Equipment and On Road Behaviour, Laws and Rules. Cycling Promotion and Advocacy
In An Accident?
As some of you may now be aware, I was involved in a rear end accident on 07/09/2011 at 6:10am.
Some of what happened at the time I found quite chilling with the potential ramifications so thought it might be a good idea to record my experience with some of the basics and some things you must be aware of.
First and foremost, I thoroughly recommend that everyone does a First Aid course. Even if you choose not to use the skills on anyone else, just knowing them for you own benefit can be crucial. I have used my First Aid skills probably more often than I really think about.
Immediately after being struck by the car and knocked to the ground I tried to get up (which you are not supposed to do normally), however, I was concerned about being hit by another vehicle on a busy road. At this point I realised I had very severe pain in my back. I realised I had to immobilise and stabilise myself, fearing it was a spinal injury. I would encourage anyone struck by a vehicle to limit their movements as any further movement may exacerbate an injury. As I had feeling in legs and arms, I realised that the injury was not yet serious. Then my First Aid training kicked in (DRABCD see below). I immediately placed myself in the recovery position so I wouldnâ€™t choke if I became unconscious or went into shock. So what is DRABCD:
D â€“ Danger. Was I out of danger? The car that hit me I noticed was blocking the lane, so I was safe, out of danger. Check.
R â€“ Repsonse. I was responsive and alert. Check.
A â€“ Airway. Airways were clear of obstacles and was breathing. Check.
B â€“ As I was breathing, there was no requirement for resuscitation with breaths. Check.
C â€“ Compressions/CPR. Not required due to above checks being positive, my heart was pumping. Check.
D â€“ Defibrillation. Not required due to above (and I don't happen to carry one with me ). Check.
On D for Danger, it is a very important first part of the process. If there is imminent danger from things such as fire (ie vehicle on fire), youâ€™re on a road and may be struck again etc, then removing yourself from this Danger can to some extent override the exacerbation of injuries concerns ie in my case suspected spinal injuries. This is a judgment call, there is no formula for it you just have to do what you think is right at the time.
It is very important that if you have any injury at all, small or big, that you call an ambulance. For Queensland residents, ambulances are free. Any road accident that involves an injury must have police attendance.
At this point a bystander wanted to move me. As I had made my assessment that I was out of danger and had what I suspected was a serious injury I informed them that I would not be moving until a paramedic said it was OK. They accepted this and offered to call an ambulance, which I heard them doing.
Knowing this was under control and that I was not far from home, I then made the call to my wife, I wanted her to hear from me so at least she knew I was OK. Getting a knock on the door or call from the police IMO would be worse and I did not want her going through that.
Another bystander (a cyclist as it turned out), then asked if he could move my bike. I asked him to move it near to me as I wanted to visually check it. Not for damage, but for items. In this case, as most people know, I use DVRs to record my riding, I also use GPS. I wanted to preserve the integrity of these items and maintain control over them. Due to an incident some years ago I have a deep distrust of the police and did not want anything with them if I could avoid it (another reason I called my wife as I wanted the bike within my control). As it turned out the GPS and rear camera were both missing, so I asked the bystander to find them for me which he did. These items were placed in my bag which my wife eventually took away. As a fortunate turn of luck, I did not immediately turn of the rear camera which I thought I had and this has helped tremendously with documenting the events until it was packed away.
Luckily for me one of the first respondents in a passing car was a QAS commâ€™s officer. He took charge of the situation and after telling him I had a suspected back injury, he made sure I was not moved until Paramedics arrived on scene. I also pulled out my RoadID dog tag to let him know if I became unconscious everything he needed to know was there. I made sure to let him know that I was not to have any opiates. This is important as often a paramedic will administer morphine if pain is a factor.
On this point it is very important to have ID with you of some sort. Letâ€™s just say itâ€™s one of those things you do that you hope you never need to use. I hoped it would be one of the things that I â€œwastedâ€ money on, not so know, very invaluable. Your ID should be impervious to damage and easily accessible. Pieces of paper or cardboard are susceptible to water/sweat damage. If youâ€™re going to use them, laminate them. You can get self-laminating pouches made by 3M from stationary suppliers. I use these for a DRABCD card I have on each hydration pack, they are very good. Better still, engraved metal tags like a RoadID, they come in many formats so you should be able to find one to suit your requirements. There are helmet tags that you can get. These are good they are bright and attract attention, but if youâ€™re lying on it and they cannot remove your helmet, it will not help anyone help you. If youâ€™re going to get one of these, get two, one for each side of your helmet. For me having 6 helmets (4 bike, 2 moto), this can be quite expensive.
