Cities are transitioning more towards bicycle-friendly roads and crashes are decreasing as a result. Even so, bicycle accidents remain common, making up 2% of all car fatalities despite accounting for only 1% of all U.S. transit. When you’re caught in a bicycle accident, you need a bike crash lawyer on your side.
Most bicycle accidents are preventable and created by driver-related errors. Bicyclists share similar duty of care laws as drivers on the road, but are more vulnerable to devastating injuries and fatality. Prevent paying for damages you didn’t cause with a team of bicycle accident attorneys in your state; legal protection is a right.
Bicycle Accident Statistics in the United States
Recent safety measures have only slowed the rate of bicycle accidents occurring in U.S. roads. Preventable deaths from bicycle accidents have increased 44% from 2010 to 2020. Non-fatal injuries have also risen 5% from 2019 to 2020.
Nearly 1,000 bicyclists die and over 130,000 are injured in crashes that occur on roads in the United States every year.
According to the NHTSA, male cyclists are 7 times more likely to encounter a fatal crash, and 4 times more susceptible to non-fatal injuries compared to female cyclists. Even as cities adjust to bicycle traffic, certain types of roads like roundabouts and multi-use trails raise the likelihood of an accident.
What to Do After a Bicycle Accident
The first thing to do after a bike crash is to assess your injuries and call 911 for medical assistance. Even if no one involved suffered fatal injuries, you should still call the authorities for a police report. This ensures an objective party records your accident for your attorney to present to insurance adjusters, or a court and jury.
Most states like California and New York assign the same rights to bicyclists as drivers on the road. Just like drivers at the scene of an accident, you must exchange information with the other party, unless you want a hit-and-run charge.
The operators of any bicycle… involved in an accident resulting in death or injury to a person or damage to property must stop and give their names and addresses and information concerning liability insurance coverage to the party sustaining injuries or damage…
Here are examples of info to exchange between parties at the scene of a bicycle crash:
- Name, address, and phone number
- At-fault driver(s) vehicle registration number
- Drivers license number
- Insurance information
- License plate numbers
You may feel adrenaline after a bicycle accident, but keep it cool when exchanging info with the other party. Keep the conversation cordial and avoid admitting fault.
This may not be mandatory, but take pictures of the surrounding area after a bike crash. Your bike crash lawyer needs every bit of evidence to establish liability. Pictures and eyewitness testimonies will help your case tremendously, raising your chances of a high settlement.
Common Causes of Bicycle Accidents
The majority of bike accidents are caused by driver error and could’ve been prevented by following traffic safety laws. One example of this is dooring accidents where a bicyclist is suddenly hit by an open car door when traveling through a road. This incident is so common that New York wrote RCNY 4-12-(c) to counteract this phenomenon.
No person shall open the door of a motor vehicle on the side available to moving traffic unless and until it is reasonably safe to do so, and can be done without interfering with the movement of other traffic…
Even as bicyclists are subject to negligent drivers, they too must follow their state’s traffic laws like other vehicles. States like Maryland prohibit bicyclists from entering roads with speed limits 50 MPH or higher. Bicyclists must wear appropriate gear for night travel and cannot bike on sidewalks or other pedestrian walkways.
If you plan to sue for damages in a bicycle accident, make sure you follow the bicycle accident laws in your state. If you’re found breaking these laws during a crash, your settlement may be reduced according to your liability. Some states like Virginia and Maryland restrict you from damages if you’re even found 1% liable for the crash.
A bike crash lawyer specialized in your state will help you form a sound argument against the insurance adjuster. Even if you’re partially at-fault for the accident, your lawyer will know the negligence laws in your state so your settlement is properly maximized.
Drivers may get impatient when traveling behind and may attempt to pass you on the road. Your bicycle crash may have been caused by one of these aggressive drivers, ignoring the space between you and their car.
Massachusetts, like most other states, enacted laws to protect cyclists from aggressive passing drivers. Cars must allow a safe distance of 4 feet when passing bicyclists on the left. They must also allow a certain distance between themselves and the cyclist when returning to the right.
It’s your right as a cyclist to travel your city’s roads without aggressive drivers threatening lifelong bodily injury or fatality. If you feel your bicycle accident was caused by an aggressive driver disregarding traffic laws, you may have a case against them in court.
