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Know Your Rights in a Bicycle Accident

Although often overlooked in comparison to auto accidents, bicycle accidents can result in serious and sometimes even fatal injuries. Lawsuits to recover damages for injuries sustained in bicycle accidents involve many of the same issues as any auto accident. The personal injury attorneys at Goldstein & Hayes, P.C. are experienced in all types of personal injury lawsuits.. Contact them if you have suffered an injury in a bicycle or automobile accident.

Bicycle Accidents Similar to Automobile Accidents

Who is responsible for causing a bicycle accident, or who is liable, is often determined by negligence, that is, whether the car driver’s negligence caused the cyclist’s injuries, and also whether there was negligence on the cyclist’s part that caused or contributed to the injuries. Cyclists, like drivers, are required to obey the rules of the road. These rules include traffic laws and a duty to exercise ordinary care with regards to the safety of everyone on the road.

When a bicyclist sues for damages related to an accident, the outcome generally depends on two questions:

  • Did negligence or recklessness on the part of the driver cause the accident and subsequent injuries?

  • Did the bicyclist cause or contribute to the accident through his or her own negligence?

Negligence by a driver can take many forms, such as speeding, running a stop sign, and drifting into a bike lane. These actions can be considered reckless in some cases if they are done with a knowing disregard for the safety of others. Likewise, cyclist negligence can take on many forms, such as riding on a one-way street, running stop signs, and turning abruptly into traffic. Cyclists engaging in negligent behavior can lower or sometimes eliminate an award for damages.

Are Bikes Getting Safer?

In 2013, 743 people were killed by bicycle/motor vehicle accidents. This was the highest total since 2006, when 772 were killed, and was a stark increase from the 682 killed the year before, representing about 2% of all persons killed in traffic accidents. The estimated number of bicyclists injured in accidents fell from 49,000 in 2012 to 48,000 in 2013. Injury figures for bicycles are often spotty at best, as it is estimated that the police record only 10% of all bicycle injuries.

There are obvious risks associated with biking, just as with any other mode of transportation. While bicycle fatalities represent only 2% of all traffic fatalities, they account for only 1% of all trips in the United States, thus accounting for a disproportionate amount of traffic deaths. And yet, bicycling remains a safe and healthy activity for tens of millions of people every year. Despite this over-representation in crash data, there is no reliable way to know how many miles bicyclists travel each year or how long it takes them to cover these distances. Because of this, we currently do not know the amount of risk that bicyclists face when out on the road, but the health benefits of riding may mitigate some of the risk.