Using your phone can have issues, if it is damaged, then it is of no use to anyone. If youâ€™re going to use â€œICEâ€ â€“ In Case of Emergency, us â€œ1CEâ€ instead, looks like ICE, but importantly having a â€œ1â€ means it appears at the top of your phone list, much easier to find. In my case I have â€œ1CE â€“ Homeâ€ and â€œ1CE â€“ Wifeâ€. Its very clear to anyone looking who they can contact.
Invariably the police will want to interview you. My only suggestion is to try and say as little as possible initially. No point trying to solve the â€œcaseâ€ or apportion blame. The police may have their own ideas on where they want the investigation to go, so do not let them lead you. Say very little other than confirming facts about the incident. Best to wait until you have a clear head (unaffected by drugs if they have been administered) and have also received some advice ie legal advice. Anything you do say can be used as evidence so you do not want to undermine yourself by saying something that can be taken out of context.
On this point try not to engage the other person or persons involved other than to get what is legally required, such as vehicle details and personal details. If they wish to talk, let them, they may say something stupid, even better record the conversation subject of course to your stateâ€™s requirements on what you are allowed to do in this regard.
Now for the most important piece of post-accident advice. ENGAGE A LAWYER. They know what they are doing, they do it for lots of people, and they know the system and how to ensure you are not taken advantage of. More importantly, engage a lawyer who is an expert in the field. Luckily for me I have a family friend who works for a firm that specialises in these types of cases, so I have engaged their services.
Mod edit: You may also wish to utilise the letter of demand template available here
Now for the second most important piece of advice. KEEP GOOD RECORDS. As with work I use an ISO format of filing ie:
â€œYYYY-MM-DD â€“ Description of Documentâ€
It keeps everything in chronological order and is easy to see what its about.
Keep everything, no matter how innocuous, you never know what may be useful. So far before even seeing a lawyer I collected and collated 55 separate files totalling 2.4Gb across 11 separate folders. This does include some video footage (2 files) which accounts for 2.3Gb, but everything has been kept and dated. This means when I sent my initial records to my lawyer he had everything in order and clearly labelled, no guess work. And trust me as a professional who has to piece together client data from random information, the more you give your adviser, the better. Let them sift through the information, often they can get a better picture and ask pointed questions and get to the crux of the matter quicker. Seemingly irrelevant information takes on a different light when combined with other information.
I think this is deserving of being stickied and I'm not alone. I'll recommend it to admin.
Good one Ox.
...whatever the road rules, self-preservation is the absolute priority for a cyclist when mixing it with motorised traffic.
London Boy 29/12/2011
No dramas, if it helps another person avoid making a mistake or get a better outcome, then that's a good thing.
Good post. I hope you have no long term injury and get full restitution.
I would add that you can't be too tight lipped to the police. There is no right to remain silent over traffic incidents. You have to answer a number of minimum questions including what happened, what route you took and which vehicle you were in/on/driving.
One other thing is to keep a spare battery/backup camera. I had my battery run out and then sure enough just a minute later I was side swipped by a car. Just brushed my elbow but it sucks because I had been recording for weeks and got nothing. I have no doupt that video evidence is absolute gold in cases like this. As I have taken traffic cases to court before and the stories of even independant eye-witnesses can be completely ridiculous and wrong. I record all my driving as well.
Just an update on this while I remember.
For my particular situation, it is going to be a long drawn out process since I am dealing with roughly four separate situations.
