Cyclist and Motor-Vehicle Accidents

Close-up of a bicycling helmet on the asphalt next to a bicycle

Biking is a great way to get around in the summer and fall. This is particularly true in Halifax, where point B is never too far away. When the sun is shining and you’re going down a hill, wind rushing past your ears, there is no better feeling. Cycling has many pragmatic benefits as well – it is great for the environment, your wallet, and your physical health. However, many people have stopped biking, as much as they love it. This is largely due to a lack of bicycle infrastructure, careless drivers, and a rise in bicycle accidents. Proper safety precautions may not always make a difference, particularly when a motor vehicle is involved. In many of these cases where a cyclist and a motor vehicle collide, the cyclists ends up injured. Often, more so than they may realize at the time.

Starting an injury claim:

Starting a personal injury claim regarding a cycling injury is very similar to that of a vehicle injury claim. The negotiations between your lawyer, and the driver’s insurance company, will center around who was at fault for the accident—in other words, who was negligent. Sometimes, there is an obvious answer, sometimes it’s a bit more complicated. Perhaps both cyclist and driver had some degree of fault in the matter. Perhaps the city was also responsible based on, for example, the conditions of the road at the time. If it is possible to establish liability, the conversation turns to a question of damages. How much should the injured party be compensated? This takes into account a variety of factors that normally revolve around the extent of the injuries. More often than not, the issue will be settled before going to court.

What to do if you are involved in a bike/motor vehicle accident:

If an accident occurs, make sure you get the drivers name, insurance information, and the name of any witnesses that were present and would be willing to give a statement. If possible, get the name of the police officer at the scene and the police report number. Call 911, or the non-emergency dispatch number (902-490-5020 or 902-490-7252) and wait for the police to come to the scene and gather necessary information— police reports will help establish liability in many cases. Often times the driver will be apologetic and accept the blame by saying things such as “I am so sorry” or “that was my fault, I wasn’t paying attention”. It may surprise some to know that very often this statement is later denied or recanted.

Things to keep in mind:

  • If police do not come, you should file a report online within 24 hours.
  • Take pictures – careful to capture skid marks, road conditions at the time, any traffic signs and signals, the damaged bike, the vehicle, etc.
  • Seek medical attention if you require it! Check for broken bones, go to the emergency room to ensure you are alright, go to a walk-in clinic or to your family physician and have them examine you or refer you to specialist. The medical records that result from your treatments will help establish the extent of your injuries
  • You may require physiotherapy or massage therapy for your injuries, and you should ensure to attend those. Treatment that you require as a result of the accident should be covered by the driver’s insurance policy so ensure that you are contacted in regard to those accident benefits.
  • You should always consider contacting a lawyer and have them explain your options. If your injuries are minor, you may not wish to involve a lawyer. However, for more serious injuries, it is advisable to seek a lawyer’s advice on the matter as it can often make a world of difference for your future and well-being.


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