Hit-and-run accidents are considered criminal offenses in every state including Illinois. Motorists who hit a bicycle are required to stop no matter how serious the accident and provide essential information while making the determination of whether or not the bicyclist requires medical attention.
Unfortunately, hit-and-run accidents involving bicycles are a common occurrence in Illinois. This is because many motorists are negligent when driving distracted, or not paying adequate attention to the roadway ahead. It is not an uncommon occurrence for motorists to collide with bicycle riders sharing the roadway, at intersections, or crossing the biker’s path when making a left-hand turn.
The steps the bicyclist and motorist take after the accident will help set the stage on resolving the case legally and medically. The important steps that need to be taken after being involved in a hit-and-run bicycle accident include:
Call the Police
It is essential that the bicyclist or bystanders call the police immediately to file a report. In many incidences, the bicyclists will simply leave the scene because the driver left without stopping. However, the police have effective resources that can be used to track the driver down and hold them legally, financially and medically responsible if it can be proved that they cause the accident. Once the police have been called, is essential to contact a competent bicycle accident lawyer to ensure that your rights are protected. In addition, an attorney can help initiate a police investigation even if one was not initiated at the time of the accident.
Notify Health and Automobile Insurance Companies
Usually, all insurance companies must be notified of damages and injuries within 24 hours so that a claim can be made for recovery of all of the victim’s damages including medical expenses, lost wages, the cost of replacing the bicycle, pain, suffering, anxiety and other compensation. In addition, it is crucial that the victim seek immediate medical attention even if they believe they are not suffering any injuries. This is because many medical problems can arise days or weeks after the collision. It is crucial for the victim to follow doctor’s orders to ensure they heal completely or as much is possible for the injuries they have endured.
Identify All Witnesses
Even though the driver in a hit-and-run accident fled the scene, there are often witnesses that saw everything. It is essential to gather their contact information including name, phone number and address and take a statement from each one describing what they witnessed. In all likelihood, an investigation conducted by law enforcement officers will favor the victim if they provide witnesses who can be interviewed.
Building a Case
Your attorney will likely ensure that photographs are taken of the scene as quickly as possible. In addition, they may gather evidence such as broken parts from the vehicle and the bicycle involved in the accident. Photographs can usually capture street signs, skidmarks, guardrails and other important objects that were damaged during the collision. The attorney will likely want photographs taken of the victim’s injuries along with any bloodied or torn clothing.
Checking for hazardous road conditions is also important including broken pavement, debris in the road or any other objects in the area where the victims suffered injuries. The exact location of the hit-and-run accident will also play a factor in litigation to determine if the state or local municipality has direct or indirect responsibility for the maintenance of the road that was not properly maintained.
Never Dismiss the Accident
Even if the victim believes that they suffered no injuries and the bicycle was not damaged, it is important to never dismiss the legal importance of being involved in a hit-and-run accident. This is because drivers often believe that a collision with the bicycle is not really an accident if no one was hurt. In some situations, the driver simply blames the cyclist for doing nothing more than being on the roadway and will choose to drive away or avoid stopping to see what happened. In Illinois, this type of hit-and-run is a felony that requires immediate police intervention.
In nearly every case, the driver at fault for the accident will never personally reimburse the injured bicyclist. Instead, compensation for the victim’s personal injuries is paid by the driver’s insurance company.