Bicycles play a major role in our society. People bike for recreation, for exercise, and, of course for transportation in our increasingly congested cities. Families bike together, bike clubs arrange group rides, people take their bikes to work and use them to go shopping. Unfortunately, bikes don’t handle rough roads that well, and are at the mercy of the much larger motor vehicles with which they usually share the road. The result is that many thousands of bicyclists are involved in accidents every year.
In 2012, data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration show, 700-plus bicyclists died and almost 50,000 were injured in accidents with motor vehicles. Many, many more bicycle accidents happen for reasons other than colliding with a motor vehicle. In Maryland alone there are more than 500 bicycle accidents serious enough to cause reportable injuries each year. Most occur in the Baltimore and Washington areas.
In Maryland, bicyclists are entitled to the same courtesy and protection as other vehicles on the road, and are subject to the same duties. Notably, there are several situations in which the law gives bicyclists the right of way over motor vehicles, and bicyclists in many places are required to have lights, reflectors, and warning bells.
Many bicycle-related accidents involve either the bicyclist or a motorist violating these rules of the road. A bicyclist’s violation of a traffic rule may prevent recovery for injuries in an accident, while the motorist’s violation of a traffic rule makes it much easier for the bicyclist to recover.
A bicycle obviously provides far less protection than a car or truck when it is involved in an accident. Bikes have none of the safety devices that motor vehicles do—seatbelts, airbags, etc.—and there is no reinforced passenger compartment. A collision with comparatively massive motor vehicles can cause severe injuries or death even if the bike rider is wearing a helmet and travelling at a low rate of speed.
Bike accident injuries occur in numerous ways:
In most bike accident cases involving a collision with a motor vehicle, the driver of the motor vehicle is the likely defendant. But every bike accident is unique. Under some circumstances, any of the following could be liable for the injuries suffered in a bicycle accident:
Few people readily admit fault in any accident, and bicycle accidents are no exception. Some motorist actually did not see the bicycle at all and simply assume the cyclist must have been doing something wrong. Others simply throw up any defense they think may get them off the hook.
Attempts to blame the cyclist typically involve claims that the cyclist was violating traffic rules, ignoring traffic signals or stop signs, travelling at excessive speed, simply riding recklessly, or riding while impaired by alcohol or drugs.
Overcoming these claims requires careful gathering of witness statements and reconstruction of the accident. An experienced Maryland bike accident attorney can anticipate many of these claims, and effectively refute them.
Bicycles are simple, but bicycle accidents are not. It’s pretty common for witness statements to conflict. The victim’s recollection of events may well be sketchy or nonexistent. If the victim is a child, there are questions of judgment and responsibility.
Getting an experienced Maryland bike accident attorney involved as soon as possible makes it easier to locate witnesses while their memories are still fresh, and to preserve physical evidence from the accident. It also guarantees that you won’t miss any time limits for making claims or serving notices.
Baltimore personal injury attorney G. Randolph Rice thoroughly understands all aspects of bicycle accident cases: establishing what happened, why those events entitle you to compensation, and the extent of your injuries. Give us a call to schedule a free consultation and we can get the recovery process started. Statutory time limits apply, so don’t delay; call now to protect your right to claiming the compensation you need and deserve.