Unlike people in passenger cars or other vehicles, bicyclists don’t travel in an enclosed space. They don’t have seat belts to restrain them, and there are no airbags to cushion them if they fall and land on the pavement. At best, a bicyclist might prevent a head or brain injury by wearing a helmet. Despite these risks, we know that riding a bike can not only be fun, it can also be a great form of exercise or an alternative form of primary transportation for many people.
The most recent ascertainable numbers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, indicate that about 900 people were killed in bicycle accidents in 2013, and about 494,000 visited emergency rooms across the country for bicycle-related injuries. Of those fatalities, the National Highway Transportation and Safety Administration reports that 69 percent of the crashes occurred in urban areas, and surprisingly, 60 percent of them occurred on straight stretches of road. Most of the fatal bicycle accidents were reported to have occurred between 6:00 p.m. and 8:59 p.m.
Many, but not all, bicycle accidents are the fault of people who are driving motor vehicles. Bicycles present a small profile in traffic. Drivers of motor vehicles often fail to pay sufficient attention to the roadway and simply do not see them until it’s too late. Others simply have no respect for bicyclists who are lawfully using the road. They’ll fail to yield the lawful right-of-way to a bicyclist and then wonder why there was a crash.
Common Bicycle Accident Scenarios
The most common cause of bicycle accidents is when vehicles turn left in front of cyclists. Motorists may also lawfully pass a bicycle and then turn right and cause a collision. Car doors are hazards too. In addition, it’s not unusual for bicyclists to be injured from being chased by dogs. Bicyclists also get rear-ended when they’re moving or when they’re stopped in traffic.
Common Bicycle Accident Injuries
Given their choice of transportation, bicyclists share common injuries. Most of the injuries are either from initial impact or from being thrown off a bike. Some injuries that might prompt a cyclist to contact a personal injury attorney include:
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Spinal cord injuries
- Facial, dental and jaw fractures and injuries
- Hand, elbow and shoulder fractures
- Rib fractures and secondary internal injuries
- Hip and lower extremity fractures
After being struck by a motor vehicle, the pavement might not be the only thing that bicyclists hit. They’re often thrown into other vehicles or stationary objects before coming to rest on the ground.
What Must be Proven
Nearly all bicycle accidents turn on the law of negligence. To establish negligence, you’re required to prove the following duties:
- That the person who you claim to be responsible for your injuries owed you a duty
- The person breached that duty
- The breach of that duty caused your injuries
- That you suffered legally recognizable damages
If you fail to prove any single one of those elements, it is unlikely that your negligence case will be successful. Consulting with a personal injury attorney can give you a better idea of how your case might turn out.
There are times when an accident is partially attributable to the negligence of the bicyclist. This is where the law of comparative negligence comes into play. For example, if a jury determines that a bicyclist was 30 percent at fault for an accident, it will reduce his or her award by 30 percent, but if the bicyclist is determined to be 51 percent at fault or over, his or her case will almost definitely fail.
Bicycling is a healthy and invigorating sport. It’s also an inexpensive form of transportation. If you or somebody close to you was injured in a bicycle accident, we encourage you to contact the personal injury attorneys at Tate Law Group, who are both knowledgeable and experienced. Those who are injured due to the negligence of others deserve fair and just compensation, and we work diligently to achieve positive outcomes for all of our clients.