Cycling on a warm day can provide hours of enjoyment and exercise. Many localities even designate bicycle lanes for cyclists to travel on roadways safely.
Bicyclists can ensure their own safety while on the road. First, all bicyclists should wear the necessary safety equipment, including a sturdy bicycle helmet that can withstand the force of a severe crash. Bicyclists should also use designated bicycle lanes if the road is so-equipped.
Next, cyclists should use all the necessary hand signals when executing turns or slowing down near traffic intersections. Finally, if a cyclist rides at dusk, they need reflective devices and lighting on their bikes so that motorists can see them.
However, no matter how many safety protocols bicyclists follow, negligent, distracted, and reckless drivers can still cause serious accidents. When a negligent driver strikes a bicycle, the force of the collision may dislodge the bicyclist from their vehicle and cause them to suffer severe and sometimes fatal injuries.
Moreover, some bicycle accidents happen when cities and municipalities fail to properly maintain their roadways in a reasonably safe condition for the benefit of motorcyclists and bicyclists.
If you sustained injuries in a recent cycling accident that a negligent driver or some other entity caused, you must speak with knowledgeable bicycle accident lawyer right away.
Your lawyer can investigate your bicycle accident, determine how the accident occurred, and ascertain your eligibility for filing a bicycle accident claim or lawsuit.
If you can proceed, your attorney can file a personal injury claim and maximize your monetary compensation and damages.
Types of Bicycle Crashes
In many situations, bicycle accidents occur when other drivers fail to exercise reasonable care under the circumstances. When other drivers behave negligently, several different types of bicycle accidents may happen.
First, a negligent driver may strike the rear of a bicycle in a classic tailgate accident. Alternatively, a negligent driver might cross a concrete median strip or double line, hitting an oncoming bicyclist directly and causing fatal injuries.
Next, some bicycle accidents are sideswipe accidents, where a forward-moving vehicle strikes the side of a cyclist in an adjacent travel lane or bicycle lane. Other bicycle accidents are dooring accidents, where a negligent driver opens their door in the path of a cyclist.
Finally, T-bone accidents, or broadside collisions, happen when a driver negligently fails to yield the right-of-way to a bicyclist at a traffic intersection. The negligent driver may then cause their vehicle to strike the side of a cyclist traveling on an intersecting roadway.
If you recently sustained injuries in any bicycle accident that a negligent driver caused, speak with an attorney immediately to explore your legal options. Your attorney can meet with you to discuss how your bicycle accident happened and can assist you with every step of the claims-filing process. Then, if the insurance company does not negotiate a fair settlement offer, your attorney can file a lawsuit in the court system seeking favorable monetary recovery.
Why Bicycle Accidents Occur
Bicycle crashes usually happen when other drivers are negligent in some way. Usually, driver negligence amounts to one or more traffic law violations. Following traffic laws can keep drivers, motorcyclists, bicyclists, and pedestrians safe.
However, when drivers violate these traffic laws, they significantly increase their chances of causing a bicycle accident.
Common traffic law violations that lead to bicycle accidents include:
- Failing to use turn signals.
- Failing to yield the right-of-way to cyclists at traffic intersections and other areas where cyclists tend to be present.
Bicycle accidents can also happen when another driver hurries to get ahead of traffic. Hurried drivers often exhibit road or overly aggressive driving maneuvers. For example, an aggressive driver might try and get around a cyclist, fail to use their turn signal, or negligently cut the cyclist off in heavy traffic, bringing about a serious collision. Aggressive drivers may also speed excessively, preventing them from stopping in time to avoid a bicycle crash.
Bicycle accidents may also occur when drivers are intoxicated or impaired by alcohol or drugs. When it comes to alcohol, a passenger vehicle driver with a blood alcohol concentration, or BAC, of 0.08 percent or more is, per se, intoxicated. Minor drivers who are below 21 years old, as well as commercial truck drivers, must follow stricter legal standards for alcohol intoxication.
Alcohol intoxication may lead to a bicycle accident because the intoxicated driver may not see the cyclist on the road. Furthermore, drunk drivers often exhibit limited concentration, along with delayed reflexes and reaction time. As a result, a driver may not have sufficient time to react to a cyclist’s presence before hitting them.
Additionally, some bicycle accidents occur when people drive in a distracted manner. In some cases, drivers become distracted when using cellular phones, tablets, or GPS navigation systems while trying to drive simultaneously. Alternatively, a driver might become distracted when disciplining a small child in their vehicle.
Basically, any activity that diverts a driver's attention away from the road can prove distracting and may cause a bicycle crash or other motor vehicle accident.
Finally, some bicycle accidents occur because of roadway defects. Local cities, counties, and other municipalities have a legal duty to maintain roadways in their jurisdictions in a safe and reasonable manner. Specifically, they must make timely repairs on defective roadway conditions, such as spalling, cracks, and potholes.
