Bike Accidents Are Common and Finding Enough Recovery is Often an Issue
Bike accidents can be some of the most serious injury cases. A speeding car impacting a bicyclist can cause life-altering damage including traumatic brain injuries, paralysis, or death. Unfortunately, it is incredibly common that there are two major issues an injury victim must overcome with their bicycle-related injury: denial of liability and lack of insurance coverage. Regarding liability, different states have different laws and statutes governing the operation of motor vehicles and the operation of bicycles. Additionally, each state has different policies regarding “comparative fault.” What this means is certain states may prohibit an injury victim from recovering for his or her damages sustained in a crash if they are found to be 50 or 51 percent at fault. While this is not the case in every state in the country it is incredibly common. Given this bar on recovery, at-fault drivers and their insurance companies may heavily dispute the facts of the case and contend the at-fault driver did not violate one of the state-specific laws or may argue the bicyclist was 50% or more at fault for their own injuries and, accordingly, the injured bicyclist is not entitled to compensation. Additionally, even if there is no dispute regarding the liability of the at-fault driver, the motorist may not have enough insurance coverage to pay for the damage they caused. Bicyclists generally sustain more severe injuries as they have no protection like a motorist does. Unfortunately, motorists often carry the minimum legally required insurance. This means motorists often cannot fully compensate a bicyclist for their injuries. Finding additional insurance to fully compensate the bicyclist is difficult and requires knowledge of the state-specific laws governing insurance coverage. This process can be lengthy, frustrating, and complicated. It is important to have an attorney who is familiar with types of recovery for a bicyclist’s injuries sustained as a result of a car accident so you can have the maximum methods of recovery. Members of Goodnow|McKay are experienced with these claims and are here to help. We are committed to helping our clients recover fair compensation. We are often able to negotiate reasonable settlements with the responsible insurance companies, but we are willing to fight for our clients through trial if necessary.
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Proving Liability in a Bike Accident
Negligence and Negligence Per Se: As mentioned in the previous section, a driver may be found to be at fault for the injuries they cause a bicyclist if they acted unreasonably. These unreasonable acts may be shown in one of two ways: showing the motorist operated their vehicle in a generally inappropriate manner or proving that a motorist violated a law or statute that applies to operating a motor vehicle. These laws vary between states. The issue is showing that a vehicle driver acted unreasonably and often times a traffic citation or violation of a related law can help demonstrate the driver is at fault for a bicyclist’s injuries.
Comparative Fault in a Bike Crash
Even if liability is established there may be a dispute over allocation of fault. In certain states an injured party is unable to recover for their injuries if the injured party is found to be 50 or 51 percent at fault for their own injuries. This is not the law in every state but it is the law in a majority of them. Because of this potential bar on recovery the facts, circumstances, and law are heavily in dispute with these matters. Additionally, bicyclist- involved accidents are often more heavily contested as it is harder to prove what the bicyclist and motorist did correctly or incorrectly at the time of the crash. Less evidence often exists with these cases than when two cars collide and, accordingly, the cases often become a ‘he said, she said’ case.
National Bike Accident Statistics
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the United States had the following accident statistics for 2016:
- 840 bicyclist deaths accounting for 2.2 percent of all traffic fatalities
- The average age of a bicyclist killed in a motor vehicle crash was 46
- Alcohol was involved in 35% of fatalities of bicyclist-involved car crashes.
- 95% of bicyclists killed were involved in single-vehicle crashes
- 78% of bicyclists were struck by the front of the vehicle in fatal crashes.
- Light trucks were the most frequently involved vehicle in bicyclist crashes resulting in fatalities.
- Bicyclist fatalities were highest in California, Florida, and Texas.
- Floria had the highest bicyclist-related fatalities per population.