1. WorkCover or Worker's Compensation.
2. A CTP claim.
3. A damages claim for the bike.
4. A police traffic infringement against the driver.
At present I am receiving my usual income from my employer who will be reimbursed by WorkCover. This is only because in Queensland, WorkCover applies to work journey claims. At some future point in time I will return to work with what are known as "suitable duties". This is where my doctor and I consult about what I can and cannot do work wise. This may include restricting my hours and/or duties. It may include taking specific rest breaks at specific times, exercises, that sort of thing. The idea being that eventually I reach my maximum possible duties that is possible post accident. At this time I will cease to receive WorkCover benefits and if I suffer a permanent post accident injury that cannot be rectified beyond what has already been done then I may be offered a settlement. I can accept or reject the settlement. If I reject it, then it goes to a common law claim. We both get lawyers, they talk, reach agreement on an amount and settle. If there is no agreement, then it hits the courts. From what I've been told this part is expensive and any extra benefit you may think you can get is usually swallowed up by legal fees. This whole process will take anywhere up to and possibly longer than 18 months.
Following the above, as there is a CTP involvement, WorkCover will seek to claim 100% of their out of pocket expenses from the CTP insurer. From what I understand, this is mostly a formality. This is where my lawyer will again pick up the reins and seek additional costs that were not covered by the WorkCover compensation. Again, the CTP insurer will make an offer, my lawyer counters, then the lawyers sit down and talk, reach a settlement all is good (if not good then its back to court again).
Damages for the bike are if the driver is insured for third party property damages covered by this. For me the driver's insurer has already informed my lawyer that they are accepting liability for the damages to the bike. I need just submit a quote (they want two) and the process of repair will begin. I have included everything in the quote for reparation that the bike shop requested. This includes knicks, gloves, helmet and the bike.
With regard to the police and my involvement, I am unsure what the process will be at this stage, I have emailed my lawyer requesting advice on how to proceed. When I have a better idea I will update this thread.
If you are riding a bike (or in general really), then something that you really should consider is income protection insurance. Workcover won't cover lost income for very long, if at all.
http://www.moneysmart.gov.au/managing-m ... protection (that's a government website)
It's generally tax deductible, and it's a lot simpler (and probably cheaper!) than getting lawyers involved for an uncertain civil case outcome.
Sorry to hear of the accident and hope the system treats you right.
Just want to point out this is not necessarily true. Seriousness is not so much as whether the spinal cord has been compromised, but whether it will be. And sensation isn't the only indicator of cord damage.
My best mate was hit by a car whilst riding to work, almost three years ago. They are STILL fighting the insurance company for settlement. A neurologist says he's lost roughly five percent of brain function as a result of his head injury, but the insurance company continues to dispute it. Their own doctors agree but they are still dragging their feet! It's absolutely disgraceful. I hope you have a quicker (positive) outcome, Ox.
One of the best things about bicycle commuting is that it can mitigate the displeasure of having to go to work. - BikeSnobNYC
Cycling is sometimes like bobbing for apples in a bucket full of dicks. - SydGuy
absolutely true. however for some it is not easy to get cover. me being a case in point. for years I was uninsurable due to a workplace event about 14 years ago (which I recovered from in less than 6 months). only recently I managed to find an insurer who would cover me so I now have cover again.
however, it is worthwhile having, at least you have a source of income and one way or another you will get something when you need it most. eventually the insurance companies will settle with each other.
you are correct, maybe not worded very well by me. sensation does mean hopefully no spinal cord damage, does not mean not a serious injury. I think though we all agree that stabilising a person is paramount. I remember when giving first aid to a kid about 3 years ago, bystanders wanted to move him and I had to get very forceful with them that he was not to be moved. having hit a pole at speed he had unknown injuries so stabilisation was required IMO. found out the next day there was nothing wrong with him, but having witnessed the accident I feared the worst.
My lawyer has said this will not be a quick process. I'm expecting this to take a long time to resolve.
Absolutely. The emergency care protocol is there for a reason, to assist the inexperienced and avoid poor decisions. Yet at some point, the victim will be moved, by qualified personnel.
You will find that they have recently changed the DRABC to now be DRSABCD.
The S being for Send for Help(As X did after he had self assessed)
We have the following printed off, and stuck to be the back of the toilet door, subtle but at least reminds you of what needs to be done in an emergency.
http://www.stjohn.org.au/images/stjohn/ ... n%20A4.pdf
Cool, shows I need to do an update, which I was planning on doing in November. Can I ask a mod to update my first post with Void's updated link please.
Thanks for this Ox, very well thought out. As for coverage for the journey to and from work - public servants in WA haven't had this cover for years - the union CPSUCA provides cover for members though. It just goes to show its important to have a good understanding of all the insurance arrangements!
