Bike Accidents: What to Do Following a Crash
Bicycle fatalities are serious incidents, and it can pay to be prepared should one occur.
According to the CDC, there were over 900 bicycle fatalities in 2013 and roughly 494,000 bicycle-related injuries. Even though only 1% of trips are taken by bicycle, bicyclists have a greater risk of being involved in a fatal crash than car drivers. These statistics are pretty staggering, so if you’re an avid bicyclist, knowing what to do if you’re involved in a bike accident is crucial.
There are numerous types of accidents that can occur between a car and a bike; however, according to Active.com, there are two types that are more common than the rest:
- “The left-hand turn, where a vehicle turns left directly into the path of a cyclist going the opposite direction. In this situation, the motorist often never even sees the cyclist until it’s too late.”
- “The right hook, where a vehicle passes a cyclist who’s riding in the bike lane or right shoulder going the same direction, then immediately makes a right turn directly into the cyclist’s path.”
No matter the type, though, it’s important to make sure you handle the situation correctly so you’re not left in the dust.
At the Crash Site
Even if the accident and injuries are minor, it’s always a good idea to call the police. A police report will provide documented details of what happened in the bike accident so you don’t have any issues submitting an insurance claim later.
Two things commonly happen when a report isn’t filed:
- You realize later that your injuries were worse than you originally thought and you have trouble getting insurance to cover the medical costs.
- The driver that hit you decides not to admit fault and changes their story causing problems with insurance coverage.
Sometimes police are reluctant to talk with the bicyclist about the accident and only speak with the driver of the car. Make sure to push for getting your perspective and details of the crash and injuries into the report. If there are any witnesses willing to speak for you, get their names and contact information, as well. The more information you have the better chance you have of insurance covering damages to your bike and medical costs.
Seeing a Doctor
It’s extremely important to get yourself checked out even if you don’t think anything is wrong. Many people don’t realize the extent of their injuries until 24 hours or more after the accident. There’s a lot of adrenaline pumping through your body initially, so the pain often doesn’t surface until that adrenaline begins to wear off.
Also, having a record that you went to the doctor or ER immediately will help to acknowledge the fact that you were injured. Should you have any issues with insurance, you’ll have medical records to show as proof.
Recuperating Your Losses
If the driver was at fault, their liability insurance should cover any damages to your bike. Before you move your bike or any of your equipment from the scene, take several pictures of you, your gear, and the entire accident scene.
After an insurance adjuster looks at it, you’ll want to take your bike to an experienced bike repair shop to find out the extent of the damage. Smaller problems, like tiny cracks, can be missed by an amateur’s eye. The shop can write a detailed description of all of the damages and also determine if it’s safe to ride.
Collisions with Pedestrians and Bicycles
Automobiles have to share the roads with pedestrians and bicycles, and this fact has been the cause of more than one tragic collision. Whether it’s mountain bikes on country roads or cyclists and pedestrians in cities, you are always likely to be sharing the road with non-motorized vehicles.
Unfortunately, this situation creates even more hazards on the road for both motorists and their non-motored counterparts.
Car Accidents Involving Pedestrians
In an ideal world, there would be clean, well-kept sidewalks along every roadside and crosswalks with maintained lights at every corner, and everyone could be trusted to follow all of the appropriate signals. Unfortunately, in the real world, cars and pedestrians don’t have such a simple relationship on the road.
As with other types of car accidents, the key is figuring out who was negligent, and then proving that fact. Pedestrians have a legal obligation to obey rules and traffic signals as much as drivers do, so acts like jaywalking, crossing against the light or attempting to cross a highway that is clearly marked, “no pedestrians” are all violations of the law.
On the other side of the coin though, the pedestrian accident can easily be the fault of the driver. If the pedestrian involved was following all applicable rules of the road, then driver negligence is usually the assumed cause of the accident.
Sadly, driving while intoxicated is another common cause for car wrecks involving pedestrians. A driver with a slowed reaction time may not see a pedestrian crossing the road in time to stop, even if they’re crossing legally.
