How Do Most Bicycle Accidents Happen?

June 11, 2023 | David Abels
How Do Most Bicycle Accidents Happen?

Bicycle accidents generally happen because of driver negligence. While some bicyclists act carelessly, most bikers understand the immense danger that motor vehicles pose. On a basic logical level, bicyclists exercise great caution to avoid a motor vehicle hitting them.

Motorists, on the other hand, have the protection of a thick metal shell, airbags, and other safety features. These protections often give motorists the illusion of safety, which can lead those motorists to act recklessly too often, bicyclists pay the price of this recklessness.

If you suffered injuries in a bike crash, immediately seek help from a bicycle accident attorney near you.

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Leading Causes of Bicycle Accidents

Driver error is usually to blame for bicycle collisions, and drivers can make many mistakes that put cyclists in harm’s way. Experts in road safety have identified many common causes of bicycle accidents, which include:

Distracted Driving

Any form of distraction increases the likelihood that a motorist will strike a bicyclist; common distractions include:

  • Texting
  • Talking on a cell phone (even while hands-free, as the driver’s attention moves away from where it should be focusing on safe driving)
  • Recording videos or taking photographs
  • Eating or drinking 
  • Conversations with others in the vehicle
  • Looking at scenery, accidents, or other objects outside the vehicle
  • Changing music, podcasts, or audiobooks

There are endless motorist distractions that put bicyclists’ lives in danger. The reality is that about nine people die daily because of distracted drivers.

Intoxicated Driving

Drunk driving remains an immense hazard to everyone on or near the road. Bicyclists may be at heightened risk from drunk drivers because bicycles are generally harder to see and sometimes more difficult to avoid than motor vehicles.

Drunk drivers generally have slower response times, impaired vision, and other alcohol-induced shortcomings.

Therefore, a drunk driver may:

  • Veer into a bicyclist who is legally riding in or alongside the roadway
  • Strike a bicyclist because they fail to see them
  • Attempt to pass a bicyclist in an unsafe manner (alcohol can increase a motorist’s impulsivity and impair their risk assessment)
  • Strike a bicyclist intentionally because alcohol heightens their aggressiveness

Bicyclists are always at risk when sharing the road with motorists. When a motorist lacks the proper cognitive ability, motor function, and other abilities necessary for safe driving, bicyclists are at an even greater risk.

Drugged driving can present similar risks to bicyclists.

Ignorance of Road Rules

If motorists do not know all the traffic laws, they are less likely to follow those rules. Because road rules aim to maintain order and safety, failure to follow the rules puts bicyclists in danger.

Specific rules and signals that, if violated, place bicyclists at risk are:

  • The sanctity of bike lanes
  • Bicyclists’ rights of way
  • Stop and yield signs
  • Traffic lights
  • Crosswalks

Motorists do not always comprehend the lessons they are supposed to learn before getting their licenses. When ignorance of road rules results in a bicycle accident, the offending motorist must pay the price for the harm they cause.

Road Rage

Some motorists believe that bicyclists do not belong on the road with motor vehicles, despite the laws stating otherwise. Even if a motorist has no preexisting bias against bicyclists, rage can cause the motorist to act in ways that endanger bike riders.

Speeding, tailgating, passing without adequate clearance, and intentionally swerving near bicyclists are dangerous behaviors that enraged drivers may exhibit. Such behavior may be especially likely if a motorist is riding behind one or more bicyclists for a sustained period, unable to pass due to traffic conditions.

Road rage is never acceptable, and it can lead to severe injuries and the deaths of bicyclists.

Vehicle Defects

Not every bicycle accident results from driver error, distraction, intoxication, or misdeeds (though most do).

Defective vehicles can also cause accidents between motor vehicles and cyclists, especially if the defect lies in the:

  • Tires
  • Brakes
  • Steering components
  • Other components essential to the control of the vehicle

Though defective vehicles may account for a small percentage of bicyclist accidents, it’s a cause to consider when investigating a collision.


The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that nearly three-quarters of bicyclist deaths happen in urban areas. These also tend to be the most chaotic, confusing areas for motorists and bicyclists.

Urban settings can endanger bicyclists because:

  • A higher concentration of bicyclists and vehicles in these urban settings increases the sheer statistical likelihood of an accident
  • The constant flow of pedestrians, motor vehicles, scooters, and bicyclists can confuse motorists
  • Bicycle lanes and traffic lines may abut each other in congested urban settings
  • Various traffic signals can confuse inexperienced drivers or those new to the city
Bicycle Accident Lawyer in Chicago, Illinois area

Driving is generally difficult. No two trips on the road are the same, with new motorists, environmental hazards, and road conditions every time. It is a driver’s duty to exercise caution and alertness at all times.

Unsafe Road Conditions

Safe roads are necessary for bicyclists to be safe.

Some road-related hazards that may contribute to a bike accident include:

  • Lack of clearly marked lanes, including bicycle lanes
  • Lack of operational traffic lights and pedestrian signals
  • Uneven road surfaces and potholes can cause single-bicycle accidents or collisions between motorists and bicyclists
  • Work crews positioned in a manner that increases the likelihood of bicycle accidents

As you can see, many hazards produce bicycle accidents.

Why Bicycle Accidents Tend to Have Devastating Outcomes for the Victim?

Bicyclists are especially vulnerable to the adverse outcomes of motor vehicle accidents.

Unlike those who drive and ride in cars, SUVs, and trucks, a bicyclist does not have:

  • A fortified metal barrier surrounds them
  • A seatbelt
  • Airbags
  • 360-degree glass to protect from flying objects and other hazards

Bicyclists have little more than a helmet and minimal padded clothing (if they even have that) standing between their body and an oncoming vehicle. It is no surprise that bicycle and pedestrian accidents account for nearly 20 percent of traffic deaths year after year.

