Office Location: 400 Poydras Tower, Poydras St Suite 1975, New Orleans, LA 70130
When it comes to sharing the road, many drivers fail to acknowledge the rights of bicyclists. Today’s impatient society causes drivers to view bicyclists as obstacles that slow them down. Riding a bicycle in New Orleans is your right and drivers, per state law, must share the road.
If an impatient or reckless driver caused an accident resulting in serious injuries for you, you don’t need to wait another minute to get help. Stewart J. Guss, Personal Injury Lawyers are open, for free, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, at 800-898-4877, or you may contact us now by CLICKING HERE to tell us more about your case.
Our New Orleans Bike Accident Lawyers Can Help
Perhaps you went for a bike ride and you, in fact, stayed in your lane—the bike lane. A driver who did not stay in theirs crashed into you, resulting in serious injuries. The reckless behavior of the responsible driver demands accountability.
You have every right to ride your bike safely in and around New Orleans. Just because a driver is in a hurry or simply views cyclists as an annoyance, is no excuse for causing you harm. Even if you choose to wear a helmet, reflective gear, and protective clothing, all it takes is a second for a driver’s eyes to leave the road. A second is all it takes for your life to change due to no fault of your own.
At the Stewart J. Guss, Personal Injury Lawyers, we offer free case evaluations. Should we decide to proceed with litigation, there is no charge unless we secure compensation for you. You have nothing to lose by calling us or by contacting us online. The sooner we review your case, the better. We must decide upon a course of action and pursue litigation before the statute of limitations expires.
A violent collision between a car and your bicycle can leave you in the hospital for a very long time. When an aggressive insurance company representative waves an attractive settlement offer in front of you, it probably looks enticing. It is during this time of great stress, worry, and physical pain, however, that you should not make important financial decisions.
The insurance company wants your case to go away, quickly. Their number one interest is not you but rather the best interest of the company. While the initial settlement offer may seem like a lot of money for you and your family, chances are it isn’t enough. While each case is different, you may be entitled to financial compensation for your medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering.
Catastrophic injuries often result in a need for a lifetime of medical care. Healthcare costs continue to escalate, costing patients thousands if not millions each year. No one should suffer such financial stress because another driver failed to share the road.
We treat all of our clients with the respect they deserve during this difficult time, while at the same time aggressively fighting for you. Knowing you have strong legal representation in your corner can provide you with the peace-of-mind you need to focus on your health.
Bicycles: Share the Road
Bicycling in and around New Orleans is a great way to experience our vibrant city. But when someone leaves Bourbon Street or Mardi Gras intoxicated, their partying can change your life. Getting behind the wheel drunk, or choosing to text a friend, can result in devastation for a bicyclist like you.
Not everyone wants to share the road with bicyclists—no matter what the law states. At Stewart J. Guss, Personal Injury Lawyers, we have no problem holding those drivers responsible for their negligence, nor do we have a problem handling reluctant insurance companies.
Sadly, some accidents involving bicyclists and reckless drivers result in death. If you’ve lost a loved one due to a driver who failed to share the road, contact us to discuss your case. Depending upon the circumstances, you may be entitled to compensation from a wrongful death claim.
Common Causes of Bike Accidents
A serious bike accident can occur for a variety of reasons. No matter how carefully you obey the rules of the road, driver behavior dictates whether your ride is a safe one. Here are just a few examples of reckless behavior by drivers that place bicyclists at risk for serious injuries:
Driver inattention – Distracted driving is a growing issue thanks to new in-car technologies and smartphones. While distracted driving also involves such actions as eating, reaching, and applying makeup, smartphones are increasingly adding to the problem. According to research by the AAA Foundation’s Traffic Safety Cultural Index, nearly 78 percent of people believe texting behind the wheel is a significant danger. Despite this claim, more than 30 percent admitted to the behavior.
