Two bicyclists died nearly every day in the U.S. in 2014 as the result of traffic accidents, reports the National Highway Traffic Highway Administration. On top of these 726 deaths, approximately 50,000 bicyclists were injured in traffic accidents that year according to a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) report. Of these injuries and deaths, many were the result of collisions with vehicles.
Injured victims or their families may be entitled to compensation. For help, call a cycling accident and injury lawyer in Pittsburgh today: 412-661-1400.
Common Types of Cycling Traffic Accidents
Whether bicyclists are sharing the road with cars or sticking to the sidewalk, accidents are bound to happen. Injuries to cyclists can be serious and include broken bones, road rash, head trauma, spinal injuries, and even death. The following list includes the most common types of cycling traffic accidents.
Collisions at Intersections
Intersections are the most dangerous place for bicycle accidents. Vehicles are likely to crash into bicyclists traveling in bike lanes or on the right shoulder, especially while turning.
One common example of this kind of collision occurs when a vehicle is turning left across traffic and bicyclist is traveling straight in the opposite direction. In this situation, the bicyclist has right of way, but the driver of the vehicle may not see the bicyclist or may try to cut them off.
Another common example of an intersection crash happens when a cyclist and a vehicle are both waiting at a red light in the same lane. When the light turns green, the bicyclist begins moving forward in a straight line but the car turns right, hitting the bicyclist.
Sometimes drivers misjudge the distance between their car and the bicyclist traveling on the right-hand side of the lane. When this happens, drivers may “clip” a bicyclist, especially with their side-view mirror.
When a bicyclist is traveling next to parallel parked cars, there is a real risk of dooring accidents. With these kinds of accidents, bicyclists are following the flow of traffic and traveling at relatively high speeds. However, because bicyclists must stay in the furthermost right-hand lane near the shoulder, they are directly in the path of any driver’s side doors opened into traffic.
If the driver of a parked car throws the door open in front of a bicyclist and the bicyclist cannot stop in time, serious injuries often result. In these cases, the driver exiting the vehicle has a duty to check for oncoming traffic, including bicyclists, before opening their door.
Causes of Cycling Accidents in Pittsburgh
Many bicycle-vehicle accidents happen because the driver simply failed to see the bicyclists. In some cases, this could be due to poor visibility caused by darkness or bad weather.
To reduce the likelihood of these accidents, Pennsylvania law requires bicyclists riding at night to have a front light as well as rear and side reflectors. Bicyclists should also always wear bright, reflective clothing.
In addition to the cyclist not being visible enough, drivers sometimes fail to see bicyclists simply because they are unaware of their surroundings.
Other causes of cycling accidents include:
- Driver negligence, such as driving too fast, taking a turn without checking blind spots, or drunk driving
- Driving distracted, such using a cell phone, reading, eating, or changing the radio
Who is at fault for cycling accidents?
Like all traffic accidents, liability for accidents between a vehicle and a bicyclist will depend on the facts. Bicyclists must obey all traffic rules when riding on the road or in a bike lane. This means stopping at stop signs and lights.
If the bicyclist instead rides on the sidewalk (not allowed in business districts or where there is a bike lane available), he or she must obey pedestrian laws and always yield to a pedestrian.
If the bicyclist violates a traffic rule (e.g., runs a red light), he or she will likely be liable for the accident.
In some cases, both the driver and the cyclist may be partially liable for the accident. For example, if a bicyclist runs a red light and collides with a speeding motorist, both may be liable.
Am I at fault for my injuries if I was not wearing a helmet?
Under Pennsylvania law, insurers and courts may not use helmet use to place contributory negligence on a cyclist. So, under Pennsylvania law, technically you are not responsible for your injuries even if you were not wearing a helmet.
Note: While the insurer cannot use your helmet use against you, insurance adjusters will likely attempt to get you to accidentally admit fault. Do not agree to a recorded statement until you have spoken with an attorney.
How will I cover my medical bills?
How you pay the majority of your medical bills and lost wages depends on who was at fault in the accident. Regardless of fault, you will start with your own personal injury protection (PIP) benefits. If you do not own a car, you may be able to use a family member’s PIP benefits if you live in the same household.
If your injuries surpass the policy limits, you may be able to hold the driver liable for your injuries.
What evidence should you collect after a cycling accident?
There are several pieces of evidence that you can collect after a cycling accident to help build a case against the at-fault party, including:
- The other driver’s contact/insurance information: If you are able, get the driver’s contact information as well as his or her insurance information (e.g., policy number, insurer’s number, etc.).
- Medical records: Visiting a doctor after the crash is not only good for your health, but the medical records from such a visit will serve as proof of your injuries.
- Witness testimony: Be sure to speak with any witnesses at the scene. If you unable at the time, their contact information should be in the police report.
- Police report: The police report will be especially valuable. It will have any citations issued, the names and contact information of any witnesses, and the officers’ opinions about the crash.
- Surveillance footage: In some cases, nearby stores may have surveillance footage of the accident. You may also be able to gather this footage from traffic cameras at intersections.
- Photographs: If possible, it is a good idea to take photographs of any damage and of the general area surrounding the accident.
- Preserve your damaged bicycle.
Contact the Pittsburgh Accident Attorneys at Berger and Green for Help
If you or a loved one was injured in a cycling accident with a negligent driver, you may be entitled to compensation. The cycling accident and injury lawyers of Berger and Green in Pittsburgh are here to help you file an insurance claim or bring a lawsuit against an at-fault party after an accident.
Contact us today for a consultation: 412-661-1400.