Poor Road Conditions
Your bicycle accident may have been caused by poor road conditions like potholes and sudden cracks on the asphalt. Cities like San Francisco and Philadelphia rank as some of the worst maintained roads in America. If even cars have difficulty driving through these cities, how worse would biking be?
Luckily, you can file a claim against the government for injuries caused by poor road conditions. These claims have shorter deadlines compared to regular lawsuits, so make sure to file as soon as you can.
These payouts can reach above $1 million if the damages you suffered were severe. Several cyclists sued the government for poor road conditions.
One sued the City of Los Angeles $4.5 million for hitting a 2-inch ridge in the concrete pavement, costing him his life. Another sued for $6.5 million for hitting a pothole in Sherman Oaks, causing severe injuries.
Government agencies will do whatever they can to lessen what they owe for your injuries. Calling the right bicycle accident attorneys is key to winning your lawsuit against the city at-fault.
Who is At-Fault in a Bicycle Crash?
It depends on your case and location when determining who’s at-fault in a bicycle crash. Each state has different laws for handling negligence in civil lawsuits, and different types of crashes, like pedestrian accidents, may complicate the process. Even though most states attribute the same rights to bicycles as cars, there may be exclusive laws to follow for that state.
There are states that let you earn damages even when partially at-fault, but some states may reject your claim if you’re 50% or more at-fault. A handful of states even bar you from receiving damages if you’re even 1% at-fault.
You must prove these statements through evidence in your claim to establish liability:
- The at-fault party had a duty of care owed to you during the accident.
- They ignored their duty of care, which caused your accident.
- Their actions resulted in your significant damages.
That’s why your accident claim should go through a legal professional. They can create a solid claim out of the evidence you gathered to maximize your settlement. Determining fault is a core competency of a good bike crash lawyer, so don’t get caught without one on your side.
Injuries Sustained After a Bike Crash
Here are the most common injuries you may suffer after a bike crash:
- Broken bones or fractures
- Scrapes or road rash
- Neck injuries
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Spinal cord injuries
- Wrongful death
If you suffered these injuries, log all of your medical bills and repair costs for your bike crash lawyer to collect. This helps establish that you suffered heavy damages as a result of the accident.
Damages You Can Sue For After a Bicycle Accident
The expensive costs from a bicycle accident can be covered through your personal injury claim. These are classified as compensatory damages, and there are two types that may apply to you:
Economic damages are the measurable damages you’ve suffered as a result of your accident. These include:
- Repair bills for your bicycle
- Medical costs
- Lost employment
- Lost wages
- Damaged property
- Lost earning capacity
Non-economic damages, however, are your non-measurable losses. These include emotional losses that can’t be quantified through receipts and bills.
- Emotional distress
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of consortium
- Loss of enjoyment of life
You need as much evidence as possible to prove these damages, but don’t neglect proving them in your lawsuit. They can be larger than your economic damages.
Statute of Limitations for Bicycle Accidents
You have a deadline to file your bicycle accident claim called the statute of limitations. These deadlines prevent cases from dragging for several years, but your claim may get rejected if you don’t file by your state’s deadline.
Bicycle accidents often follow your state’s personal injury statute of limitations, but there may be exceptions to this rule. If the at-fault party leaves the state in which the accident took place, the clock starts when they return again. Accidents involving minors must have their deadlines start when they turn 18 years of age.
If your case falls under these exceptions, it’s important to file as soon as possible to keep your evidence fresh. Your bike crash lawyer will let you know the deadline for filing your claim.
Bring Your Case to a Personal Injury Lawyer ASAP
If you’re having trouble finding a bike crash lawyer you can trust, contact LegalASAP. We have 500+ law firms throughout the United States, ready to represent you when a bicycle accident derails your life.
If you think consulting a lawyer costs thousands of dollars, you may be mistaken. Our attorneys work under contingency fees, meaning you won’t get charged up-front until your settlement arrives in the mail.
If you need help hiring a bike crash lawyer in your state, contact us here or call 888-927-3080 for a free consultation. We’d love to connect you with a legal specialist ASAP so your losses are covered.
Jan Reburiano is a content writer and SEO specialist for law firms focusing on personal injury, disability, employment law, among other practices. He has written and edited numerous articles and created commercial spots for broadcasters that you can find in his LinkedIn. Jan currently lives in Los Angeles, California while writing for clients from around the United States.