Involved in a bicycle accident? – Know what to do next

by | Jun 22, 2021 | Personal Injury, Bicycle Accidents | 0 comments

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Overview:

Recently, thanks to the pandemic, the vogues to use bicycles tend to increase among Americans, let it be to commute to work or for fitness or recreation. Cycling is advantageous for health but if you are heedless, cycling will turn to be more detrimental on the roads of America.

Unfortunately, if the safety measures taken are proportionate to the increase in the usage of cycles or not is doubtful. Let us see what the statistics show about the bicycle accident rate. A statistic shows that in 2015, more than 1,000 bicyclists or pedal cyclists died in fatal bicycle accidents and around 467,000 bicyclists were injured. According to NHTSA, in 2019, 846 bicyclists lost their precious lives in crashes.

Most of the bicyclist deaths happen in the urban areas, during the rush hours, and in the dim-lit dusk with 8 times greater number of male bikers than women bikers. Alcohol stands as the primary reason for most crashes. In 2016, ninety-five percent of the cyclists lost their lives in single-vehicle collisions.

Before moving to the legal part of the bicycle accident claim, let’s know about the causes of the accident and the safety measures to be undertaken.

Prominent causes of bicycle accidents:

1. Rider and driver errors:

  • Losing balance and control: falling from the cycle in vehicular traffic becomes a prominent reason for causing bicycle accidents. Drivers cannot react quickly in such instances to prevent the crash.
  • Riding against the traffic: when the riders ride against the traffic, the other road users cannot judge their actions.
  • Speeding and performing stunts: racing along with the motor vehicles to match up with their speed or performing stunts on the cycle to draw the attention of others will mostly end up in serious accidents.
  • Inebriation: intoxicated driving or riding can be dangerous to all. Inebriated riding makes the riders impaired from crucial decision making.
  • Not yielding the right of the way: neglecting the rider’s right of the way and not yielding the way is a serious mistake on the part of the drivers.
  • Unexpected door openings: when the doors of the parked cars opened without any warning, the chances of the cyclists getting hit can’t be avoided.

2. Environmental errors:

  • Poor road conditions: gravels and debris near the construction zones and potholes on the road could topple the riders. Defective signage and faulty traffic lights could misguide the riders. Nearly 13% of all fatal bicycle accidents are due to poorly maintained roads.
  • Unexpected animal crossings: uncontrollable pets may run onto the busy traffic to create crashes. Irresponsible pet owners can be liable for such accidents.
  • Wet or slippery roads: riding carelessly in inclement weather conditions like rain or snow can potentially cause the riders to lose balance.

3. Pedestrian errors:

  • Unpredicted crossing: when pedestrians cross without heeding to the signal or other than the crosswalks, bicycle and pedestrian accident.

Most common injuries in a bicycle accident:

Mild abrasions to serious musculoskeletal injuries can be the outcome of bike accidents. Soft tissue injuries like lacerations, contusions, and road rashes are ineludible even in minor accidents like falling from the cycle. When bicycles collide with other vehicles traumatic injuries would be the result.

Traumas to the upper extremities:

  • Facial and skull fractures, contusions, intracranial hemorrhages, concussions, damages to the eyes, dental and jaw injuries
  • Rib fractures, parenchymal lung damages, pancreatic and splenic ruptures, intestinal contusions, vascular perforations
  • Spinal cord injuries including traumatic disc herniations, paralysis, etc.

Traumas to the lower extremities:

  • Pelvic fractures, trauma to urethra or vulva, rectal injuries
  • Knee cap injuries, Achilles tendon, leg fractures, ligament injuries
  • Lower extremity paralysis

Seeking medical attention on time can save you from extending pain and suffering, invasive surgeries, and unwanted expenses. Many internal traumas may surface weeks or months later and might end up fatal and life-changing.

What are the immediate steps to be taken after the bicycle accident?

  • Check for injuries and seek medical attention. The adrenaline rush may suppress the pain and you tend to feel that you are all right. Therefore, don’t be negligent. Moreover, your initial hospital records are valuable in your litigation.
  • Inform the police and narrate all that you know about the accident, and get the police report.
  • Document your injuries and vehicle damages using your mobile. Document the onsite debris in photo or video.
  • Remember not to apologize to the other party. Any kind of careless statements can be used against you to prove that you are guilty.
  • Collect the personal and insurance information of the defendants and contact information and statements of witnesses. Share your information too.
  • Get the help of bicycle accident attorneys to proceed with your claim as early as possible. The time limitation to file your personal injury claim varies depending on the state. The early you file the claim, the easy you can to recover the compensation.

