An increasing percentage of the population is opting to turn towards bicycles as their commuting tools of choice. Not only is biking a great way to help keep our environment safe, but it helps keep people healthy and active as they go about their daily lives. Anybody in Illinois is likely to be greeted by the sight of at least a few cyclists each day. Some hop on their bikes for fun, others ride them to work, but one fact remains the same: it’s imperative to focus on safety if you choose to ride a bicycle in traffic.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, over 780 bicyclists were killed as a result of bicycle accidents in 2017. An accident doesn’t need to be fatal to have a significant impact on a victim’s life, though. Many bicycle accident victims avoid death, but emerge from crashes with tremendous emotional and physical damage.
Cyclists should feel perfectly at ease snapping on your helmet, adjusting your mirrors, and starting your commute, but you can only plan for other drivers’ negligence to a certain extent. One way that you can increase your safety by cycling is through a thorough understanding of some of the most common bicycle accidents and how to avoid them. If you have already been involved in an accident then speaking with a bicycle accident lawyer could reveal your legal options.
The 3 Most Common Bicycle Accidents
1. Crossing a Vehicle’s Path
While not the most likely to be fatal, these accidents do account for the majority of bicycle accidents that involve motor vehicles. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety conducted research that found nearly thirty percent of bicycle accidents involve cyclists crossing vehicles’ paths. When cars run into cyclists under circumstances like these, many bike riders suffer serious injuries.
Crossing in front of cars is one of the most dangerous aspects of being on the road as a cyclist. Those on bicycles should take every precaution necessary to ensure that drivers are fully aware of their presence and positioning. If you’re riding a bike and feel unsure about a driver’s attention to the road, it’s best to take the extra time to wait for them to pass rather than hurrying to make it to your destination.
2. The Left Hook
Left hook accidents account for 23 percent of bicycle crashes and two percent of cyclist deaths. These bicycle accidents occur when a vehicle turning left fails to yield to a cyclist in the oncoming lane. In some cases, vehicles directly collide with cyclists; other scenarios lead to drivers cutting cyclists off and causing a crash. Many left hook collisions and accidents involve vehicles traveling at high speeds, which renders them especially dangerous for cyclists.
3. The Right Hook
As the name suggests, these accidents take place when vehicles traveling in the same direction as cyclists turn right at an intersection and collide with bikes and their riders. The previously-mentioned IIHS study indicated that up to 45 percent of bicycle accidents occurred when cyclists and vehicle operators were traveling in the same direction. Right hook accidents can be extremely dangerous for cyclists.
Situational awareness and following bicycle safety tips can go a long way in helping bicyclists avoid right hook accidents. Ideally, you should have some sort of rearview mirror (or mirrors) attached to your bicycle or helmet to grant you improved visibility. It’s also important to anticipate what actions the drivers around you may take. You can’t predict everything— but paying attention to your surroundings can help keep you safe.
Potential Bicycle Accident Injuries
Every bicycle accident is different. While an accident may lead to one victim suffering contusions, a concussion, and a broken leg, that same crash could allow a different cyclist to escape unscathed. There’s no way to predict what sorts of injuries you may sustain during a bicycle accident, but those who rely on bicycles for transportation may expect to experience:
- Contusions, lacerations, and bruises anywhere on the body
- Head and neck injuries such as hemorrhages, hematomas, or whiplash
- Brain injuries such as concussions; some cyclists also experience a traumatic brain injury, which can have lifelong negative impacts
- Broken and shattered bones
- Muscle pulls and strains
It may be difficult to determine the state of your injuries directly following a bicycle accident. If you received emergency medical attention or were transported to a hospital, you still stand to benefit from meeting with your primary care provider afterward. Many injuries fail to appear for some time or lurk below the surface before rearing their heads.
Receiving treatment for your injuries is one of the most important steps that you can take after a crash. Before you worry about legalities, make sure to take care of your personal health and wellbeing.
A Bicycle Accident Attorney Can Help
One of the best steps that bicycle accident victims can take to protect themselves is to find a reliable, experienced bicycle accident attorney. When you partner with an attorney, you’ll get individualized advice and assistance based on your unique case.
A lawyer can help outline what sorts of documentation you need to collect and even bring in specialists to help strengthen your case. Many legal representatives retain contact information for doctors and other professionals who can offer testimonies or documentation for your case.
It’s a good idea to speak to a bicycle accident attorney as soon as possible after your crash. You should always establish your own physical and mental safety first, but it’s good practice to promptly select a legal representative of your choice. This can help make your recovery and legal processes much smoother.
If you or a loved one have suffered injuries due to a bicycle accident, you deserve compassion and understanding. A talented attorney could help you fight for the compensation that you deserve after your experiences. A trustworthy, experienced legal professional can help you navigate your case, and set you on the right path to a successful recovery.