7 Must-Dos After a Bike Crash

by Marc Lindsay
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7 Must-Dos After a Bike Crash

The odds of getting into an accident on the bike are, unfortunately, pretty high. Whether you’re on a group ride or involved in a bike-car collision, do these seven things to be safe and make smart, rational decisions.


Emotions, injury and a wrecked bike are just a few things that can get in the way of your otherwise sound decision making. If you’re still conscious and able to move, it’s best to get off the roadway as soon as possible. Doing so helps avoid further injury from oncoming traffic who may not see you lying on the ground.

When the injuries are too severe for you to bear weight, call for an ambulance right away.


Following a crash, it’s common to get a big shot of adrenaline. While your injuries might seem mild following an accident, they could be much worse than you realize. To be safe, have a seat whether you feel hurt or not and check yourself for injuries. If anything seems serious, don’t hesitate to call for medical attention immediately.

Other than broken bones, areas of pain and bleeding, make sure you can bear weight and walk normally. You can assess your upper body by lifting your arms above your head. Always check your helmet for cracks. If it is cracked always assume you have a concussion.


No matter what’s happened, you should always call someone after a crash. If there are no serious injuries apparent, give a family member or a friend a call and see if they can pick you up. It will be tough to know the extent of your injuries until you’ve been evaluated, and the same can be said of your bike. Having someone else around who’s thinking clearly can help you decide next steps.

For bike-car accidents, call the police, too. They’ll be able to file an accident report, document each party’s involvement in the incident and determine who was at fault, which can help with insurance claims.

Whatever you decide to do, it’s probably not a good idea to get back on your bike right away and keep riding.


For moderate-to-severe crashes, you should head to your doctor to get checked out. X-rays and a thorough evaluation should be done to make sure there aren’t any injuries more severe than they might appear.

The same can be said for your bike. One of the reasons getting back on the bike isn’t recommended is because the potential for catastrophic damage to the frame — especially if it’s carbon fiber. Any time your bike hits the ground take it to a bike shop to have it looked over by a professional. Hairline cracks in the frame or any other damage that could compromise the structural integrity of the bike are your primary areas of concern. Don’t forget the wheels, though, as they are commonly damaged during most incidents — even if it’s just a spoke.


Accidents on the trail or during a group ride might not need the attention of the police, but if you’ve been involved in a bike-car crash you’ll want  documentation of the accident. While an accident report from the authorities is definitely recommended, it’s also a good idea to obtain contact information from the driver and any bystanders who may have witnessed the event.

Information you might need later on for insurance claims includes:

  • Name, address, driver’s license number and phone number of the driver.
  • The license plate of the vehicle.
  • Insurance information.
  • Names and phone numbers of any witnesses.

It’s also a good idea to take photos of your injuries and any damage that may have occurred to your bike for evidence.



While this won’t be needed if you take a spill on your own, sometimes bike-car collisions get messy. If you are unsure what steps you need to take or are having problems getting reimbursed for your medical bills and damages to your bike, a lawyer who specializes in bike-car related accidents can help you deal with the insurance companies and ensure you get what you’re entitled.


Unless you’re a professional cyclist, there’s no rush to get back on the bike. Let your road rash and other injuries heal fully before you decide to go out on the bike again. If you’ve had a concussion, make sure you go through a concussion protocol with your doctor before resuming activities.

Keep in mind that your mental state should also be considered. Hitting the ground is a traumatic event, and facing the fear of it happening again once you’re out on the road won’t be easy. Make sure you’ve got the right frame of mind and are looking forward to riding again before you get back in the saddle.


  • Jamie Lent

    #crashnotaccident wow, come on guys. It is a crash, not an accident. Also given driver’s propensity to flee, #5 should probably be at least #3, if not higher.

    But good advice!

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  • Howard Drescher

    A really excellent article. Hits all the points. I’m recovering from a crash just three days ago and yes, I’m feeling mildly apprehensive about getting back up. But I did get both myself and my bike checked out. Fortunately no serious damage to either. My helmet shows the marks where it hit the pavement so I’ll be replacing it. Could have been my head! Thanks for the good info.