It is common sense that bicyclists are no match for motor vehicles. Therefore, there is no excuse when a motorist’s carelessness causes a bicyclist to suffer severe injuries (or even lose their life).

Who Is Liable for Damages Resulting from a Bicycle Accident?

Liability varies from one bicycle accident to the next. The cause of the accident will determine who is liable for the resulting damages.

Examples of liable parties in different bike accident types include:

  • Accidents caused by motorists: The motorist is generally liable, and their employer may also be liable if the motorist was working at the time of the accident
  • Accidents caused by vehicle defects: The manufacturer or seller of the defective vehicle (or component) is generally liable for resulting accidents
  • Accidents caused by dangerous road conditions: A federal, state, or local governmental body may be liable when dangerous road conditions cause a bicycle accident

Attorneys diagnose the cause of each accident they handle. Often, they rely on experts in traffic issues to help understand and prove the cause of a bicycle accident. As they investigate, it generally becomes clear who is liable for the damages resulting from the bike accident.

What Damages Can I Recover From a Bicycle Accident?

Though each bicycle accident victim will seek different compensation, some common damages include:

  • Medical costs, which can result from ambulance transport, emergency care, surgery, hospitalization, medications, and other medical services
  • Pain and suffering, which may include pain from injuries, emotional anguish, psychological distress, lost quality of life, sleep problems, and conditions like depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Lost income and other professional damages, which may include lost benefits, lost promotion and bonus chances, and lost fulfillment from your work
  • Property damage, including damage to your bike, cell phone, and other personal property

Severe injuries should produce a fair financial recovery. The cost of your damages will determine what a fair financial recovery means.

Damages from Fatal Bicycle Accidents

Sadly, some cyclists pass away from injuries suffered in a traffic accident. These are the most heartbreaking cases a lawyer can handle. Attorneys generally represent surviving loved ones, including spouses, children, siblings, or parents.

Recoverable damages in a fatal bicycle accident case may include:

  • Medical expenses for the decedent’s emergency and end-of-life care
  • The decedent’s pain and suffering
  • Surviving loved ones’ pain and suffering
  • Funeral expenses
  • Lost financial support (including the permanent loss of the decedent’s income)
  • Loss of household services
  • Lost spousal support
  • Lost parental guidance

It is almost impossible to measure the loss of a loved one. However, that’s what personal injury lawyers aim to do for your benefit. A financial recovery can help surviving loved ones cover economic damages and move towards some sense of normalcy after a tragic loss.

What to Do Following a Bicycle Accident?

After a bicycle accident, you may protect your health and any potential financial recovery by:

  1. Seeking a thorough medical examination, even if you have already received some amount of treatment
  2. Hiring a proven attorney to seek compensation for your damages

When you see the doctor, be clear about any accident-related symptoms you have suffered. Suggest that the doctor take any necessary images that may show your injuries. Keep copies of every document, diagnosis, and image related to your accident.

How Should I Choose an Attorney After a Bicycle Accident?

Clients find lawyers through internet searches, recommendations from friends and family, and local advertisements. The Internet may provide the most reliable means of vetting attorneys.

Criteria to consider when searching for a lawyer include:

  • Record of recoveries: Many law firms post their case results on their websites. Review these results to see if a law firm has secured large recoveries in cases similar to yours. You can also ask about such recoveries when you complete your free consultation. 
  • Primary practice areas: If a law firm does not list bicycle accidents among its primary practice areas, this can be a concern. Conversely, a law firm with extensive experience leading bicycle accident cases can be well-suited to lead your case.
  • Client reviews: Consider positive and negative reviews to determine how a law firm may treat you. 
  • Your free consultation: Most personal injury law firms offer free consultations. These phone calls are the chance for you to ask specific questions about the firm, interact with a representative, and gauge the firm’s fitness to lead your case.

You may combine objective information (like case results) with your instincts about a law firm. Weigh all factors, as your choice of a lawyer can most affect the outcome of your case.

How Can a Personal Injury Lawyer Help a Bicycle Accident Victim?

A personal injury lawyer can help in the time shortly after your accident by:

  • Advising you on what to do (and what not to do) in the time shortly after your collision
  • Dealing with insurers, shielding you from saying anything that can negatively affect your case
  • Securing evidence 
  • Crafting a plan for seeking the compensation you deserve 
  • Beginning to build your case

Your attorney’s attention will turn to getting the compensation you deserve.

They may build (and complete) your case by:

  • Keeping a record of your damages
  • Documenting your damages using medical records, images of injuries, medical bills, past employment (and payment) records, and any other relevant documentation
  • Calculating the cost of economic and non-economic damages
  • Projecting the cost of any future damages you’re likely to experience
  • Hiring any experts whose testimony or services can improve your case
  • Leading settlement negotiations 
  • Taking your case to court, if necessary

Your attorney will also handle the less glorified aspects of your case, like drafting paperwork and supplying documents to insurance companies. Critically, your lawyer will protect your rights and advise you throughout the legal process.

Consider that if you don’t hire a lawyer, these are processes that you’ll need to handle on your own.

Gary Annes Attorney for Personal Injury Cases near Chicago
Gary Annes Bicycle Accident Lawyer in Chicago

Hire a Bicycle Accident Attorney in Your Area as Soon as Possible

There are generally deadlines related to both insurance claims and lawsuits. Allow your lawyer to file your case on time and gather all time-sensitive evidence. Identify and hire a personal injury law firm in Chicago as soon as possible.

Schedule a Free Initial Consultation Today!

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