Bicycle accidents across the U.S. are fairly common, and they often lead to serious injuries. While cyclists can do things to minimize the possibility of getting in a crash, accidents still happen. If you’ve been involved in a bicycle accident, determine if you might need compensation to take care of your injuries. If so, it’s ideal that you know what the law says, and you may also consider getting in touch with a bicycle accident lawyer.
Laws Cyclists Need to Follow
If you’re looking for a bicycle accident attorney, make sure you select one who understands local laws well. According to the New York State Department of Transportation, cyclists need to follow the same traffic laws as other motorists. For example, you need to approach an intersection in the same way as you would if riding a motorcycle, and you need to follow traffic signs and lights. Like any other motorist, you need to yield the right of way to pedestrians.
If you’re involved in a bicycle accident that has resulted in serious injury or loss of life, you need to report it to the Department of Motor Vehicles within 10 days. If you’re involved in a bicycle accident that resulted in serious injury to someone else, you need to provide your contact details to the injured party (if possible) and also report the incident to the police.
Bear in mind that while the state of New York does not prohibit cycling on sidewalks, ordinances passed by local municipalities restrict the same in different parts of the state.
Bicycle Accidents in Numbers
Statistics surrounding bicycle accidents in the U.S. shared by the National Safety Council and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) indicate that:
- Around 130,000 cyclists are injured every year
- Around 1,000 cyclists lose their lives every year
- 27% of bicycle accidents take place at intersections
- Male bicyclists have six times more death rates and five times more injury rates than female cyclists
- The number of cycling-related preventable deaths increased by 44% from 2011 to 2020
Common Types of Bicycle Accidents
Experienced bicycle accident lawyers know that bicycle accidents come in different forms. Some of the common ones they deal with involve:
- Cycling against the traffic
- Read-end collisions
- Right-cross collisions
- Left-cross collisions
- Right-hook collisions
- Door opening
- Hitting/sideswiping while overtaking
- Intersections with no signs/signals
- Road rage
Common Bicycle Accident Injuries
The extent of injuries that result from bicycle accidents may vary from minor to serious. In case of the latter, seeking advice from a bicycle accident attorney or lawyer without wasting time is the ideal way to go. Remember that head injuries can be serious and may lead to long-term disability. Similarly, a back injury can also be debilitating. Some of the common injuries that cyclists risk facing include:
- Head injuries (concussions, contusions, fractures, and trauma)
- Musculoskeletal fractures and dislocations
- Damage to spinal cord/column
- Lung injuries
- Soft tissue injuries
Seeking medical assistance is crucial if you’re involved in a bicycle accident, even if you see no physical signs of injuries. This is because some internal injuries are hard to detect straightaway.
New York’s No-Fault Law
If you are involved in a bicycle accident in New York with a motor vehicle driven by an insured driver, the driver’s no-fault policy is responsible for covering your medical expenses. If you’re involved in an accident with an uninsured motorist or in a hit-and-run case, you may consider applying for benefits through your own car insurance provider or the Motor Vehicle Accident Indemnification Corporation (MVAIC).
How a Bicycle Accident Lawyer Can Help
Experienced bicycle accident attorneys and lawyers specialize in safeguarding the interests of people who are involved in bicycle accidents by helping them get due compensation for their injuries and damages.
A bicycle accident lawyer begins the process by evaluating all the details surrounding your accident. This includes:
- Determining who caused the accident, or who was at fault
- Assessing your injuries and any other damages you might have suffered
- Looking at how the accident has affected or will affect your life in terms of finances, pain, and suffering
- Documenting the costs involved in treating your injuries
- Determining whose insurance policy might provide coverage for your medical costs
With the initial accumulation of information out of the way, your lawyer will carry out the required investigation. You may expect your attorney’s team to carry out most of the investigation. However, there are instances when bicycle accident attorneys/lawyers involve experts from different fields to strengthen their cases. The investigation includes going back to the scene of the accident, interviewing witnesses, going through the accident report, and gathering all relevant medical records.
Upon putting together all the required evidence, your bicycle accident lawyer begins the negotiation process with the insurance company by sending a demand letter. This letter contains details about your accident, the injuries/damages you’ve suffered, and the compensation you seek.
What happens next varies from one case to the next. In some instances, insurance companies pay out the settlement amount with little to no hassle. In some others, they might try to offer a lower amount or refuse to pay at all. In this case, your lawyer might continue negotiating or file a lawsuit. Bear in mind that while most bicycle accident cases don’t make it to court, there is no surefire way to tell how any specific case will progress. As a result, you need to work with a lawyer who is confident of representing your case before a judge or a jury, should the need arise.
Having to deal with the aftermath of a bicycle accident, either as a victim or someone close to a victim, can be painful and daunting. Fortunately, a good bicycle accident lawyer who specializes in handling personal injury cases can help take some weight off your shoulders, not just by guiding you in the right direction, but also by doing most of the required work for you. At the end of the day, your lawyer just wants you to get the compensation you deserve.