Compared to car and truck occupants, bicyclists are at a significant disadvantage. This is because, except for their helmets, cyclists have very little protection in the event of an accident. Since they do not have a thick metal shell surrounding them during a collision, they may fall to the ground suffering severe injuries to their head, neck, back, or other body parts.
If you sustained injuries in a bicycle accident resulting from another person’s negligence, you might have legal options. A bicycle accident lawyer in your area can meet with you to discuss the circumstances leading up to your accident, as well as the accident itself. You and your lawyer can then develop a plan to move your case forward and recover the monetary damages you deserve for your bicycle-accident injuries.
First, your lawyer can investigate the accident circumstances and file a personal injury claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance company. Once that happens, your lawyer may begin negotiating a settlement offer from the insurance company and pursue the maximum compensation available. If the insurance company fails to offer that compensation, your lawyer can file a lawsuit in court for you and, if necessary, take your case to a civil jury trial or binding arbitration hearing.
Your lawyer can help you make informed decisions throughout your case that will increase your chances of recovering the total monetary compensation you deserve for your injuries.
Bicycle Accident Injuries
When a bicycle rider falls to the ground in an accident, they may suffer serious injuries that require immediate and sometimes ongoing medical treatment. The injuries that a cyclist sustains in their accident will usually depend upon the speeds of the involved vehicles, the circumstances surrounding the accident, whether the cyclist falls to the ground, and the force with which they hit the ground. Some of the most severe injuries result when cyclists strike their head, back, or neck directly on the ground.
Typical bicycle accident injuries that accident victims suffer include:
- Traumatic head and brain injuries
- Bone fractures
- Internal organ damage
- Soft tissue contusions to the neck or back
- Spinal cord injuries
- Paralysis injuries
- Road rash
- Cuts and bruises
If you suffered any of these injuries in your accident, you should immediately follow up at an urgent care center or hospital emergency room for treatment. Waiting to do so may cause your injuries to become significantly worse over time. This is especially true with soft tissue injuries and traumatic head injuries, where symptoms do not always appear immediately.
At an emergency medical facility, the healthcare provider on duty can order the necessary imaging studies to diagnose your medical condition, including CT scans, MRIs, and X-rays. The doctor can also physically examine you and render emergency assistance if necessary. For example, if you broke a bone in your bicycle accident, the doctor can get you on the hospital’s surgery schedule right away.
Finally, the doctor can recommend follow-up care if your injuries require it. For instance, you may need to follow up with your primary care doctor or with an orthopedist, neurologist, or physical therapist, for ongoing medical treatment.
While you treat all of your bicycle-accident injuries, a personal injury lawyer can start advocating for your legal interests. Specifically, your lawyer can begin gathering your medical treatment records from various providers and facilities, obtaining copies of lost wage statements from your employer, and obtaining photographs of your injuries, to eventually assemble into a settlement demand package.
Once your medical treatment concludes, your lawyer can send a formal demand package to the insurance company adjuster and pursue settlement compensation on your behalf.
Common Types of Bicycle Accidents
Negligent, distracted, and intoxicated drivers may cause severe collisions with bicyclists. Some of the most common accidents that result include broadside collisions, rear-end accidents, head-on collisions, and sideswipe crashes.
A broadside collision, or T-bone accident, happens when the front of a car or truck hits the side of a bicycle traveling on an adjacent roadway or in an intersecting bike lane. These accidents usually occur when drivers fail to yield the right-of-way to cyclists at the appropriate times, such as at red lights, yield signs, or stop signs at a traffic intersection.
Other bicycle accidents happen when the front of a car or truck hits the back of a bicycle, often dislodging the cyclist and causing them to suffer severe injuries after striking the ground. Rear-end bicycle accidents usually occur when drivers fail to watch the road attentively and when they drink and drive.
On the other hand, head-on collisions happen when the front of a car or truck hits the front of a bicycle that is traveling in the opposite direction. When these accidents occur at high rates of speed, they can lead to permanent injuries and fatalities usually for the bicycle rider.
Finally, sideswipe accidents happen when the side of a car or truck hits the side of a bicycle while both vehicles travel in the same direction. The force of a sideswipe accident sometimes pushes the bike into another travel lane or off the road entirely.
Any of these bicycle accidents can lead to debilitating and permanent injuries for cyclists. Therefore, an injured cyclist can file a personal injury claim against the at-fault driver’s insurance company.
How Do Bicycle Accidents Occur?
In most instances, bicycle accidents happen when people drive negligently or recklessly. Some of the most common causes of bicycle accidents include road rage, road rule violations, intoxicated driving, and distracted driving.
Road rage is a driver’s inappropriate reaction to common roadway circumstances that arise. In some instances, drivers become frustrated when bicyclists do not cycle fast enough for their liking.
Consequently, the enraged driver will do anything they can to try and get around the cyclist, including tailgating them, weaving in and out of busy highway traffic, and failing to use their turn signal. However, in the process, the driver might negligently cause their vehicle to strike the cyclist, knocking them off their bike and onto the ground.
