WHAT TO DO IF YOU CRASH??

WHAT TO DO IF YOU ARE IN A CRASH?
I have seen an article floating around some of the bike pages on the “What To Do If You Crash” topic. It’s pretty good, but lacking in a couple critical areas, I think…particulary for Ohio cyclists who crash and are injured when they are struck by a car.

Here’s a short list off the top of my head…

1. Protect yourself – if you can move – move – but leave the bike and debris where it is – do NOT allow the car to move if possible – yes, it’ll cause a back up of traffic, but once the scene is changed, evidence is destroyed…
2. Get police AND EMT’s to the scene
3. Do NOT refuse treatment – get checked out – your adrenaline rush will wear off and pain may well set in. I had one client who rode away from a crash on bike then pedaled directly through the front doors of an Urgent Care when he realized his clavicle was fractured.

Billingsley Crash Scene
4. If you can, document the scene – photos photos and more photos – get the names of everyone – do NOT assume that if they talk to the cops that their names will be recorded – they likely won’t. Police only corral witnesses in obvious “big” cases – severe/fatal crashes. In the run of the mill case in which one party is blatantly at fault they often talk to people confirm it, but then let them go
5. Do NOT refuse treatment – did I mention that above… oh yea… I wonder why??  Because it is IMPORTANT! Cyclists are hard-nosed, self-sufficient, don’t-tell-me-what-to-do, suck it up, get it done, to heck with a little pain, bootstrappers whose first question after returning to a state of quasi-consciousness is “How’s My Bike???”  Do not refuse treatment – get checked out – at the scene…and follow up at home…
6. Give a solid statement to police – Try to get them to take photos – of your injuries- the scene – all vehicles.
7. Do NOT leave without the other person’s contact info, the name of their insurer and a policy number preferably.
8. Try to find out if the other driver was “working” at the time of the crash and get the name of the employer
9. Do NOT simply “start an insurance claim” as the article floating around suggests. Again, do NOT simply call up the driver’s insurer and “report” the claim.  This ought to be done after much thought – the initial communications with the insurer can be critically important. Having worked as in-house counsel for an insurer I know that insurers are required to set “reserves” on cases on Day 1 – knowing how to use buzz words that cause the reserve to be set as high as possible is definitely a skill to be developed. Do NOT call them – Do NOT  “give them a statement”  – “oh, it’s just a short statement –  we need it for our records  blahblahblah”  –  Do NOT give them your Social Security Number. 
10. Do NOT give out your AUTO INSURANCE to doctors, hospitals and the like. In Ohio, anyway, your care providers have taken the approach of  ignoring your health insurance and submitting claims to your auto insurance to try to tap into your “Medical Payments” coverage. Why?  Well… MONEY of course…  Your health insurer will only pay a percentage of the bill – maybe 50% or less – whatever is the negotiated rate. The hospital knows that your auto carrier will pay 100 Cents on the Dollar – IF they are aggressive and get there first before any other care providers you may see… Whatever the E/R submits, up to your policy limits, will be paid with virtually no questions asked. I had one case where a guy had $10,000 in “Med Pay” – and we discovered that it was used up entirely by the E/R facility without his knowledge or consent! YOU should remain in control of that money – you may need it to pay your deductible, or the 20% of the “80/20” policy that you owe.
11. There are as many as 4 or 5 insurance policies which can be triggered at the moment of a crash – Your Health insurance, Auto Insurance, the other guy’s Auto insurance – the other guy’s Employer’s insurance, your HOMEOWNER’s insurance and any “umbrella” or excess coverage you may have. As I researched and wrote the “Insurance” chapter in “Bicycling and the Law” I dug deep into the relationships of all these carriers – it’s not pretty…
12. IF you have a claim of ANY magnitude at all – disabling injuries, big bills, scars and wounds, fractures, serious out of pocket losses or wage loss, then consult a good lawyer EARLY in the game – don’t go through the process yourself and then call a lawyer when it gets mucked up… What’s a “small” claim? Tough to say – minor injuries which heal quickly and no complications. Clear liability. Nice adjustor who wants to give away some money and finish the claim… For all the rest, you’re likely going to need counsel.

13. Download the Bike Lawyer’s Crash App! The app is pretty cool. You can read ALL Ohio bike laws, and get my commentary [commentary which, I would note, rates “Moderate” on the Magas Humorosity Scale]. You also get an app that helps you gather every bit of information you need after a crash – GPS coordinates at the scene – video – photos – take recorded statements – type data – get to the closest hospital, or bike shop. The app keeps all this disparate data in one place and allows you to send it to me with one button – you don’t have to wander all over your phone to grab the various pieces. The app stores them all together for you!

14. Send me an Email and I’ll send you 10-100-1000+ of my Bike Law/Art Cards. Keep ’em handy – you never know when they’ll come in handy.

-0- 2014 Bike Card

15. Keep track of EVERYTHING! Every document relating to your injuries is important. The EOB’s from your insurer- the bills – your payment of the bills – photos – your bike – your helmet and bloody clothes… keep EVERYTHING – In Ohio our Supreme Court, in its infinite wisdom, changed the rules for ALL injury claims in which health insurance is involved. It made our jobs of representing you far more difficult, and helped tamp down the value of claims. Our court now requires you [and me] to keep track of your insurance payments, your insurance policy terms, all the “write offs” your insurance makes, your share of the bills, your deductible and more… it’s crazy…

16. GOOD Photos – Get GOOD photos of wounds, scars, bloody goopy stuff… hospital shots are fantastic [in the crazy little world I work in]. But GOOD photos – did I mention that the photos have to be GOOD – I cannot TELL you how many times I’ve received an envelope of photos…out of focus photos … of fleshy blobs… with no possible way to tell WHO it is… or WHAT body part was in the photo… I’m not talking about phone photos – unless your phone has a fantastic lens – I’m talking about pro quality photos – images sell the case – I have invested heavily in camera gear and shoot a LOT of photos – I’ve got wide angle lenses, close up lenses, flashes and a tripod. I’ve got props that measure wounds, backgrounds and high end f1.2 lenses that take gorgeous photos of gory stuff… I usually shoot 100 or so photos in every case… the scene – the property damage – the bike, jersey, shoes, helmet, gloves – and then the wounds and scars…

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There you go – my Top Ten…er… Sixteen Things to do or think about after you crash… This is the tiny tippy top of the iceberg of To Do’s in a typical bike crash case… I could write a book, or a chapter anyway, on each one…maybe I’ll do that one day… but for now…

Stay Safe and Keep On Riding!

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