Safety measures to avoid bicycle accidents:

  • Use bicycle helmets that meet the U.S safety standards and of the right size for the rider to avoid traumatic brain injuries.
  • Use padded shorts and gloves.
  • Stick to the bike lanes.
  • Stay away from the freeway.
  • In the absence of bike lanes, make sure that you are permitted before using the sidewalks. Watch out for pedestrians while riding on the sidewalk. Take extra care not to hurt them.
  • While using the road, stick to the right side of the lane.
  • Yield the right of the way for pedestrians in the crossings and at intersections.
  • Make yourself visible with bright-colored attire in the day and have reflective gears, headlights, and reflective clothes at night.
  • Drivers should maintain at least 3 feet of distance with the bicycles while passing.
  • Government should create more bicycle lanes along the traffic lanes or separate bike routes away from the heavy traffic.

Know about bicycle accident law:

Like all motorists, bicyclists also are bound by the rules of the road. They also have the duty to safeguard themselves and not injure others due to their negligence. They have to follow the traffic rules of the state.

Duty, breach, causation, and damages:

Like all other accident cases, duty, breach, causation, and damages are considered in bicycle crash claims too. The drivers are obliged in the duty of care to the bicyclists and this becomes more important when the cyclists turn out to be children. If the drivers are proved to be not accomplishing their duty or breaching their duty, that would be considered serious crimes. When the defendant is proved to be responsible for causing the injuries of the cyclist he has to pay for the damages including the punitive damage.

Contributory and Comparative negligence:  

The degree of negligence plays an important role in deciding the compensation. Some states follow the traditional contributory negligence doctrines where even if 1% of negligence on the part of the plaintiff is proved, he/she will not get any compensation. This was the harsh side of this law and is followed only in these states: Alabama, Maryland, North Carolina, Virginia, and Washington D.C.

Many states have amended this to form comparative negligence law, where depending on the degree of negligence the plaintiff can get the compensation. The two variations in comparative negligence law are as follows:

  • Pure comparative negligence law: some states follow pure comparative negligence law which provides the plaintiff the chance to get at least some part of his indemnity based on the degree of neglect. For example, if the plaintiff is 30% negligent, he is ensured of 70% of his recovery. Even if he is proved to be 90% negligent, he will get 10% of his damages.
  • Partial comparative negligence law: This was different from the earlier one as it ensures the recovery only if your negligence is proved to be below 50%. If it goes beyond that, you are barred from getting any damages. Some states bar the recovery for 51% or more negligence.

How to proceed with bicycle accident claims:

The first and foremost step in claiming your damages is availing of the guidance of a bike accident lawyer.

Calculating the damages: Your damages include the medical expenses, loss of wages, loss of earning capacity, future medical care, possible future surgeries and medical equipment needed, emotional distress, pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment, loss of consortium, property damages, etc. An efficient lawyer for a bike accident can calculate even intangible damages like emotional distress and pain and suffering.

Defendant’s resource to pay is considered: The defendant’s resources also should be kept in mind while deciding the compensation. Sometimes, the responsible person may not have the resources to pay your compensation. You can collect from his workers’ comp provider, in case of duty time accident. If the accident is due to the manufacturing defect of the vehicle, the manufacturer is liable to provide your claim. A bike accident lawyer analyzes all possible ways to reimburse your claim.

Degree of negligence: In most bicycle accident claims, the cyclist is put to blame to deny the claim. Your lawyer can prove the other party’s degree of negligence and help you get the deserved amount even if you are partly negligent. However, you have to keep in mind the law of your state to understand the comparative negligence law followed.

Keep your bills safe: Keeping all your medical bills related to the accident is another important step in pursuing the lawsuit. Even the bills you think minor may turn out to be crucial. Medical record reviewers sort out your voluminous medical records to assist your attorney to win in the legal proceedings.

Let your attorney be your voice: You should not give any unwanted statements to the defendants or insurance providers. In some cases, the careless words by the plaintiff to the opposite party could make the claim complicated. Let your attorney do the talking on behalf of you. He can do the negotiations with the providers.

Final Thoughts:

Environment-friendly and economic friendly bicycle is the fastest and safest mode for commuting in the heavy traffic in the metropolis. Adhering to the traffic laws, extreme care while maneuvering the vehicle by the rider and the driver can avoid most bicycle crashes. If you are not at fault in an unavoidable accident, acquaint a bicycle accident law firm to analyze your litigation and proceed with your claim.

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