If you are involved in an accident, follow these steps to ensure that you receive a fair response from the police and collect the information that you may need for any legal/ insurance issues. Even if you are not injured, it’s important to report the incident, as injuries can come up later. Reporting also ensures more accurate police statistics and better action and policies in the future.
AT THE SCENE
- Call 10111 (the SAPS flying squad) and 112 (emergency 24-hour service – toll free from mobile) and ask for the police and EMS.
- All parties, including the driver are required by law to stay at the scene of the crash until police arrive.
- Get the following information from all parties involved and witnesses: full names, ID numbers, addresses, telephone details, and vehicle registration numbers.
- You should also get: descriptions of the vehicles, details of police and traffic officers and ambulance personnel, and details of tow truck personnel.
- If the motorist refuses to stay or doesn’t provide ID, get their vehicle’s description and number plate.
- Record as much visual information as possible: use you phone to record the accident scene and keep any GPS data or video footage you may have.
WHEN THE POLICE ARRIVE
- Both the cyclist and drivers must co-operate with all law enforcement and emergency personnel who respond to the scene. More on driver’s responsibilities at the scene
- Leave your bike in the same state it was after the accident, so the police can see the scene undisturbed.
- Request that the police take an accident report (this is required of them). Be sure that your account of the crash is reflected in the report narrative.
- Get the reporting officer’s name and badge number.
- If you have been injured, consult a doctor immediately even if you think that the injury is not serious. A doctor’s report of your injury is important for insurance and/or legal action. Depending on your injuries you can seek medical attention either at the scene, the emergency room, hospital or doctor’s office. When in doubt go to the ER!
SOON AFTER A CRASH
- Report the incident within 24 hours to the SA Police (unless the police made a report at the scene). It’s important that all cycling accidents/incidents are reported to the police both for future legal/insurance reasons and to ensure correct police statistics and action.
- Get the case number from the police as well as the name of the officer to whom the accident is reported.
- File a report with the Western Cape Authorities.
- Email The Pedal Power Association with the following info: date of incident, time of day, location, a brief description of what happened and your contact details.
- Take photos of your injuries and any bike damage if appropraite. Get an estimate for bike repairs.
- Contact your insurance company or seek legal aid if required. Find out about claims and legal action.
More detailed information:
If able, record as much visual info as possible, but be careful and don’t subject yourself to further injury by standing or waiting in an area near traffic or other safety hazards.
- Use your phone to take photos of the scene of the accident (from all angles), surrounding area, injuries sustained, damage to vehicles and bicycles; and the position of the bicycle and motor vehicle in relation to one another after the accident.
- If possible sketch a plan of the scene and make sure that it contains a fixed point so that it can easily be traced.
- Keep a copy of any GPS record of your cycling activity in advance of the accident, together with any GoPro or similar footage. Check whether any other driver or witness has any footage and ask for a copy.
- Drivers are also obliged to co-operate with all law enforcement and emergency personnel who respond to the scene.
- Drivers may not move their vehicles unless it is required by law or necessary for safety.
- Drivers may not leave the scene of an accident until the police allow it.
- Drivers may not throw away any potential evidence (e.g. important documents or torn or blood-stained clothing).
It is very important to ensure that all cycling accidents/incidents no matter how small are reported to the police:
- Insurers often require a police report before they will pay out any claims.
- Police statistics and future action and policies are also entirely dependent on accidents being reported.
- Subsequent prosecution relies heavily on police investigation.
Insist that the police receive and record your report.
The Road Accident Fund (the RAF)
- A person has a right to claim compensation for damages from the Road Accident Fund (the RAF). The RAF compensates a victim of a road accident for bodily injury sustained as a result of the negligence of another driver. In the event of death, it compensates dependents for their loss of support (where the deceased was a breadwinner).
- A cyclist injured in an accident may therefore have a claim against the RAF. There is no claim against the driver for damages arising out of bodily injuries sustained.
- The RAF will cover certain hospital and medical expenses as well as loss of earnings (subject to conditions and requirements).
- The RAF will not cover damage to your bicycle (or any other property). The RAF also does not award general damages for pain and suffering unless the injury is of a serious nature.
- Contact an attorney to investigate possible claims against the RAF. Some attorneys will be prepared to take your case on a no-win, no-fee basis.
- To recover the costs of repairing your bicycle, you’ll have to claim from your own insurance or the person who caused the accident.
- If you have a claim for less than R12 000, you may pursue your claim in the Small Claims Court. You don’t require an attorney to represent you in the Small Claims Court.
- If you want to claim more than R12 000, you will have to pursue your claim in the Magistrate’s Court or High Court with the assistance of an attorney.
Claims against you
- There is the potential that a claim may lie against you as the cyclist if you were responsible for the accident and this resulted in injury, damage or death. If you have insurance that covers your liability as a cyclist in these circumstances, you will need to notify your insurer. You may also wish to investigate taking out insurance that covers this type of risk.
- The Pedal Power Association may be able to assist with a private prosecution, depending on the nature of the accident and the approach of the police and the prosecuting authorities.
Who was in the wrong?
- Failing to obey the 1m passing distance law
- Driving at an excessive speed or in excess of the speed limit
- Failing to keep a proper look-out
- Failing to keep the vehicle under proper control
- Drinking and driving
- Using their cell phones whilst driving
- Cutting across your path of travel at an inopportune moment
- Failing to stop at a stop sign or, when facing a red traffic light
- Failing to yield to oncoming traffic
- Colliding with you from behind
- Opening a door of a stationary motor vehicle at an inopportune moment
When the cyclist is in the wrong:
- A bicycle is regarded as a vehicle in the eyes of the law. Bicycles are therefore subject to all road rules and regulations, including stopping at stop streets and red lights.
- You may not cycle on a freeway.
- Know your rights and responsibilities, and the Western Cape Provincial: Safety of Cyclists Regulations, 2013