Countless bicyclists take to the streets every single day, but roads are dangerous for bike riders, and accidents are always a risk.
Bicycle accidents happen for various reasons and result in different types of collisions and severe injuries. If you’re involved in a bike accident, you may have a valid claim for compensation or you can hire a bicycle accident lawyer for legal help.
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What Is a Bicycle Accident, and Why Are They so Dangerous?
Every year, over 130,000 bicyclists suffer injuries in bicycle accidents, and nearly 1,000 more pass away from fatal bike collisions.
These bicycle accidents primarily involve a car knocking a bicyclist down. While a bicyclist can fall off their bike on their own, in most cases, these accidents happen because of another party’s negligence or intentional conduct.
According to state law, cyclists can ride on the street with other drivers. If bike lanes are available, they can also utilize those. Many state laws prohibit bicyclists from riding on sidewalks to protect pedestrians, as riding along sidewalks can endanger people walking.
Because bicyclists often share the road with other drivers, they are constantly at risk for collisions.
Bike accidents can be more dangerous than other types of accidents, like car accidents, for multiple reasons. Primarily, these collisions put bicycle riders at risk of serious, and sometimes life-threatening, injury.
Bicycles provide no protection or support for bicyclists. Therefore, in an accident, injuries are often more substantial. Additionally, because bikes are so light, they are easy to hit and knock over. This can differ from motorcycles, for example, as many motorcycles have crash bars that help prevent the bike from tipping over.
When a bicyclist experiences an accident, it is unlikely they’ll suffer no injuries at all. Bicycles provide an excellent mode of transportation and exercise, but they also have drawbacks.
Common Causes of Bike Collisions
Bike accidents occur quickly and often without warning for bike riders.
Some of the common causes of bike accidents are also those that frequently cause vehicle collisions. This is because when a driver engages in dangerous driving behaviors, everyone they share the road with is at risk.
The following are some of the typical reasons bike accidents occur.
Distracted driving is one of the leading causes of collisions, whether car, truck, or bicycle accidents.
When a driver is distracted while operating a vehicle, they are more likely to cause accidents. Three types of distractions exist: visual, manual, and cognitive.
Visual distractions are those that take the driver’s eyes off the road. These distractions often include texting, changing the song, and looking for a fallen object around.
Manual distractions take one or both hands off the driver’s steering wheel. These distractions can include eating or dealing with children and pets while driving.
Cognitive distractions are those that take your mind off of the task at hand, which in this case, is driving. Talking on the phone, daydreaming, or even driving while fatigued can all be cognitive distractions.
Aggressive driving encompasses several risky behaviors, including following vehicles too closely (tailgating) and cutting in front of other drivers. Another common form of aggressive driving is speeding.
Speeding while driving creates the likelihood of several consequences, including greater potential for loss of control over the vehicle. Additionally, in the event of an accident, speeding creates a greater force, which can result in more severe injury to the victim.
Driving Under the Influence
The influence involves operating a vehicle while impaired by alcohol or drugs. When a driver is impaired, this greatly affects their ability to safely operate a vehicle and make sound and reasonable decisions while on the road.
Driving under the influence is not only a criminal offense, but it can also result in civil liability if a driver causes an accident and injures a victim.
Many understand the severity of driving under the influence, but what some do not understand is that fatigued driving can also cause similar cognitive effects.
When a driver is operating a vehicle while tired or sleepy, their ability to drive safely and make good decisions behind the wheel is affected, like impaired driving.
Unsafe Lane Changes
When drivers begin learning how to drive, they should learn how to use their turn signals to indicate to other drivers they intend to switch lanes. However, failure to indicate can result in unsafe lane changes.
Drivers often make dangerous lane changes while driving aggressively, as they might weave in and out of traffic to try to get ahead quicker.
Failure to Yield
States have laws regarding yielding to other drivers, pedestrians, and bicyclists. When drivers fail to yield, they put others at risk of injury.
For example, drivers must yield to pedestrians and bicyclists when waiting to make left turns. If there is either a pedestrian or bicyclist crossing at the time they wish to turn, they must wait until the individual is out of their way.
Yielding laws exist to help maintain order on the roads and keep others safe.
Bicycles are fragile. Therefore, when there are defects on the road, whether on a bike lane or the roadway, a bicyclist is more at risk of having an accident.
These defects may not affect cars and trucks, as these vehicles are large, heavy, and rest on four tires. However, a bicycle, being light, thin, and only having two tires, is more likely to have an issue with a road defect, like broken asphalt or large, uncovered holes.
Dangerous/Unmarked Construction Sites
Construction sites, especially those on sidewalks or areas close to the road, can easily cause an accident for a bicyclist. Any potential hazards should be marked or covered to let bicyclists and pedestrians know it exists.
Without sufficient warning signage, a bicyclist may not notice a hazardous area and run right into it, resulting in injury.
Kinds of Bicycle Accidents
Like car accidents, there are several types of bike accidents. Some of the most common kinds of bicycle collisions are as follows.
