This week, Found by Bike offers a repost from the Bay Area Bicycle Law blog by Michael Stephenson. Michael is a trial lawyer specializing in bicycle accident lawsuits, insurance negotiations, and other strategic planning. His legal writings have been featured in the Portland Business Journal, the Oregon State Bar Litigation Journal, the Oregon State Bar Professional Liability Newsletter, Davis Wright Tremaine newsletters and websites, and in other publications. In his spare time, he volunteers as a legal counsel for bicycle advocacy groups in California, including California Bicycle Coalition, San Francisco Bicycle Coalition, and others. While Bay Area Bicycle Law doesn't financially support this blog, the firm is a Cycle California! Magazine advertiser.
Winning a bicycle crash lawsuit is all about evidence. The more information and proof that you can provide, the stronger your case.
Remember, the lawyers and judges and juries and insurance adjustors who are handling your case weren't there at the scene of the crash. So they are only going off of the information provided by you, the driver, the police, and any witnesses who were there. That means that your voice and perspective and evidence are all incredibly important pieces of the puzzle.
It can be daunting to imagine that your case is really in your own hands. But here's the good news: you often already have everything you need in order to build your own case. You have your memories, your property, and your version of events.
A good attorney can help you put all these elements together into a powerful case. Here is how to collect the evidence and information that you need to build and win your own case after a crash.
Take photos at the scene of the crash
Photos are one of the best ways to document your crash and build a strong case. If you are able, take as many photos (or videos) as you possibly can after the crash.
Take photos of:
- The road and road conditions
- Street signs and details on the road
- Yourself — anywhere you were injured: any scrapes, cuts, swollen skin, etc
- Your property — anything that was affected by the crash: your bike, your clothes, your helmet, your sunglasses, your bag, etc.
- The driver’s car (if possible)
- The driver’s license plate (if possible)
Photos, unlike personal accounts, are hard to refute. The more photographic evidence you have of the scene of the crash, your injuries, your property damage, and all other relevant details, the harder it will be for the driver’s side to refute your case.
Once you have the photos on your phone or camera, upload them to your computer and either email them to yourself (and your attorney) or load them to a storage tool like Dropbox. That way, they’ll be safely stored, even if your phone becomes damaged.
Keep a post-bicycle crash injury diary
One of the best things you can do to build your own case after a crash is to keep a post-crash injury diary. Not only does this give you a complete log of events that you can bring with you to court, but it will also help you keep track of the many details of the crash that are likely to fade from memory as days, weeks, and months pass during your case.
A traumatic event like a bike crash may seem like it will be burned into your memory forever. However, the opposite is often the case.
Within a few days, you can start to forget minor details from the day of the crash. Not only that, but with weeks of recovery and medical treatments going on just after the crash, you may be experiencing information overload that just won’t allow you to manage all the details in your head.
You should start your diary as soon as you possibly can, and record every single detail you can remember from the day of the crash:
- Where you were headed (destination, direction you were travelling in, etc)
- Approximate speed (yours and the driver’s)
- Weather or road conditions
- Details of the scene (Where you at a stoplight? Were other cars or cyclists around?)
- How the crash started
- Where did you get hit? Did you hit the ground? The car? What parts of your body were impacted?
- What you saw first as the collision began to occur
- What you heard before, during, and after (Did you hear tires screeching? Did the driver honk? Did they say anything to you?)
- What witnesses said to you
- What the police officer said to you and if they appeared to be doing a thorough investigation
You never know what minor, tiny detail might be the thing that sways your case in one direction or the other. It can be the littlest thing that wins your case, which is why it is important to record as much detail as you possibly can.
A post-crash diary doesn't have to be like a novel. You can jot down notes as you have time; create lists, timelines, or whatever makes it easiest for you to get all the information down.
You can even draw diagrams to help make sense of the crash scene. Draw the intersection or roads where to crash took place, and include arrows and details showing where you and the driver were, and how the events took place.
Create a paper trail
Having your own version of events is good; having multiple sources who can back up your version of events is even better.
After your crash, it’s important to hold on to all the paperwork you can. Doctor bills, repair bills, letters from insurance companies — these are all important documents that will help you make sure you are on top of every detail of your case and what you are owed.
It’s also important to make notes of the many appointments and procedures you take part in as a result of your crash. You can keep this information in your crash diary to show how much time and money is being invested in your recovery.
Finally, you can take your diary to any doctors or therapists that you see and ask them to make it a part of your medical record. That will help it be taken even more seriously as a part of your official records.
Hold onto all property in its current state
While it may be a pain to not get your bike repaired right away, it is really important for the strength of your case that you keep all property in the same state that it was in just following the crash.
Having this valuable physical evidence will be extremely helpful in getting property claims covered and having the other side take your case seriously.
Build your own case with a powerful team
Bay Area Bicycle Law can help you turn all of your evidence into a strong, successful case. If you have been injured in a bicycle crash, call us today to set up a free, confidential, no obligation consultation with one of our expert attorneys. You can reach us at 1-866-Bicycle-Law or 415-466-8717, www.bayareabicyclelaw.com.
Your receipt of the information on this website is not intended to create, and receipt does not constitute, a contract for legal representation. This information is not intended as a substitute for obtaining legal advice from an attorney. No person should act upon or rely on any information from this website without seeking the advice of an attorney.