How To: Respond When Hit By A Car

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How To Respond If You Get Hit By A Car

You’ve just been hit by a car. Your adrenaline is rushing, your motorcycle is on it’s side, and your world is spinning. Here’s how to respond to an accident.

Step 1 – Safety, Get Clear
Your first priority is to get to safety. Realize that your adrenaline is pumping at full capacity and you probably aren’t going to feel a lot of pain. Do a self-examination for any major injuries, checking your neck, back, and head for trauma and then make sure your legs are in decent shape before standing.

You need to get to safety to make sure you aren’t hit again. Leave your bike where it is (it will now be evidence of what happened) and get to a sidewalk or somewhere you can sit down. Only stand once you’re sure you’re not hurt or won’t incur more damage by standing.

Call 911. Do it yourself if possible to ensure you get all of the information to EMS as accurately as possible. Stress the importance of an ambulance should you need one. If you have someone else call, make sure they give accurate location information to assist emergency services in getting there as quickly as possible.

Bike down
Bike down

Step 2 – Your Bike
Leave your bike where it is, but make sure the engine is off. If it’s leaking any fluids, set up a buffer radius around it to make sure everyone is clear should something ignite.

If fault is clear and you don’t want to obstruct traffic, and the damage is minor, you can (legally) move your bike to the side of the road. We don’t recommend it, however, as you never know what the other driver is going to claim. Yes, it’s a hassle to wait for police and go through the whole process, but it’s also the best way to make sure everything shakes out as it should.

Step 3 – The Other Person Involved
Avoid admitting any fault or discussing what happened with the other driver, as they can use it as evidence against you should the matter go to court. You probably want some time to think about what happened before discussing the situation.

Swap driver’s license and insurance information. Be sure to get as many details as possible and ask if all of their information is still current (many people don’t get new licenses when they move).

Step 4 – Wait for Police/EMS
Cancel any plans you had or let work know you’re going to be late. Often, we feel a rush just to get home so we can decompress, but this often leads to missing things which later can come back to haunt you.

Wait for the police to show up and give your statement. Refrain from talking about fault or what happened until they arrive. They’ll be able to tell you what to do next.

While you’re waiting, take photos of EVERYTHING. Take photos of the driver’s information (license, license plates, insurance card) as well as of the other vehicles involved, with close-ups of any damage. Take pictures of anything else that could be used as evidence to what happened, such as skid marks, and take pictures of the locations the vehicles entered the accident from. Also, take pictures of any damage to your body and your gear.

Also, get names and contact information for any witnesses. Even better, get a video of witnesses giving their account of what happened. Either way, if it turns into your word against the other driver’s, having witnesses to back you up could be the difference in a judge’s decision.

Step 5 – Get Home
Arrange to get your bike to a shop or home, and then have someone come pick you up. Even if the bike is ride-able, your body is full of adrenaline and your nerves are shot and you don’t belong on a motorcycle. Get home and get some rest, everything else can wait.

When in doubt, get a tow truck. You don’t want to put your fate in your ability to notice something wrong with your bike after such a harrowing experience. Whatever the tow truck costs is the fee for knowing you’re done crashing for the day.

What’s your best advice for handling this situation?

Related Links:
More: RideApart How-Tos

  • LJ Wilson

    I have had only one impact with a car (in 20+ years of riding). Unfortunately, my wife was on the back but it turned out to be good because she talked me into not being so upset. Here’s a video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dJ18st5meo4

    • kentaro

      I’m gad this was all that happened. That’s about as good as it gets getting cut off by a car on a motorcycle.

    • LJ Wilson

      Should have put this in the comment, but Use a Camera! 200 spent on a
      camera is well worth the money. Better to have video and not need it
      than to need it and not have it.

      • runnermatt

        Plus, even if you don’t crash you can upload someone else’s stupidity to youtube and hope it goes viral.

        • LJ Wilson

          LOL. That is 90% of the reason I have it. I have thought about adding another camera that if facing sideways so I can capture all the idiots texting and driving :)

  • LS650

    Great article. With 20+ years of accident-free riding, it is easy for me to think it will never happen to me… but it might. I’m not sure how I would react if some idiot hit me.

