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The popularity of bicycle riding as a healthy recreational activity and an environmentally friendly mode of transportation has been rising. As more bicycles appear on roadways, many cyclists face the risk of injury. If you have been seriously injured in a bicycle accident, a lawsuit may help you recover compensation for the harm you suffered.
In 2018, bicycle accidents killed 859 people nationwide. This is up 6.3% over 2017 fatalities and a whopping 48% in urban areas from 2009. (1)
Many of those accidents occurred in city traffic between bicycles and other vehicles. “As you might expect, when a crash occurs between a vehicle and a bike, it’s the cyclist who is most likely to be injured,” declares the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). (2)
Citywide crash injuries and fatalities reported include: (7)
Pedestrians and cyclists crashes – 270 pedestrian injuries and 55 cyclist injuries.
Bicycles only crashes – 64 cyclist injuries.
Single bicycle crashes – 265 cyclist injuries.
With the high numbers of incidents involving bicycles, it is important to look at what causes these accidents.
Common Causes of Bicycle Accidents
There are numerous causes of bicycle accidents and the outcome may be very serious. Here are some of the most common causes:
Driver inattention and distraction. Drivers are more distracted today because of texting and cell phone use. “Drivers who are not paying attention are more likely to collide with bicyclists,” states People Powered Movement.(8)
If you or anyone you know has suffered an injury in a bicycle accident, contact us for a free case evaluation.
Failure to yield. Both drivers and cyclists are less informed about right-of-way regulations than they should be. Accidents often occur when a driver fails to yield to a bicyclist. (9)
Rider inattention. Inattentive cyclists may veer off the road or into oncoming traffic. They may also wander into other lanes, which can lead to accidents. (10)
Dangerous road conditions. Cities are obligated to repair and maintain their streets and roadways. However, this does not mean all streets and roads are in good repair at all times. (11)
Riding at night. Nighttime riding is more dangerous due to visibility concerns. Riders not wearing reflective gear may not be seen by drivers, especially in bad weather or conditions which already limit visibility. (12)
Other possible causes of bicycle accidents:
Drivers not sharing the road.
Regardless of the causes of an accident, bicyclists can suffer a number of injuries. Bicyclists are out in the open with nothing surrounding them to provide protection.
Bike Accident Injuries
The most common injuries sustained in bicycle accidents range from overuse to soft tissue and musculoskeletal trauma. But the most disabling or fatal harm often results from head injuries. (13)
Overuse injuries can affect the neck, back, nerves, skin, pelvis, hips, knees, feet, and ankles, according to the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP). (14)
Traumatic injuries affecting the head, face, eye, muscles, skeleton, chest, abdomen, genitals, urinary organs, skin, and soft tissue may include: (15)
Other fractures and dislocations.
Corneal foreign bodies.
Other injuries can involve: (16)
Abrasions, lacerations, contusions.
Urethra and vulval trauma.
A quick glance at the demographics of bicycle accidents reveals who is most likely to suffer these injuries.
Demographics of Bicycle Accidents
Among the demographics for bicycle accidents, as the CDC notes, are: (17)
The highest death rates are among adults in their 50s.
Most nonfatal injuries are sustained by children (5-14 years) and adolescents (15-19 years).
Male fatality rates are 6 times higher than females.
Male injury rates are 4 times higher than females.
37% of bicyclist deaths are alcohol related.
Despite these demographics, when a bicycle accident occurs, a determination of liability must be made.
Liability (legal responsibility) is an important consideration in any accident. Determining liability identifies who is accountable and should pay damages (money awarded) in a lawsuit.
The majority of bicycle accidents involve drivers and cyclists. In these cases, the drivers of a motor vehicle or their insurance company can be held accountable for causing an accident.
Governments are responsible for maintaining streets and roadways. Tight budgets and limited funding can delay needed maintenance and repairs. When bicycle accidents happen because of poor road conditions, government agencies can be held liable.
Bicyclists need to understand the basic rules of liability and must follow traffic laws. If they do not, they can be held partially accountable for an accident.
Other cyclists, and even pedestrians, can be held liable. They are responsible if they violate a rider’s right-of-way, leading to an accident.
Were you or a loved one injured in a bicycle accident? You may be eligible for compensation.
If you suffered an injury from riding a defective bike, you may be able to sue to recover damages. In these cases, something is wrong with the bike itself and the defect caused you to get hurt while you were using it.
Brakes can fail, wheels can fall off, or other parts of bicycles can function incorrectly. These can cause a bike to crash, or throw you off or even into traffic.
Manufacturers can be held liable for poor bicycle design or inferior construction. They are responsible for creating safe, usable products that function correctly.
If you rented the bicycle, the rental company may have done something wrong. The company might not have maintained the bike properly. Or it may have rented you one it knew was damaged or malfunctioning.
Your attorney can help identify who may be liable in your bicycle accident legal case.
What To Do If You Are in a Bicycle Accident
If you have been in a bicycle accident, these are steps you should take in order to protect your rights:
Seek medical attention for any injuries.
Wait for the police to arrive, if possible.
Exchange contact information with the other party: do not admit fault or apologize, do not negotiate.
Report your version of events to the police.
Record the officer’s name, badge number, and the report number.
Document what happened: take pictures of the scene with your cell phone, including the damage done and injuries sustained.
Collect any other evidence.
Write down when, where, and how the accident occurred.
Hire an experienced attorney: do not talk to the other party, their lawyers, or their insurance company.
How W&L Can Help
Weitz & Luxenberg attorneys have successfully represented thousands of clients over the years. We handle all types of personal injury cases, securing verdicts and settlements in the millions of dollars.