Bicycle accidents are common in the United States. They often result in severe and sometimes fatal injuries.
Drivers on the road like to blame cyclists for collisions or accidents, but their lack of attention or decision not to provide the right of way is often the most significant reason for a bicycle accident.
Lawsuits to recover damages for injuries in bicycle accidents with automobiles have a lot in common with any other auto accident lawsuit. Liability for bike accident injuries can be quickly narrowed down to negligence. The bicycle accident could result from a car driver’s negligence or any negligence by the cyclist could have also contributed to the accident.
As per findlaw, [Source (1)]
“Cyclists and drivers are obligated to obey the rules of the road. These rules include traffic laws, as well as the duty to exercise ordinary care in regards to one’s own safety and that of others on the roadways. Like other vehicle accident lawsuits, bicycle accident lawsuits are governed by state law, and often informed by state and local traffic laws.”
Common Causes of Bicycle Accidents
As a cyclist, it will benefit you greatly to understand the common causes of bicycle accidents. This way, you can take a more active and defensive approach to protect yourself from any accident.
Positioning plays a crucial role in bicycle accidents. The most common bicycle accidents are as a result of the position of the bicyclist on the road relative to the motorist who collides with him or her.
Here Are A Few Specific Types of Bicycle Accidents That Can Be Attributed To the Position of the Bike or Vehicle –
Dooring accidents – This type of accident is when a cyclist runs into a car door that has been opened into his or her path. This is a widespread cause of bicycle accidents, especially on busy streets with heavier traffic, which forces bicyclists to ride closer to parked cars. It is the responsibility of the drivers of the vehicles that they check to ensure no bicycle or vehicle is coming before exiting their vehicles. Getting doored can result in lifelong injuries for a cyclist who is legally in the right to ride along in the bike lane or right side of the road. This particular type of accident is hard for cyclists to avoid.
Rear ending the bicyclist – In situations where a cyclist is rear-ended, it is likely that the driver who rear-ends bicyclists is not paying attention or are following too closely. These accidents commonly occur at stop signs and when a cyclist is attempting to move left to move around parked cars.
Side swiping bicyclists – Side swiping of bicyclists occurs when the motorist does not give the bicyclist enough space while passing. One of the most common complaints drivers have with bicyclists is that they get in the way of traffic when they move to the left, but the alternative for a cyclist is to place themselves at greater risk of being doored. To safeguard the cyclists the law requires drivers to maintain a safe distance whenever overtaking any bicycle.
Crossing in front of the bike is when a vehicle is crossing into the bicyclists’ path at an intersection or from a driveway or alley. In these cases, the bike has already entered the intersection when the turn is performed and the main factor is visibility. Drivers either do not see the bicyclist or they are not paying attention. Some ways to prevent this type of accident are to wear clothing that makes you visible, use a headlight and reflective gear at night and ride further to the left to have more time to react.
As per Nolo, [Source (2)]
“Although intersections represent a relatively small portion of a cyclist’s travel route, they are where a cyclist is most at risk of getting hit by a car or otherwise involved in a car accident. Only 11% of bicycle accidents involve a collision with a car; but of these, 45% take place in intersections. (Contrary to popular fears, the majority of bicycle accidents — 59% — involve only the cyclist, who loses control of the bike and crashes.)”
Drivers turning into bicycles on their right side – If a car is turning right, a bicyclist may be hooked by the vehicle if the bicyclist is to the right of a car at an intersection. Several drivers often make the mistake of not checking their blind spot before making a right-hand turn. Therefore, it is a good idea for cyclists to ride farther to the left makes you more visible, as the driver will need to overtake you to perform his or her turn.
Human Error and Distraction
The primary reason for auto & bicycle accidents is distractions. The majority of bicycling accidents can be prevented if vehicle drivers were more aware of their surroundings and acted responsibly. Few other causes of bicycle accidents are:
Speeding – Those who drive in a hurry often have less time to react and this can be disastrous for an unsuspecting cyclist.
Weather – Cyclists generally avoid riding in torrential downpours, sleet, ice, and snow, yet weather can be the cause of an accident. At rush hour, the glare from the sun can often blind drivers.
Intoxicated while driving – The reason for one out of every three auto-related fatalities is drunken driving and bicyclists are at a greater risk because they have limited protection.
Reckless bicyclists – There are several accidents because of cyclist ignorance to act responsibly and safely.
Failure to follow traffic control devices – Drivers who do not stop at a stop sign or light are a danger to everyone around them. A cyclist can expect this from other drivers but should never assume that the driver will do so.
As per bishoplegal, [Source (3)]
However, by taking safety precautions such as:
– Always wearing a helmet
– Wearing bright clothing
– Using front and rear lights
– Using reflecting material at night
– Keeping your distance from vehicles and other objects
and being vigilant at all times and following the rules of the road, bicyclists can go a long way in reducing the risk of an accident.”
Source1 – https://injury.findlaw.com/car-accidents/bicycle-accidents.html
Source2 – https://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/bike-accidents-collisions-with-cars-29549.html
Source3 – https://www.bishoplegal.com/5-common-bicycle-accidents/