Bicycle Accidents can be Caused by Dangerous Conditions on Private Property
While bicycle accidents between motor vehicles and bicyclists are certainly capable of causing serious injury, an issue that is discussed less involves bicycle accidents that are caused by dangerous conditions on private property. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there were approximately 515,000 injuries related to bicycle accidents treated in emergency departments around the country during 2012. When bicyclists are involved in accidents, they can easily be thrown from their bikes, often resulting in serious bodily injury. In some instances, these accidents can be caused by a property owner’s negligence in the maintenance of his or her property. When this occurs, bicyclists are often able to successfully assert a legal claim against the party responsible for the property on which their injury occurred.
Examples of Dangerous Conditions that May Cause Bicycle Accidents
Under general premises liability principles, a property owner who makes his or her property available to the public has a duty to keep the premises free from any unreasonably dangerous conditions or warn guests as to the presence of such conditions. A common example of such a warning is “wet floor” sign that many of us have seen when visiting the grocery store after a spill or during routine floor maintenance. Of course, most bicycling is done outdoors, so the types of hazardous conditions that often cause bicycle accidents will be generally be found in parking lots, driveways, walkways, or dedicated bicycle paths. Some of the more common types of hazards that can cause bicycle accidents include:
- Accumulations of ice or snow – While winter weather conditions are relatively rare in Georgia, they do occasionally occur. Snow or ice can wreak havoc on pedestrians, motorists, and bicyclists alike, often resulting in serious injury-causing accidents. In certain cases, a bicyclist who is involved in an accident because of ice or snow on public property may be able to recover for his or her injuries and other losses.
- Potholes – When bicyclists hit a pothole at any significant speed, they can easily be thrown forward over their handlebars and onto the ground or into another object. Because they are falling forward, pothole-caused accidents can easily result in serious head, neck, or face injuries, including traumatic brain injuries or spinal cord injuries.
- Unmarked cables or utility fixtures – Private properties often have various utility fixtures and equipment providing services to structures present upon the property. If these items are hidden or obscured in a place where a bicyclist may reasonable travel, they can easily cause serious accidents.
- Cracked or uneven pavement – Similarly to potholes, hitting a crack or uneven piece of pavement has the potential to throw a bicyclist off of his or her bike. The presence of these conditions may indicate negligent maintenance on the part of a property owner.
Ways to Prevent Injuries on a Bicycle
A significantly larger number of people in the United States choose to travel by motor vehicle than on a bicycle. However, though bicyclists make up only about 1 percent of travelers, people on bicycles are still at a greater risk of injury or death than people who drive or ride in any type of motor vehicle.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that, in 2010 alone, approximately 515,000 people visited emergency medical facilities in the United States due to injuries suffered in bicycle accidents. Such accidents can be extremely severe and even fatal, as nearly 800 bicyclists died of their accident-related injuries in that same year.
Riding a bicycle is fun, healthy, and good for the environment, so the risks of injury should not stop people from going for a recreational ride or using a bicycle to commute. Instead, all bicycle riders should be aware of the steps they can take to prevent injuries in the unfortunate event of a collision.
Wear a Helmet
Wearing a helmet is one of the main ways you can protect yourself from injury in a collision. In many bicycle accidents, riders can get thrown from their bikes and can crash to the ground, often hitting their head on the pavement, curb, car, or other object. Such a blow to the head commonly results in a traumatic brain injury.
Such injuries can not only require extensive medical care, but can also cause long-lasting challenges in your life or even leave you permanently disabled. Such brain injuries can often be prevented by wearing a helmet. Georgia law currently only requires riders younger than 16 to wear helmets. However, helmets are extremely important for riders of all ages.
If you are riding at night, not only should you have a light and/or reflectors on your bicycle, but you should also make sure to wear plenty of retro-reflective clothing and have reflectors on your helmet. It is also important to stay visible during daytime hours, as drivers are often specifically looking out for other cars and not for bicycles. Therefore, bicyclists should make themselves as visible as possible by wearing fluorescent colors and bright patterns.
Know the Rules of the Road
Like operators of any other vehicle, bicyclists must follow traffic laws. Knowing when to yield, when to pass, how to signal a turn, and more will help keep you safe on the road. You should know never to follow a car too closely or cut a car off by suddenly switching lanes or turning in front of the car. Additionally, you should be familiar with all of the common mistakes that drivers make when driving next to a bicyclist so you can be a good defensive rider, as well.
At the law office of Goldstein Hayes & Lina, we are dedicated to helping people in Atlanta who have suffered needless injuries on bicycles or other forms of transportation. If a driver or other party caused your injuries, call us today to discuss your case for free with an experienced injury attorney in Atlanta, GA.
As with other types of premises liability cases, the determinative question for the purposes of establishing legal liability in many bicycle accident cases is whether the actions of the property owner were reasonable under the circumstances. This is often an extremely fact-specific question and requires significant legal analysis, which is best handled by an experienced personal injury lawyer.
Ways Driver Negligence can Cause Bicycle Accidents
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there were more than 500,000 bicycle-related injuries that required emergency medical treatment in 2010. In major metropolitan areas like Atlanta, there are bound to be accidents between bicyclists and motor vehicles, even under the best of circumstances. Fortunately for injured bicyclists, they can often recover for their medical expenses and other losses by filing a legal claim against the motorist that caused their accident, provided it was caused by the negligence of the driver. Accident victims who are represented by personal injury attorneys often recover significantly more for their injuries than those who choose to represent themselves, so it is important for anyone injured in a bicycle accident to retain legal counsel as soon as possible after an accident happens.
There are a number of ways that a driver could negligently cause a bicycle accident in the Atlanta area. Below is some information about some of the more common reasons behind bicycle accidents.
Distracted driving – Distracted drivers cause accidents and injuries on a daily basis. In fact, the United States government estimates that well over 400,000 people were injured by distracted drivers in 2012 alone. The modern ubiquity of smart phones and other personal electronic devices has caused increased the incidence of distracted driving, but there are other types of distractions that are decidedly low-tech. Some of the other types of distracted driving that can easily cause accidents include:
In many cases, a driver will not readily admit that he or she was distracted, so it is important for victims to retain an attorney who understands how to obtain evidence of driver distraction.
Ignoring traffic laws – Traffic laws are designed to ensure the safe flow of traffic and make clear who has the right of way in a given situation. When drivers disregard these rules, it makes it nearly impossible for others to anticipate what they will do. Additionally, speeding is extremely dangerous, as the faster a vehicle travels the longer its stopping distance will be, often resulting in extremely dangerous conditions. Other examples of violations of traffic laws that could easily result in a car accident can include:
- Ignoring traffic signals or stop signs;
- Failure to yield the right of way;
- Failure to signal turns or lane changes; and
- Following too closely.
After an accident caused by a traffic violation, victims should be certain to obtain a police report regarding the incident and contact information from anyone who witnessed the accident.
Impaired driving – The vast majority of drivers understand that driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs (DUI) is against the law. Unfortunately, accidents caused by intoxicated drivers continue to occur, sometimes with devastating consequences. In addition to the criminal penalties associated with (DUI), drunk drivers who cause injury can also be held civilly liable by the victims they injure.