter is a detailed statement outlining exactly what happened during the crash, who was to blame, and all of the expenses you’ve incurred due to the crash. You will likely be corresponding often with the motorist’s insurance company, which is why it’s so important to collect as much evidence as possible ahead of time and save every medical bill!
As bicycle travel becomes more widely recognized as an excellent method of both exercising and commuting, the number of cyclists is steadily growing. Hopefully this will make drivers more aware of their presence on the road, but if an accident occurs, the steps in this article will ensure the best possible outcome for an injured cyclist.
*This article was provided by Personal Injury Help and was not written by an attorney, and the accuracy of the content is not warranted or guaranteed. If you wish to receive legal advice about a specific problem, you should contact a licensed attorney in your area.