With bicycles becoming more ubiquitous and despite cities and towns accommodating riders with specially designated bike lanes, markings, and turn signals at intersections, it is inevitable that accidents will happen. Bicycles are not just for racing or for children and more and more people are using them to commute as well as for recreation or health.
Still, accidents between motorists and bicyclists will not abate any time soon. Just recently, a boy riding in the parking lot at Milford Regional Medical Center struck a car that had apparently turned into him. Fortunately, the boy was not seriously injured. Although parking lots are not common areas for bike riding, motorists still must be on the lookout for pedestrians, whether on foot or bike, in any location.
Also, bike accidents are on the rise. Nationwide, fatalities involving bicycles increased in 2018 by 10% over the previous year. Some of the reasons given include the increasing foot and bicycle traffic in urban and suburban areas before those areas have redesigned their streets for safety, as well as the epidemic of distracted driving, meaning texting and driving. Pedestrian deaths have steadily risen since 2009 when smartphones became abundant. States have been slow to recognize the problem and laws only allowing hands-free use of cellphones while driving have been implemented at a snail’s pace, though all states but 3 now ban texting and driving by all motorists.
In Boston where bicycle riding has significantly increased over the past decade, the Boston Bike Initiative estimated that 10% of all trips in Boston will be by bicycle by next year. The risk of being in an accident is higher for some than for others, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Their research found:
- Older bicyclists are most at risk, which may be due to their slower reflexes, hearing or vision problems
- Males are fatal victims in bike accidents at a rate 6 times that for females
- 70% of fatal bike accidents are in urban areas
- Over 60% of fatalities occur at intersections as opposed to 3% in bike lanes
- You are most at risk on a bicycle between 6 p.m. and 9 p.m.
- Florida is the deadliest state for bicyclists
The lesson here is to ride in bike lanes whenever possible, avoid riding in the evening hours or at least have flashing lights, be especially cautious at intersections, be female, and stay out of Florida. But for anyone in whatever state, it makes sense to wear bright clothing and make yourself as conspicuous as possible, obey the traffic laws since you are required to do so on a bicycle, and assume motorists do not see you.
What to Do if Injured on a Bicycle
If you ride on any city or suburban street, you must be aware of motorists. Distracted and intoxicated drivers, or those who are simply not paying attention are everywhere and drive at all times of the day. So, even if you are cautious, you may find that a motorist is about to turn directly into your path of travel, is traveling too close to you, or is opening a car door as you are about to pass.
About 70% of bike accidents result in injuries that can result in medical expenses, lost income, permanent disabilities, and a drastic change in your enjoyment of life. To protect yourself and to give you the best opportunity to collect the most compensation for your injuries, follow these steps:
- Wait for the police and ambulance to arrive.
- Do not refuse medical attention even if you feel your injuries are minor since many symptoms do not manifest until hours later including head injuries.
- Do not say anything to the driver about the accident or your possible injuries. If you talk to the driver and deny you were hurt or fail to include an injury that is later diagnosed, or that you didn’t see his car, this will be used by insurance adjusters to deny liability or that you sustained a certain injury.
- Obtain the name, address, and insurance information of the driver, and identity and contact information of witnesses. Do not assume the police will do this, at least for witnesses.
- Give your version of events to the police and report all your injuries regardless of how minor they seem.
- When you are able do so, write down all you recall about the accident in detail. This includes time, location, weather, description of roadway or intersection, where you were when struck, and anything else you can recall.
- Do not have your bike repaired until your lawyer takes photographs of it. If you think your brakes failed or some other equipment did not work properly, it needs to be examined by an expert.
- Seem immediate medical attention. If you delay and think your injuries will just heal and you later develop more serious symptoms or problems, this will make it more difficult to prove the accident was the cause.
- Immediately call a bike accidents lawyer from the law office of Burns and Jain.
Your bike accidents lawyer will obtain all necessary documentation of your accident, injuries and damages. If liability is disputed, an investigation of the scene may be warranted that may require an accident reconstruction expert. Your injuries, treatment, pain and suffering, inability to work or engage in your routine daily or recreational activities, and prognosis need to be well-documented. Your attorney can see that your medical provider drafts a detailed report that along with your other medical and treatment records, employment or school records, proves the nature and extent of your injuries. Also, all insurance or other sources of compensation need to be explored including other possible responsible parties or entities. Finally, your attorney can make a strong case for why you deserve the compensation demanded and either negotiate a satisfactory settlement or litigate your claim.
Damages in Bike Accident Claims
Damages in rollover accidents can be extensive. They may include:
- Medical expenses
- Past and future loss of income
- Pain and suffering
- Lost income capacity
- Permanent impairment or disfigurement
- Diminished quality or enjoyment of life
- Spousal claim for loss of consortium
Retain a Bike Accidents Lawyer from Burns and Jain
Many bicycle accident injury claims consist of issues of liability and damages that require the skills of a highly experienced and skilled lawyer from the law office of Burns and Jain. Call us at 617-227-7423 for a free consultation about your bicycle accident injury claim.