At other times, bicycle crashes happen when drivers violate the rules of the road, such as by failing to yield the right-of-way and speeding around cyclists. Whenever drivers violate prevailing road rules, they significantly increase their chances of causing a severe traffic accident.
Another common cause of bicycle accidents is intoxicated driving. A driver is legally intoxicated when they have a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of at least 0.08 percent. However, even when drivers have a lower BAC, they may still experience the adverse effects of alcohol impairment.
Impaired drivers typically experience physical symptoms, including nausea and blurred vision. They may also experience limited concentration and an inability to react to roadway situations. Consequently, they may not stop their vehicle in time to avoid striking a nearby cyclist.
Finally, some bicycle accidents happen when drivers become distracted while behind the wheel. Electronic devices, including tablets, GPS navigation systems, and cellular phones, may prove distracting for some drivers. Other drivers become distracted when they listen to loud music in their vehicle or roughhouse with vehicle passengers. When a driver takes their eyes off the road, even for one or two seconds, they might miss a cyclist in the vicinity, causing a serious crash that leads to debilitating injuries.
If you suffered injuries in a bicycle accident that resulted from another driver’s negligence, you should retain an experienced lawyer to represent you in your case as quickly as possible. Your lawyer can retain an accident reconstructionist who can investigate how your crash happened, as well as a medical expert who may causally connect your injuries directly to the accident. Your lawyer can then help you file a claim or lawsuit and pursue the monetary damages you need for your accident-related injuries.
Factors That Influence the Length of a Bicycle Accident Case
Some bicycle accident claims and lawsuits take significantly longer than others. Certain factors may influence the length of time it takes to resolve a bicycle accident claim, including the accident victim’s injuries and medical treatment, the need for experts to testify in the case, the insurance company with whom the accident victim is dealing, and the court that will hear your case.
In some bicycle accidents, cyclists suffer severe injuries that require ongoing medical treatment, including treatment at a hospital emergency room, doctor’s office, or physical therapy facility. In general, accident victims should not file a personal injury claim or lawsuit until after their medical treatment is complete. Therefore, the longer it takes for an accident victim to complete their medical care, the longer it will likely take for them to file and resolve their personal injury matter.
You want the insurance company to have a complete picture of your bicycle accident’s overall impact on your life. Therefore, you might want to wait until all of your medical treatment reaches its conclusion before you accept a settlement offer from the insurance company or pursue litigation in your case. If you need ongoing care, wait until you know what treatment you need throughout your life before accepting any compensation. Your lawyer can assist you with this timing.
Another factor that may influence the length of time it takes to settle a bicycle accident is the need for experts. If the insurance company disputes fault for your accident, your lawyer may need to retain an accident reconstructionist who can piece together how the crash happened. An accident reconstructionist may also need to speak with witnesses, review police reports, and visit the accident scene. All of this can take time and may delay your personal injury claim or lawsuit significantly.
The insurance company with whom you’re dealing can also affect the length of your bicycle accident claim. Some insurance companies and their adjusters are more generous than others, and the longer it takes to negotiate a favorable settlement, the longer your case may drag on. In some instances, where insurance companies and their adjusters fail to offer reasonable monetary compensation for your injuries, you may need to file a lawsuit and litigate your case to a conclusion. When that happens, the time clock starts over, so to speak, and may delay your case result.
Finally, the court where your bicycle accident claim is pending can affect the length of time it takes to settle or take your case to trial. Some courts set earlier court dates than others, and some courts are busier than others. Moreover, the COVID-19 pandemic has caused a large backlog of cases in some courts. All these factors may delay your case result.
A knowledgeable bicycle accident lawyer advocating for you can work to expedite the claims-filing and litigation processes and pursue a favorable case resolution within a reasonable time frame.
Filing a Timely Bicycle Accident Lawsuit
Bicycle accident victims only have two years from their accident date to seek monetary damages for their injuries. The statute of limitations time clock begins to run on the accident date and ends precisely two years later. When an accident victim fails to file a timely lawsuit in their case, they waive their right to recover monetary damages for their injuries.
One of the best ways to avoid a statute of limitations problem in your case is to retain experienced legal representation as soon as possible. Your lawyer can help you file a timely lawsuit and assist you throughout every step of the process.
Call a Bicycle Accident Lawyer about Your Legal Matter Today
If you sustained injuries in a recent bicycle accident, retain a skilled lawyer to represent you as soon as possible. Your bicycle accident lawyer can help you recover the total damages that you deserve, either through settlement or litigation.
In the event your lawyer needs to file a lawsuit in the court system, they can assist you throughout every stage of the process. Specifically, your lawyer can represent you at all legal proceedings including discovery depositions, jury trials, and binding arbitration hearings, and zealously advocate for your legal interests there.
Your lawyer will do everything possible to help you maximize the damages you recover in your bicycle accident claim or lawsuit, including compensation for your lost income, inconvenience, mental distress, pain, and suffering.