Although the police only record a small fraction of bicycle accidents, 762 fatal bicycle crashes were reported in 2012. About 88% of these bicyclists were men. Nearly 50,000 bicyclists were injured that year. Unlike automobile drivers, bicyclists are entirely unprotected when they suffer a crash. This means that their injuries may be much more severe than those suffered by someone in a car in the same type of crash.
Getting hit by a car is the most frequent cause of injury in a bicycle crash. Other sources of injury include falls, badly maintained roads, rider errors, other collisions, and pets running into the street. If you are bicycling and a car hits you, but you are able to talk and move around, you should try to get the driver's contact information, vehicle license number, and insurance information. If you are too injured to ask yourself, you should ask any bystander to ask the driver for this information.
Wearing a Helmet
No state law requires adults to wear bicycle helmets, but local laws may. Regardless of the law, wearing a helmet may help a bicyclist recover damages by reducing their contributory or comparative negligence and showing that they are a generally responsible person.
Even if you do not think you are seriously injured, you should call the police to come out to the scene. You should offer them a statement and note the types of injuries you have. The police may even ticket the driver. This can be powerful evidence to use in negotiations with the insurer or at trial. Once you have the other driver's information, you should also take down the contact information of any witnesses. In the case of a hit and run, you may want to try to take down the car's license plate number or take a photograph of the license plate.
You should take photographs of the scene, as well as your bike, helmet, and clothes in their damaged condition after the accident. You should not get these items repaired or throw them away until you talk to a lawyer. These items may be useful to your attorney and any experts he or she retains.
What Defenses Are Used in Bicycle Accident Lawsuits?
The insurer of a driver at fault for a bicycle accident will try to blame the bicyclist. Some common claims are that a bicyclist was not visible, the bicyclist was speeding, or the bicyclist was riding in the lane instead of the shoulder. Evidence can be used to show that the bicyclist was partially responsible.
Violation of Bicycle Laws
A defendant may use state or local laws, such as laws requiring a slower bicyclist to ride close to the side of the road, to illustrate a bicyclist’s negligent behavior.
States follow the doctrines of either comparative or contributory negligence. These rules dictate how much a plaintiff can be at fault for an accident and still recover some portion of damages. In a pure comparative negligence state, a driver can show that the bicyclist was 90% at fault, and the bicyclist will still be able to recover 10% of his or her damages from the driver. In some modified comparative negligence states, a driver can show a bicyclist was 51% or more at fault, and the bicyclist will be fully barred from recovering damages. In other modified comparative negligence states, the driver can show a bicyclist was 50% or more at fault, and the bicyclist will be fully barred from recovering damages. In a contributory negligence state, a driver can show that a bicyclist was only 1% or more at fault to prevent the bicyclist from being able to recover anything.