Although our city could seem ideal for riding a bicycle due to its flat topography and sunny weather, biking is still dangerous, even if you are an experienced cyclist. Whether you ride your bike to exercise, commute, or perhaps you are a serious cyclist, the reality is that you are at risk of an accident every time you hit the road.
Even though bicyclists or bikers have the same rights and privileges on the road as any other motorists, it is no secret that most motorists treat bicyclists as second-class people. No wonder the statistics of bicycle accidents are still high despite efforts by law enforcement officers to curb these catastrophic road accidents.
If you have sustained an injury after a bicycle accident in Las Vegas, seeking financial compensation should be your priority as soon as the dust settles. Traumatic injuries caused by a bicycle accident could leave you in a debt trap or bankrupt because they are expensive to treat.
However, to seek the compensatory damages you deserve for all your losses, you must first determine the cause of the accident that led to your injuries and property damage. That is where we at Dallas Horton & Associates intervene to help you with the investigation and hold the at-fault party accountable for all your losses.
Bicycle Accidents Statistics and What to Do After a Bicycle Accident
Undoubtedly, bicyclists are more likely to sustain severe injuries during a road accident than other motorists. Aside from lacking a protective enclosure, bikers wear minimal protection, leaving them vulnerable. When a car or truck goes up against a biker, he/she could end up with severe and fatal injuries, such as:
- Brain injury
- Severe lacerations bruises
- Bone breakages
- Neck and back injury
- Spinal cord injury
- Road rash
According to a report by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) in 2016, 800 cyclists died in a single-car accident in Nevada. In 2017, nationwide, 34247 people died in road accidents, and 783 died in fatal bicycle accidents. According to these reports, six people died in bicycle accidents, and 328 died in traffic accidents in Nevada.
Crash statistics report by the NHTSA shows some interesting facts about when and where most bicycle accidents occur, including:
- In every season, most accidents occur in the evening between 6 and 9 pm than at any other time
- 71 percent of bicycle accidents or crashes occur in urban areas
- 51 percent of bicycle accidents occur in daylight hours
- Most bicycle accidents occur on roads with a speed limit of between 35 and 45 mph
Despite these alarming numbers, most motorists will often blame or accuse bikers for being partly or entirely at fault for the accident. If you have sustained an injury or property loss in a bicycle accident, your steps afterward can significantly affect your claim's outcome. Here is what to do immediately after a bicycle accident to stand a chance of obtaining the utmost compensation for your losses:
I. Reduce the Risk at the Accident Scene
If you are lucky to be conscious after a bicycle accident, you should play your part in ensuring everyone at the accident scene is safe. Once you move your bike out of harm's way, you could want to call 911 for immediate medical assistance by trained paramedics.
Once you call 911, the police will also come to the accident scene to assess the accident and compile their report, just like they would in a car-to-car collision. Remember to request the investigating officer(s) to give you a copy of the accident report since it has helpful information that can help you prove liability in the accident to obtain maximum compensation.
II. Gather Information
If possible, after a bicycle accident, you should strive to gather as much information as you can about the incident, such as:
- The driver's legal name and contact details
- The car's license plate number
- The driver's insurance information
- Eyewitness contact information
- The year, model, color, and type of the vehicle involved
Remember, the driver could accuse you of causing the accident, but you do not have to apologize because it could show or mean that you accept the liability.
III. Contact a Personal Injury Attorney
Retaining the services of an attorney immediately after a bicycle accident is vital. Your bicycle accident attorney will not only advise you of your legal rights, but he/she will also help you file your compensation on time as you recuperate.
The at-fault party insurance provider will probably approach you with a low settlement offer, but you do not have to accept because your case could be worth more. Your attorney will calculate your case's worth and deal with the at-fault party insurer to fight for fair compensatory damages, even for possible future losses, pain, and suffering.
Leading and Most Common Causes of Bicycle Accidents
Like any other traffic accident, bicycle accident liability is based on the legal theory of negligence. According to this theory, you must prove that one person or the at-fault party failed to observe his/her legal duty of care to prevent the accident. To that end, you must determine the cause of the accident that led to your injuries to know whether or not the at-fault was negligent.
Doing that requires a thorough investigation, which your attorney will do as you recuperate. While every case is different, some of the most common and leading causes of bicycle accidents include the following:
With our hectic and busy schedules, it is unsurprising that some people will sometimes ignore the posted speed limits for particular locations to reach their destination or meetings faster. However, driving faster than the posted speed limit or generally faster than is necessary or safe for specific road conditions can be dangerous.
Undoubtedly, speeding is the leading cause of most traffic accidents, including bicycle accidents. The faster a driver speeds, the less time he/she will have to react where necessary to prevent foreseeable accidents.
Not forgetting speeding also increases the chances of a driver losing control and becoming more likely to swerve into oncoming traffic or bicycle lanes, leading to fatal accidents. It is not enough for a driver to slam his/her car brakes when he/she sees a biker on the road.
