The Biking Lawyer's Crash Guide
We write this Crash Guide as victims of bike crashes and cycling lawyers who represent hundreds of cyclists who have been involved in all manner of crashes:
Obstructed Bike Lanes
Road Rage and Road Violence
Negligently Placed Construction Materials
And sadly, more...
Of course, your bike crash will be unique, as will your injuries. Here is a step by step of what you should try to do if you are involved in a bike crash*:
1. Get Safe! Assess your injuries and seek medical attention:
It should go without saying that the most important thing to do in the aftermath of a bike crash is to tend to your health.
Assess your injuries and ask for help to get to a safe location. If you are injured or believe you could be injured, move as little as possible and request an ambulance attend the scene by calling 911 or asking someone else to.
I once biked home from a crash with a broken wrist, only later having to attend the hospital. It is infinitely better to stay on the scene and request help, even if you are not sure the extent of your injuries. Ambulance fees and bills will ultimately be covered by insurance in nearly every case.
If an ambulance is not called, go to your family doctor or a walk-in clinic to get checked out the same or following day. Document the crash and your injuries (pictures).
Even if you think you are fine, get a medical professional to tell you that.
When in doubt have someone call an ambulance to the scene.
2. Take pictures and gather information:
Anyone involved in a motor vehicle collision is obligated to stop and provide insurance information (Highway Traffic Act, s. 200(1)(c)). Demand insurance information and take a picture of the driver’s license plate and ID while you wait for emergency services.
Take pictures of any damage to your bike, the other vehicle, your injuries, the scene, etc.
If you cannot take pictures due to your injuries, ask witnesses/bystanders to help you. Get their information as well.
By taking down the driver's license details and insurance information, you enable yourself access to a variety of NO-FAULT crash benefits, from health care treatment to compensation for lost wages, even if you don’t have car insurance: “no fault Accident Benefits system”.
You do not have to have your own insurance. The insurance of the car driver that hit you applies, whether you were at fault for the crash or not.
Access to this treatment could be vital to your recovery. If treatment is available and you have even minor injuries, be sure to use it. The sooner you recover, the sooner you will be cycling again.
If the driver will not provide you with their insurance information, make sure the police provide you with that on scene. Demand it pursuant to the Highway Traffic Act section 200(1)(c). State that you will need it to access health care.
If police refuse, take down their full name and badge number and contact The Biking Lawyer LLP for assistance.
Unfortunately, hit and runs are not uncommon. If the driver flees the scene, you can still be covered. Read our Hit and Run article.
3. A cautionary note about reporting to police:
If you do not call the police to the scene, you could have a difficult time documenting, reporting, and getting justice after the crash.
If you leave the scene and report after the crash, police will likely tell you to go to a Collision Reporting Centre. These are often located far from the crash site. In Toronto, even if you are hit downtown, the reporting centers are in North York or Scarborough. For the rest of Ontario, see here: https://www.collision-reporting-centre.com/collision_reporting_centre/
If your injuries require you to pursue a tort/civil claim against the motorist who hit you, you do not need a police report, but it helps.
Not calling police to the scene means the motorist will likely not face a penalty for violating the Highway Traffic Act or in severe cases, the Criminal Code of Canada.
For several reasons calling the police may be harder for some to do than others. I recommend having a buddy present when dealing with the police, especially if you are BIPOC rider.
4. Seek legal Advice:
Regardless of the severity of your injuries, make sure you know what to expect post-crash.
Make sure you know your rights.
For any injured cyclist, across Ontario, we provide free consults.
We are always available to discuss your options. If you have been involved in crash, do not be shy. Reach out. Email us: firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule a call.
Ride safe friends.
*Take from this guide only what you can do based on your health and safety.