Statistics are both subjective and objective, and both are dependent on personal interpretation. Bicycle accident statistics are significant since they help cyclists and motorists make good choices and informed decisions as they share the roadways on our city streets and suburban neighborhoods.
These numbers and percentages help city municipalities, safety coalitions, and consumers measure performance and analyze problems. Although cycling is a healthy activity, it comes with a high risk of injury, and having a skilled bicycle accident lawyer can help victims get the compensation they deserve.
Cycling Is Big Business
Research tells us there are 52 million bicycle riders in the United States pedaling to and from work, in the popular sport of mountain biking, or just for pure enjoyment; as a nation, we spend $6.9 billion a year on bikes and accessories. Despite its popularity, bicycling is one of the most dangerous forms of transportation.
Where Do Most Bicycle Accidents Happen
“Nearly 1,000 bicyclists die and over 130,000 are injured in crashes that occur on roads in the United States every year.”—Centers For Disease Control
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA):
- 79 percent of bicycle accident fatalities happen in urban areas
- 21 percent of bicycle accident fatalities occur in rural communities
Bicycle accidents occur on major roadways, at intersections, on the shoulders of a road, in parking lanes, bicycle lanes, on sidewalks, and during those times when a biker is entering or leaving a parking lot.
Cyclists Have Both Rights And Responsibilities
The League Of Americal Bicyclists ranks Pennsylvania ad number 12 out of 50 in what they consider a bicycle-friendly state. Bicycle laws vary by state, and in some instances, by city. Ignorance is not a legal excuse, and it is important that both motorists and cyclists understand what is expected and mandated when it comes to bicycle safety.
For example, in Pennsylvania, motor vehicles must allow 4 feet of distance when overtaking a bicycle—this is not the cyclist’s responsibility. Bikers have legal responsibilities also.
All bikes in Pennsylvania must have the following:
- A braking system that can stop the bicycle at 15 feet
- If ridden between sunset and sunrise, a front light visible at 500 feet
- A rear red reflector visible from 500 feet
- Amber reflectors are positioned on both sides of the bike,
Common Causes of Bicycle Accidents
Bicycle riders have the same rights on the roadway that motorists do the majority of bicycle accidents are caused by motorists.
Some examples include:
- Distracted driving, such as eating, personal grooming, using electronic devices, and holding conversations with passengers
- Impaired drivers under the influence of drugs or alcohol
- Drowsy or fatigued driving
- Speeding or reckless driving
- Following too close to a bicycle
- Dooring (a driver or passenger opens a car door to an oncoming cyclist)
The staggering numbers reported in recent years:
- 425.910 bicyclists were injured in 2020
- California, Florida, Colorado, and New York have the highest number of bicycle deaths
- Alcohol involvement was reported in 34 percent of the traffic crashes that resulted in cyclists fatalities
- 36 percent of all bike fatalities are due to speeding
- 58 percent of bike fatalities are due to distracted driving
- Male bikers are four times more likely to be injured in an accident than female cyclists
- 32 percent of bike fatalities happen at intersections
Negligent road design or maintenance
Some common road defects that cause serious bicycle accidents include:
- Cracked pavement
- Shoulder drop-offs
- Inadequate signage
- Broken traffic lights
- Misplaced road signs
- Sewer grates
- Overgrown vegetation
- Missing or faded bicycle lane markings
Some Of The Ways Motor Vehicles Collide with Bikes
Although there are laws and regulations in place so that motor vehicles and bicycles can safely share the roadways, accidents will happen. The Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia reports across Pennsylvania there were 24 bicycle fatalities in a recent 12-month period; this was the highest in 20 years.
Head-on collisions happen when the front of a car or truck crashes directly into the front of a bicycle. A common cause of this type of crash is when a motor vehicle driver turning fails to yield to an approaching cyclist.
Another possibility of a head-on collision is a car driver going the wrong way. Although the bicycle is stopped by the impact, the rider remains in motion and typically is thrust over the handlebars and onto the street. Speeding, or following too closely, are major causes of rear-end crashes between a bike and a car.
Side-impact car vs. bicycle accidents is frequently the result of a motor vehicle driving too close to the biker and bumping into the cycle.
Serious Injuries Are Possible in a Pennsylvania Bike Accident
Bicyclists are prone to suffer catastrophic injuries when involved in a roadway accident. Like motorcyclists, bicycle riders have little or no protection when being struck by a motor vehicle or falling off a cycle due to a roadway defect. Bicyclists who are victims of an accident may experience any or all of the following injuries:
The annual cost of traumatic brain injuries in the United States is $48.3 billion, and the cost of caring for a survivor of severe traumatic brain injury is between $600,000 and $1,875,000 over a lifetime. One-third of non-fatal bicyclist injuries are to the head.
No state has a universal bicycle helmet law. However, some do require helmet use for certain age riders although recommended, thirteen states don’t mandate the use of helmets for bikers (Arkansas, Colorado, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, South Carolina, Utah, Vermont, and Wyoming) Head trauma can result in concussions and a traumatic brain injury.
A concussion can result in a victim experiencing :
- Problems speaking
- Memory loss
- Cognitive impairment
- Concentration problems
- Vision disturbances
- Nausea or vomiting
- Ringing ears
- Sensitivity to light
- Loss of smell or taste
- Trouble falling asleep
- Mood swings
- Personality changes
These symptoms can last anywhere from a few weeks to several months, leaving an accident victim unable to work.
