Bike crash advice: what to do after a cycling accident

Essential advice on what to do after a collision

What to do if you have an accident when cycling

We all love being out on our bikes. But there’s always the risk – even if slight – of an accident, either from your losing control or from your being hit by another cyclist or a vehicle.

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As with any outdoor activity, you should always let someone know your route and when you expect to be back. You may want to consider setting up live tracking via a cycling app.

However, if you are involved in an accident whilst out riding, it’s important to know what to do.

How having insurance can help

Cycling insurance can help you recoup the cost of a new bike and accessories in the event of them being stolen or damaged. You should also have cover for any claims made against you by the other party in an accident, so make sure you choose public liability cover as part of your cycle insurance.

What to do if you have an accident when cycling

1. Make sure you are safe

Young man on the phone, bicycle tour, accident
Before doing anything else, get yourself off of the road and out of harm’s way.

Look after your own safety and get yourself out of further harm’s way. Unless you are injured and do not feel it is safe to do so, it is important to get both you and
your bike out of the road or trail to somewhere safe.

If you or anyone else is injured, you should call an ambulance. Do not be afraid to ask for help from those around you – it will often be offered spontaneously in any event.

2. Get the other party’s details

Where possible, ask for the name, postal and email addresses and telephone number of the other party in the accident, including the vehicle registration (if one was involved).

Try to stay calm and don’t get involved in an argument, begin to apportion blame or admit fault.

3. Take photos

You should take photos to record the scene of the accident. If it is caused by a road defect, photograph this with an item like a water bottle in shot to indicate its size. If the scene is covered by CCTV – you should take immediate steps to obtain a copy of the footage.

If you have it, helmet camera footage is useful too, particularly if you might need to make a claim against the other party or defend yourself against any allegations of fault, so make sure that it’s saved and not subsequently overwritten. The more detail you keep, the easier it will be to deal with any resultant insurance or legal claim.

4. Get witnesses

If there are witnesses, ask them for their name, postal and email addresses and a telephone number as you might need to contact them later to ask them to provide you with their account of the accident.

5. Report the incident to the Police

If someone is injured (including you), you have an obligation to report the accident to the Police “as soon as reasonably practicable” but, in any event, within 24 hours.

6. Visit A&E or your GP

It’s a good idea to get checked up at a hospital or by your doctor even if you feel okay immediately after the accident. There may be longer term effects that you didn’t spot when the accident happened and concussion is always a risk, even if you didn’t hit your head.

7. Keep damaged items

Nathan Hass experienced a broken rear derailleur in the closing stages of the race
Make sure you keep any broken components.
Josh Evans/Immediate

You need to keep anything that was damaged in the accident as they might be needed as evidence in an insurance claim. That includes not just your bike, but riding kit like helmet and clothing, and any accessories. Make sure you’ve picked everything up from the scene.

Don’t try to repair or replace your bike until you have permission from either your insurer or the insurer of the other party (if the accident was their fault).
What you should do afterwards – what your insurer needs to know. Once you’ve dealt with the immediate aftermath of the incident, you’ll want to get your bike
and other kit repaired or replaced.

8. Call your insurer

Your first port of call should be your insurer. Contact them as soon as practicable to let them know you’ve had an accident. They’ll want to know when, where and what happened. They’ll also want to know what damage has been caused to you and your bike, clothing and accessories.

It’s worthwhile to get an estimated cost of repair from your shop in advance if you can and finding out what needs to be done, how long it will take and how soon you’re likely to have your bike ready to ride again.

Your insurer will also want to know details of any other parties involved in the accident, their contact information and their insurer along with any witnesses details.

What you shouldn’t do after a cycling accident

There are a few things you shouldn’t do, either at the scene of an accident or afterwards.

Don’t agree to pay any financial compensation

Don’t agree to pay any form of settlement or compensation to the other party without the permission of your insurance company; it may affect your insurance policy if you do.

Similarly, if the insurer for the other party, or someone acting on their behalf such as a solicitor or claims management company makes you an offer of settlement for the damage to your bike you should tell your insurer about it first before considering whether to accept it or not.

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Don’t agree that it was your fault

Don’t agree that you were responsible; you may feel an emotional or moral responsibility for the accident, but it does not mean that you are legally liable for it; that is for your insurer to decide if there is a claim from the other party against you for their property damage or injury.