Bicycle Accident Claims: Know How to Win

by | May 16, 2024 | Personal Injury, Bicycle Accidents

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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 out 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. According to 2020 data, there were 891 bicyclist fatalities. The number of fatalities increased by 5% from the previous year.

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 cyclists lost their lives in single-vehicle collisions.

Before moving to the legal part of the bicycle accidents 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 a 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 in 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 parked cars open without any warning, the chances of the cyclists getting hit can’t be avoided.

In a recent fatal bicycle accident on January 9, 2023, a horrific accident took the lives of two, when a racing motorcyclist violated the right of way and crashed against a bicyclist and his wife. They were crossing the intersection and had the right of the way. Both the riders were thrown off their vehicles and pronounced dead afterward.

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 into 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 the signal or other than the crosswalks, bicycle, and pedestrian accidents.

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, damage to the eyes, dental and jaw injuries
  • Rib fractures, parenchymal lung damage, 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 the 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.

Recently on September 14, 2022, an 18-year-old girl was found dead in Yell county sustaining injuries from a fatal bicycle accident.

Immediate Steps to be Taken After the Bicycle Accident

  • Seek medical help right once, and make sure all of your injuries and pain levels are documented. 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. The defendants may project a delay in treatment or a lack of evidence of your injuries in the medical records to minimize your injuries.
  • Inform the police and narrate all that you know about the accident, and get the police report.
  • Gather all feasible evidence, including injuries, bicycle damage, accident location, witnesses, and accident debris, in the photo or video form. Witnesses’ remarks should be documented, and their contact information should be collected.
  • Remember not to apologize to the other party. Any kind of careless statement 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.
  • In a personal diary, try to record all of the events, such as the facts of the accident, acute pain symptoms, injury and recovery progress, and so on. Personal notes will aid you in refreshing your memory during the litigation process, as disputes take a long time to settle.
  • 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 earlier you file the claim, the easier it can be to recover the compensation.

Safety Measures to Avoid Bicycle Accidents

  • Use bicycle helmets that meet the U.S safety standards and are 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 crossings and intersections.
  • Make yourself visible with bright-colored attire during the day and have reflective gear, 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 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 cycling accident claims too. The drivers have obliged the duty of care to the bicyclists and this becomes more important when the cyclists turn out to be children. If the drivers are proven to be not accomplishing their duty or breaching their duty, that would be considered a serious crime. When the defendant is proven 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 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 70% of his recovery. Even if he is proven 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 Claim Compensation for Bicycle Accident Claims?

Accidents happen in our daily lives, whether at home or on the road. Even if we exercise extreme caution, we will not be able to avoid them totally. Following specific processes after being involved in an accident can aid you if you decide to file a lawsuit. A bicycle collision is no exception to this rule. Use these suggestions to back up your assertion.

  • The first and foremost step in claiming your damages is availing of the guidance of a bike accident lawyer.
  • Calculate your damages including 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.
  • 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 a 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.
  • In most cycling injury 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.
  • 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 your behalf of you. He can do the negotiations with the providers.

What Factors Influence the Amount of your Bicycle Accident Claim?

A variety of facts can have an impact on your bicycle personal injury claim.

  • The nature and severity of your injuries
  • The expenses of medical care accrued for the injuries
  • The necessity and extent of your current and future treatment
  • Loss of workdays and loss of income
  • How the injuries impact your quality of personal and social life
  • The permanent impairments, scars, and disfigurements, disabilities caused by the injuries
  • The physical pain and emotional suffering

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 traffic laws, and 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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MedLegal360 is a specialized author in medical-legal matters, providing clear, authoritative insights on healthcare legislation and personal injury litigation for professionals and the curious.

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