A traumatic brain injury (TBI) is one of the most severe bicycle injuries. During a recent ten-year lookback period, about 596,972 people were treated in emergency rooms throughout the country for traumatic brain injury.
The National Institute of Health reports those diagnosed with TBI can experience:
- Nerve damage
- Blood clots
Traumatic brain injuries are one of the leading causes of death for injured bikers in the United States. The long-term effects of a TBI can include learning disabilities, memory issues, and sensory deficits. A victim with a traumatic brain injury may have problems speaking, difficulty writing, and an inability to communicate their thoughts and feelings. These injured bikers are often left with permanent consequences sometimes for a lifetime.
It is not unusual for a traumatic brain injury to result in:
- Social isolation
- Damaged family relationships
- Aggressive behavior
- Poor self-control
- Mood swings
Spinal cord injury
“Of more than 12,000 sports-related spinal injuries among U.S. adults, researchers found that a full 81 percent were due to bicycling mishaps.”—UPI Health News
Paralysis is often a consequence of a spinal cord injury.
Injured bicyclists may face a lifetime confined to a wheelchair, in addition to:
- The ability to feel heat or cold
- Loss of bowel or bladder control
- Changes in sexual function
- Intense pain
- Respiratory issues
The financial costs of a spinal cord injury typically go down after the first year of treatment. At its most severe form, a spinal cord injury will cost a patient about one million dollars during the first year after injury and then $184,000 annually.
Broken bones are commonplace in bicycle accidents. Fractures are serious injuries and may require hospitalization, surgery, and extended periods of inactivity followed by intensive rehabilitation. A broken bone, depending on the severity and location) can affect an accident victim’s ability to bathe, dress, or perform personal hygiene functions without assistance.
Some possible consequences of broken bones include:
- Excessive bleeding
- Nerve damage
- Muscle damage
- Internal organ damage
- Decreased strength
- Joint pain
- Limited range of motion
“Long bone fractures have a considerable impact on many facets of a patient’s life. In some cases, the fracture prevents patients from working and meeting financial obligations. The injury limited previously normal social interactions and pre-injury functioning.”—National Library of Medicine
Facial trauma and dental injuries
In addition to eight cranial bones, the human skull has 14 facial bones that form the structure of the nose, cheeks, mouth, and jaw. Our face also contains blood vessels, nerves, muscles, and sensory organs.
Facial injuries following a bicycle accident can result in:
- Permanent scarring
- Lost or broken teeth
- Loss of vision
- Broken jaw
- Severe cuts
- Excessive bleeding
- Intracranial hemorrhage
Additional consequences of a bicycle accident may include:
- Ruptured spleen
- Lacerated liver
- Cardiac contusion
- Abdominal trauma
- Internal bleeding
Deaths and Injuries Are Expensive
Nearly 1,000 bicyclists die, and over 130,000 are injured in crashes that occur on roads in the United States every year. The costs of bicycle injuries and deaths from crashes typically exceed $23 billion in the United States each year.3 These costs include spending on health care and lost work productivity, as well as estimated costs for lost quality of life and lives lost. - CDC
Compensation Is Possible After a Pennsylvania Bike Accident
Accident victims suffering physical and financial hardships because of another’s reckless behavior may be able to file a claim for compensation following a bicycle accident. A personal injury bicycle attorney is able to help an accident victim determine appropriate compensation for his or her economic and non-economic damages.
Examples of economic damages( those out-of-pocket expenses with a definite dollar value) can include hospital charges, ambulance fees, physician’s services, medications, physical or occupational therapy, and repair or replacement of the damaged bicycle. In addition, the accident victim is able to claim the value of the current loss of income and anticipated future lost earnings.
Non-economic damages can include:
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional trauma
- Loss of consortium
- Having to live with a physical impairment
- Changes in the family dynamic
- Social withdrawal
Wrongful Death Damages Following A Bicycle Accident
In Pennsylvania, qualified family members (usually spouses, children, and parents) can recover wrongful death benefits damages for:
- Funeral and burial expenses
- Hospital and medical expenses
- Administrative expenses
- Lost income to include anticipated income and benefits the deceased would have earned in the future
- Compensation for the loss of the deceased’s household services, companionship, and counsel
A representative of the victim’s estate is required to file the claim on behalf of the family.
Who Pays the Medical Bills for Injuries Sustained in a Bicycle Accident in Pennsylvania
A Pennsylvania, injuries sustained in a bicycle accident can be covered under the terms and limitations of the accident victim’s automobile accident insurance and any health care insurance held by the accident victim as well as the at-fault motorists’ insurance.
Who May I Hold Liable for My Bicycle Accident?
- Motor vehicle drivers
- Bicycle or parts manufacturers
- Government entities
How Can a Bicycle Accident Lawyer Help Me
Bicycle accidents can be complicated, and the injuries suffered by accident victims are almost always severe.
A bicycle accident lawyer can:
- Investigate the cause of the accident
- Gather and review evidence
- Tabulate the monetary value of all losses
- Deal with insurance investigators
- Estimate the future expenses an injured person might have
- Explain to investigators and in a court of law how the accident impacts a victim, and his or her family unit
- Determine which and whose insurance policies may apply
Bicycle accident victims should seek advice from an experienced the Levin Firm's bicycle accident lawyer in Philadelphia.