Written by Keith V. Trantolo
J.M. New Haven, CT
Drivers and bicyclists have a shared responsibility to follow the rules of the roadleft and right hand traffic, regulations requiring all vehicular traffic to keep either to the left or the right side of the road. Yet, some motorists may be unwilling to provide adequate space or act aggressively towards bikers. A leisurely ride could end in a devastating accident, after which you’re faced with medical bills, lost wages and bike repairs.
Bicycle Accidents: What You Should Know
Common Causes of Bicycle Accidents
By design, bicycle injuries are often severe due to a lack of or no protection. Bicycle collisions with motorists are often caused by:
- Dooring – the act of opening your door into the path of another road user – can knock a cyclist off their bike or cause them to swerve and fall.
- Failure to yield, due to distracted driving, speeding or alcohol use.
- Driver negligence, such as crossing into a bike lane, not allowing at least 3 feet of space when passing or running a red light or stop sign.
- Poor weather conditions or a lack of visibility at night.
Involved In A Bicycle Accident? Here’s Why You Need An Experienced Bicycle Accident Attorney On Your Side
- To help establish fault so your rightful claim is not denied
- To handle the leg work while you recover from any injuries
- To determine the right amount of damages so you are not shortchanged
- To mediate for you with the insurance provider
WE GET IT DONE THE RIGHT WAY
What To Do After a Bicycle Accident
After an accident, seek medical treatment right away. Even if the impact was minor, it’s important to see a doctor to avoid injuries surfacing later or becoming fatal. At the scene, collect as much information as possible to help prove you were not at fault, including road conditions, traffic lights and signs or skid marks from the collision. Also take witness statements to support your version of events. Exchange information with the other motorist but do not make any statements to the insurance company before consulting with a personal injury lawyer.
Can a Bicyclist Be Found at Fault?
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), about 47,000 bicyclists were injured in 2018 and 846 were killed in 2019. Yet, bicycle accidents are not always the fault of other motorists. A bicyclist who fails to follow the rules of the road or engages in dangerous behavior could be found at fault, including:
- Failure to signal their intended path
- Failure to obey traffic signals
- Riding the wrong way – bicyclists should travel in the same direction as traffic
- Distracted riding – bicyclists need to be able to see and hear oncoming cars
To avoid causing an accident, bikers should not make unsafe lane changes, always yield to pedestrians and obey all traffic signs and signals.
Connecticut is a modified comparative fault state, meaning that if a plaintiff is found less than 51 percent at fault for the accident, he or she can receive compensation. However, the amount recovered by the plaintiff is reduced proportionately to the share of responsibility.
Connecticut’s Bicycle Accident Attorneys
Our legal team will help you gather the necessary evidence to support your recollection of events, determine who’s at fault and how much damage was done. We can also help you better understand and navigate your medical treatment and bills.
To prove the driver was negligent in your bicycle accident, we must prove:
- Duty of care – motorists owe it to others on the road to obey laws
- Breach of duty – the driver failed to operate their vehicle safely
- Causation – as a result of the driver’s breach of duty, you were in an accident
- Damages – as a direct result of the accident, you suffered injuries
Locations Of Bicycle Accidents
As a cyclist, you probably take all the necessary precautions, but one cannot predict what lies ahead. Several metropolitan locations in the United States are dangerous for cyclists, considering the growing number of motor vehicles in densely populated cities. The following locations see the highest number of bicycle accidents:
- Intersection Accidentsfacts and statistics are from the national traffic safety administration
- Busy roads
According to a 2012 study, around 58% of accidents involving bicycles occurred at intersections. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration states that while 63% of cases happen on the road, 27% take place at intersections and 10% on bicycle lanes, sidewalks, medians, and parking spaces.
Drivers in a hurry or those who back out of driveways absentmindedly are primarily responsible for colliding into cyclists.
Treading through busy roads can result in collisions with rash, negligent drivers. While motor vehicles and cyclists both share the road, either party can sometimes break the rules.