A driver would need a combination of thinking distance and adequate braking distance to completely stop his/her vehicle, even if he/she were driving at a low speed. Apart from putting the driver's safety at risk, speeding also puts the safety and health of other road users, including bicyclists, at risk.
If a driver's negligent behavior, like speeding, led to the bicycle accident that caused your injuries and losses, you could qualify for compensatory damages.
Right of Way Errors
As mentioned in the previous paragraph, bikers have the same rights on the road as motorists. At four way stops, traffic lights, or intersections, drivers should respect bikers as they do other motorists.
However, some drivers forget or refuse to watch or yield to bikers at traffic lights or stop signs, causing an avoidable bicycle accident. While running a traffic light or signal is a risky road behavior, this risk increases when a motorist fails to watch out for vulnerable cyclists to prevent any foreseeable accident.
Unsafe lane change is another driver error that can cause a catastrophic bicycle accident. For instance, when a motorist merges into a cyclist's lane, there is a high chance that he/she will cause a bicycle accident. Right-of-way errors are common causes of bicycle accidents, and the at-fault driver or motorist should be liable for your injuries and losses.
Another top cause of most bicycle accidents is distracted driving. Despite the popular opinion, your brain cannot focus on multiple tasks simultaneously. Distracted driving is any activity or thought that could distract or shift a driver's awareness and keenness away from the road. Below are three categories of distraction that can make a driver cause an accident while at the wheel:
a. Visual Distractions
As the name suggests, a visual distraction is any activity that can take a driver's eyes off the road when driving, including:
- Looking at a global positioning system (GPS)
- Checking or reading a text on the phone
- Looking at a passenger onboard while talking
As a vigilant motorist or cyclist, keeping your eyes on the road is important to avoid any foreseeable accident.
b. Manual Distractions
A manual distraction is any activity that can take your hands off the steering wheel when driving, for example:
- Changing a vehicle's navigation route
- Changing a vehicle's radio frequency
- Reaching for a ringing phone
c. Cognitive Distractions
Cognitive distraction is another category of distracted driving that can contribute to a bicycle accident. Cognitive distraction is anything that can take your mind and attention off the wheel when driving, for example:
- Concentrating or staring at a message
- Cuddling or kissing
In simple terms, a distracted driver is any person who is not 100 percent focused when driving. Although it takes less than four seconds to shift your attention back to the wheel after a distraction, this duration is enough to make even the most skilled driver cause an accident, especially if he/she is driving at high speed.
If a distracted driver caused the bicycle accident that led to your injuries, he/she should be liable for your losses resulting from the accident.
Impaired Driving or Biking
Although impaired driving is a crime, it is sad that it is still one of the leading causes of most road-related accidents, including fatal bicycle accidents. When drivers or bikers are under the influence on the road, they put themselves and other road users at risk of injury or even death because they are more likely to cause accidents.
Aside from reducing a motorist's physical ability to drive cautiously, being under the influence of alcohol or any other drug can also alter his/her cognitive ability to make smart decisions on the road. As a result, an impaired driver is more likely to cause a fatal accident than a sober driver. Below are examples of drugs that can affect a motorist's ability to drive like a cautious driver:
- Over-the-counter (OTC) drugs like allergy and cold medications
- Prescription drugs like Valium, Ambien, Percocet, Vicodin, and Codeine
If you or someone you love is injured in a bicycle accident caused by an impaired driver or biker, you qualify for compensatory damages for your losses.
When a motorist is tired or sleep-deprived, there are chances that he/she can cause an accident. Although drowsy driving does not receive as much attention as impaired driving, it is still responsible for a significant percentage of most bicycle accidents and other road-related collisions.
According to studies, the risks of drowsy driving are similar to those of drunk driving in terms of the severity of the possible accidents. In addition to the inherent dangers of falling asleep while at the wheel, drowsiness can also affect a motorist's attention, decision-making, vigilance, and reaction time to prevent any foreseeable accident on the road.
Drowsy drivers are likely to weave back and forth between lanes. They are also more likely to have challenges maintaining appropriate speed limits and keeping adequate distance from other motorists and bikers sharing the lane or road.
Like impaired or drunk driving, drowsy driving can affect a driver's alertness, causing avoidable accidents. Although it is challenging to determine whether a driver's drowsiness led to the bicycle accident that caused your injuries, an experienced attorney can help.
Typically, most drivers will not admit they were drowsy driving. However, an experienced attorney can conduct a thorough investigation to find facts that could work in your favor to secure compensation for your losses and injuries resulting from the bicycle accident.
