People on bikes are extremely vulnerable when it comes to vehicle accidents. Though wearing a helmet is always recommended – and helmets have been shown to reduce the risk of head injuries by 60% – bicyclists have no other protection from the impact of a vehicle crash. Experiencing an accident on a bicycle can result in extensive injuries. How do bicycle accidents occur, and how can a personal injury lawyer help a bicycle accident victim claim compensation?
Causes of Bicycle Accidents
Bicyclists are always at a disadvantage when competing for space with cars on the road. Driver behavior and mistakes are a common reason for bicycle accidents.
- Distracted driving. When a driver does not have their full attention on the road, they risk not seeing a bicyclist in time to avoid an accident. Cell phone use, eating or drinking, talking to passengers, looking for something on the floor or in the glove compartment, or brushing hair/applying makeup create dangerous conditions for bicyclists on the road.
- Changing lanes unsafely. If a driver does not look before changing lanes, changes without signaling or changes lanes too fast, they can collide with a bicyclist.
- Following too closely. In order for a bicyclist to safely share the road with cars, vehicles should maintain a distance of 1.5 meters (or about 5 feet). When a vehicle does not leave adequate space for a bicyclist, it increases the chances of a collision and makes it far more difficult for a bicyclist to move out of the way of an approaching vehicle.
- Speeding. Driving too fast creates very hazardous conditions for bicyclists. A speeding vehicle may not be able to avoid a collision, and the faster a vehicle is traveling, the more severe the injuries will be for the bicyclist.
- Drunk or drugged driving. A driver under the influence of alcohol or prescription or illegal drugs will have reduced coordination, impaired judgment and slower reaction time, and at increased risk of causing an accident.
- Failure to yield. In intersections, turns and roundabouts where vehicles are required to yield to other traffic, many drivers do not look for bicyclists and can cause an accident.
Common Injuries in Bicycle Accidents
Injuries in bicycle accidents can range from a mild sprain to serious back and neck injuries. These are some of the common injuries experienced by bicyclists:
- Sprains and bruises. A slow collision can knock a bicyclist off their bike, and the natural reaction is to stop the fall with the hands. The hands and wrists can be sprained and bruising can occur on other areas of the body that absorb the impact of the fall.
- Broken bones. The impact of being thrown from a bicycle can cause broken arms, shoulders, legs, facial bones, and teeth.
- Head injuries. Although helmets offer some protection, a serious bicycle accident can cause a helmet to break or fly off, and even with a helmet on, a bicyclist can end up with a concussion.
- Skin injuries. When a bicyclist falls onto a road, the impact can cause them to be dragged along the surface. The skin gets abraded and small pieces of gravel or asphalt get embedded in the skin, causing an injury called “road rash.” The abrasions can become painful and infected and must be thoroughly cleaned to remove the debris and disinfect the wound.
How Can a Personal Injury Lawyer Help After a Bicycle Accident?
In order to claim compensation for injuries sustained in a bicycle accident, it must be proven that another party caused the accident through negligent behavior. A personal injury lawyer will build a case to demonstrate the other party was at fault.
A personal injury lawyer will also have expert knowledge of all types of compensation their client is entitled to, including medical costs, lost income, property damage and pain and suffering.
A lawyer will also negotiate with insurance companies on their client’s behalf, and pursue the largest settlement their client is entitled to under the law. Insurance companies may make an initial low offer, in the hopes the claimant will accept it to get the process over with. A personal injury lawyer will counteroffer until a fair settlement is reached.
If you have been in a bicycle accident caused by someone else, the expert team at Mueller, Lawson & Frobish can help you claim the compensation you deserve. Contact us today for a consultation.