Bicyclists are the most vulnerable among those using our roads in Will County. Even bicyclists wearing the proper protective gear are still at a greater risk of serious injury and death, when involved in a traffic accident with a motor vehicle. This is why laws are harsh in relation to how automobile drivers interact with bicyclists. If you are a bicyclist, understanding how negligence is determined in these cases and how you should respond after an accident is vital.

Either Party Can Be Negligent

In traffic accidents that involve a motor vehicle and a bicycle, either party can be negligent. Even so, the motorist owes a higher level of care to the cyclist than the bicycle operator owes to the driver of the motor vehicle. This is because the risk of injury is greater for the bicyclist.
The motor vehicle operator and bicyclist are both expected to obey traffic laws, however. If it can be shown that both parties were violating traffic laws at the time of the accident, negligence and fault may be shared. For instance, the motor vehicle driver may have been speeding, while the bicyclist was traveling the wrong way down a one-way street. In this case, both parties share the blame, though the motorist may be assigned a higher percentage of fault.
When both parties are assigned fault, this is known as contributory negligence and it can affect the outcome of the plaintiff’s case. For instance, suppose the motorist is assigned 60% of the fault for the accident and the remaining 40% is assigned to the cyclist. In a case valued at $100,000, the most the bicyclist could possibly receive would be $60,000.

What Every Bicyclist Should Do After an Accident

Call the Police
The first thing that should be done after a bicycle accident is to call for emergency services. If you’re able to make that call, go ahead. Otherwise, someone else on the scene should make the call. In any case, it’s important to wait for police to arrive, so they can interview everyone involved in the accident.
Give Your Statement
Even if the motor vehicle driver explained what happened to the police and his story sounds accurate, you should still supply a statement of your own. You will want your own version of the accident in the report, so you can refer to it later. When making your statement, resist the temptation to admit any fault. Simply state the facts as accurately as you can remember them.
Collect Contact Information
Your next task should be to collect the names and contact information from everyone at the scene. This includes witnesses as well as the driver and passengers of the motor vehicle. Additionally, ask the driver for his insurance information, since this will be necessary in filing a claim.
Collect Evidence
This begins at the scene of the accident. The best way to collect evidence is by taking photographs of the scene of the accident. In particular, get pictures of the property damages, such as damage to your bicycle, the vehicles involved, and any other physical property damaged in the accident. Later, you can add copies of your medical care records and bills to this file of evidence.
Seek Medical Treatment
There is a statute of limitations on personal injury cases in Will County. This means delaying to seek a medical evaluation could end up hurting your case and you may not be able to file a claim at all. Additionally, some injuries aren’t obvious, but can be very severe. Traumatic head injuries, spine and back damage, and neck injuries may manifest only mild symptoms at first, taking days or weeks to get worse. Obtaining a medical evaluation early will help you identify these problems. Getting treatment as early as possible will help you recover more fully from these types of injuries.
Consult an Attorney
Early in the process, the motorist’s insurance company will send out an adjuster to evaluate the accident and offer you a settlement. This will be a low offer that probably won’t be enough to cover your medical expenses and other damages. By hiring an experienced personal injury lawyer, such as those at Zayed Law Offices, you’ll be able to ensure your rights are protected. Your attorney can negotiate a fair settlement for you and, if the insurance company is unwilling to negotiate, your lawyer will be prepared to pursue the case in court. Hiring an attorney will give you your best chance for obtaining a fair and favorable outcome in your case.