Who Is At Risk For A Bicycle Accident In Connecticut
Bicycle accidents can happen to anyone but some people are more at risk for various reasons. Per statistics from the CDC Injury Center, children in the age group of 5 to 14 and adolescents 15 to 19 accounted for the highest percentage of non-fatal bicycle-related injuries in the United States. Fatalities caused by bicycle accidents were also seen in older adults aged 50 to 59.
Causes Of Bicycle Accidents
Even though bicycle riders have the same rights as drivers, not all motorists respect cyclists. No matter how diligently they follow road rules, some cyclists find a car coming close to their back wheel or passing with very little room to spare.
Listed below are some of the common reasons for accidents involving bicycles:
- Distracted driving is considered a leading cause of all vehicle-related accidents.
- Speeding is another reason for vehicle collisions. While high speeds are risky, driving at moderate speeds can also be relatively dangerous, especially when driving in a residential neighborhood.
- Absence of a sufficient buffer. According to road rules in Connecticut, motor vehicles and cyclists need to maintain a distance of 3 feet from each other.
- Abrupt or rash lane changes without checking for oncoming traffic.
- Though completely avoidable, taking a sudden turn without looking is also a frequent cause of accidents.
- Running a stop sign or a red light is among the most common reasons for accidents at intersections.
- Failure to yield, especially at roundabouts and intersections is a type of reckless driving that puts bicyclists at risk.
- According to the NHTSA, the US sees about 28 deaths per day due to impaired driving. That’s about one person every 52 minutes and over 10,000 deaths in a year.
- Fatigued driving is another big reason for accidents. A study revealed that nearly 20% of car crashes were caused by fatigue while the NHTSA puts the toll at 100,000 every year.
- Weaving through traffic or drifting onto bike lanes and shoulders has also resulted in collisions with cyclists.
Catastrophic Injuries From A Car Hitting A Bicyclist
Injuries from a bicycle accident can range from minor to severe or fatal. These are the injuries you’re most likely to experience in a serious accident:
- Fractured or broken bones
- Nerve damage
- Spinal cord injuries
- Brain injuries
- Laceration injuries
- Joint dislocation
What To Do When A Bicycle Accident Occurs
It’s important to act swiftly when you or a loved one is injured in a bicycle accident. If you’re physically able, do the following right away:
- Contact the police
- Remain calm and wait for help
- Get names of witnesses and their contact numbers
- Take pictures of the accident
- Get legal representation
Are Bicycle Accidents Hard To Prove In Connecticut?
Given that evidence and witnesses can disappear and there’s a statute of limitations to file a claim, bicycle accidents can be hard to prove. Most claims arising from bicycle accidents also center around the concept of negligence. While negligence as a concept is easy to understand, proving it in court is a different ball game altogether.
How A Connecticut Bicycle Accident Lawyer Can Help
A lawyer can help organize the insurance paperwork, while protecting your legal rights and ensuring you are duly compensated for your injuries. In other words, a bicycle accident lawyer will help you navigate the complexities of the legal system to get you the best deal possible.
With over 80 years of experience, the team of personal injury lawyers at Trantolo & Trantolo have the knowledge and resources to fight for the compensation you deserve. We treat our clients like our own family and work diligently to get you a settlement.
Attorney Vincent Trantolo started this safety initiative in Hartford, CT over 20 years ago with the late Mayor Michael Peters. In 2018, his sons, Attorney Keith Trantolo and our Chief Operating Officer Scott Trantolo, relaunched this program. The goal of “Heads Up For Safety” is to give away properly-fitted bicycle helmets to youth seen riding without one. Launched in Bridgeport in May and expanding to Hartford in September, the program has already given away thousands of free bicycle helmets with our “Heads Up For Safety” decal.
If you or a loved one has been involved in a bicycle accident, call us today to set up a free, no-obligation consultation at 844-999-9999 or fill out the contact form on this page.