HERE’S WHAT YOU SHOULD DO AFTER A BICYCLE ACCIDENT

All cyclists in Ontario involved in car accidents have access to accident insurance benefits, even if the accident was their fault.

Ontario roads can be dangerous for bicyclists, especially on our busy Toronto streets. Most people don’t know what to do after a car accident, especially cyclists. People are usually not thinking clearly, or they may be in shock or injured. Ontario also has complicated insurance laws. It is easy to miss something that could have real impacts on your life.

IF SOMEONE IS SERIOUSLY HURT
Call 911 and follow the directions of the operator. If you’re not sure if someone needs medical care, err on the side of caution and call.

GET BASIC INFORMATION
After a car accident, it is important to get information about the person who hit you. At a bare minimum, you want to learn:

1. their name

2. the name of their insurance company

3. their licence plate number

If you’re not able to, then have someone else gather this information for you. You will need this basic information in order to report the accident to the police and in order to learn what insurance company you may have insurance benefits through. Take a picture of the driver’s licence, licence plate and registration if they will let you.

REPORT THE ACCIDENT TO THE POLICE
Everyone involved in a car accident that causes more than $1,000 in damage has an obligation to report it to the police.

The police will arrive, interview witnesses and may issue a ticket against the person who caused the accident. The police investigation will hopefully preserve information about how the accident happened.

For less serious accidents, you can attend a collision reporting centre to report the accident. Everyone involved in the accident should attend to file a report. A directory of collision reporting centres is listed here.

EVERYONE HAS ACCESS TO INSURANCE BENEFITS
All cyclists in Ontario involved in car accidents have access to accident insurance benefits, even if the accident was their fault.

Accident insurance benefits cover reasonable costs for medical and rehabilitation benefits (physiotherapy, counseling, chiropractor, etc.) and even an amount for income replacement if you are not able to work. Even if you were not working or did not work for 26 of the 52 weeks before the accident, you may still be entitled to income replacement benefits.

Which insurance company do you apply to? If you have car insurance, then you can apply to your own insurance company. If you do not have car insurance, then you can apply to the insurance company for the driver who hit you. If the driver who hit you does not have car insurance, then apply to the motor vehicle accident claims fund as the coverage of last resort.

If you have home insurance, it may cover the damage to your bicycle. If you have an expensive bike, then it is worth checking with your insurance company to make sure the full replacement cost is covered.

If the insurance company stops paying your accident insurance benefits, then you can dispute their decision. Personal injury lawyers regularly help clients get compensation from insurance companies who unfairly stop paying benefits.

GO TO THE DOCTOR
It is usually a good idea to go to the hospital after an accident as a precaution, especially if you hit your head. Regardless, it is important to follow up with your family doctor or a walk-in clinic afterwards. Your family doctor is the quarterback of your treatment team; they oversee your treatment and refer you to other medical specialists.

If you apply for accident insurance benefits or start a lawsuit, then some of your medical records will be produced to the insurance company. Always be honest and forthright when speaking to your medical providers because they will keep notes of your conversations. Tell your doctor about all of your symptoms and how severe they are. Do not exaggerate or be stoic. The insurance company may try to use your clinical records against you and argue that a lack of medical notations is proof that your injuries are minor or not related to the accident. Plus, if your doctor does not know about all of your symptoms, he or she cannot give you the proper treatment.

DO YOU HAVE A LAWSUIT?
If the driver caused your accident and your injuries are serious enough, then you may be entitled to compensation for pain and suffering, housekeeping, medical expenses and lost income.

Not all people injured in car accidents in Ontario are entitled to compensation. The government has created an insurance scheme that bars many people from getting compensation for their pain and suffering, housekeeping and medical expenses if their injuries are not serious or permanent. It is best to consult a lawyer because the process is complicated. A lawyer can also help you preserve important evidence and provide you with legal advice in order to ensure that you are legally protected while you recover from your injuries.

Joseph Fearon is a personal injury lawyer with Preszler Law Firm LLP