According to the National Highway Transportation and Safety Administration (NHTSA), an average of more than 800 bicyclists die in traffic related accidents every year. In an accident involving an automobile and a bicyclist, the bicyclist is often the severely injured party. This is due to the fact that a bicyclist lacks protection of the steel casing of an automobile. Bike riders are often thrust from their cycle head first, causing catastrophic injuries to the neck, head and face. The experienced accident lawyers in Philadelphia at Freedman & Lorry, P.C. have been helping individuals and their families recover damages for injuries suffered in accidents for more than 70 years.
Pennsylvania Motor Vehicle Code
Pennsylvania’s Motor Vehicle Code (MVC) considers bicycles to be vehicles. As such, bicyclists enjoy the same rights and responsibilities as other motorists. Cyclists have to abide by the MVC and follow traffic signals just as other motorists or they will risk a finding of fault in an accident.
Bicyclists have a right to ride on the shoulder or appropriate travel lane. Cyclists should never ride against traffic. They should give a signal audibly when approaching and passing a pedestrian on a sidewalk as pedestrians have the right-of-way. When trying to use a crosswalk, a cyclist should dismount and walk with the bicycle across the crosswalk. However, motorists are responsible for traveling at a prudent speed and allowing four feet distance when overtaking a bicycle.
In a business district, bicycles are not allowed on sidewalks unless there is a bicycle-only lane available or an official traffic control device permits it. Parking of the cycle is allowed on sidewalks or curb as long as it does not obstruct other vehicles or impede pedestrian traffic. In Pennsylvania, bicycles are not allowed on freeways.
Most Common Bicycle Accidents
The same types of scenarios that cause motor vehicle crashes also cause bicycle accidents. However, there are some scenarios that are unique to bicycles.
- Driving in the dark. Often, bicycle accidents occur in the evening when an automobile driver is unable to see a cyclist because bicycles lack the number of headlights and are small in size in comparison to other vehicles on the road.
- Drunk driving. According to the NTSHA, 35 percent of fatalities in bicycle accidents involved alcohol abuse.
- Distracted driving. Other accidents involve vehicles turning left or right and crashing into an oncoming bicycle because the driver was distracted and did not see the approaching bicyclist.
- Unsafe roads and sidewalks. Potholes and bumps or poorly designed roads and sidewalks can be detrimental to bicyclists as these can cause a bicycle to tip over causing the bicyclist to fall and suffer injuries. Also, a vehicle can then crash into the bicyclist due to lack of visibility of a fallen bicycle and cyclist.
- Automobile Doors. Bicyclists crash into an automobile as the driver of passenger unexpectedly opens their door without first looking out for oncoming cyclist.
Liability in Bicycle Accidents
Bicycle accidents are governed by state and local traffic laws. All motorists have a duty to drive with care with regard to the safety of all when using the roadways. Often, the inquiry in an accident case involves asking who was negligent? A motorist is negligent when they do not follow traffic rules such as speed limits or right-of-ways or ignore traffic signals.
Cyclists can also be found negligent when they have violated traffic rules. Cyclists may be negligent when they are not riding in a designated bicycle lane, fail to yield or signal when turning, or are riding against traffic.
If the cyclist is deemed negligent, he or she may not be able to recover any damages or damages may be reduced in proportion to the percentage he or she was at fault. If the cyclist rode negligently and caused others injuries, then he or she may be liable for the damages claimed by the other injured party.
Both parties can be found to be negligent. However, in order for the cyclist to recover damages, his comparative negligence should be less than 51 percent. After damages are calculated, per Pennsylvania law, they will be reduced by the percentage of cyclist’s fault. For example, if the cyclist was found to have contributed to the accident by 20 percent, his or her damages will be reduced by 20 percent.
Bicycle injuries can be catastrophic due to the fact that cyclist does not have the protection of the steel frame of the automobile or airbag protection. Cyclists often fly over the handlebars of the cycle and land on their heads and many fail to wear helmets which can lead to head injuries. Head injuries can result in memory loss and brain function. Other injuries such as broken bones and fractures can be permanently disabling.
Some other injuries include:
- Fractures and broken bones
- Facial trauma, scarring
- Spinal cord injuries
- Trauma to the brain
- Neck injuries
- Bruises, cuts and wounds
In order to recover the maximum amount of damages for injuries sustained in a bicycle accident, it is important to retain experts to opine about the severity of the injuries and the legitimacy of the damages sustained. It is also important to conduct a thorough accounting of loss of income, other economic and non-economic damages for pain and suffering and emotional distress.
Lawyers build a case of negligence against the other party through police reports, witness reports, expert testimony and other documentation. It is imperative to retain personal injury attorneys who will thoroughly prepare your case for maximum compensation.
Bucks County Car Accident Lawyers at Freedman & Lorry, P.C. Recover Maximum Compensation for Bicycle Accident Victims
If you were injured in a bicycle accident caused by someone else’s negligence, contact the Bucks County car accident lawyers at Freedman & Lorry, P.C. Call us today at 888-999-1962 or contact us online to arrange a free consultation. We represent clients in Philadelphia and throughout Pennsylvania, including the areas of Bucks County and Delaware County. We also have offices in Cherry Hill, New Jersey and Pinehurst, North Carolina to assist clients in the surrounding areas.