Accidents involving bicyclists affect thousands of people per year in the United States. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 783 pedalcyclists (riders of two-wheel, nonmotorized vehicles, tricycles, and unicycles powered solely by pedals) were killed in traffic accidents in 2017. Although the number of cyclists killed in traffic crashes has decreased in the last ten years, cyclists are still vulnerable to accidents, especially those with serious injuries.
How Do Bicycle Accidents Happen?
Because bicycles are smaller than cars, SUVs, and trucks, drivers may overlook bicycle riders or fail to give them deference when appropriate.
Common causes of bicycle accidents include:
- Failing to check for bicyclists when turning
- Failing to see bicyclists in blind spots
- Opening doors in front of bicyclists
- Driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs
- Distracted driving
- Failing to adhere to traffic laws and regulations
- Speeding to travel past bicyclists
Bicycle accidents are not always caused by the negligence of a motorist. In many cases, a cyclist can do a lot to help keep them visible and possibly avoid an accident.
In order to minimize the risk of getting into an accident, cyclists can wear equipment that protects them and make them more visible to others, including a bike helmet, bright clothing (during the day) and reflective gear. Likewise, using lights and reflectors on the front and rear of your bicycle can allow motorists to see you at night or when visibility is poor.
What Should I Do If I’m Injured in a Bicycle Accident?
Even if you’re following the rules of the road and wearing protective clothing, accidents can still happen. If you’ve been injured in an accident, it is important that you get medical help as soon as possible. Call the police or have someone call them for you. Even if you aren’t injured, or if the damages aren’t severe, filing a police report can help you out in the long run. Information gathered in a police report can be used when filing an insurance claim or as evidence in a lawsuit.
In addition to filing a police report, it is important that you never admit fault at the scene or minimize any injuries you may have. It’s also a good idea to exchange any information with the driver of the vehicle, including name, address, phone number and insurance policy number. In some cases, this information is recorded in the police report, but it can help if you have quick access to such information when talking with an insurance company or attorney.
How Can a Lawyer Help If I’m Injured in a Bicycle Accident?
Not every accident involving a motorist and cyclist requires legal help. In some instances, however, an experienced attorney can help you determine whether you have a case against the driver of the vehicle, insurance company or other possible negligent party. Successfully litigating a bicycle accident requires specialized knowledge, skills, and experience, as these cases often involve complex laws.
In some cases, more than one party may be held accountable for any injuries you sustain, including the driver of the vehicle, the manufacturer of the vehicle or its defective parts that resulted in the accident, or the mechanic responsible for inspecting the vehicle to ensure safe operation.