What Can I Do as the Victim of a Hit and Run Bike Accident?
A hit-and-run is always a stressful and unpleasant experience to live through, especially when riding a bicycle. One moment you are riding along on your bike and enjoying the fresh air when, all of a sudden, you get hit by a vehicle and moments later you are lying on the ground. “It couldn’t get any worse than that,” you might think. Unfortunately, it can, and it does get worse if the driver who hits you flees the scene of the accident.
Roads in Austin and other cities of Texas are full of negligent drivers who do not pay enough attention to their surroundings. Regardless of how the accident occurs, motorists are legally required to remain at the scene and render aid to those involved in the crash. However, the driver may continue driving after hitting a bicyclist, and this situation happens more often than you imagine.
With decades of legal experience representing victims of bicycle accidents, I know that hit-and-run bike accidents are not a lost cause. You may still be able to obtain compensation for your injuries and losses, even if the driver who hit you fled the scene and cannot be identified.
As a personal injury attorney at the Rodman Law Office, I provide compassionate and results-focused representation to victims of bicycle accidents in Austin, Texas, and throughout the state, including Hays County, Travis County, and Williamson County.
What Is a Hit and Run?
A hit-and-run accident, by its definition, occurs when a person involved in a traffic accident leaves the scene without stopping to render aid, exchange information, and wait for the police to arrive. Hit-and-run bike accidents can cause injuries, death, and/or property damage. While bicyclist riders may also flee the scene of an accident, it happens less frequently than car drivers leaving the scene after hitting a bicyclist.
Reasons people do not stay at the scene of an accident may vary from one person to another. However, some of the most common reasons are:
fear of consequences
having arrest warrants
having a bad driving record
being under the influence of alcohol or drugs
Depending on the severity of the accident, leaving the scene of an accident can result in misdemeanor or felony charges. In addition to criminal penalties, the motorist who flees the scene of a bicycle accident may also face civil liability. If the driver is identified, the injured bicyclist can file a personal injury lawsuit against the driver to seek compensation for their losses and damages.
What Should You Do if a Car Hits You on Your Bike and Flees?
Seeing the driver who hit you on your bicycle drive away can be extremely frustrating. However, you should remain calm and do not attempt to chase the vehicle that hit you. Instead, here’s what you should do following a hit-and-run bike accident to protect your rights and preserve your legal case:
Seek immediate medical attention. Bicyclists are likely to suffer severe injuries when hit by a vehicle due to the lack of protection on the bike, especially if the bicycle rider was not wearing a helmet and other protective gear at the time of the accident. It’s very important that you go to a hospital to get checked up, even if it does not seem like you are seriously hurt. Seeking medical attention right away can protect not only your health but also your right to compensation because insurance companies are likely to devalue or deny personal injury claims when injuries are not promptly documented.
Call the police. Most people who were victims of hit-and-run accidents think there is no way the driver who hit them and left the scene will be found. However, this could not be further from the truth. The police may still be able to track down the fleeing driver as long as you call 911 immediately after the collision occurs and can provide at least some information about the fleeing vehicle such as the model, make, color, or even a portion of the license plate.
Identify any witnesses. Witness statements play a crucial role in hit-and-run bike accidents. If anyone saw what happened, write down their names and contact information because their statements can make a difference in the outcome of your case.
Record the scene. Even if the driver who hit you left the scene of the accident, there are plenty of things to do at the scene. In fact, recording the scene is just as – if not more – important following a hit-and-run accident. Take photographs of skid marks, your injuries, damage to your bicycle, road signs and traffic signals, and other relevant details.
Notify your insurance company. If you happen to have auto insurance because you also own a vehicle or you have health insurance, it is vital that you notify the insurer of your accident within a reasonable amount of time. The time limit for notifying the insurer after the accident varies from one company to another. Ideally, you should call within 24 hours of the accident.
Contact an attorney. If you were the victim of a hit-and-run bike accident, you might not understand your compensation options and how to proceed with your legal claim. A skilled attorney will guide you through the process, investigate the accident, and advocate for your rights at every step to pursue the maximum compensation available to you.
At the Rodman Law Office, I provide personalized legal guidance to every client I represent. I understand the devastating physical and emotional impact a hit-and-run bike accident can have on the injured victim and their family, which is why I believe it is my duty to ensure that my clients obtain the justice and compensation they deserve.
Compensation Options Available to Victims of Hit and Run Bike Accidents
Normally, when a car driver hits a bicycle rider and remains at the scene, the injured bicyclist can obtain compensation through the driver’s insurance if that driver is at fault. Texas is an at-fault state, which means the motorist who causes a road accident is responsible for paying the damages.
However, if the driver who caused the accident leaves the scene and cannot be identified, it can be difficult for the injured bicyclist to obtain the compensation he or she deserves. In fact, Texas law does not currently require bicycle riders to be insured, which means the bicyclist may not be able to seek compensation through their own insurance carrier. If that is the case, the bicycle rider may be able to use their health insurance to pay for medical bills.
If there are no insurance options available and the driver cannot be identified to file a civil lawsuit against them, the victim may qualify for the Texas Crime Victims’ Fund, which is a government program that covers up to $50,000 in approved benefits for injuries resulting from a crime.
According to the Office of the Attorney General, hit-and-runs are one of the crimes that may be eligible for compensation under this program. However, the Texas Crime Victims’ Fund is typically a last-resort service that becomes available after the victim has exhausted all other available compensation options.
Explore Your Options with Rodman Law Office
If you were hit by a vehicle while riding your bike in Austin or other parts of Texas, contact my office. I know how traumatizing and frustrating a hit-and-run accident can be. At the Rodman Law Office, I can help you determine the remedies and compensation options you can pursue as a victim of a hit-and-run bike accident. Reach out today to schedule a case evaluation and discuss your unique case.