Bicycle Injuries and Tips for Avoiding an Accident
The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NTSA) estimates that 57 million people – 28 % of the population – ride bicycles regularly in the United States. About half of this number rides bicycles exclusively for purposes of recreation, while the other half uses their bicycle as their main means of transportation.
In some states the weather prevents a large number of people from riding their bikes year-round, but in warm states like California bicyclists ride in full force 12 months out of the year. Bicycle accident lawyers know that bike riders are very vulnerable to severe injuries if they get into an accident of any sort. Accidents involving larger motor vehicles such as cars, trucks and buses are typically devastating – if not fatal – to bike riders; it is not uncommon for a cyclist to sustain terrible injuries, even when an accident is caused by a roadway hazard or a defective bicycle component.
Preventing Bicycle Accidents and Injuries
Prevention is the best way to avoid serious injury or death while riding a bicycle. To prevent a bicycle accident always:
Stay visible to pedestrians, drivers and other bicyclists by wearing brightly-colored clothing in the daytime and reflective material and lights at night.
Ride your bike predictably in the same manner a good driver would. Obey all traffic signs and signals, ride in a straight line without weaving and use hand signals to indicate whenever you are about to make a turn.
Stay alert for hazards – especially car doors about to be opened. If possible, leave 3 feet between your bicycle and the vehicles parked on the right side. Observe pedestrians coming into or out of cars to be prepared for the possibility of a door opening.
Avoid listening to music while riding your bicycle. If you must listen to music, do not wear both earphones while using an audio device and do not talk on your cell phone while riding.
Always use marked bike lanes when they are available and do not ride on the sidewalks; even though they may seem safer, a bike is an unexpected presence and serious accidents can result.
Make sure your bicycle is outfitted with working brakes, a bell or a horn, a white headlight and a red taillight for riding at night and reflectors on the bike wheels.
Always wear a helmet when riding your bike. Head injuries are among the most devastating types of injury sustained on a bicycle and the majority can be prevented through the simple and consistent use of bicycle helmets.
Cyclists must be vigilant about wearing safety helmets to reduce the chances of brain injury or fatal brain trauma in the event of an accident. Additional safety gear such as reflective tape and electric lights on the front and back of the bicycle, as well as wearing knee and elbow protection can greatly reduce the chances of accident and minimize injury. It is advisable to avoid busy roads and complicated intersections where a driver’s attention is pulled in many directions and to take up a full lane when busy roads are unavoidable to insure maximum visibility.
Bicycle Accident Causes
Bicyclists can be hit by drivers of motor vehicles who fail to see them, automobiles that fail to yield to a cyclist’s right-of-way or drivers who are distracted and driving erratically. Bicyclists riding on the right side of the road are in danger of being struck by car doors opened by oblivious passengers within parked cars, which knock the cyclist out into the path of oncoming cars. Bicyclists are also in danger of jaywalking pedestrians coming out into their path unexpectedly and the erratic behavior of other cyclists, skateboarders or rollerbladers.
In some cases defective products contribute to or cause a bicycle accident, and place the biker in great peril by making them lose control. Defective components can lead to collapsed tire rims, caught or broken bike chains and brake or shifting failure. Faulty bicycle helmets do not typically cause bike accidents but can cause great harm to a cyclist in the event of an accident.
Hazardous road conditions include: uneven sidewalks or grooved pavements, uneven roads caused by road resurfacing, construction debris, such as gravel or sand and grooved railroad or trolley tracks crisscrossing a bike’s path.
In most cases it is preferable for an injured bike rider to hire a bicycle accident lawyer, rather than relying on an insurance company to compensate him or her for the costs related to the injuries sustained as a result of the accident. If the cyclist had in any way been negligent in his or her responsibilities as a bicycle rider, it is even more crucial to have a bicycle accident attorney working on the case.
Bicycle riders are expected to follow the same rules and enjoy the same rights as the drivers of motor vehicles. This means that cyclists must obey all traffic laws, stop at stop signs and red lights and use hand signals to indicate when they are about to make a turn. Bicycle riders must also use lights and reflectors when riding their bikes at nights and stay as close as possible to the right side of the road at all times, except when making a left-hand turn or driving around an obstacle in the right lane.
Bicyclists involved in an accident who failed to be fully compliant with the rights and obligations listed above can be held partially at fault, but still retain the right to recover financial compensation for their losses. Bicycle accident attorneys are the most suitable lawyers to hire for representation if a bicyclist is partially at fault for any accident he or she was involved in.