Xtracycle, Surly Long Haul Trucker, Bike Friday New World Tourist, Giant TCR, 9:zero:7
correct, one of the important things to note is that employees of a commonwealth government departments do not have journey cover even in Queensland. so people should be clear on what insurance cover they have and how it works.
Oxford, my thoughts to you and your family on your accident and best wishes on a speedy physical recovery.
I understand you are limited in what you can post re: the accident. I hope one day ( or as allowed legally ) you can post what/how the situation occured and how it was eventually was resolved?
Just an update on this thread while I was linking it to another post about an accident.
Corresponded with my lawyers about the police and what they are doing and it appears that without even formally interviewing me, they have completed their accident report. So from my point of view they have taken my statements from me while laying in extreme pain under the influence drugs as the only version they are basing their report on. As I said to my lawyer, I find that particularly disturbing. I have asked for a copy of the report as I will be insisting on correcting any content that I feel is not accurate or does not reflect the circumstances as I know them to be.
With regard to record keeping, aside from the MRI files (194 image files and supporting software) the file numbers have grown to over 125, mostly correspondence, but meticulously kept and filed away. I developed a quick and dirty MS Access database to help track the files and group everything together. If I get the time and can be bothered, I might try and pretty it up so that it can be used by others.
I am now in full on recovery phase with another 2 weeks off work which is becoming frustrating, but unfortunately necessary. Now that the fracture is more stabilised I am getting into some very intense physiotherapy which by all accounts is showing some good results. I am now very hopeful of recovering and with any luck going back to work before the end of October.
If I can reinforce one thing, it is to talk to your medical professionals and be very candid. Your symptoms will change as your body heals and this will change how they treat the injuries.
OK, quick update since not much is really happening, I did say its a long slow process.
Still not back at work full time, but am up to 4 full time days a week. trust me when I say its not as easy as you would think it should be, but I am ahead of the game and my GP and physios are happy about the space I am in. what has stood me in good stead is overall fitness of being a 5 day a week cycle commuter. the inherent fitness has put me in a better position than joe average. additionally just having a positive attitude and desire to want to return to work. my GP has been extremely pleased with my progress to date and feels she has to restrain me rather than push me along. I'm holidays in 3 weeks for Xmas so hoping that on return from the holidays I will be back full time.
on the insurance front for the bike, the comprehensive insurer is being very difficult, now refusing to acknowledge any communications. its in the hands of my lawyers which I informed them (the insurer) they would be paying for since they have everything they requested and in a timely manner. I have the bike at home since the bike shop was tired of storing it after 9 weeks waiting. sad part is that they may miss out on the work now as if the insurer pay me direct I will sub out the work as needed.
on the CTP insurance front, they have already started paying some of the expenses at the insistence of my lawyers. since I decided to go private with my specialists (to avoid public hospital hassles) Workcover will not pay 100% of the specialist bills, so the CTP insurer is sending gap payments through. I actually wish they wouldn't as it makes it harder to reconcile my out of pockets.
Workcover are also kicking back at me for wanting to see two physios. I see one at the request of the spinal surgeon for a recovery management plan, but he only does exercise management. the other physio does remedial massage therapy and dry needle acupuncture, but the surgeon will not use him for management. I can see the lawyers getting involved again unfortunately.
probably still many months away from settling anything with insurers.
not sure what is happening with the driver and police action, I will probably speak to my lawyer about this side of things next week and also get an update on bike repairs.
as for riding, I still cannot ride a bike with is bugging me no end. I have tried riding over the past couple of weeks, but it takes days to recover from a ride with the pain it brings on. funny thing is I can ride my moto with no issue at all, so at least I am getting some riding in and the moto does help maintain and develop my core strength.
3 calendar months to the day of the accident the comprehensive insurer has finally paid up, but only after threats of legal action. shame it had to come to that. shame also as the insurer paid me direct and I have since decided not to rebuild the bike as I honestly have no use for it, so the LBS has missed out. I saw no point in rebuilding it to sell as it was so specialised to my personal likes that it would not be easily saleable when rebuilt. the funds will just be set aside after paying some associated bills and not sure what I will do just yet. I have just pulled apart most of the remains of the bike and intend to part it out and sell off the parts I do not want or maybe even sell it as a part going concern project for someone else to finish off to their liking.
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