Texting behind the wheel is especially dangerous because it takes away three key components necessary for driving:
- Visual – Takes your eyes off the road
- Manual – Takes your hands off the wheel
- Cognitive – Takes your mind off driving
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reports that at 55 miles per hour, sending or reading a text takes your eyes off the road for approximately 5 seconds. The CDC states this is enough time to cover the distance of a football field.
For bicyclists, a distracted driver is a serious threat. No matter how focused you remain on the road, chances are the surrounding drivers focus too much on their phones.
Drunk driving – Despite numerous public safety campaigns against drunk driving, people continue to take a chance behind the wheel. Their selfish behavior and overconfidence in their ability to drive places bicyclists at great risk for serious injury. More than 300 deaths occur throughout Louisiana each year due to alcohol-involved crashes.
A drunk driver’s erratic driving makes it almost impossible to avoid the impact. In some cases, a bicyclist may never see the drunk driving coming toward them. Having no time to react and little protection can result in catastrophic injuries for the cyclist. While the drunk driver has the protection of airbags and a seatbelt, the bicyclist is completely vulnerable to broken bones, spinal cord injuries, and more. Even the safest helmet may not protect you from a violent impact between the pavement and your head.
Louisiana, like many states, has a blood alcohol (BAC) level of 0.08. Anything at or above that level is considered legally drunk. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), visual impairment can begin with a BAC level of 0.02. By the time a person reaches 0.05, they begin to experience reduced coordination. A driver at one of these levels is not considered drunk by Louisiana law, yet they can still cause a serious crash.
Aggressive driving – Impatient drivers who encounter bicyclists can become aggressive by following too closely or blowing their horns. Their impatience and failure to share the road can result in colliding with the cyclist and/or another car.
Drivers may also throw objects at cyclists or deliberately run them off the road—these drivers are the least likely to stop and typically flee the scene. Throwing items or taunting bicyclists is against the state’s vulnerable road user law. Drivers are also known to fail to yield the right-of-way to bicyclists.
The road rage and impatience experienced by drivers and aimed at bicyclists involves two key beliefs:
- The driver’s tax dollars pay for the road
- That bicycles don’t have any rights
The fact is that under Louisiana law, bicyclists have all the same rights and duties as the driver of a motor vehicle. What the driver believes about bicycles and sharing the road doesn’t matter—the law is very clear. Experiencing a violent collision with the pavement or the hood of a vehicle is a traumatic experience. The vulnerability of a bicycle is no match for the average 4,000-pound vehicle. If you’ve suffered catastrophic injuries due to no fault of your own while riding your bike, contact Stewart J. Guss, Personal Injury Lawyers today.
Types of Serious Bike Injuries
The open feeling of riding a bicycle is what makes it both appealing and dangerous. But, the lack of protection places you at risk for serious and life-changing injuries. If you encounter a drunk, distracted, or aggressive driver, you are at risk for one or more of the following injuries:
Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) – Only those ages 12 and younger must wear a helmet under Louisiana law. Choosing to wear a helmet can help protect you from a TBI, however, a helmet does not guarantee the prevention of a head injury. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) describes a TBI as a blunt, blow, or jolt to the head, or a penetrating head injury, that disrupts normal brain function.
A severe TBI is especially devastating due to the lasting impact on your life. Certain functions like memory and balance can become difficult, along with your ability to hear, see, and touch. You may become more prone to emotional or behavioral outbursts. If a severe TBI happens to your loved one, they may never return to the person you once knew.
The results are not only devastating, but they are also costly. Caring for a loved one with a TBI is often beyond what a loved one can manage. Long term care facilities range into the thousands of dollars each month, making your expenses skyrocket.
Broken bones – The impact of a car with your body almost certainly results in broken bones. The bones broken can go beyond your arms and legs to include eye sockets or your jaw. Many bicycle accident victims experience facial fractures and teeth damage due to no facial protection.
