Cyclists never expect to be involved in an accident. But as both a cyclist and a personal injury lawyer, unfortunately I have seen cycling accidents becoming a more common occurrence. The Transport Accident Commission (TAC) recently published statistics indicating that over 40 cyclists have been hospitalised in the last year as a result of an accident in the Melbourne CBD area. When I meet with a cyclist who has been the victim of a serious road accident, I ask them a few basic questions:
- Did you take any photos of the accident site, your bicycle, the location or the car involved?
- Did you get the names of any witnesses to the accident, and their contact details, or are you able to find a way of getting such information?
- Did you report the accident to the police?
- Did you report the accident to the TAC?
- Have you received medical treatment?
- Has your version of the accident remained consistent in all of your exchanges with the police, TAC and medical providers?
If they answer yes to all of the above questions, and have reported their accident in a short, simple, and consistent manner to all parties, then they have a good chance of gaining compensation for the wrong committed by the driver of the motor vehicle.
Steps to follow if you experience an accident
With these questions in mind, if you do experience a cycling accident there are seven basic steps that you should follow:
- Photos – Photograph the accident site, your bicycle and the car involved.
- Witnesses – Get the contact details of any witnesses. The easiest way is to use a mobile phone to take a photo of the driver’s license.
- Statement – Think of a short statement to describe the accident – such as “the car turned in front of me and cut me off”.
- Police – Report the accident to the police, giving them your short statement and the names of any witnesses collected.
- TAC – Contact the TAC as soon as you can to report the accident by phone on 1300 654 329. Use your statement to describe it (this will be typed onto your claim form).
- Medical treatment – If seeking medical treatment, use your statement to describe the accident and how you were injured.
- Lawyer – Contact a specialist personal injury lawyer ASAP to seek advice and prepare you for any discussions you may have with the TAC or one of its investigators.
The role of the TAC
Many people do not see how the TAC can be a concern to them – especially as the TAC steps in right away to help with any medical expenses. The TAC actually has two roles. One is as a Government Agency commissioned to assist all road victims. The second is as an insurer for anyone who is driving a motor vehicle and causes an injury. It is in their second role that the TAC will be acting against the cyclist and fighting on behalf of the driver that has caused the injury. That second role is never revealed by the TAC in its discussions with the injured cyclist. A good specialist personal injury lawyer will be able to guide you through the compensation process and in the end deliver to you what you deserve after a serious accident on a bicycle. Be prepared at all times and cycle safe.