What to Do if You’re Injured in a Bicycle AccidentBy Stewart J. Guss on February 17th, 2020
Bicycle accidents are all too common. Negligent or distracted drivers cause unnecessary – and sometimes tragic – accidents. Many of the victims are children. In fact, a large percentage of people injured in bicycle accidents are younger than 15.
If you or a loved one has been the victim of a bicycle accident, you deserve to have your bicycle accident claim handled by someone you trust. If your injuries are severe, you need someone with experience handling complex personal injury cases.
Causes of Bicycle Accidents
Many drivers complain bicyclists are riding erratically or taking up too much space, but the law says bicyclists have the right to share the road with other vehicles.
Causes of bicycle accidents vary greatly, but common factors include:
- Opening doors: When people park their cars, they rarely look around before they open their car doors to get out. If a bicyclist is nearing the car, opening the door could cause a serious impact on the bicyclist. While this might make for a funny pratfall in a movie, it’s no laughing matter when it happens to you.
- Sideswipe: Sideswipes happen when a car doesn’t give a bicyclist enough room when passing.
- Rear-end: Just as two cars can be involved in a rear-end collision, this too can happen with a bicycle and a car. This type of accident is common at intersections in neighborhoods, when cars do not stop quickly enough.
- Crossing in front: These accidents happen when a vehicle crosses your path while you are riding a bicycle. These accidents also often happen at intersections, and they happen because the car driver isn’t paying attention and fails to see the cyclist.
- Blind spot: Bicyclists always ride on the right side of the road, but this can sometimes be dangerous if a car is turning right and doesn’t see them. If the driver doesn’t check his or her blind spot before turning, they could hit the cyclist.
Are you noticing a trend in all of these accidents? Driver error! In each of these cases, the driver of the car is to blame for the incident. If you and your bicycle didn’t cause the accident, you shouldn’t bear any responsibility for the costs associated with your recovery.
If only drivers paid better attention to their surroundings, many accidents could be prevented. Unfortunately, that’s wishful thinking.
Some driver errors that frequently cause accidents include:
- Speeding: When a driver is in a hurry and violating speed limits, their reaction time and lack of awareness could land you in the hospital.
- Weather: When a driver doesn’t account for bad weather conditions, they could end up causing an accident. Most bicyclists will try to avoid riding in bad weather, but sometimes it’s not possible.
- Driving under the influence: Whether driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, when a driver is impaired, he or she is more likely to cause an accident, especially with a smaller vehicle on the road like a bicycle.
- Multitasking: Whether a driver is checking a device like a cell phone or tablet, or engaging in activities like applying makeup or eating, one thing’s for certain: they’re making a big mistake of distracted driving that could cost someone their life.
Every city is becoming more and more bicycle-friendly. Bikes are a cheap mode of transportation and are great for the environment. However, it’s up to drivers to adhere to safety regulations to help keep everyone who shares the road safe.
As a cyclist, you can also take preventative measures to avoid being involved in an accident. If you ride at nighttime, make sure you have reflectors on your bike and wear light-colored clothing. If there’s bad weather, ride more carefully. While each driver should be alert and look out for other vehicles on the road, including you, remaining extremely alert to your own surroundings is also key to keeping yourself safe.
Injuries Caused by Bicycle Accidents
There are nearly 1,000 bicyclists killed each year in the United States in vehicle accidents. Not every bicycle accident will result in injury to the rider, but they are much more likely to be hurt than the drivers or passengers of a car.
Riding a bicycle is great exercise and a cheap form of transportation, but it can also be extremely dangerous, as it leaves your entire body exposed to impactWearing a helmet and taking other safety precautions helps, but in the event of a collision, your body will still take the brunt of the impact.
Some of the most common bicycle accident injuries are:
- Road rash: Roads are not kind to human skin.You likely already learned this skinning your knee as a kid. Even if you’re wearing protective gear now, you’re still prone to get multiple cuts, scrapes, and bruises if you’re involved in an accident and thrown from your bicycle.
- Broken bones: Your entire body is exposed not only to the impact with a vehicle, but also to the impact with the ground. When this happens, you can easily break bones and sustain fractures.
- Joint injuries: Reflexively holding your hands out to brace yourself for a fall can sometimes result in dislocated joints.
- Traumatic brain injuries: Concussions are the most common form of traumatic brain injury, but they aren’t the only ones. More serious traumatic brain injuries can result in paralysis and even death. As such, head injuries require immediate medical assessment.