Broken bones often involve multiple surgeries and extensive physical and/or occupational therapy. Bones typically require a significant amount of time to heal. Returning to your career may not be an option and you may require personal care assistance with daily tasks. Due to the lack of protection with a bicycle, the chance of breaking more than one bone is a real possibility.
Spinal cord injury – One of the most catastrophic injuries you may experience in a bicycle accident is a spinal cord injury. This devastating type of injury usually involves some form of paralysis. Patients with spinal cord injuries often require power chairs, home modifications, and accessible transportation. The cost of care for a spinal cord injury can easily reach into the millions of dollars every year.
In addition to these very serious injuries, a bicyclist may experience severe road rash. This burn/skin abrasion comes from impact with the street or roadway and only adds to your misery. While riding a bicycle does not afford you the same protection as driving a car, it is an enjoyable way to travel. Whether you bike for exercise, to save the environment or both, it is your right to ride safely throughout New Orleans.
If a driver failed to share the road, resulting in serious injury for you, let our legal team help. With more than 20 years of fighting bus accident claims, we understand the tactics insurance companies use to avoid a fair settlement. Don’t talk to them! Speak to us instead. At Stewart J. Guss, Personal Injury Lawyers, we fight for our clients, and if we are unable to settle out-of-court, we are unafraid to go to trial.
New Orleans Bike Accidents FAQ
What should I do if someone hits me while I’m riding my bike?
First and foremost, check to see if you or anyone else is hurt! If a driver of a motor vehicle was also involved, you should exchange contact information with them just as you would in the event of a two-car accident. You will want their name, driver’s license number, license plate number, a method of contact, their insurance carrier, and insurance policy number.
You should also contact the police to file a report. Failure to report an accident may result in fines, even if you were the person injured!
If you were injured, seek medical treatment as soon as possible, even if you don’t believe that your injuries are serious. The severity of an injury isn’t always felt right away.
If you’re hesitant and afraid of paying medical expenses, don’t worry – contact an experienced New Orleans bike accident lawyer who can explain your legal options to you and guide you through the tricky process of obtaining compensation.
Do bicyclists always have the right-of-way?
NO, they don’t! Bicycles are viewed as vehicles, meaning that they’re required to follow the same traffic laws as cars in terms of yielding the right-of-way at stop signs or stoplights. Not only should you yield the right-of-way to other vehicles when required, but you should also use extra caution when you have the right-of-way, ensuring that drivers see you and have adequately yielded before you enter an intersection. This is for your own safety—bicycles offer VERY LITTLE protection against a collision with a motor vehicle!
Is there compensation available for people who have been injured in a bicycle accident?
Yes! Bicycle riders who are injured by motorists – or even in accidents caused by defective bicycle parts – may seek compensation for their injuries either through a third-party insurance claim or through a personal injury lawsuit. Because Louisiana is a “fault” state in terms of motor vehicle insurance coverage, the injured party in any type of vehicle accident has a choice of which method of obtaining the compensation they wish to pursue. A bicycle accident attorney can explain the differences in these processes so that you can make an informed choice.
There are some cases in which a bicyclist is injured by a motorist who doesn’t even stop and exchange information! If this is the case for you, your attorney may have other suggestions as to how you can proceed.
Do I need an attorney after a bicycle accident?
While nobody technically needs an attorney, choosing not to have one is usually a HUGE MISTAKE. Don’t be left with regrets in this trying time. Dealing with insurance companies is often a difficult process – your loss is their gain. Naturally, they will attempt to avoid paying you by trying to shift the blame for the accident away from their client and onto YOU or others! Other common tactics include delaying action in your case or trying to convince you to accept a low settlement for your injuries.
If your case involves filing a personal injury lawsuit, you will be confronted with a legal process that is generally confusing for those who are not lawyers. Hiring an experienced attorney with a proven history of success in these types of cases increases your chances of obtaining a fair settlement. While you may feel like you’re dealing with a hundred small frustrations, your attorney will consider the “big picture” of your accident’s aftermath, including the full amount of your bills and the long-term consequences your injuries may have on your life.
