Under the law, bicycles have the same rights as any motorized vehicle that travels the roadway. But, according to a survey by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, one in 10 cyclists feel threatened for their personal safety when they take their bikes on the road.
You may ride a bicycle for different reasons. Bike riding is a fun and useful activity that’s good for your health and gets you outdoors. If your health and safety is compromised because of a reckless or negligent driver, our team of attorneys are here to defend your rights.
If you’ve been in a bicycle accident where a motorist hit you or caused you harm, you may need an attorney to seek damages. In a legal sense, if you were riding on a bicycle and were injured from a fall, you may also have the right to seek compensation from those responsible.
Common Causes Of Bicycle Accidents
By and large, the overwhelming majority of bicycle fatalities are caused by motor vehicles. Because a motor vehicle is a much bigger machine than a bicycle, the end result of the crash is likely catastrophic. Cyclists are out in the open and have limited protection.
Some of the common causes of bicycle accidents involving motor vehicles include:
- a motor vehicle fails to yield at an intersection, turn, or merge
- a crash occurs because a motor vehicle uses overtaking maneuvers to pass a cyclist
- a motor vehicle loses control or turns into a bicyclist
- a door of a parked car opens and blocks the path of a bicyclist
- a bicyclist travels the wrong way on a road or against oncoming traffic
While it’s true that motor vehicles are sometimes responsible for bicycle accidents, they’re not the only cause. You can still collect damages in a bicycle accident for other reasons.
Other causes of bicycle injuries include:
- due to a poorly maintained roadway, a bicyclist falls off the bike
- a cyclist takes a bike in for repairs, but it’s still defective or damaged
- an animal attack causes a cyclist to fall off the bike
- a collision with another cyclist or a pedestrian
- debris in the road causes a cyclist to collide with an object
Tips For Avoiding A Bike Accident Or Crash
For bicyclists, accidents usually include a fall or a crash with another vehicle. To avoid catastrophic injury, there are preventative measures you can take to increase your safety and decrease the chances of an accident.
Here are some tips to keep you safe on your bicycle:
Preparedness is key. Ride a bicycle that works and fits you so it’s easier to control. Wear safety equipment that protects you and makes you more visible to others, such as reflective gear or reflectors on your bike.
Additionally, it’s always important to plan your route. If you travel on roadways with motor vehicles, choose routes that are less trafficked, have bike lanes, or have slower speed limits.
Be Focused And Alert
When you’re on your bike, it’s crucial to be aware of the traffic that surrounds you. Be defensive in your riding so you can act quickly to avoid a crash.
Other tips include:
- ride in the same direction of traffic
- follow street signs, road signals, and other traffic laws
- look ahead for hazards like potholes
- assume drivers don’t notice you
- limit distractions, like glancing at your phone
Practice And Improve Your Skills
Practicing how to ride your bike safely and effectively is crucial for staying safe on the road. Ride your bike in areas away from traffic until you get a sense of your skill level. On roadways, use bike lanes and practice how to navigate, communicate, and share the road with other drivers.
Who Can Be Held Liable In A Bicycle Accident?
Like other personal injury lawsuits, determining liability in a bicycle accident depends on the cause. Once the cause of the accident is determined, you’ll have to figure out which party can be held legally responsible.
Examples of cause and liability in a bicycle accident include:
- a vehicle driver causes the accident: a cyclist can file a claim against a motor vehicle driver or the driver’s auto insurance
- another cyclist or a pedestrian causes the accident: a cyclist can file a claim against the individual
- a cyclist gets into an accident because of a design flaw or bad repair: a cyclist can file a claim against the bicycle manufacturer or repair shop for negligence
- a cyclist gets in an accident because of potholes, debris, or other obstructions on the roadway: a cyclist can file a claim against the local government agencies responsible for maintaining public roadways
- a dog causes a cyclist to fall off the bike: a cyclist can file a claim against the dog owner
How To Determine Liability In Bicycle Accidents
A cyclist can only seek damages in a personal injury claim if they were not at fault in the accident. In some cases, cyclists can be at fault and may need to pay damages to the vehicle driver, pedestrian, or other party involved.
Consider some negligent cycling behaviors to determine how a cyclist may be at fault:
- not stopping at stop signs
- turning without giving a hand signal
- failing to yield at intersections or crosswalks
- riding outside the bike lane
- riding against traffic
- riding on the wrong side of the road
Whichever party failed to follow the law is likely to be held liable. In some motor vehicle crash cases, both the driver and the cyclist can be at fault, which can complicate liability.
State law may determine who is legally responsible, as well as the rules of comparative negligence. The court may decide to split the responsibility of the accident, which means it’s helpful to hire a bike accident attorney to ensure your side is well represented.
Children And Bicycle Accidents
Determining liability for bike accident cases involving children is further complicated by the law. The law states that children are incapable of comparative negligence while on a bicycle. In these cases, motor vehicle drivers are more likely to be held responsible. As the law sees it, children are too young to use a normal standard of care on the road.
However, courts will decide this issue on a case-by-case basis. Drivers need to show a significant duty of care if a child is involved in the case. In order for the child to be held liable, the driver must show that they could not reasonably avoid the accident.