Pedestrians struck by automobiles frequently require the assistance of an attorney familiar with these kinds of accidents. Car insurance companies are notorious for employing tactics that allow them to avoid paying damages when a pedestrian is struck by a policy-holder.
Car Accidents Involving Bicycles
As with collisions involving pedestrians, motorists generally have less chance of injury when colliding with bicycles. The fact that cyclists are in more danger doesn’t negate the fact that they can and do make dangerous mistakes on the road.
When bicycles attempt to pass a row of stopped cars near an intersection, for example, they create a dangerous situation both for themselves and for those waiting at the intersection. These sorts of dangers may be compounded by cyclists neglecting to wear helmets, as the Colorado laws don’t require helmet use. Because cyclists are often not wearing helmets, something as simple as opening the door of your car while it is parked alongside a roadway can cause an extreme hazard.
When there is a car wreck involving a bicycle and an automobile, situations like a parked car with an open door are rarely the cause though. Instead, these car wrecks often occur at intersections, usually when either the driver or the cyclist fails to obey the appropriate right of way rules.
In these cases, fault lies with the person who ignored right of way, regardless of whether that person is driving a car or a bicycle. Anyone injured in such an accident due to someone else’s negligence is legally entitled to recourse for their related medical bills, and should consider seeking the assistance of an experienced Colorado car accident attorney.
When to Call a Denver Car Accident Attorney
Both of the situations outlined here will put you on tricky ground legally, and may make it more difficult than usual to obtain restitution for your property damage and medical bills. Car accidents of this type are not the norm for the legal system or for insurance companies.
An experienced Colorado car accident attorney can help you find your way through the complex legalities of these types of collisions and receive the reimbursement you deserve.
Bicycle Safety Tips for Cyclists and Motorists
Denver attorney R. Mack Babcock and associates provide tips to both motorists and cyclists on avoiding potentially fatal accidents
Besides Colorado being one of the more fit states in the USA, it is also one of the most beautiful states. Add those two together, and you have many bicyclists that enjoy riding all over Denver and other Colorado cities on a regular basis.
However, more cyclists on the road also means the potential for more accidents. Below are a variety of ways to stay as safe as possible on a bicycle as well as tips for the motorist to avoid hitting a cyclist.
On the national average, .5 percent of the population commutes to work on a bicycle. In Denver, the number is 2.2 percent which is 4 times the national average. Since 2005, there has been a 57 percent increase in Denver commuters biking to work.
According to figures from the Denver Police Department, (DPD) there were 239 accidents involving bicycles/autos in 2011. In 2012, the number rose to 265. Unfortunately, the numbers are continuing to rise so we all must take extra precaution.
Tips for bicyclists to stay safe
- First and foremost we all know to wear a helmet. However, this is not the “end all” to be safe on a bike! Plenty of people have had fatal accidents on a bike even in a helmet.
- Find streets that aren’t so busy! Yes, bike riders have rights and there are laws protecting the cyclists. However, what good are these laws if you are in a fatal bicycle accident? Try to find routes off the main thoroughfares to reduce the risk of an accident.
- Have plenty of lights on your bike and wear bright clothing at all times so motorists can see you!
- Don’t take motorists by surprise, signal when you are turning. Make absolute certain that you are seen!
- It is amazing to see a cyclist on the phone, texting or even listening to music. PAY ATTENTION TO EVERYONE AROUND YOU!
- (PDF) The Colorado Bicycling Manual is an excellent tool to have to help keep you safe on the road. This also contains all the Colorado bicycle law information.
Tips for Motorists to Avoid Bicyclists
- Do not follow too close. You may think it is an acceptable distance between you and the bike but you must take extra precaution and stay back even further than you think you should!
- Respect the bicyclists! They do have a right on the road. Yes, some should probably reconsider what roads they drive on but they do have rights. WATCH OUT FOR THEM!
- When backing out of a parking spot or even your driveway, double and triple check to make sure there is no bike or other pedestrian in the way!
- Do not pass the cyclist too closely. You may get too close and cause them to actually crash.
