Bicycle Crash Risks—How Does It Vary and Why?
Biking is great exercise and is also much better for the environment than driving, making it the preferred method of travel for many in the United States. Unfortunately, biking also comes with unique risks, including the likelihood of severe injuries if the cyclist gets into an accident with a negligent driver.
Read on to understand more about the risks of bicycle accidents and what to do if you were injured.
How Common Are Bike Crashes?
In the United States, there were 854 fatalities from bicycle crashes in a recent year, and the number is on the rise. In Texas, more than 16,000 bike crashes took place over a six-year span, resulting in nearly 10,000 injuries and more than 350 fatalities. Bexar is one of the counties topping the list for bicycle crashes in the state. In fact, San Antonio was rated the 16th most dangerous city in the country for bicyclists.
Bicycle Accident Risks
Not only are bicyclists more susceptible to being struck by a vehicle than other drivers, but the injuries they sustain are often much more severe. A bike’s small size makes it more likely than a regular passenger vehicle to hide in a driver’s blind spot or for a driver to otherwise miss it. Drivers are especially likely to miss seeing a bike when it is dark out. Because bikes travel at a slower speed than motor vehicles, they are also at risk of an accident when a motor vehicle is passing them.
A moment of inattention by a driver can have serious consequences for a bicyclist. Bicyclists do not have the protective exterior of a vehicle, safety restraints, or airbags to keep them safe during an accident.
Common injuries after a bicycle accident include:
- Head injuries: Especially if a bicyclist is not wearing a helmet, concussions, lacerations, skull fractures, and other head injuries are common injuries after an accident. Texas does not have a statewide helmet law, so bicyclists are allowed to ride without helmets.
- Brain damage: One of the most serious injuries a bicyclist can suffer is a traumatic brain injury. If the cyclist’s head strikes the pavement or another hard object, they may suffer irreversible brain damage. Symptoms can include becoming comatose, ending up in a vegetative state, or suffering brain death.
- Neck, back, and spinal cord injuries: If the cyclist is thrown from the bike or experiences a jarring motion during the accident, neck and back injuries are likely. Extensive and ongoing physical therapy is often required to treat these injuries. Injuries to the spinal cord can result in permanent paralysis.
- Internal damage: Impact on the body can also damage internal organs. These injuries are often difficult to detect immediately after an accident, but can kill someone if a doctor doesn’t promptly treat them.
- Broken bones and fractures: Broken bones are painful and can take months to heal. If the break is severe, surgery or long-term rehabilitation could be necessary.
- Road rash: If a bicyclist’s skin slides or drags across the pavement during an accident, it can suffer a painful friction burn called road rash. The severity of road rash will depend on the force and speed with which the skin comes into contact with the pavement.
- Dental injury: A bicyclist’s face and mouth are at risk of injury if their face strikes the road or an object during an accident. In addition to cracked or chipped teeth, the victim might suffer damage to their jaw or other facial bones.
Who Is Responsible for a Bicycle Accident?
Any party whose negligent or intentional acts caused the accident is responsible for the resulting accident-related damages and injuries. Each accident is different, so to determine who is at fault in your accident, your best course of action is to seek the advice of an experienced attorney.
Depending on the circumstances, one or more of the following parties (or others) may be at fault in a bicycle accident:
- Negligent driver: If a negligent driver hits a biker, the driver is probably responsible for the accident. A wide range of actions can constitute negligence. In bicycle accidents, common negligent acts include the driver failing to ensure a safe passing distance, failing to yield, making a right turn in front of the cyclist, or failing to check their blind spot.
- Driver’s employer: If the negligent driver is acting in the scope of their employment at the time of the accident, their employer may also be responsible for the accident.
- Bike or vehicle manufacturer: If a manufacturer fails to perform adequate safety testing or otherwise produces an unsafe or faulty vehicle, the manufacturer may be responsible for the accident and resulting injuries.
A lawyer can help you analyze the facts and evidence surrounding your accident to determine which party is responsible for your injuries.
What Kind of Compensation Is Available?
Once you have determined liability, your attorney will work with you to prepare a comprehensive damages claim based on the facts of your case.
This may include a request for:
- Medical expenses: Keep track of all your medical expenses. The defendant or their insurance provider may be responsible for the costs associated with your medical treatment, including doctors’ bills, hospital bills, the cost of prescription medication, and long-term care like physical therapy.
- Lost income: If your injuries force you to miss work, you can seek reimbursement for your lost wages. Include an estimate of future lost wages and lost earning potential as well.
- Property damage: If the accident damaged your bike or other property, you can seek compensation for its repair or replacement.
- Emotional distress: A bicycle accident is a traumatizing event. Many cyclists suffer emotional distress after an accident, including anxiety, depression, or PTSD. This can make a profound impact on your life. You can often seek monetary compensation for this distress.
- Loss of enjoyment: If your injuries keep you from participating in activities that were a meaningful part of your life, you deserve compensation for this loss.
A Bicycle Accident Lawyer Can Help
The time after a bicycle accident is often overwhelming as you deal with physical, emotional, and financial stress. A lawyer can relieve some of that stress and help you go after the compensation you deserve. If a bicycle accident injured you or a loved one, contact a lawyer who will answer your questions during a free case consultation.