Rear-end collisions are common for vehicles, particularly in situations where the rear driver is distracted or speeding. The same goes for accidents involving bicycles.
When a bicyclist shares the road with a vehicle, they cannot see what is happening behind them, as bicycles don’t usually have rear-facing mirrors. Therefore, bicyclists trust drivers to leave sufficient enough space between their car and the bicycle ahead of them. When a driver does not leave a safe enough distance, and the bicyclist must stop, rear-end collisions are likely.
With enough force, a rear-end accident may be enough to throw a bicyclist off the bicycle and cause substantial injury.
Front-end collisions often occur if a driver is driving the wrong way.
Additionally, some bicyclists do not realize you must move in the same direction as traffic. Therefore, never ride your bike against traffic, as this can cause a front-end collision if a driver is not paying attention.
Crashes Involving Car Doors
This is a common and avoidable kind of bike accident. When parked parallel to a street, drivers should first look before opening doors to ensure no vehicle, pedestrian, or bicycle coming in their direction.
Failing to look before opening the car door can result in a bicycle either running into the car door. Alternatively, a cyclist may notice the car door opening and instinctively swerve into traffic, increasing their chances of getting hit by a passing car.
Right-cross accidents are among some of the most common types of bicycle accidents.
A right-cross accident occurs when a vehicle pulls out from the right side of the street, for example, coming out from a parking space, and either hits a bicycle directly or causes the bicyclist to run into the car.
These accidents often occur when drivers pay little or no attention when merging onto the roadway.
Left Turn Collisions
A left turn accident happens when a vehicle makes a left turn while a bicycle is oncoming. Left turns require drivers to yield, but failure to yield can either cause a vehicle to hit a bicyclist or the bicyclist to hit the car mid-turn.
Right Hook Crashes
Right hook collisions occur when a driver passes the bicyclist on their left, for example, when the bicyclist is riding on the bike lane. The driver then makes an immediate right turn, which results in either the car hitting the bicycle or the bicyclist running into the vehicle.
Red Light Accidents
Red light accidents typically occur when a bicyclist stops to the right of a car. When the light turns green, the driver may decide to start making a right turn, hitting the bicycle in the process.
Additionally, if a bicycle stops in front of a vehicle at a red light, the light turns green, and the car begins to drive before giving the bicyclist a chance to move, it can cause a rear-end collision.
Injuries Often Resulting from Bike Accidents
Bicycle accidents can lead to significant, life-altering injuries.
Some of the injuries bicyclists are most at risk of sustaining include:
- Road rash
- Fractured or broken bones
- Joint displacement
- Head and brain injuries
- Neck injuries
- Back injuries
- Spinal cord injuries and paralysis
- Crush injuries
- Amputation injuries
- Soft tissue injuries
- Internal injuries
Injuries from a bike accident typically require extensive medical treatment to help you reach maximum recovery. While many victims can eventually make a full recovery, there is always a risk of complications and lasting impacts on your health and quality of life.
Liability for Bike Accidents
Simply put, the party who causes your accident is liable to you for your injuries and related losses. However, identifying and proving liability is not always a simple matter.
In a majority of cases, the driver of a vehicle that caused your accident is responsible. If your case involves defects on the road or dangerous construction sites, you may need to figure out what party is liable, which can include the city, a governmental entity, or a construction company.
Complications with liability may arise when more than one party is responsible for your accident. For example, if a driver caused your accident while on the job, their employer might also share liability for your injuries.
You can also have a challenging situation when you experience a hit-and-run collision, making the identity of the at-fault party unknown. Your bike accident lawyer can identify the best avenues for compensation in a hit-and-run.
Determining liability is key for pursuing compensation from the correct party. A bicycle accident attorney can help prove fault and conduct an investigation to find the liable party, if necessary.
What to Do After a Bicycle Collision?
What you do after a bike accident can have a significant impact on your future claim. Therefore, the following steps are most important to protect your rights to monetary recovery.
Call for Help
Immediately after your accident, if you’re able, call 911. If your injuries prevent you from doing so yourself, ask someone around for assistance.
Note most states have laws regarding stopping and rendering aid after causing an accident, meaning the at-fault driver has a duty to help you after the crash.
Get Immediate Medical Attention
Emergency medical technicians can treat some of your injuries at the scene of the accident. If your injuries are severe, they’ll transport you to the nearest hospital for better care.
Follow up With a Physician
Regardless of whether emergency medical services take you to the hospital, you should still follow up with a doctor after your accident. Undergoing a thorough examination can help determine the extent of your injuries so you can receive the right kind of treatment and recover.
Discuss Your Situation With a Bike Accident Attorney
Finally, as soon as your condition allows, schedule a consultation with a top-rated personal injury law firm in Chicago. A skilled bike accident attorney can help you navigate your bicycle accident claim and provide the right guidance and support throughout the life of your case.
You deserve justice and fair compensation when you suffer injuries in a bike accident. A bicycle accident attorney can help you get there.