Recovering Damages after a Bicycle Accident
Recovering Damages after a Bicycle Accident
Proper riding techniques and wearing essential equipment like a helmet will reduce a cyclist’s chance of getting into an accident and reduce the incidence of injury. Unfortunately, the variables inherent in traveling on public roads make guaranteeing safety impossible. After a bicycle accident, cyclists should assess their injuries and seek compensation for their injuries.
Cyclist Rights and Obligations
Some cyclists and motorists are not entirely clear on what a cyclist may do and what a cyclist must do while riding in public areas. Some mistaken motorists believe that cyclists should ride on the sidewalk and that riding on the road is an intrusion into space reserved for motorized transport, while some cyclists believe that stop signs are optional and that automobiles must always yield the right of way. Mistaken beliefs on both sides routinely lead to near misses, accidents, and even road rage.
Cyclists have many of the same rights as motorists. Different jurisdictions treat cyclists differently, but in most locales, cyclists are prohibited from using freeways and if a bike lane is available, cyclists must use it if it is safe to do so. Cyclists have a right to use the road any other vehicle and may lawfully ride within the lanes on the road in most areas. Contrary to popular belief, riding on the sidewalk is generally unlawful. Cyclists are also subject to the same traffic laws as motor vehicle operators, including speed limits, signaling when turning or changing lanes, and stopping at all red lights and stop signs.
As automobile safety technology continues to improve, motor vehicle deaths continue to trend downward. Unfortunately, bicyclists do not have the luxury of seat belts, crumple zones, or airbags. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 52,000 cyclists were injured and 618 were killed on American roads in collisions with motor vehicles in 2010. Unfortunately, prior years show minor variances in these figures, but no discernable downward trend in the number of fatalities.
Two-thirds of cyclists killed while riding are not killed at intersections. When struck by a vehicle, cyclists are at a severe physical disadvantage; not only can the initial impact cause an injury or a fatality, but the victim can be thrown into other objects, causing secondary injuries. Lacerations, blunt trauma, nerve damage, and even paralysis can easily occur when a vehicle strikes a bike, resulting in pain, physical disability, and an inability to work.
After an Accident
Immediately after an accident, bicycle operators should assess their injuries. If any physical injuries are present, cyclists should seek medical attention to treat their injuries and detect any other latent injuries, thereby minimizing long-term harm. If the incident involved a motor vehicle, the cyclist should immediately contact the police and memorize the motor vehicle’s license plate. Hit and run incidents are common when motor vehicles strike cyclists.
Any attorney, whether it be a Atlanta personal injury lawyer or Chicago accident firm, will tell you that cyclists should also avoid making any statements that admit liability and may benefit from immediate legal counsel when involved in an accident. As mentioned previously, cyclists have a duty to obey all traffic laws and ride in certain manners. If the cyclist makes a statement that indicates that he or she was at fault for the collision, any future litigation will be skewed in that light. At best, a jury may believe that the cyclist contributed to his or her injuries, reducing the award; at worst, the cyclist may be liable for damage to other parties.
Even in the event of a solo accident, cyclists with injuries who were riding in a reasonable manner may have recourse. Improperly maintained terrain can result in large potholes, which can cause a bicycle accident just as surely as an errant motorist can. Property owners have a duty to maintain their property and keep it free of hidden defects that are reasonably likely to cause harm; allowing large potholes or open manhole covers to go unaddressed may result in liability. If the accident was caused by a hidden defect on the terrain, cyclists may have a claim.
Bicycle accidents often involve serious injuries. Insurance companies are not in the business of paying out large claims without argument and frequently offer low settlements simply to see if the victim will accept them. Anyone injured in a bicycle accident in which he or she was not at fault should promptly consult with an attorney. Having an attorney be the liaison between the insurer and the victim insures that the victim receives full compensation.
Atlanta native Molly Pearce, is a big supporter of local cyclists and writes to encourage motorists to share the road and cyclists to be on the defense when they are on the go. Atlanta personal injury lawyer firm, Stokes & Kopitsky, P.A. has been representing bicycle accident victims and their families since 1982 in the Atlanta area. They have won significant settlements in cases of this sort and are well versed in litigation involving all types of vehicles, including cars, trucks, motorcycles, and bicycles