Auto Accident Lawyer
Personal injury cases depend on evidence to prove that a careless driver is responsible for paying compensation. Evidence can come in the form of testimony, but when a bicyclist and a driver collide, a jury might have difficulty deciding which person has a more accurate perception of how the injury occurred. Physical evidence, combined with the testimony of neutral witnesses, makes a bicyclist’s injury claim stronger.
To maximize the opportunity to obtain full compensation for a bicycle accident injury, it is important to preserve evidence. Taking some simple steps can help a bicycle accident lawyer bring a successful injury claim.
Making a Police Report After a Bicycle Accident
Every state requires drivers to report a traffic accident to the police if the accident causes an injury. Not every driver follows that rule. An injured bicyclist should either contact the police or make sure that someone else contacts the police. Ask the driver to say at the scene until the police arrive.
It is also wise to ask to see the driver’s license of the person who caused the accident. Making a note of the driver’s name and the license plate will discourage the driver from leaving before the police arrive.
The police will conduct an accident investigation. The officer will gather information to determine how the accident occurred. The accident should take the names of witnesses, but the bicyclist should ask witnesses for their names and phone numbers, just in case they leave before the officer arrives.
The officer might take measurements of the accident scene and will probably draw a sketch. If you think the officer is getting it wrong, make your side of the story known.
Take Photographs After a Bicycle Accident
A bicyclist who is carrying a smartphone should use the camera app to take pictures of the accident scene. Try to take pictures before the car or the bicycle are moved. If the collision dented or scratched the car, take photos of the damage.
Also take some pictures of the bicycle. The photographs will help you prove that the bicycle damage was caused by the collision, not by something that happened later.
If there are skid marks, glass from a broken headline, or scattered debris from the damaged bicycle, photograph them. Since that evidence could be lost with the passage of time, documenting it is the best way to assure that all the facts are known.
Keep Your Damaged Bike for Evidence After a Bicycle Accident
Car crashes often destroy bicycles. Don’t junk the bike. A mangled bicycle makes a powerful exhibit at trial.
Even if the bicycle can be repaired, don’t repair it without first getting legal advice. The bicycle damage can hold clues to how the accident happened. An engineer who examines the bike may be able to draw conclusions that will help you prove your case. For example, if there is a dispute as to which party collided with the other, the nature of the bicycle damage might help you prove that the driver crashed into the bicycle.
In addition, the insurance company that insures the driver must be given an opportunity to inspect the bike. If that inspection might shed light on who was responsible for the collision, you have a legal obligation to maintain the bike in its post-accident condition.
A legal principle known as spoliation allows judges to punish parties who fail to preserve relevant evidence. The judge might tell the jury that it can presume you failed to preserve the bike because you wanted to conceal its condition from the insurance company. A jury might then decide that your failure to preserve the bike proves that you were responsible for the accident.
Before you do anything to alter physical evidence of the accident, talk to a bicycle accident lawyer. Your lawyer can tell you whether and for how long the evidence needs to be preserved.