Frequently Asked Questions About Bicycle Accidents
At the Scene of the Crash
Insurance and Bicycle Accidents
After a bicycle accident, should I call the police?
Yes, absolutely. If you are involved in a collision with a car, bicycle, or pedestrian while you are riding your bike, you should call the police. That means call 9-1-1 (not some non-emergency number). Even if the collision seems “minor,” call the police.
Should I go to the emergency room after a bicycle collision?
If you are injured in the collision, you should go to the emergency room. If you see blood, see scrapes, feel pain, feel numb, feel dizzy or disoriented, then you should go to the emergency room. After a bike accident, your adrenaline is pumping and you are a bit disoriented. So you are not in a good position to accurately gauge the severity of your injuries. Don’t make it complicated. If you are hurt, let the ambulance take you to the emergency room.
Do I need witnesses to prove the bike collision was not my fault?
No. It is extremely helpful to have witnesses to a bicycle accident, but a witness is not absolutely necessary. Even though DC and the surrounding suburbs in Maryland and Virginia are densely populated, surprisingly few bike accidents have independent witnesses. Often there are witnesses, they just don’t stick around or leave their phone number for you. If someone did witness your crash, just ask them to jot down their name and phone number, or have them send a text to your phone so you can contact them later.
After a bicycle crash, does a police officer have to make an accident report?
The basic rule is that a responding officer should make an accident report if anyone was injured or if there was significant property damage. But sometimes officers don’t make a report, even when someone involved in the collision was injured. This is unfortunate. A police report is extremely helpful because it documents many of the details that are difficult to nail down later. So if you are injured in a collision with a vehicle while you are on your bicycle, tell the responding officer you are injured and ask that an accident report be made.
Does car insurance cover bicycle accidents?
In all three of our local jurisdictions–Washington, DC, Virginia and Maryland–your own car insurance policy covers you if you are involved in a collision with a vehicle while you are riding your bicycle. If the collision was the vehicle’s fault, the vehicle owner’s liability coverage will pay for your injuries, even though you were riding a bike and not driving a car. Likewise, if you cause a collision with a vehicle while you are riding your bike, your car insurance should pay for the damage you caused to others.
Does PIP or MedPay cover bicycle accidents?
In all three of our local jurisdictions–Washington, DC, Virginia and Maryland–Personal Injury Protection (“PIP”) and Medical Payments coverage (“MedPay”) will cover you if you are hit by a vehicle while riding your bike. PIP and MedPay are types of insurance coverage that are paid to you regardless of whether the crash was your fault. Generally, you tap the PIP or MedPay coverage from your own auto insurance policy after a crash.
Does my homeowner’s or renter’s insurance cover my bike crash?
Your homeowner’s or renter’s insurance policy will generally pay for damages you cause while riding your bike, but not in a motor vehicle collision. So if you get into a bicycle collision with another bicyclist, your homeowner’s or renter’s insurance will probably provide you with liability coverage (meaning, if the collision was your fault, your insurance will protect you financially). So if you are involved in a bike vs. bike collision (or a bicycle vs. pedestrian collision), make sure you to get the other person’s homeowner’s or renter’s insurance information at the scene.
Does my health insurance cover my medical treatment after a bicycle accident?
Yes. In all three of our local jurisdictions–Washington, DC, Virginia, and Maryland–your health insurance (if you have it) provides the same coverage to you regardless of whether your injuries were from an bicycle accident or not. Your health insurance card should be the first thing you reach for any time you have to visit a doctor or hospital for injuries you received in a bike crash, too. Your health insurance will provide you with additional financial protection following a bike crash, even if you also have PIP or MedPay coverage available to you.