Cyclist Hit By a Motor Vehicle: Important Steps

At KLF we see the range of types of bike crashes in the Greater Cleveland area, mostly occurring at intersections:

  • The Left Cross: A left angle crash during which motor vehicle, i.e., car, truck, or SUV, turns left, directly in front of an oncoming cyclist
  • The Right Hook, Part 1: A right angle crash during which a motor vehicle passes a cyclist, then turns right directly in front of the cyclist
  • The Right Hook, Part 2: A right angle crash during which cyclist on the right is passing a slower-moving or stopped motor vehicle on the cyclist’s left, and the motor vehicle suddenly turns right, directly into the cyclist
  • The Rear Ender: Just how it sounds, a motor vehicle crashes into a cyclist from behind


As a cyclist you need a plan for coping with a bike crash! To that end I’ve created a handy acronym, “P.H.O.N.E.”:

P is for Police: Call the police and insist on a report, no matter what; you need the documentation! Always call the police, even if the motorist begs you not to and/or seems like a saint, which happens all too often, or even if the police try to talk you out of filing a report! If you fail to get a police report, the lack of a record and documentation of the crash will cause you later suffering! Some police like to give careless motorists a break and will discourage you from filing a report. If possible, don’t let them! Always request that the officer prepares a report and cites the motorist for the appropriate traffic offense.

H is for Healthcare: Seek immediate medical attention for all injuries. If you are hurt, seek medical attention, and detail all your injuries and your cuts and scrapes. Now, you can get the treatment you need and have the medical proof you were injured. Don’t wait!

O is for Observe/Obtain: Get the motorist’s contact and insurance info, and names of all witnesses, or try to make sure the police or other witnesses or bystanders obtain this vital information on your cell phone.

N is for Notification: Call a bike attorney (me) before you talk to the at fault motorist’s liability adjuster. The adjusters are pros for the insurance companies—hire a pro for yourself! Remember, the liability adjuster for the motorist is not on your side and will likely be calling you within 48 hours of the crash. It’s in their insurance company’s best interest to pressure you for information and sometimes into agreeing to settlement terms that may not even come close to covering all damages. (Also, you will encounter many issues that you will not know how to handle including insurance coverages, health care and subrogation.) Never sign or agree to sign a settlement before consulting with an attorney, because you may be waiving your right to pursue legal action to recover the full amount for your ongoing injuries and you may have to live with your rash decision for the rest of your life.

E is for Evidence: After a crash, try to document in detail all you can see and recall until police arrive on the scene. Use your cell phone! Also, don’t let the at fault party move their motor vehicle or your bicycle before the police arrive. Look for a building security camera that may have recorded the crash. Be sure to keep all damaged property (without cleaning or repairing it) including, for example, the bike frame, ripped clothing and accessories, and make sure you check the inside and outside of your cracked helmet for signs of head impact that may not be remembered or apparent to you in the moments after a crash. These items can be valuable pieces of evidence. In the moments after being hit this can be particularly difficult, but if you’re able, this is an important step.

If you have a modern GPS-enabled bicycle computer like a Garmin or a Wahoo, check the data for the actual speed and location of where the crash took place, and let your attorney know if you have a bike computer or a GoPro-type camera. These cameras, along with non-mandated daytime lights, are a growing trend among cyclists as they take additional steps attempting to protect themselves. And as soon as you’re able, start keeping a daily journal of symptoms, treatments, days off work, etc. This documentation will give your attorney a detailed picture of the impact the careless driver is having on your life. Once you’ve started a treatment plan such as physical therapy, it’s best to attend all sessions and leave no “gaps” in your treatment.

Knabe Law Firm has a supply of laminated P.H.O.N.E. business cards you can easily carry in your pocket to help you remember the important steps to take in the event of a crash. Please contact our office to request a complementary card be mailed to you. The reverse side of these cards lists a “Cyclist’s Arsenal” with current Ohio bike laws that all cyclists should have at their fingertips while out on the road.

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