Who might be liable for my bicycle accident?
To ensure a successful outcome from your personal injury claim, you will need to prove that someone else is liable for the accident that caused your injuries. To prove liability, you must be able to establish that the individual or entity owed you a duty of care, that their legal duty of care was breached, and that this breach resulted in the accident that caused your injuries.
The most likely liable party in a bike accident is the motorist who slammed into you. Motorists are subject to laws that require them to share the road with bicyclists. One law in particular is the Colin Goodier Protection Act, which requires drivers to leave a safe distance of no less than THREE feet between their vehicle and a bicycle that they are overtaking and passing. It also directs the Department of Public Safety and Corrections to include a summary of the act in instructional publications for drivers. (The act was named for an LSU School of Medicine alumnus who, while training on his bicycle for a triathlon during his third year of surgical residency, was killed when a motor vehicle struck him.)
I wasn’t wearing a helmet when my accident occurred. Can I still recover damages?
Helmets are only legally required for bicycle riders under the age of 12. If you were injured in an accident and weren’t wearing a helmet, don’t worry – you still can pursue the recovery of damages from an at-fault motorist or other liable party.
What damages can be sought in a New Orleans bicycle accident claim?
The damages one can seek in a bicycle accident personal injury claim in Louisiana include:
- Medical expenses, including ambulance rides, emergency department services, diagnostic testing, hospitalization, prescription medications, rehabilitation and physical therapy, and assistive devices such as wheelchairs or crutches.
- Lost wages due to being too injured to work or having to miss work to attend medical appointments. This also includes FUTURE lost wages.
- Non-economic damages such as pain and suffering or emotional distress.
- Punitive damages, in some cases where the actions of the defendant were particularly egregious. Punitive damages are meant to punish the defendant for these actions and encourage them to avoid this behavior in the future. Aggressive or reckless drivers—including those who speed, ignore stop signs or stoplights, or drive while drunk or otherwise inebriated—may need to pay punitive damages if they hit you while you’re riding your bicycle.
What is the statute of limitations for bike accident claims in New Orleans?
Generally, the time limit you have to file a personal injury claim in Louisiana is JUST ONE YEAR from the date of the injury. There are some exceptions, such as a waiver of this time period for accident victims who were minors at the time of their injury. Your attorney can advise you of whether an exception exists in your case.
A year may seem like a long time, but it will fly by before you know it. Hiring a personal injury attorney to prepare your case sooner rather than later is ALWAYS your best bet!
A driver killed my loved one in a bicycle accident. Can I be compensated for this loss?
If a fatal accident was caused by another person or an entity, you may be eligible to pursue compensation through a wrongful death claim. Louisiana defines wrongful death as when one person dies due to the fault of another. A wrongful death claim is a lawsuit filed in civil court seeking compensation related to this death. Like personal injury lawsuits, wrongful death actions have a statutory time limit of just ONE year, in most cases.
Individuals eligible to file a wrongful death claim include:
- The surviving spouse or children of the deceased.
- Surviving parents of the deceased, if there is no surviving spouse or children.
- Surviving siblings, in absence of a surviving spouse, children, or parents.
- Surviving grandparents, in absence of other survivors.
Parents who have abandoned the deceased during his or her childhood are not eligible to file for compensation through a wrongful death lawsuit.
The damages that may be pursued in a wrongful death claim include:
- Medical expenses for the treatment of the deceased’s final injury or illness.
- Funeral and burial expenses.
- Lost wages and benefits.
- The value of household services – formerly performed by the deceased – that must now be outsourced.
- The pain and suffering of the deceased from the time of injury until their death.
- The loss of care, companionship, guidance, and support that the deceased provided to their loved ones.
Can bicycle accidents be avoided?