  • Wayne Seigmund

    Get witnesses phone numbers and names! The more the better. I would even say get a witness to make a statement on video if they are comfortable with this. I had an accident 2 years ago and they asked me for witnesses phone numbers. I was lucky because after the accident I had 4 different people come up and give me their business cards and paper with their names and phone numbers. The other parties insurance company called all of them to follow up. I had one witness that swayed the accident in total fault of the other party. It might not work out to get witness numbers and names depending on the situation but if you can it might really make a difference!!!

    • Mr.Paynter

      This.
      Huge help if there are unbiased people around!

      It also works against you at times unfortunately.

      I’ve been side-swiped on the freeway and the only witness was the drivers’ wife, so them cutting across a lane out of nowhere without indicating and clipping me as I hooted and tried to avoid them, turned in to me changing lanes in to them and their 2 statements on one sent me home with my tail between my legs as the cops just couldnt help me.

      • runnermatt

        This would be where a camera comes in handy. Hard to argue with the video.

      • Mary

        In my accident experience, (not motorcycle) passengers/relatives of the driver are never called as witnesses because of their bias. In a parking lot there was an inexperienced teenage driver looking for parking. He decided to back up into my sister’s car without checking mirrors. I was the only witness but I was dismissed because I was a passenger (as well as relative). The guy’s devious father was able to claim that we rear-ended him.

    • http://www.twitter.com/seanmacdonald sean macdonald

      Don’t know how this slipped my mind – I’m going to edit and add to the article so people who come to us and don’t read the comments still see it.

      Great addition, thanks!

  • JohnPaul Rosario

    What does one do when rear-end by a LEO?
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T5Rb_3GlMTM

    • Rameses the 2nd

      Man, this is totally effed-up. I would like to know what to do in this situation.

      • David Moon

        I want to know what happened to this LEO scumbag. the rider should have hired a lawyer and press charges on this SOB

        • JohnPaul Rosario

          ~UPDATE~ Thursday, April 4, 2013

          Officer Eugen Holm retired yesterday in lieu of being fired. This was confirmed by an internal affairs investigator.

          Officer Holm was facing Internal Affairs charges for: (1) Not reporting an accident (Metro Policy Manual 5/103.29), (2) Wrongful interaction with the public (for being discourteous and rude, Metro Policy Manual 4/102.12), and (3) Conduct Unbecoming an Officer (intimidation, Civil Service Rule 510-2). All charges were “SUSTAINED”.

          • David Moon

            Now I can sleep tonight

      • Charles Quinn

        Basically act the way the rider did, which was perfect. He was polite without being obsequious and avoided a them-and-us situation with his “What can we do here?” Overall he just didn’t give the officer even a hint of an excuse to “open a can of whoop-ass”, which is what he was hoping for.

    • runnermatt

      When this was originally posted I sent it to my brother. He is a cop and he said, “some people shouldn’t be police officers”. He was angry about the way the cop in the video behaved and said that in his department, if one of the officers has an accident they have to file a report regardless of how small.

      Lesson here: Not all cops are bad.

  • Rameses the 2nd

    Seeing all these YouTube accident videos and how many cagers fail to see motorcycles, it is probably a good idea to spend small amount on money on a helmet cam like Drift or GoPro. It might not save your life, but it will probably help you in the court of law to recover your damages.

    • kentaro

      I notice that cars pay a lot more attention to me when they see my Gopro mounted to my helmet. It’s as if they have been stripped naked of the anonymity and immunity they’re used to from the inside of their SUVs.

    • grb

      Ive been thinking the same thing, you should probably have a camera rolling all the time while your riding, with a gopro its pretty simple and easy

    • runnermatt

      Bit off topic, but I’m having a problem with my GoPro HD (original HD version). It will be on and recording, verified by the blinking red light. I’ll check it later and it has turned itself off, sometimes 5 minutes down the road, sometimes 30 minutes. I have it mounted to the front of the tank on my CBR250R. I had a problem with SD card not reading earlier this year, but taking that out and putting it back in fixed that. Anybody have any ideas?

