BICYCLE ACCIDENT ATTORNEY
Compensation for Injured Cyclists
Every year in the United States, approximately 50,000 people are seriously injured in bicycle and motor vehicle crashes. Other bicycle riders are injured due to debris or obstructions in the roadway. At least 4 percent of bicycle accidents are caused by negligent dog owners who allowed their dog to either run in front of or chase the bicyclist. Injuries are often serious or life-threatening. If you are a bicyclist who was injured due to the negligence of another, it is important to have an experienced bicycle accident attorney by your side to help you obtain just compensation for your injuries.
Arizona crash statistics show that 1,279 bicycle accidents occurred in Arizona in 2018. The majority of these accidents are caused by negligent and reckless motorists who fail to yield the right-of-way to a cyclist who is sharing the road with them. According to Arizona traffic laws, bicyclists have ultimately the same rights on the road as other vehicles do. When a motorist ignores a cyclist’s rights or fails to pay attention and give cyclists the space they need, an accident and serious injury can occur. The same set of statistics shows that more than 1,466 cyclists were injured in the total number of crashes, and 28 people were killed. If you have been seriously injured in a bicycle accident, you deserve fair compensation.
Frequent Causes of Bicycle Accidents
Almost all accidents involving vehicles and bicyclists are caused by negligent drivers. They change lanes without seeing the bicyclist, they make improper turns at intersections in violation of laws applicable to how the turn should be made when bicyclists are riding, and they change lanes without first looking for a bicyclist. Many vehicle drivers get annoyed at bicyclists and are unaware that bicycles are considered vehicles and riders are subject to the same rights and privileges as are vehicle drivers. Nearly half of all bicycle accidents involving a collision with a vehicle occur at intersections.
Accidents on a narrow roadway
According to Arizona law, when vehicle drivers pass bicyclists going their same direction, drivers are required to leave a minimum of three feet between their vehicle and the bike. On narrow roads, impatient drivers who are either unaware of the law or not concerned with it pass even when it is not possible to leave the proper distance and end up colliding with the bicyclist.
Hazardous Road Conditions
Improperly maintained roadways with debris such as vegetative overgrowth, litter left unattended or even unrepaired potholes which obstruct the roadway may cause a bicycle accident. This may be attributable to negligence by the governmental entity charged with maintaining a safe roadway. For example, loose gravel left at a highway construction site after completion of the project which causes a bicyclist to skid and fall may give rise to a lawsuit against the government for the negligence of its state workers in not cleaning up the debris.
Drivers may be texting, eating, fixing make-up, combing hair, adjusting the radio or engaged in any other activity. They do not see bicyclists and crash into them.
Accidents at intersections
- Right-of-way violations: The same right-of-way laws that apply to vehicle drivers applies to bike riders. Unfortunately, drivers may be unaware of this and assume their vehicle has the right of way and expect the bicyclist to watch out for the vehicle.
- Incorrect estimation of speed: At an intersection, it is common for vehicle drivers to underestimate the speed of the bicyclist. Where there is a two-way stop, a driver stops, then enters the intersection expecting to make it across before the bicyclist arrives. The bicyclist, who does not have a stop sign, crosses the intersection and either hits or gets hit by the car whose driver underestimated the speed of the bike rider.
- Left turns: Either driver or rider turns left and does not see the other one resulting in a collision.
- Right turns: There are several ways accidents happen when cars turn right at intersections. They may cut the cyclist off, turning right in front of the bike rider. Drivers are often unaware that they are legally supposed to pull as far to the right as possible so the bicyclist can pass to the left of the right-turning vehicle.
Most Common Injuries Suffered in Bicycle Accidents
Bicyclists, no matter how much protective gear they wear, often suffer severe injuries when involved in a crash with a vehicle. The most common injuries suffered by bicyclists in accidents are:
- Bone fractures: The wrist and arm are most commonly broken since the natural instinct is to put the hand down to try and stop a fall. The wrist fracture generally involves both the ulna and the radius and can be extremely painful. Often, surgery is required to repair the fracture and rehabilitation is difficult. Permanent damage may result.
- Head trauma: Head injuries may be severe and even life-threatening. Arizona law does not require bicyclists to wear helmets, but even those who wear helmets may suffer head injuries when they are violently crashed in to by a moving vehicle.
- Neck injuries: When the head snaps back and forth in a sudden crash, neck injuries such as whiplash are common.
- Spinal cord injuries: Backs are broken and discs damaged. Some who are injured are paralyzed forever.
Other injuries also often occur, such as broken facial bones, loss of teeth, broken legs as well as abrasions and cuts. It is estimated that every year, at least 515,000 emergency room visits are precipitated by bicycle accidents.
Damages to Which You are Entitled
If you are injured in a bicycle accident due to the negligence of another, you are entitled to be compensated for your personal injuries related to the accident including:
- Current and future medical expenses.
- Current and future lost wages.
- Costs of physical rehabilitation.
- Costs of job retraining if you are unable to return to your former employment.
- Pain and suffering.
Other losses you suffered due to your injury. By filing a personal injury claim against the negligent motorist who hit you, you can recover damages for your medical bills, any loss of income, and pain and suffering.
Proving who was at fault in a crash between a vehicle and a bicycle is not as easy as you might think. Drivers and their insurers go to great measures to place the blame on the bicyclist. Arizona law applies the principal of comparative fault, meaning that if the driver or insurer can prove you were even partially at fault, your claim for damages will be reduced. For example, if your damages equal $10,000, but the insurer proves you were 20 percent at fault, your award would be reduced by 20 percent and you would only collect $8,000.
This is a difficult area of the law and it is rare for an insurer to pay the full amount of the claim without at least trying to put part of the blame on you, the bicyclist. At Friedl Richardson, we have many years of experience helping injured bicyclists collect damages for their injuries and know how to defend against allegations that bicyclists were somehow at fault for their own injuries. We also know how to prove fault of the negligent driver so that you receive the maximum damages available to you under the law.
Statute of Limitations
The law requires you to file your negligence claim within a certain period of time after the accident. If you claim a governmental entity was negligent and responsible for your accident, the time is even shorter. If you miss the deadline, you will forever lose your right to be compensated for your injuries. At Friedl Richardson, we understand the applicable statute of limitations and will evaluate the circumstances of your case and be certain it is filed within the required time frame.
Contact a Personal Injury Attorney
Friedl Richardson Trial Lawyers is a seasoned Phoenix bicycle accident law firm dedicated to helping clients obtain the compensation they deserve. Our attorneys can investigate your case in detail in order to assess the full extent of your injuries and to establish liability. We have a registered nurse on staff to ensure that your injuries are property evaluated. With more than 75 years of combined experience, our team has what it takes to handle your bicycle accident case. Contact us today to set up your free consultation!