During 2017, North Carolina saw 709 serious crashes involving motor vehicles and bicycles. These collisions left 681 bike riders injured and 21 people dead. The wrecks occurred all over the state, but Dare County, one the Outer Banks locales that our personal injury and wrongful death law firm serves, saw 18 of them.
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As a tourist destination and a rural area primarily served by state highways with high speed limits and narrow shoulders, it makes some sense that Dare experiences more bike crashes than other places. At the same time, nearly every collision between a car or truck and a bicycle can be prevented. When a crash does occur, the bike rider nearly always suffers injuries ranging from road rash and broken bones to traumatic brain injuries.
If you get hit and hurt while riding a bicycle in North Carolina, or anywhere else, do the following five things to increase your chances for recovering physically and for holding the at-fault driver accountable for settling insurance claims.
The very first thing an injured bicyclist should do, if possible, is get out of the roadway and onto the shoulder or sidewalk. Secondary collisions kill many bike riders who are out of most drivers’ line of sight after falling to the pavement.
Once you are safe from further injury, call police and EMTs. You can also ask bystanders to do this if no one has already. Reporting the collision is essential to ensuring you receive proper, potentially lifesaving, medical care. It also ensures an official investigation will be conducted, meaning you will have evidence to support your contention that the car or truck driver caused the crash.
Ask for the Driver’s Name, Contact Information and Insurance Details
Law enforcement will collect this information, but obtaining it yourself will allow you to start the claims process as soon as possible.
Seek Medical Care
Never refuse an offer to get checked out by an EMT or paramedic. If you do turn down medical aid at the scene of the crash, go to the emergency room or your doctor on your own.
You will need evidence of serious injuries and medical expenses in order to succeed with a personal injury claim. If you cannot produce medical records, doctors’ bills and prescription orders to document the harm you suffered, you will not receive an insurance settlement.
Obtain the Police Report
Findings from an official investigation often prove invaluable for assigning right of way and describing the errors made by the driver. Even if a police report is incomplete or inconclusive, the document can provide a guide to what an independent investigator should look into.
Do Not Assume You Have No Legal Options Following a Hit-and-Run
Bike riders in North Carolina who fall victim to hit-and-run drivers can invoke uninsured motorist provisions of their own car insurance policies. Such claims do not get paid automatically, but insisting on the coverage can go a long way toward reducing financial hardships following a crash caused by a driver who fled the scene.