      • LJ Wilson

        I had issues with my Hero2 and it turned out to be the SD Card. I would try reformatting the SD card and see if that helps (helped me)

  • Mr.Paynter

    If you live in a country where police response is unlikely unless someone dies (like South Africa)

    Ask the other driver to go with you to the police station immediately to lay reports etc. as leaving them to go on their own within the legally required 24 hours has some people disappearing and others turning up with false witnesses and claiming all sorts of sillyness, which you will only find out later on when insurance gets involved.

  • eddi

    Oregon is a “no fault” insurance state. But covering yourself is mandatory. The end of the story on my only 2 vehicle accident was simple. Both the bike and I were scraped up a bit and the turn signal/brake light were bent out of shape. We exchanged information and despite the above good advice I rode home. Reports were filed. My insurance didn’t go up and the damage was less than the deductible including a safety check.

    There’s a note to add. Even if the bike doesn’t looked badly damaged, have your trusty mechanic look it over for hidden damages.
    Step 3 is the big one. you need that info and you need to give yours. If people don’t start running away when you ask, get witness names and addresses.

    Of course the article is moot if you are too badly hurt to deal with the details. The police should help you by getting the info and passing on to you when you’re recovered.

  • ThinkingInImages

    Great article, Sean. One thing I’d add: get medical attention quickly- whether you think you need it or not. You’re not in any frame of mind to think clearly. You’re swinging between emotional shock and and an adrenaline rush. You won’t feel the full range of injury for hours.

    After my accident, I knew I hit my head down. I even knew there was a chance I broke bones. I did go home and had friends stay with me for hours.

  • kentaro

    This article is gold for a new rider. I had no clue what to do in my first accident.

    • Mugget

      Also if you’re doing something like splitting traffic and happen to bump or scratch another car you should do the same things… not just keep riding on and hope they don’t try and pull you over…

  • Ben W

    Bring on the sister article, “How To: Respond When Almost Hit by a Car”.

    Watching videos shared online, I’ve seen a high frequency of riders giving into outrage and making some remarkably dumb moves to express just how upset they are with the offending driver or traffic overall.

    • runnermatt

      Emotions run high when you believe you have almost died. How close one comes probably depends on where on Fear Anger meter one’s reaction falls.

      • Ben W

        You’re absolutely right. Even still, it’s amazing some of the not-so-close calls that I see turn into a bike making a wild move to pull up alongside a car or something else that puts them in much more danger. That might just be what I get for clicking through the Reddit “rideit” section.

      • eddi

        After all this time a near-miss feels like business as usual. That’s not bragging. It is just that a certain degree of risk has to be allowed for. Keep your distance, watch all the traffic and try to have an exit line on tap. Learn to brake HARD and swerve. If all else fails learn to break your fall at a dojo. It can be done.

  • Wheels It

    I was nailed by a car about 10 days ago at an intersection. A guy made a left right into my lane and I managed to avoid him (riding my brothers shadow 750 no less), however there was a second asshole following him blind into traffic and he got me. The first thing he said was ‘why did you go on a red?’ – of course it was not red. I took all his info and I was surprisingly calm. I was fixating on the first guy and did not smash in the face of the guy who hit me like I probably should have.

    This article looks like you took a whole 10 minutes to think it up while taking a crap. Keep up the good work.

  • Lee Scuppers

    Also, don’t slash his tires and beat his window in with your helmet. Even if you consider yourself awesome.

  • HoldenL

    Some drivers will yell, curse and try to intimidate you. That’s what a Range Rover driver did a few years ago when he rear-ended my Jetta. Don’t engage. Don’t fight, yell, or get sucked into an argument. If the driver is hostile, let him (or her) try taking it out on the cops. The tactic will be unproductive.

  • Tip Kampalp

    After I got hit last year and good thing there was witness ( 6 months off from work, $68,000+ in bills ) lost my HD that driver only had $50,000 policy …and about four months ago a car pull right in front of me and I hit it, but this time I was ready so I didn’t loss control of my bike, and the driver took off. Now I have a helmet cam and one on the bike…..pictures don’t lie …