Legalities after Bicycle Accident?
September 7, 2007 1:41 PM   Subscribe

I got hit by a car on a bicycle while carrying a laptop. Bicycle & laptop are busted, but thankfully I'm not. What do I do now, legally speaking?

I was riding my bike uptown on an avenue on a green light. A livery cab coming uptown on the same avenue turned to his left, across the avenue, to enter a eastbound street. I saw him coming and tried to brake to avoid him; he was going pretty fast and didn't brake in time, and he hit me on my left, his front/right. I flipped over and landed on my back.

There were quite a few people around, who started calling the police and an ambulance. The police came and got the driver's license number, et cetera, and I went in the ambulance to the ER, where I got checked out and they told me that I'd probably be okay for now. Fortunately, I was wearing a helmet and a messenger bag, and so I don't have any harsh bruises or scrapes. My neck/head seem okay for now.

Problem is: My bike wheels are bent, a pedal is bent, the handlebars are bent sideways, et cetera. On top of that, I had my laptop in my messenger bag. The laptop's LCD screen is cracked, and my laptop won't boot up past the Apple login screen. I went to the police, they gave me an accident report, but told me that they couldn't include any information about any valuables I had in a police accident report.

All I want is to have my bike, my laptop, and any medical fees resulting from this to be covered. I do have medical insurance. I don't think that it was my fault - I was going slower than the cars, it was my green light, I have the right of way because he was turning left, and if the livery cab wasn't going so fast he would have been able to stop in time.

1) What should I do next?
2) How do I prove that the accident caused the damage to my laptop?
3) Should I just contact the driver's insurance company and try to settle it that way? Will they cover my medical fees/bike/laptop?
4) Should I try to find a lawyer specializing in these cases? (I'm in NYC.)
5) The police report doesn't have any info about witnesses - should I try to find one?
6) Does the fact that the car was a livery cab change anything/make anything difficult?

I'm just very confused and frazzled - nobody I've talked to has been able to answer these questions. Thanks!
posted by suedehead to Law & Government (19 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: Sorry, correction please: The livery cab was going downtown (southbound) on the avenue, turned to to his left to go eastbound.
posted by suedehead at 1:42 PM on September 7, 2007

Best answer: Get a lawyer right now, you are entitled to a NEW computer, and bike at the very least. The lawyer would be able to help ensure you get that. I would say you should sue the cab company out the wazoo, but it is your decision.

posted by BobbyDigital at 1:52 PM on September 7, 2007 [2 favorites]

What to do if you've been hit: here, here, and here (pages three and four).
posted by cog_nate at 1:58 PM on September 7, 2007

Witnesses would be helpful, but you do have the on-scene police report to verify their summation of the accident.

I suggest contacting an attorney -- and soon. You'll benefit from his/her expertise articularly as it relates to livery cab liability. Check out this New York Times article: Taxi Owners Deftly Dodge Claims of Accident Victims.
posted by ericb at 1:59 PM on September 7, 2007

posted by ericb at 2:00 PM on September 7, 2007

(Glad to hear you weren't seriously injured, by the way.)
posted by cog_nate at 2:02 PM on September 7, 2007

IANAL, but I have some experience with bicycle traffic regulations, and from this I say: treat this like you would any other road accident. The fact that you were on a bicycle means nothing, it's a vehicle with the same rights and responsibilities as any other vehicle out there. (I'm only too aware that many bicyclists act as though this not the case, but that is basically irrelevant here)

Having said that, I would suggest that you should probably get a lawyer, and have them get in touch with the driver's insurance company. If you have some kind of renter's or home owner's insurance, there is a chance that your bicycle and computer will be covered under this policy (mine are). If this is the case, maybe you can skip the lawyer and sic the insurance companies on each other!
posted by schwap23 at 2:02 PM on September 7, 2007

Ditto to BobbyDigital. It won't cost you a fortune as it will come out of your settlement.
posted by ms.v. at 2:03 PM on September 7, 2007

Best answer: Seconding get a lawyer to get all of the things that were damaged compensated for including you! BUT before you do that, take pictures of any bumps or scrapes on you, your bike, your laptop, the bag it was in, the clothes you were wearing etc etc etc. Then get thee to your doctor so that you have medical backup for any claim you make. Make sure that you complain about every little ache and pain caused by the incident no matter how seemingly minor and if the next day your muscles hurt more which is often the case with these things go back to the doctor.

If your lawyer can get every single one of those stupidly dangerous livery cabs off the streets of NYC all the better. In the last year every accident I've seen here has involved one of those homicidally careless jackasses.
posted by merocet at 2:04 PM on September 7, 2007

Response by poster: Wow everyone, thanks so much for the quick replies - it's reeally helpful.
I think I might go the lawyer route. Could anyone recommend a good lawyer to contact, who is in NYC, and maybe specializes in bicycle accidents?
posted by suedehead at 2:18 PM on September 7, 2007

Lawyer! Also, document everything, like merocet says. Take photos of all damage, get the police report and any witness statements you can find and bring them all to the lawyer. Also go get another medical opinion, xrays, etc. I have a friend who was hit while riding his bike by some jagoff in an SUV a couple of weeks ago and his laptop was damaged too; his attorney is including all of that in whatever legal action they take.
posted by bedhead at 2:18 PM on September 7, 2007

Do you have a car yourself? While I 100% agree with the "lawyer up" this is just-in-case. I was hit on my bicycle and pretty badly hurt, with medical bills up the yazoo. Because my entire case was covered by a clause in my car insurance that I didn't know I had, as a result they worked really hard on my behalf, just as Schwap23 said. If you have car insurance you might want to doublecheck. They (State Farm) told me it's actually pretty common to be covered as a pedestrian or bicyclist through your car insurance.
posted by barchan at 3:12 PM on September 7, 2007

Best answer: Lawyer sounds right and you should easily get the bike and computer replaced. I'm really glad you're okay. Another doctor is also an excellent idea. But take a break. Unless something hurts, not now, next week. Take it easy and have a beer. You're very lucky, and clearly a safe rider. Glad you hit those brakes.
posted by Toekneesan at 3:17 PM on September 7, 2007

The NYC Bar has a legal referral service. Sounds like referral is free as is the consultation in accident cases.

If you start feeling sore from the impact, try a warm bath. I was surprised at how much it helped when I was hit earlier this year.
posted by yarrow at 3:58 PM on September 7, 2007

Thirding (or whatever) getting a lawyer. Especially one that specializes in bicycling accidents. There are such lawyers - can't remember where I've seen them, but googling resulted in a few hits. Also, I found a link from a thread at

Also, the NY Bar Association has a refferal service.

And... This guy (also found at is a cycling expert witness. Might be worthwhile shooting him an email.
posted by ObscureReferenceMan at 4:07 PM on September 7, 2007

Contact Transportation Alternatives, an advocacy group based in NYC. Be sure to check out their section on Legal Advice.
posted by hooray at 6:08 PM on September 7, 2007

Also, no accusations, but before you take the legal route, be sure that you were riding on the correct side of the road.
posted by IndigoRain at 6:16 PM on September 7, 2007

Response by poster: schwap23, barchan, thanks, but I don't have a car, nor car insurance, nor renter's insurance of my own, so I think that options sadly out of the question.

IndigoRain, I was riding on the correct (right) side. I understand your concern though.

Thanks everyone for your advice - I feel more certain on how to proceed. I'll probably find a lawyer using the referral service, and will be looking up info from the links people posted. Thanks again!
posted by suedehead at 11:06 AM on September 8, 2007

Response by poster: ..that option's...
posted by suedehead at 11:07 AM on September 8, 2007

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