What To Do If You're Hit By a Vehicle

Sometimes, even if you do everything right, accidents still happen. Make sure you know what to do.

1. Remain calm and move out of the road. You don't want to keep yourself at risk by staying in the street. And by keeping your cool, you'll be able to better communicate and be viewed more favorably once police arrive.

2. Do not let the driver leave. Even if you think you're unharmed - because of the shock and adrenaline, you may not realize you are injured. DO NOT feel guilty about incriminating the driver. If witnesses are around, ask them to stay also. Their testimony to police can help your case.

3. Call the Police - and wait for them. You cannot file an accident report after the fact. A police accident report is an important form of documentation.

4. Get the Driver's information - their driver's license, auto insurance information, and license plate number. 

5. Take pictures of everything - you, the car, the plates, the intersection, the street signs, anything you see. You can never have too much documentation.

6. When the Police come, make a statement. Give the officer a complete account of what happened, from your perspective. Do not confess that you did anything wrong, and do not lie. 

7. Seek medical attention as soon as possible. Do not assume you are fine. It is best to go straight from the scene of the crash to a doctor. This will help your insurance claim if you file for injuries. You can get care at St. Patrick Hosptial (500 W. Broadway), Community Medical Center (2827 Fort Missoula Road), and Curry Health Center (634 Eddy - on campus during business hours). If you experience emotional distress following an accident, see a therapist. PTSD is nothing to be ashamed of.

8. Start documenting your related expenses - medical bills, receipts for taxis you had to take, lost wages—all of it. You’re going to hand it all over to the insurance company sooner or later.

9. Contact a Lawyer. If you file an insurance claim, having a lawyer will ensure that you get adequate expenses paid, not the meager amount they might pay out otherwise. Check out this website for a list of attorneys that specialize in bicycle crashes. You can also get help from ASUM Legal Services, 406-243-6213, or the Montana Lawyer Referral and Information Service, 406-449-6577.

10. Start an insurance claim. Call up the driver’s insurance company and open a claim. Until you have consulted with your lawyer, do not give them more than the basics about what happened: That you were hit as a pedestrian or cyclist by this driver at this day and time in this city. You don't want to accidentally say something that might hurt your case.

This information was adapted from an article on CityLab.

As a Witness

Help the victim follow steps one through six above. Diffuse the situation by being a calm presence. Give your testimony to police when they arrive - your corroboration of the events can help the victim later on.