#Get back on your bike!
So, you were riding along as usual and then, before you know it, as a result of someone else’s negligence you find yourself on the ground, in agony!
So what do you do?
Depending upon the severity of your personal injuries you may not be able to do much else at the scene but wait for an ambulance. If you are able to however, do try and get some contact details of the person you hold responsible for the accident (the Defendant) (or at least the registration number) and details of any witnesses that may have seen what happened. A passer-by may be willing to help you with this, if you are physically unable to. Often the same witnesses may give their details to the police but in my experience it can take many months before the full police report is available and the police are unlikely to release full details until then. That could leave you in a the tricky position of not being able to prove who was responsible for the accident for many months which can hold up the likelihood of you receiving an interim payment to get your bike back on the road, yourself back to full health and recover any loss of earnings.
You may not think that your injuries are severe enough to call an ambulance, do ensure, however, that you seek medical attention as soon as possible. Research suggests that the sooner an injured person is medically treated, the quicker the recovery period.
If the police do not attend the scene, report the accident to them as soon as you are able to.
When you are physically able to, take some photographs of the place where the accident occurred i.e. of the road layout showing where you were riding and the direction of travel, together with where the Defendant was travelling and the place of the collision. Photographs from all angles are helpful.
Damage to property
Should any of your property (for example, glasses, mobile phone, clothing, leathers etc) be damaged, take some photographs. The insurers may wish to see the damaged items, so don’t throw them away!
It would be helpful if you could locate copies of the original purchase receipts (or bank statements showing the payments made) together with a quotation for the costs of repair/replacement costs. Apart from the helmet, the insurers will not replace the items new for old. It will make a deduction from the replacement costs to take into account the age of the original items that were damaged (betterment).
So what about your bike?
Only moments ago it was shiny and a joy to ride and now it is a mangled heap.
You may need to be taken to hospital by ambulance after the collision, contact the police as soon as you are able to. Ask them not only for the contact details, registration and insurance details of the Defendant but also check whether the police removed your bike from the scene, where they have taken it and any collection/storage charges that you may be responsible for.
If you were riding a motorcycle, the police may have taken it away for safe storage and the charges are high, so you may wish to make arrangements to move it as soon as possible.
A damaged pushbike can be taken to a local shop and obtain a quotation for the cost of repair.
If you were riding a motorcycle, obtain some estimates from garages as to the likely cost of repair or confirmation that the motorcycle is uneconomical to repair.
A local garage may be willing to help you collect your motorcycle from police storage, and store it at its premises, if it will subsequently get to repair it.
It will also be necessary to get your bike inspected.
Motorcyclist with third party insurance, or cyclists can either contact the Defendant’s insurers to ask that they arrange for an inspection or, if you are making a personal injury claim, a firm of solicitors is likely to be able to carry this out for you.
With comprehensive insurance your insurers are likely to arrange for an engineer to come out and inspect the damaged motorcycle and report upon its value or repair costs.
After the accident, you may be physically able to ride but your own motorcycle is in no state to be ridden, then it may be possible to obtain an alternative motorcycle on credit hire, with the charges being submitted directly to the insurers, whilst you wait for repairs to be completed or a cheque in respect of a motorcycle which is uneconomical to repair.
What do you do if you disagree with the engineer’s report?
Where you think that the value of your bike is more than that given by the engineer, then one of the best ways to challenge this is to find advertisements of similar bikes i.e. of the same age, mileage (for a motorcycle) make and model as yours and see what they are being advertised for. Also provide details of any distinguishing features of your bike which you think enhances its value.
And what about your injuries?
It will no doubt be frustrating being unable to ride your bike and have to rely upon public transport/taxis instead. Ensure that you keep your travel costs to a minimum (i.e. don’t travel everywhere by expensive taxi if you are able to make cheaper arrangements) and retain all receipts. If someone else drives you, for example, to your medical appointments, make a note of the mileage and retain parking receipts. Also keep receipts for any medicaments you have to purchase and any expenses that you have had to incur as a result of the accident.
You may have needed the help of friends, family or a partner. If they have to helped you with personal care, domestic chores, shopping, gardening etc, this can be included as part of a claim against the Defendant, so long as the assistance comprises something which you would normally do yourself had you not been injured. It is helpful to keep a diary of the tasks that you are assisted with i.e. details of the date, the tasks carried out and how long they have taken. It is very easy to forget these things as time goes by.
Keeping a diary of medical appointments can also be helpful.
Decide whether or not you wish to make a claim. Yes, you can deal with the case yourself but, I recommend that you seek proper legal advice. Bringing a claim can be extremely time consuming (for example, calling an insurance company that refuses to speak over the telephone or keeps you on hold for indefinite periods!). Proving the Defendant’s negligence and that they caused your injuries and losses together with working out how much compensation is appropriate, is not easy. The main priority of the insurance company after all will not be you and reasonably settling your claim, but will be to pay out as little as possible and to make a profit for its shareholders….
As part of the work I carry out, when someone is injured as a result of another’s negligence, I liaise with insurers with a view to securing an early interim payment where possible, together with essential rehabilitation treatment so that the injured person’s symptoms are treated as soon and as pro-actively as possible to ensure the person is back on his/her feet (and bike!) as soon as possible.
#Getbackonyourbike – Top tips
- At the scene of the accident obtain details of the party you hold responsible (the Defendant) together with their registration and insurance details, plus contact details for the witnesses. Ask a passer-by to help with this, if you are physically unable to;
- Contact the police to confirm the Defendant’s registration and insurance details;
- Report your injuries and seek medical advice as soon as possible;
- Revisit the scene and take some photographs. I appreciate this may not be possible if you are physically injured or suffering mental trauma.
- Discuss your motorcycle with the police and ensure that it hasn’t been moved somewhere where it is incurring high storage charges – take steps to move it to a cheaper place of storage;
- Contact your insurers to report the accident.
- Contact your employer if your injuries are preventing you from returning to work.
- Organise an engineer’s inspection of your bike (or ask your solicitor to help you with this).
- If you have been injured by a negligent driver and the injuries are hindering your day-to-day life, think about making a claim and getting proper legal representation from a reputable firm – that firm can help you secure an early interim payment for your bike and living expenses if you are unable to work and in addition help you to get some early rehabilitation treatment to help you get back on your bike as soon as possible.