  • David Neilson

    What a load of crap, clearly written for the over litigious USA. Relevant perhaps when you have been driven into, which is rarely an accident, more an act of carelessness. This is poorly written even by the standards of this website with no clear distinction between rider-caused falls, mountain biking idiocy, traffic accident etc. Just goes to show, treat people like idiots and they’ll sue.

    • rrrrmac1

      Crap? Not really sure what exactly you are referring to? Knowledge of your rights vice taking some adjusters idea of what you $2k bike is worth is moronic. Also most people are grossly unprepared for what needs to be done in a collision. This applies to collisions that involve pedestrians and you on your bike. While not all inclusive it is a good general guide that is well written. BTW most novice riders have no idea how dangerous riding on damaged carbon can be, it basically explodes when stressed.

      • Muns

        Wow… explodes… !!

        • rrrrmac1

          Unfortunately yes, the fibers when damaged create a stress point, carbon is lighter but relies on uniform distribution of stress across the surface area. When carbon frames get damaged, all that engineering to create uniformity of stress points goes away. Flexing a damaged frame by hitting a bump at speed can make things go bad very quickly, especially in the fork and headset areas, NEVER ride a carbon bike that has been crashed without having it checked out by a pro!

          • Muns

            Nah – you’re crazy – a simple tap test can determine if any damage occurred. You have no idea what you’re talking about OR you’re simply propagating misinformation to drive business to the “pros”. Leftist are so transparently duplicitous.

          • rrrrmac1

            Ugh, get your Google out


            for a start, not propagating anything FEEL FREE to ride any damaged Carbon frame you like, maybe you can start a business certifying all the frames that are OK and rake in the funds. All it takes is a thump test… I suggest you try some real bumpy down hills that get you over 40 MPH since all is good, hey there is nothing to fear right? Its all a Leftist conspiracy (how folks like you manage to somehow attach politics to everything is exhausting), or bike shop Professional promoting dribble. BTW some of the major manufacturers have exchange policies for damaged frames… But hey what do they know? They just hit them with a hammer and resell them anyway to make a buck right?

    • Izquierdo-Lefty

      C’mon dude. This is basic. Not every biker is as smart as you are.

    • Muns

      It written for old farts and Nanny State pussies.

    • E101XOR

      I worked out with a SWAT type who was training for a tri. A gomer ran him off the road and made the mistake of returning, since he was about 250 pounds of pick up driving fury. He lost a fight, went to jail, and has his truck impounded. I now ride with a retired LEO who sometimes carries a derringer. Me, I only carry a .38 so some of the advice here is incomplete.

      • WilliePhD

        pulling a gun on someone who accidentally ran you off the road? you should not be carrying a weapon of any kind

        • Muns

          Case in point. See below.

    • tuffguppy

      Mountain biking idiocy? Mountain biking is pure fun. No distracted drivers, car exhaust or pavement to cause road rash is ever involved. Biking speed is almost always much slower than road biking, so if there is the inevitable occasional crash, you just dust yourself off and keep going.

      And only one of the 7 suggestions in the article mentions a lawyer. I agree the article is too general, but it gets us thinking in advance of a crash. We each can fill in the blanks as we consider our specific experiences and needs.

  • Debra

    You may want to remind people to carry ID and an emergency contact number.

    • I wear a bracelet with my wife’s and sister’s phone numbers on it. While I haven’t needed it for a crash, it did come in very handy when the EMT’s were needing information when I collapsed from a heart attack.

      • Linda Bracken

        Try Road ID – these are brilliant and can be worn all the time https://www.roadid.com/pages/find-your-id – ideal for medical conditions as well as for cycling and running – speak for you when you can’t speak for yourself 🙂

  • Jana Dunson-Martin

    FYI…If you have AAA coverage, they will also assist you up if you are on your bike.

  • James Thurber

    Good advice all around. I ran smack dab into a closed gate a few weeks ago (it was brown, the same color as the dirt behind it) and the fire department took care of me. Fortunately my injuries were simple – a bloody nose (likely broken) and some rather gnarly scraps and bruises.

    The bike, being steel, was fairly simple to repair – re-align everything – replace derailleur (bent VERY badly) and ensure everything was straight.

    Incidentally, nearly a dozen cars drove by me as I lay by the side of the road – nobody paying the slightest bit of attention. The Fire Chief said that is a normal scenario – which reflects VERY poorly on our society.