Any of these defects may cause cyclists to fall off their bikes, especially if they are traveling at high speed. If the cyclist suffers an injury in an accident due to a roadway defect, they can take legal action against the negligent municipality. However, cyclists should always take prompt action since very stringent notice requirements often apply to claims and lawsuits that involve governmental entities.
If you sustained injuries in a bicycle accident due to another driver's negligence, you should immediately speak with a bike accident attorney. Your attorney can file your claim and, if necessary, litigate it in court.
If you sustained any injuries in a recent bicycle accident, complete all of your medical treatment thoroughly and you follow through with all of your healthcare provider's recommendations.
For example, you may need to follow up with your primary care doctor or come under the care of a medical specialist, such as an orthopedist or neurologist. Additionally, after undergoing a surgical procedure, you may need to attend ongoing physical therapy sessions.
Completing all of your medical treatment increases your chances of making a full recovery. Ongoing medical treatment also shows the insurance company that you took your medical treatment seriously after the accident, and that you deserve to recover fair monetary compensation for your serious losses.
A bicycle accident attorney in your area can handle the legal components of your personal injury case while you focus on treating and recovering from your injuries.
Elements of a Bicycle Accident Claim
To recover the monetary compensation you deserve for injuries that you suffered in a bicycle accident, you must satisfy your legal burden of proof:
- You must show that the at-fault party owed you a duty of reasonable care.
- You must show that the other party violated that legal duty, typically by breaking a traffic law or regulation.
- You must show that as a direct result of this breach, your bicycle accident occurred and led to your physical injuries and other losses.
When proving these legal elements, your attorney can help you introduce the necessary evidence in your case.
Evidence may include:
- Testimony from fact witnesses
- Testimony from expert witnesses, such as treating medical providers or accident reconstructionists
Will I Need to Litigate My Bicycle Accident Claim?
In cases where an insurance company refuses to offer sufficient monetary compensation in a case, the bicycle accident attorney may need to file a personal injury lawsuit in the court system. However, even after filing a lawsuit, the parties may still resolve their case anytime until trial.
During the litigation stage of a bicycle accident claim, the parties will partake in written and oral discovery.
First, they will exchange answers to written questions, called Interrogatories. In addition, the defense attorney may take the bicycle accident victim's deposition, where the victim will testify about how the bicycle accident happened, their injuries, their medical treatment, and the overall consequences on their life.
Sometimes, after discovery completion, the at-fault party's insurance company will increase their most recent settlement offer in the case. Your bicycle accident attorney can then help you decide whether to accept a pending settlement offer from the insurance company or take your case to a jury trial or alternative dispute resolution (ADR) proceeding.
If you take your case to a jury trial, the jury will decide the ultimate outcome, including the amount of monetary compensation you receive for your injuries. However, your attorney can get the insurance company on board with an ADR proceeding, such as mediation or binding arbitration, instead of a jury trial.
If you take your case to binding arbitration, the arbitrator will decide the issue of damages in the case after listening to all of the evidence that the parties present and reviewing the medical records and medical bills in the case.
Bicycle Accident Monetary Damages
Victims of local bicycle crashes routinely suffer injuries that leave them incapacitated for a significant amount of time and, in some cases, permanently. When a bicycle crash victim can prove the legal elements of their claim or lawsuit, they are eligible to recover various damages, either through settlement or litigation.
The monetary damages that bicycle crash victims may recover differ from case to case but may include financial recovery for their:
- Past and future medical expenses
- Loss of earning capacity
- Lost income
- Mental distress
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of spousal companionship
- Loss of the ability to use a specific body part
- Loss of life enjoyment
- Permanent disability
- Permanent disfigurement
- Lifetime care costs, such as ongoing care at an assisted living facility or nursing home
Speak to a Bicycle Accident Attorney Right Away
Riding a bicycle on area roadways should be a safe activity. However, negligent drivers can change a pleasant bicycle-riding experience into a devastating or deadly occurrence.
If you or a person you care about recently sustained injuries in a bicycle crash, you should retain a skilled personal injury attorney to represent you as quickly as possible.
Accident victims only have two years, starting on the date of their accident, to file a personal injury claim or lawsuit seeking monetary recovery. Absent limited circumstances, if the accident victim does not file their claim or lawsuit in a timely manner, they forgo their legal right to recover monetary compensation via a personal injury claim.
As soon as you retain an attorney to represent you, your lawyer can enter an appearance in your case and begin advocating for you. Moreover, if your case must proceed through litigation, your attorney can aggressively represent you at a jury trial or binding arbitration hearing, introduce evidence for you, and pursue the best possible result in your bicycle accident case.