- Amputation: Sometimes, a bicycle accident is so severe that a body part is injured beyond repair. If your injury requires amputation, it can cause life-altering consequences.
Even minor bicycle accidents can have earth-shattering consequences for you, as the victim. That’s why it’s so important to speak with an experienced bicycle accident lawyer who can help you hold the negligent party accountable for your injuries.
4 Steps to Take After Your Accident
Immediately after your accident, your primary concern should be your health and safety. However, by following these steps, you can help to make sure you don’t end up in financial hardship as a result of your accident.
- Call 911. Calling 911 immediately after your accident helps you in several ways. First, it allows law enforcement to create a police report. While the police may not assign fault in the report, they will create a diagram of the accident, which will be useful for your bicycle accident claim. Calling 911 also gives you prompt medical attention. You need quick medical care, as injuries you don’t even notice at frist could end up being life-threatening. Remember, as a cyclist, nothing protects your body from impact with a car.
- Take pictures. You may not be in good enough condition to take pictures, so ask a trusted friend, family member, or witness to do so on your behalf. Make sure you get pictures of the entire accident scene, your injuries, your bicycle, and the car(s) involved. If you’re developing bruises or swelling, take more pictures of these injuries as they change throughout the coming week.
- Seek additional medical care. After you are seen by a medical professional at the scene of the accident, you should also make sure you see a doctor or emergency room physician. As discussed, your injuries could be serious. Your body took the full force of the impact with the vehicle. Do not worry about cost at this point – your first and only concern should be making sure that you are taken care of by a doctor so that you can make a full and complete recovery.
- Do not admit fault. This seems like a common-sense step, but the insurance company can twist seemingly innocent phrases and use them against you. “Maybe I could’ve been more careful…I guess I looked down for a second.” Quotes you may give in the disorienting aftermath of an accident could lead an insurance company to argue that you are at least partially liable for your injuries, and keep you from maximizing your financial recovery.
Call a bicycle accident lawyer. Look for someone with the specific experience that can help you get back on your feet, fast.
If you or a loved one is in a bicycle accident, you owe it to yourself to make sure that you are properly cared for. You deserve someone who will stand up for you.
Potential Damages in a Bicycle Accident Lawsuit
Bicycle accident deaths and injuries cost the United States over $10 billion in medical care and lost wages. That is enormous! When you are facing the prospect of being out of work temporarily or even permanently, you’re likely stressed about how you will pay the bills. That additional and unnecessary stress could prevent you from making a quick recovery.
Look for a bicycle accident injury law firm that will work hard to help you recover compensation for your:
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Lost wages
- Loss of companionship
- Past, present, and future medical bills
Many people don’t think enough about their future needs and the ramifications of their accident. When you’re injured, you focus only on your immediate future, your recovery, and all those medical bills sitting on your kitchen table. Insurance companies know this, and they will prey on you.
Insurance companies want to make as much money as possible, and if they pay out your claim in full, that cuts into their profits. They counteract this by providing low-ball settlement offers to overwhelmed bicycle accident victims soon after their accidents.
Shortly after you are injured, you might receive a call from an insurance company representative offering you a quick settlement. They know you’re out of work,have medical bills piling up, andneed quick cash.
Don’t act hastily. Don’t settle for anything less than what you’re entitled to. ! This initial settlement offer likely won’t even cover all of your medical expenses. You don’t have all the answers you need. You might not even know what questions you should be asking! That’s why you need a trusted bicycle accident lawyer by your side, looking out for your best interests.
A bicycle accident lawyer will help you create an accurate estimate of your future medical expenses. Depending on the severity of your injuries, you may require hospital visits, surgeries, and rehabilitation. Besides that, you may also have a reduction in your quality of life or family stability because of your injuries.
All of this needs to be taken into account when you negotiate with the insurance company. We don’t want to see you forced into more hardship because you end up having to pay out of pocket for injuries you didn’t cause. Plus, when you sign the low ball settlement offer, you will waive your right to bring any future claims against the insurance company for this accident.
The truth is, the negligence of another person injured you, and you shouldn’t have to pay a dime out of your own pocket in order to heal. While it’s true that most personal injury claims settle out of court, sometimes insurance companies refuse to negotiate reasonably. When that happens, look for a law firm with the resources necessary to take your case all the way to trial. Avoid further trauma and tragedy as best as you can. You have enough responsibilities on your plate already – let justice be ours.