    • Muns

      Move to Venezuela or Cuba then…

      • techisbest

        Brilliant reply, moron.

    • Billy

      Might want to vjeck dtaye law anout closedgatrs, requiring sinage beforwhabd. My hospital bill was $87,000 and there was no sineage.

  • Muns

    Thank you Mommy will you hold my hand when I go out riding too? Is this a joke??

    • DE

      So you don’t think you should assess yourself and your bike, you don’t think you should get out of the road, you don’t think you should consult an attorney when the police and insurance company show bias against the cyclist and favor any driver involved, you don’t think documenting information is a good idea, and you don’t think it’s a good idea to heal before getting on your ride again. Sounds like you have a great plan.

  • trinjboro

    I agree with all of these except the lawyer. You will basically give a third of the settlement to someone who will do very little but write a letter or two then put you on the back burner and drag this out over months or years. It costs nothing to wait and see what the insurance company offers. Then you can choose to negotiate you own settlement or as a last resort get the lawyer.

    • Ziggy Tomcich

      I’ve never been hit by a car, but everyone I’ve ever talked to who has said don’t ever waste time talking to the perps insurance company . Even in cases where the victim has the same company for their own auto insurance, they end up getting totally screwed. Delaying claims for years, back peddling and fighting every penny is common practice in the car insurance industry. Lawyers, especially ones who specialize in auto/bicycle collisions will get you more money you’re entitled to much faster and will take care of the BS that car insurance companies will try to put you through. There is a very strong anti-bicycle bias in the insurance industry, in our legal system, and in law enforcement. Denying this and trying to settle claims on your own will be an uphill battle for most people.

  • techisbest

    The article should have mentioned replacing your helmet if it absorbed any impact.

  • Robert Craig

    The wife was hit by a truck, didn’t damage her helmet, but still had a concussion that wasn’t diagnosed right away. They asked her if she lost conciseness, the last person that would know. If you hit your head, see a head Dr, you could save your self a lot of suffering

  • titleman

    I was hit by a bikeracer coming up behind me on Pacific Coast Hiway just outside Huntington Beach, California. I think he was more interested in the person drafting him and wanted to drop him. My injuries were extensive my bike was destroyed. The gross hospital bill was $1,250,000 and I was in coma 9 days. My ribs were broke, collarbone broke, lung collapsed. My insurance paid out hundreds of thousands of dollars, I was in hospital for over one month. I had a psychologist to make sure I suffered no brain damage. I sued and it went to court. Per California case law I lost. You can’t expect to win when the State backed the insurance companies and the juries have no idea or understanding how you can be seriously hurt by riding a toy.

  • I agree with number 1 , “get out of the road”, so you have to think of that before moving on to number 2, because you don’t want to get hit by the next car that comes along…
    I might be old-school, but I’ve been taught to “walk-it-off” and “get back in the saddle” …
    “whatever doesn’t kill you will make you stronger” , for that matter .

    You also might be out of cell phone coverage , depending where you ride…

    • Phil Bowman

      quite logical

  • Richard Hope

    I also wear a Road ID bracelet with all of my pertinent info on it. This was recommended to me when I first start riding by my neighbor.

  • GPzMike

    Get back on the horse. And if you don’t, thru the MOST basic of common sense, know to get the heck outta the road…well then perhaps it’s time to thin the herd.

  • Chuck Carmone

    As someone who broke 14 bones this summer after colliding with an 18 year old driver that never saw me, I can say this advice is nice but the reality is it’s a fight or flight thing. Your body instinctively will do what it does on it’s own to protect oneself. Front and rear flashers are an absolute must to be seen as are obviously helmets. Try to ride early and stay off roads although I was hit on a country back road. Stay safe, recovery physically and mentally sucks. I wish you all safe rides!

  • Merlina Naldo

    All the pointers are useful. You did a good job Marc. I got bruises and bone fracture on my left arm last year, it does not mean I stop riding my bikes. It was Not My Fault accident. For beginners join a group of bikers or never go that far. For professional cyclist, for sure you are aware with the risk you when you are all alone. Carrying ID’s with important contact numbers should be included, accident hire car for minor injuries should also included.