Boston, like most urban areas, is crammed with pedestrians, bicyclists, motorcycles, trucks, scooters and any other type of motor vehicle. But when cyclists are on urban roads, they have to deal with other vehicles, especially trucks, whose size and inflexibility is the direct opposite of bicycles. Because of the height at which a driver sits in his or her cab, a bicyclist will seem nearly invisible to the truck driver. And when a collision does occur, the consequences can be catastrophic.
A tragic meeting of bike and truck occurred recently in Houston, Texas when a firefighter on his bicycle collided with a landscaping truck that decided to suddenly stop without warning in the lane of a busy roadway. The bicyclist later succumbed to his injuries. Although there were no eyewitnesses to the collision, the evidence suggested that the truck driver had decided to perform his work while stopped on the busy traffic lane instead of turning right and parking on a less-traveled road. If the truck had been stopped in the lane for a time, the driver at least neglected to put out cones or flags to warn approaching traffic.
Company spokespersons agreed that the practice of stopping to load or unload on a busy roadway was hazardous. A jury returned a verdict against the driver and trucking company of $39 million, which is under appeal.
How to Determine Liability
Most bike accidents with trucks or autos occur at intersections. Common scenarios include:
- A vehicle passes a bike on its right and then turns directly in front of the cyclist at the intersection
- A cyclist passes a car on the right and the vehicle turns right into the path of the bike
- While waiting for the light to change, the motor vehicle turns right and into the bicyclist
- A vehicle fails to see an approaching cyclist from the opposite direction and turns left into the path of the cyclist
Motorists and truck drivers need to be wary of cyclists and are deemed liable if they turn in front of a bicyclist, especially where there is a bike lane. Even if there was no bike lane, bicycles are considered motor vehicles and have a right to travel on the urban streets and other roadways unless it is a freeway or other road where they are specifically excluded.
Liability can be established by eyewitnesses or cameras that are increasingly more prevalent at intersections. Many businesses have exterior cameras that are adjacent to roadways and have often recorded accidents.
If you or a loved one was involved in a bicycle vs. truck accident, retain experienced bike accident lawyer Neil Burns.
Ride a Bicycle with Safety in Mind
Bicyclists can work to avoid collisions with trucks and other vehicles by following certain safety measures:
- Assume that other motor vehicles do not see you.
- When approaching an intersection, get the attention of the motorist to your left.
- If no bike lane, consider taking up the entire lane before you cross the intersection and then move over.
- Slow down if riding next to a motor vehicle and assume the vehicle will turn right. A truck driver cannot see you so be cautious.
- If at a stop sign, be sure the truck driver or motorist sees you before you cross.
If you are injured in an accident, wait for police and medical assistance. If there were witnesses, ask for their contact information if you are able to do so. Even if your injuries appear slight, you need to be checked out since you may not have noticed an underlying injury. If the driver tries to leave, insist on their driver’s license and insurance information as well as the license plate number.
Damages in a Bicycle-Truck Collision
Bicyclists who were injured in a collision with a truck can collect compensation from the trucking company, which have commercial policies that are typically at least $1 million.
Damages in a bike accident case may include:
- Past and future medical expenses
- Past and future wage loss
- Loss of earning capacity
- Exacerbation of a pre-existing condition
- Emotional trauma
- Permanent disability or disfigurement
- Diminution in quality of life
- Pain and suffering
- Spousal claim for loss of consortium
If a death claim, it is brought by the administrator of the decedent’s estate for the benefit of the decedent’s immediate family. Damages can include:
- Burial and funeral expenses
- Loss of income during the working life of the decedent
- Pain and suffering but only if the decedent was observed to have consciously suffered before succumbing
- Final medical bills if applicable
- Loss of the love, companionship, comfort, guidance and counsel the decedent would have provided family members
- Punitive damages if the defendant exhibited gross negligence or malicious, willful, wanton or reckless conduct
Consult with bicycle accident lawyer Neil Burns, a Boston personal injury attorney who has obtained millions of dollars for his injured clients over his 30-years of practice. His experience, knowledge and skills obtained in handling thousands of cases can get you the compensation your case deserves.