Yes. All accidents are avoidable. When people drive responsibly, pay attention to the road, and look for cyclists, they can reduce the number of bike accidents to almost zero. Unfortunately, bicyclists cannot control how people in cars and trucks drive their vehicles, or predict the actions of others.
Nevertheless, here’s how bike riders can reduce the chances of injury.
- Be visible. Many bicycle accidents occur simply because the driver wasn’t looking for a bicyclist and didn’t see you. Visibility is particularly important at night! Wear brightly-colored and reflective clothing and affix a headlight to your bike, or a headlamp to your helmet.
- Wear a helmet every time you ride! Even if you’re over 12 and not required to do so, wearing a helmet may protect you from serious or even fatal head injuries in the event of an accident.
- Follow the rules of the road. Ride in a designated bike lane if one is available. If one isn’t, be sure to ride as close to the right-hand edge of the road as possible. Don’t ride on the sidewalk, and don’t ride against oncoming traffic.
- Learn and understand the accepted hand signals that are used by bicyclists to communicate their intentions to other drivers.
- If you’re unsure as to who has the right-of-way, attempt to make eye contact with the driver before proceeding into the intersection. This confirms the driver sees you and is aware of your intentions!
- Be cautious of dooring. Dooring occurs when an occupant of a parked motor vehicle opens his or her door into the path of an approaching bicyclist. This often results in an accident as the bicyclist either has a collision with the car door or becomes involved in an accident while trying to avoid the door.
- Use caution when stopping at a red light next to a large vehicle such as a tractor-trailer. Larger vehicles have more significant blind spots and you risk the driver being unable to see you there.
Motorists, on the other hand, have the primary responsibility to avoid bicycle accidents. They must:
- Obey all traffic laws! Remember to allow at least THREE feet of space when overtaking or passing a bicyclist.
- Avoid distractions that can cause you to lose focus on the task of driving and your ability to focus on potential hazards.
- If you’re parked on the side of the road, ensure that there are no approaching bicyclists before you open your door. One way to consistently do this is to always open your door with your right hand. This forces you to turn and look back.
- Check your blind spots before backing onto the roadway from a private driveway.
- Remember that you are required to yield the right-of-way to a bicyclist in the same way you would yield for other cars.
I can’t afford a lawyer. What should I do?
There’s good news – you CAN afford a lawyer! Most bicycle accident lawyers—including at Stewart J. Guss, Injury Accident Lawyers—work on a contingency fee basis. This means we don’t charge you for our services – we only collect a percentage of any settlement or court award we help you obtain. Don’t hesitate to reach out for help now. We’ve got your back.
Call Our New Orleans Bike Accident Lawyers Today
A Louisiana driver’s license is a privilege, not a right. Many drivers fail to remember this and feel a sense of entitlement to all city streets and roads. Reckless and negligent behavior behind the wheel that harms fellow road users is against Louisiana law. Our legal team takes great pride in fighting for the rights of bicycle accident victims throughout New Orleans, Louisiana, and the nation.
Protect your future by reaching out to Stewart J. Guss, Personal Injury Lawyers today. Our legal team stands ready to review your case and to pursue justice on your behalf. Don’t let aggressive insurance company representatives pressure you into accepting less than you deserve.
Do not let the fear of a bicycle accident prevent you from enjoying the sport of cycling. Riding your bike should not result in life-changing injuries due to the carelessness of another driver. When it does, fight for justice by contacting us immediately.
The legal team of Stewart J. Guss, Personal Injury Lawyers, is nationally recognized for protecting the rights of injured victims for more than 20 years. If you were injured in a New Orleans bicycle accident, call our office right now to schedule a free consultation! Because we take all of our bicycle injury cases on a contingency fee basis, you will not owe us a DIME unless we win your case. We are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, so call us today at 800-898-4877 or contact us now by CLICKING HERE.
Stewart J Guss, Injury Accident Lawyers, New Orleans Office
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