Are Bikes (Cyclists) Covered By Insurance?
Although auto insurance policies vary, many plans cover bicycle accidents. In cases where the accident was caused by a motor vehicle driver, your injuries will likely be covered by the driver’s auto insurance policy.
If you have a private health insurance plan, you healthcare may cover some of the medical costs for your injuries. However, your plan may be subject to a deductible or copay. Afterwards, however, you can seek compensation from the driver’s auto insurance, if necessary.
With auto insurance, typical personal injury protection (PIP) coverage may entitle you to collect damages from your own plan if you live in a no-fault state. In these states, insurance companies are mandated to pay for the medical bills of everyone injured in a crash, regardless of who was at fault. A qualified attorney can help you sort through your state’s no-fault laws, if applicable.
How An Attorney Can Help With A Bicycle Accident Lawsuit
Like many types of personal injury lawsuits, the plaintiff or cyclist will have to prove negligence on the part of the motor vehicle driver or person that caused you injury.
To prove negligence, your attorney will need to show four elements:
- breach of duty
- your injuries were caused by the other party’s breach of duty
Your attorney will help you prove that the defendant (car driver, pedestrian, other cyclist, etc.) had a reasonable duty to act safely and be mindful of cyclists. Your attorney will help you show that the defendant breached that duty, and as a result you suffered injuries.
For bike accident cases, it may be enough for your to prove that the defendant failed to obey a relevant traffic law, and this violation of the law caused your injuries.
Types Of Damages In Bike Accident Claims
After your attorney helps you make a claim against a liable party, they’ll help you collect possible damages:
You may be entitled to economic damages in order to recover financial losses involving damaged property (your bike), lost wages as a result of your injuries, and medical bills.
Being in a bike accident can be traumatizing. Your injuries can also lower your quality of life and involve undue pain and suffering. Your attorney can help you seek non-economic damages to compensate for these issues.
Your attorney may suggest you seek punitive damages if the defendant’s actions in your injuries involved a particularly egregious offense. A judge or jury may decide to punish a defendant for driving drunk, disregarding speed limit laws, or other flagrant misdeeds.
Bicycle Accident Facts And Statistics
In 2018, over 850 bicyclists were killed on United States roadways. When a crash between a motor vehicle and a cyclist occur, it’s likely that it’s the cyclist who suffers the most. As some data suggests, nonoccupant road fatalities are increasing, which includes bicyclists.
However, if you survive a crash on a bicycle, the financial cost can be detrimental. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that both fatal and non-fatal crash-related injuries suffered by bicyclists can extend up to $10 billion in lifetime medical costs and productivity losses.
Consider some other bicycle accident facts and statistics:
- The number of cyclists killed in a vehicle crash in 2018 was the highest it’s been since 1990, when 859 individuals perished on their bike.
- Between 2017 and 2018, cyclist fatalities increased by 6.3 percent, or 51 more deaths.
- In any season, bicycle deaths occur most often in the evening, between 6 p.m and 9 p.m.
- Bicycle deaths occur more in urban areas rather than rural areas.
- Fatal male bicycle crashes increased by 3.2 percent from 2017 to 2018.
- Fatal bicycle crashes involving female riders increased by 29.2 percent from 2017 to 2018.
- Almost 40 percent of all fatal bicycle crashes involved alcohol in 2017.
- From 2017 to 2018, after-dark cyclist fatalities increased by 9.2 percent.
- Bicyclist deaths accounted for 2.2 percent of all vehicle crash fatalities in 2016.
Bike Accident Attorneys Serving The U.S.
The particular damages you pursue will be based on the specific details of your case, as well as the attorneys you hire to represent you. At Florin|Roebig, we specialize in personal injury lawsuits and will use every resource at our disposal to make sure you’re compensated for your injuries.
Our accomplished team of experienced bike accident attorneys includes:
- Wil H. Florin, B.C.S.
- Tommy D. Roebig, B.C.S.
- Michael L. Walker, B.C.S.
- Chase P. Florin, B.C.S.
- Neil P. O’Brien, M.B.A.
- Shaun M. Cummings
- Luca G. Esposito
- Chad K. Florin, M.B.A., LL.M.
- Nicholas S. Costantino
- Jordan A. Kolinski
- Parker Y. Florin, LL.M.
- Taylor D. Roebig
- Kavon P. Smith
- Matthew L. McMullen
- Michael A. Ossi, O.C.
- Lawrence J. Najem, O.C.
- Andrew M. Leone, O.C.
- Nollys R. Solarte, O.C.
- Brian R. Dettman, O.C.
Contact Us Today For Help Filing A Bike Accident Claim
If you’ve been injured in a bicycle accident, act now to receive financial compensation for your injuries. At Florin|Roebig, we offer free case evaluations to help you decide if it’s in your best interest to take legal measures for collecting damages.
As a cyclist, you’re protected by the law if you travel on public roads. If you feel you were injured as a result of someone else’s negligence, our team of qualified attorneys can help defend your legal rights.
For more information, or to start a free case evaluation, contact our offices today.