Legal Advice in Case of Crash

In early April I was struck head-on by another cyclist on the bike path along the Han River. The rider was passing three people just before he planned to make a left turn, but did so without looking ahead. The result was a displaced fracture of the scaphoid bone in my left wrist that occurred upon the impact of our handlebars. Five weeks post-surgery and I still can’t move my wrist. It looks like full recovery is going to take nearly half a year due to the severity of the break.

I had not experienced this kind of incident before so I wasn’t sure what I should do. So what I did was take the man’s personal information and then I rode my bike one-handed to a hospital. Here I made a mistake and I want to advise others about what to do in a similar case.

The location of the crash was not covered by any kind of CCTV and neither the other rider nor I had our own video evidence of what occurred. That means it is his word vs. mine. I am fortunate that he has a kind of insurance that covers bicycle crashes and by law, because he was ‘making a turn’ (not really) across my lane, his liability is 7:3. And knowing this now, I will act differently in the future after a crash.

The crash occurred near a convenience store and there were at least 10-15 people who witnessed the crash. If the same thing happens to you, be sure to get contact information from as many witnesses as possible. The more evidence on your part the better. And anyone who has been in this situation knows that the Korean standard is to seek as much ‘settlement’ money as possible. But as a foreigner, you will not be given the same expectation. They will expect it from you if you’re at fault, but they will refuse to pay if they are at fault.

I am lucky that I was able to build a logical case based on previous GPS data, sky-view map data, and booth math skills to nearly prove that the man had crossed into my lane before the dotted yellow lines. I then submitted that report to the police and filed a criminal complaint against the man for having crossed a solid yellow traffic line. The result is that the insurance company is giving the case more scrutiny and it has pushed the man to seek a compromise. This has been an incredibly stressful process that I hope no one else will have to deal with. So use a camera on your bike for video evidence and get as many witness phone numbers as possible should a similar thing happen. Additionally, find a strong minded, not-to-be-f***ed-with Korean person to fight on your behalf if you want to receive the standard ‘settlement’ payment that you are due.

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