How to Handle a Bike Accident With a Vehicle

Getting Checked Out

Be overcautious about your body. A cyclist colliding with a vehicle can be violent, but your adrenaline at the scene could mask any physical pain you're in. Don't be afraid to take a visit to the emergency room if something doesn't feel right.

As for who pays the medical bills up front? Depends on the state, but in Duggan's home state of Washington the motorist's automobile PIP (personal injury protection) coverage is primary for the cyclist's injuries no matter who's at fault. The cyclist's automobile PIP coverage is secondary (even though they weren't in their automobile at the time), and the cyclist's health insurance is third in line.

Recovering Your Losses

Your physical injuries are one thing, and your personal losses are another. If the motorist is at fault, his auto liability insurance should cover the damage to your bike.

If your bike has been in a crash, take it to a reputable bike shop and get it thoroughly inspected. Duggan was involved in another accident where he didn't realize his bike was damaged until 10 weeks later, when the fork legs snapped off due to tiny cracks that went undetected.

Duggan recommends demanding to the insurance company that they declare the bike and all damaged accessories a total loss. A bike shop can put this in writing after an inspection if they determine the bike is unsafe to ride.

Keep in mind, though, that this doesn't mean you're getting a shiny new bike. Insurance companies are only required to give you market value, and if your bike is five years old, don't expect to get enough money to buy one that's five years newer.

Also realize that insurance claims adjustors typically aren't as knowledgeable about bikes as you are. So when you are in an accident and expecting to file a claim for your damaged bike, make sure you have more than enough information to get fair value for it. You may have to educate your adjuster on how much your bike is really worth. Duggan recommends sites like eBay and craigslist to get an idea of how much your bike would sell for in the open market.

Bike accidents involving motor vehicles--even relatively minor ones--are scary. When it's all said and done, the initial reaction might be relief that you weren't killed or seriously injured.

Don't let that euphoria keep you from taking the proper steps to make sure you're protected in the aftermath of an accident.

"A lot of times, you're not thinking clearly," Duggan said. "You're hit, and it's 'Wow, I'm glad to be alive. Of course everything is good.' Then it doesn't hit you for a couple of hours that you have a broken wrist or something."

"It's better to preserve all that information up front."

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