Bicycle accidents often result in severe injuries and even death. As with other accidents, liability in bicycle accidents requires that you prove negligence.
Determining fault in bicycle accident cases can be difficult. However, you must prove negligence to recover compensation from the other driver or their insurance company.
This article will discuss some of the more common causes of bicycle accidents. We will also describe some common injuries suffered in this type of collision. We will explain how you can prove negligence. We will also explain how the legal process works in this type of case.
Common Causes of Bicycle Accidents
In most bicycle accidents, the person driving the motor vehicle is at fault. Bicyclists are at the mercy of other motorists. They have nothing to protect them other than a plastic helmet. Plus, it is difficult for the person on the bike to get out of the way of a car or SUV.
Some of the more common causes of bicycle accidents include:
- Distracted driving
- Drunk driving
- Not riding in the designated bicycle lane
- Cyclists riding into oncoming traffic
While there are situations where the bicyclist is at fault or partly at fault, most legal claims are filed against the person driving the motor vehicle. While this is the general rule, that does not mean your accident lawyer does not have to prove fault.
Common Bicycle Accident Injuries
You likely suffered serious injuries if you or a loved one were in a bicycle accident. Bicycle riders are at an increased risk because they have nothing to protect them from the impact.
Some of the more common injuries suffered in bicycle accidents include:
- Back injuries: Many bicycle accident victims suffer herniated discs or back sprains. Depending on the severity of your back injuries, you may need surgery and long-term physical therapy.
- Traumatic brain injury: When cyclists suffer a severe blow to the head, it can cause a severe brain injury. Some victims who suffer a TBI never regain normal functioning.
- Broken bones: It is common for bicyclists to suffer broken bones. You may suffer a broken arm, leg, wrist, or ankle.
- Lacerations and contusions: Even in a minor bicycle crash, there is a good chance you will experience cuts and bruises. Thankfully, these injuries do not often require extensive medical treatment.
- Whiplash: Any collision can cause whiplash. This injury occurs when your neck is stretched too far in any one direction. The good news is that whiplash heals in a few days or weeks. It does not usually cause any permanent injury.
- Spinal cord injury: One of the worst injuries imaginable is a spinal cord injury. Depending on where the damage lies, you may become paralyzed.
If you suffer severe injuries, you may be entitled to significant damages. Somebody who suffers a spinal cord injury will be entitled to more compensation than someone with whiplash or a broken bone. You may also be entitled to compensation for future medical care.
When you file your insurance claim, you must include all medical expenses. This way, you can prove to the insurance adjuster that you deserve the damages cited in your personal injury claim.
If you are involved in a bicycle crash, your attorney must prove that the person in the motor vehicle caused the crash. Your attorney must demonstrate that the other party was negligent. While state laws may vary regarding local traffic rules, when it comes to negligence, there are certain elements all plaintiffs must prove.
To prove negligence, you must demonstrate four things.
- Duty of care: You must show that the other driver owed you a duty of care. All drivers owe a particular duty of care to other motorists, regardless of what they are driving.
- Breach of duty: Your bicycle accident attorney must prove that the other driver breached this duty of care. You can do this in a variety of ways. However, the easiest way to do this is by showing the defendant violated a local traffic law. For example, proving that the other driver was speeding during the accident would constitute a breach of duty.
- Causation: Your personal injury lawyer must demonstrate that the defendant's breach caused your injuries. If the driver can show that something other than the accident caused your injuries, they will not be liable for damages. This applies even in no-fault states.
- Damages: Your personal injury attorney must submit evidence showing you suffered damages. Typically, you must prove that you were physically injured. You can also sue for property damage. You have no basis to sue if you didn't suffer a loss. Given the value of most bicycles, it would not make sense to sue somebody for property damage alone. Most cases also include a demand for medical bills.
What if the Cyclist Was Partly at Fault?
Depending on the facts of your case, the other driver's insurance company may argue that you caused the crash. It can be hard to imagine this being the case. After all, cars, trucks, and SUVs usually hit bicyclists - not the other way around.
There are times, however, when the other driver has proof that you were partially at fault. Your personal injury lawyer will do their best to prove this is false. Remember that your claim will be impacted if the court finds you partially at fault.
Whether you can still recover damages if you were partly at fault depends on the state laws where you live. Some jurisdictions, such as New York state, Florida, and Georgia, allow plaintiffs to collect damages even if they were partially at fault. In these states and most others, your damages are reduced by your percentage of fault.
Other states do not allow you to receive damages, even if you were 1% at fault. You must be upfront and honest with your accident lawyer. They need to know if you were partially at fault from the start.
How Could You Be Liable for a Bike Accident?
You may wonder how cyclists could be partially liable. There are certain situations where the court may find this to be the case.
Cyclists are required to follow the same rules of the road as other vehicles. For example, if you are riding your bike, you must still respect the other driver if they have the right-of-way. Cyclists are also required to stop at red lights, regardless of how heavy the traffic is.
The insurance providers will consider whether the cyclist used the proper hand signals before the crash. As with other motor vehicle accidents, both parties owe a duty of care toward the other. Your claim could be denied if you do not honor your duty of care.
Some situations where the cyclist may be held partially liable include ones where they:
- Rode through an intersection while the light was red
- Were not riding in the designated bike lane
- Failed to honor the right-of-way
- Rode against the flow of traffic
In any of these situations, you may not be entitled to insurance coverage. This is why you may want to hire an attorney to help with your personal injury case.
What To Do if You Get Hurt in a Bicycle Accident
If you or a family member gets hurt in a bicycle accident, there are specific steps you should take. You need to protect both your health and your legal rights.
After your accident, you should take the following steps:
- Call 911 immediately: If you can, call the police. The police will come to the accident scene and do a thorough investigation. They will confirm contact information for the other driver and check to see if they are under the influence of drugs or alcohol. They will also talk to eyewitnesses to help determine what happened. The police officers will put their findings into a report. The police report will be critical in proving your case.
- Seek medical attention: One mistake many accident victims make is refusing medical treatment at the scene. It would be best to go to the hospital so a doctor can examine you. The emergency room physicians will run the necessary diagnostic tests to determine the nature and extent of your injuries. They will also document your injuries in your medical records. Your personal injury lawyer will need proof of your injuries to recover compensation for your medical expenses and damages for pain and suffering. Your medical records will serve as the best type of proof available.
- File a claim with the insurance company: Odds are, if you are riding your bike, your only option will be to file a claim with the other driver's insurance carrier. If your claim is approved, you should receive your check within a week or two. If the insurance company denies your claim, you should immediately contact an experienced bicycle accident lawyer.
- Speak to a bicycle accident lawyer: If you want the best chance of getting your claim approved, you should immediately speak with a bicycle accident lawyer. They will ensure that your insurance claim is handled correctly from the start. They will also negotiate a settlement with the insurance adjuster.
You Don't Have To Handle This on Your Own – Get a Lawyer's Help
You should focus on recovering from your injuries in the days and weeks after your accident. It is best if you meet with an accident lawyer right away. They can review your case and let you know if you have a claim against the other driver. They will also offer valuable legal advice that will help determine your options.
Your attorney will also answer any questions about the legal process. If needed, they can even help with your personal injury lawsuit. Most importantly, they will protect your rights, and you'll receive the compensation you deserve.
Since most attorneys will offer you a free case evaluation, it is worth speaking with them. Visit our attorney directory to find a lawyer near you who can help.