- Always look for them when making a left-hand turn.
- Your impatience to get around cyclists could cause a major head-on collision. BE PATIENT!
Bottom line, cyclists and motorists need to have respect and watch out for one another. However, this does not always happen. If you have been injured in an accident caused by negligence, please call R. Mack Babcock, an experienced attorney representing injured bicyclists, for a free consultation.
Bike vs. Car: Who Has the Right of Way?
In many traffic situations, the answer can be hazy. Colorado bicycle-car accident attorney Mack Babcock explains what the law says and how it can affect your injury case.
Bicycle enthusiasts are often caught in the middle when it comes to which traffic rules apply while riding on or near a roadway. Legally speaking, cyclists are generally considered pedestrians in most situations, but when using the roadway for transportation, they are also required to comply with traffic flow regulations such as stopping at crosswalks and biking with the flow of traffic.
In designated crosswalks, bicyclists must also respect the rights of walking pedestrians even though they may not be required to dismount and push the bike across the street. However, in many parts of Colorado, riding a bike on the sidewalk is illegal. According to Colorado bike law:
“A person shall not ride a bicycle or electrical assisted bicycle upon and along a sidewalk or pathway or across a roadway upon and along a crosswalk where such use of bicycles or electrical assisted bicycles is prohibited by official traffic control devices or local ordinances. A person riding a bicycle or electrical assisted bicycle shall dismount before entering any crosswalk where required by official traffic control devices or local ordinances.”
Whether a cyclist can ride or must dismount on a sidewalk or crosswalk, they are granted all of the rights and responsibilities of a pedestrian when crossing the street.
In the case of a bike accident with a motor vehicle, right of way is determined by many factors – just as it is in a car crash. The intent and actions of the bicycle rider are closely evaluated when a collision occurs.
Continue reading to learn about bicycle safety law in the state of Colorado. (Don’t live in Colorado? Click here to find the bike laws in your state.)
When crossing a street, bicyclists are allowed to use the same designated pedestrian crosswalks as those walking. Bike riders are usually considered to be the negligent party if they strike a walking pedestrian, as there is a reasonable duty of care owed to those on foot. The safest option is to push your bike across the walkway when there is significant foot traffic and to stay inside the designated lanes, especially when riding alongside walking pedestrians.
Being hit by a car while outside of the crossing lane could increase the level of assumption of personal risk if an injury should occur, which could have a negative impact on any future personal injury claim you wish to pursue.
Using the Roadway
Many highways restrict bicyclists just as they do walking pedestrians and mopeds. It’s very important for bicyclists to avoid open highways designated for restricted traffic only. Streets and inner city roadways are different because operating speeds tend to be lower and there may be a designated bicycle lane that restricts foot traffic and some motorized vehicles.
When using the road, bicyclists must comply with standard traffic rules such as signaling to turn and using a headlight when traveling after dark. Bike riders should also yield to motorized vehicles when appropriate and make sure to stay as far away from standard vehicle traffic as possible while still utilizing the edge of the road.
It is also important to remember to wear safety gear – especially a helmet – when riding anywhere near motor vehicles.
Lastly, staying alert can be the difference between a bicyclist arriving at his destination safely or being seriously injured in an accident. So be watchful and save listening to your iPod for when you are not riding your bike!
Comparative Negligence in a Bike Accident
The law of comparative negligence still applies to those on bicycles, which can be significant in the case of an accident.
The state of Colorado adheres to modified comparative negligence, meaning anyone who files a personal injury claim can collect damages if he or she is determined to be less than 50% responsible for the accident.
Colorado Pedestrian & Bicycle Accident Resources
Contact an Experienced Colorado Bike Accident Lawyer
Bicycle accidents can be incredibly traumatic and it’s often difficult to navigate through all of the legal issues that can arise.
If you or someone you love has been involved in a bicycle accident, the Denver-based personal injury attorneys at Babcock Law Firm can help. Contact us today for a free consultation, or continue browsing our Personal Injury Guide to learn more about personal injury law and how it affects your case.