In auto accident cases, it is often necessary to retain an accident reconstruction expert in order to determine who is at fault. After a bicycle accident, it is equally important to investigate how the accident occurred and exactly how the bicyclist was injured.
Whether there was a defect in the bicycle or one of its components or whether the roadway may have had a defect that ultimately caused the accident, an investigation is required to make those types of determinations. Your bicycle accident attorney can help you obtain the professional opinions you may need to prove your case.
The process of reconstructing an accident
Gaining an understanding of exactly how a collision occurred is crucial to determining fault and being able to prove that fault in court. You must be able to show how or why the accident occurred. Most accident reconstruction experts have education and experience in the areas of engineering and physics, which allows them to understand how forces act on the human body, as well as the vehicle involved. If you are injured in a collision while riding your bike, do not get the bike repaired or dispose of it. The expert will need to be able to inspect the bike.
Experts will consider evidence of defects related to the bicycle
Reconstruction experts look for evidence of a defect in the design, manufacture or assembly of the bike. For instance, the bike may have been assembled by someone who lacked the qualification or skill to do so. There may also be evidence that the assembler neglected to properly inspect his or her work before allowing the bike to be sold. Common examples of poor assembly include the failure to tighten certain bike components as pedals, wheels, and handlebars.
Experts can also determine how the accident happened
Another issue on which experts provide important information is how the accident actually occurred – meaning the actions each party took before during and after the accident. Experts can often determine whether the bicyclist was forced to take evasive action just before the collision. Experts in roadway engineering and street planning can also determine whether the design or lack of maintenance of a particular roadway or bike path caused or contributed to the bicycle accident.
Why is an investigation so important to your case?
Establishing who was at fault is the most important part of litigating any personal injury case. The primary purpose of an accident investigation is to preserve and gather evidence to establish liability. Your bicycle accident attorney will tell you that it is very important that you do everything you can possibly do to preserve any evidence, especially the bike itself. If you are in the condition to do so, take pictures of the scene and the vehicle(s) involved. Obtain information from witnesses so they can later be contacted.
Inspections and photographic evidence
There are many components to a bicycle accident investigation. Pictures should be taken of the scene of the accident, as well as any damage to the vehicles involved in the accident and all visible injuries sustained by the victims as a result of the bicycle accident. All of this evidence is likely to change or be destroyed over time, so it needs to be preserved as soon as possible.
Interviewing all potential witnesses
Another important aspect of bicycle accident investigation is obtaining statements from any potential witnesses. There may be witnesses who saw the accident when it took place or they may have only observed of the accident scene, before or after the accident took place. All of this information could be helpful. There may be witnesses who spoke to the parties involved in the accident, such as first responders and law enforcement. Their recollection of the accident scene and their conversations with others should be preserved while they are fresh. At the very least, you need to obtain contact information for all potential witnesses so that they can be contacted later in case their testimony is needed at trial.
How to Avoid Bicycle Accidents with other Vehicles
Although most roadway accidents involve cars, motorcycles and trucks, it is not uncommon for someone to be struck and injured by a motor vehicle while riding their bicycle. If you are a regular cyclist on the roadway, you need to minimize the risk of accidents with cars. The key is to maximize your visibility, understand the rules of the road, take safety precautions and recognize potentially dangerous situations before they occur so you can avoid them.
If you have questions regarding bicycle accidents or any other personal injury concerns in Arkansas or Missouri, please contact the Cottrell Law Office for a consultation, either online or by calling us as (888) 433-4861.
He is licensed to practice law in the United States District Court for the District of Kansas, eastern Arkansas, western Arkansas, and western Missouri. He was Deputy Prosecuting Attorney in Crawford County, Kansas from 1987-1989.
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