As you can see above, most causes of bicycle accidents are due to human error. Aside from the above-explained common causes, other human-related errors that cause bicycle accidents on our roads include the following:
- Aggressive driving
- Opening the doors of a parked vehicle in an unsafe manner
- Forgetting to check blind spots for bikes before merging
Other Causes of Bicycle Accidents Unrelated to Human Error
Sometimes even the most experienced and cautious drivers and bikers can fall victim to or cause road-related accidents due to other factors unrelated to human error. These factors include:
Unsafe Road Conditions
Poorly maintained roads can cause bicycle accidents in several ways, primarily because they create hazards that divert a driver's attention off the road. Instead of focusing on the road, drivers will focus on avoiding hazards on the road, which can lead to an accident. Even the most defensive drivers can cause accidents due to unsafe road conditions, such as:
- Slick roads
- Ice patches
If an unsafe road condition like a pothole caused your bicycle accident, the state could be liable for your injuries and losses resulting from the accident.
Slippery roads from ice, snow, or rain can affect tire traction, causing a vehicle to slide off or crash into other objects and vehicles on the roadway. Wind speed, water levels, and fog are other factors that can cause weather-related bicycle accidents.
Whenever a driver decides to drive in bad weather, he/she is legally responsible for using reasonable care while at the wheel to avoid causing any foreseeable accident. While it could seem unfair, the reality is that drivers have the choice to decide whether or not to drive in bad weather conditions.
That means a driver could be liable for your losses even if the main contributing cause of the bicycle accident that led to your injuries is bad weather.
Vehicle or Bicycle Defects
As you could beware, cars and bicycles consist of several parts that keep them running smoothly and safely. If any of these parts are faulty, for example, the braking system, the driver can cause avoidable accidents. Similarly, if your bike wheels or brakes are defective, you can crash or fall victim to an accident whenever you are on the road.
When that happens, you could still be eligible for compensatory damages under the product liability law. According to this law, manufacturers are legally responsible for ensuring all their products are reasonably safe before they reach any customer's hands in the market.
If the cause of your bicycle accident was a defect on the bike, the manufacturer of the bike could be liable for your losses resulting from the accident under the product liability law. Although bike manufacturers have the financial capacity to pay you for your losses, they will not bow down to your demand without a fight.
The legal expertise of an experienced attorney could go a long way if you want to obtain maximum compensation for your losses after a bicycle accident. Placing the blame for the bicycle accident that led to your injuries requires careful and keen investigation to identify the possible liability areas.
Your attorney can do this on your behalf and seek a fair settlement from the at-fault party or their insurer. If the at-fault party's insurer is unwilling to offer a fair settlement, your attorney can file a lawsuit against the negligent motorist to obtain maximum damages. Typically, you have two (2) years from the date of your bicycle accident to file a claim against the at-fault party.
It is worth noting that when this statute of limitations expires without filing your bicycle accident claim, the court will not accept your claim afterward. That means you will lose your chance of holding the at-fault party accountable for your losses and injuries resulting from the accident.
Potential Compensatory Damages You Could Receive in Your Bicycle Accident Claim
Once you establish the cause and liability in your bicycle accident case, your claim will proceed to the issue of compensatory damages that you deserve for your losses. While every personal injury case is unique, you deserve compensatory damages for non-economic and economic losses resulting from the bicycle accident, including:
- Emergency medical expenses
- All other medical cost bills, including therapy costs
- Property damage
- Long-term disability or paralysis
- Lost wages, including loss of earning capacity
- Loss of enjoyment in life
- Emotional distress
- Pain and suffering
Under comparative negligence law, you could qualify for compensatory damages even if you were partially at fault or liable for the bicycle accident that led to your injuries. According to this law, the compensatory damages you will receive will be reduced proportionally based on your degree or level of negligence or fault in the accident.
For instance, if your bicycle accident claim is worth $20,000 and the at-fault party's insurer proves that you were 25 percent at fault in causing the accident, you will receive $15,000 as damages for your losses.
If, unfortunately, a loved one dies in a fatal bicycle accident, you could still qualify for compensation under wrongful death laws. This law allows surviving family members of a deceased person to seek compensatory damages for the following economic and non-economic losses:
- Cost of hospital bills before the death of his/her loved one
- Funeral costs
- Burial costs
- The financial support the deceased would have contributed to the family in his/her lifetime, especially if he/she was the breadwinner
- Lost income the deceased would have earned in his/her lifetime
- Loss of moral support
- Loss of companionship and sexual relations if the deceased was your intimate partner
- Loss of affection and protection
For the sake of this statute, the surviving family members who would qualify for the above damages include the following:
- Brother or sister
- Father or mother
Find a Bicycle Accident Attorney Near Me
At Dallas Horton & Associates, we understand how devastating and life-changing a bicycle accident can be. If you or a loved one has sustained injuries in a bicycle accident in Las Vegas, we can help you obtain maximum compensation for your losses.
We will conduct the necessary investigations to determine the cause of your bicycle accident, negotiate with the at-fault party's insurer, and file a lawsuit on your behalf if necessary to obtain your damages. While estimating how long it could take to resolve your claim is difficult, we will dedicate significant time to your case and do everything necessary to ensure it resolves as soon as possible.
Call us at 702-820-5917 and let our knowledgeable and experienced attorney help you obtain maximum damages for your bicycle accident claim.