August 17, 2020 | Bicycle Accidents
Hitting someone on a bicycle with your car is terrifying for a driver, and extremely dangerous for the cyclist. Reacting quickly, instead of panicking, can save someone’s life. What you do in the first few minutes after an accident involving a bicycle can have a profound impact on the outcome.
Immediate Action if You Hit a Bicycle With Your Car
If you hit someone who is riding a bicycle, stop immediately, and call 911. Remain calm and give your location. Follow any instructions offered by the 911 operator. If it is possible to safely do so, help the rider off the roadway and remove your car from the road as well. If it is unsafe to move the rider, enlist help from passersby.
Turn on the emergency lights of your car, and set out flares or cones if you have them. Render whatever help you can as you wait for emergency services. If you suffered an injury as well, make sure to seek medical attention as well.
Once the emergency is over, and any aid needed has been rendered, make sure you get the name of the officer who responds and the corresponding report number. You will need this information to get a copy of the accident report later.
Take pictures of the accident scene once you can safely do so. Take pictures of any cross streets, lights, or objects that could have blocked the view for you or the rider of the bike.
Don’t Flee the Scene
In a moment of panic, people often flee the scene of the accident. It is not an option, and whatever happened to cause the accident will only be made worse by an impulsive and panicked decision to flee. Remain at the scene until both emergency medical personnel and the police arrive and cooperate with them as they do an initial report.
Under 47 OK Stat § 47-10-102.1 (2014), leaving the scene of an accident that results in a death is a felony. You could face a fine of up to $10,000 and up to ten years in prison for one panicked decision.
In addition to committing a crime by fleeing the scene, you are also increasing your civil liability. Oklahoma law provides that you could be forced to pay three times the value of the damages caused by the accident if you leave the scene.
Will I Automatically Be Blamed For the Accident?
It is a common misconception that any vehicle that hits a bicycle will be deemed at fault for the accident. Under Oklahoma law, that is not always the case. The rules of the road apply to bicycles in the same way that motor vehicles are. A bike rider that is distracted by a cell phone fails to yield the right of way, rides into your vehicle, or does not have the proper lighting for night riding can be determined to be at fault or partially at fault for the accident.
Oklahoma is a modified comparative negligence state. For a plaintiff to recover damages, they must share less than 51% of the blame for the accident. The plaintiff’s compensatory award will be reduced to reflect their role in the accident.
So, if the rider contributed fifty-one of the negligence that caused the accident, they are barred from recovering damages. If they contributed twenty percent of the negligence, and their damages are $10,000, then that award would be reduced by twenty percent, meaning they could recover $8,000.
The Driver’s Responsibility
Drivers should always take reasonable care to watch for bicycles, especially when children are present, or when driving near a bike lane.
Children, by nature, are often unaware of their surroundings and prone to riding into a street, or falling off their bike as a car passes. As an adult, there is an assumption of reasonable care when there are children, or it would be reasonable to assume there could be children.
Not all accidents involving children are the fault of the adult driver, but the driver should be paying attention in any area where children are playing. Hitting a child is an adult driver’s worst nightmare, and it leaves you vulnerable to being found at-fault.
Do I Need an Oklahoma City Bike Accident Attorney?
If you were involved in a bicycle accident as the driver of the vehicle, you need to contact an attorney experienced in Oklahoma bicycle laws and personal injury.
Because of the nature of an accident involving a bicycle and a car, the accident is more likely to result in a serious injury. Even if the cyclist does not appear to be seriously injured at the scene, the signs and symptoms of some types of injuries can take time to develop.
Accidents result in an adrenaline surge for all parties involved, and adrenaline can mask the signs of injuries. Do not take a wait and see approach when involved in an accident with a bicycle.
It is also a mistake to assume your insurance company will look out for your best interest. Insurance companies can act in bad faith, leading to you being sued for the injuries a cyclist sustains. To make sure your rights are protected, contact an Oklahoma attorney experienced with these types of accidents as soon as possible.