Montgomery County Bicycle Accident Lawyer
According to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (DOT), bicycle crashes represent about 1.1 percent of all traffic crashes and 1.6 percent of all traffic deaths. This means that around 1,298 people are injured in bicycle-related accidents every year. Injuries sustained in collisions between bicycles and vehicles tend to be particularly severe and can quickly overwhelm a victim’s finances. Fortunately, injured parties can collect compensation from the individual responsible for causing their accident. However, the process of filing a claim can be difficult, so if you were injured in a bicycle accident, please contact a member of the legal team at The Levin Firm who can explain your options.
Types of Bicycle Accidents
Unfortunately, as the number of Pennsylvania residents who take up biking as a hobby or as a means of transportation increases, so does the rate of bicycle accidents. These accidents happen in a variety of situations, some of which include when:
- A driver fails to stop at a red light or a stop sign;
- A motorist fails to see a bicyclist change lanes or make a turn;
- One of the parties is under the influence of drugs or alcohol;
- A driver fails to turn on his or her lights;
- A driver fails to yield to a bicyclist or stop at a crosswalk;
- A road is poorly designed or in poor condition;
- A traffic signal malfunctions;
- A defective bicycle part malfunctions; and
- A driver strikes a bicyclist from behind after veering into the bike lane.
While in many cases, one party is clearly at fault in causing an accident, other situations are not so simple. Fortunately, injured parties can still collect compensation from the responsible party as long as they were less than 51 percent at fault in causing the crash. It can be difficult to demonstrate that one party caused a crash. However, plaintiffs will have a much easier time establishing negligence or recklessness if there is evidence that a motorist violated a traffic law, such as failing to comply with the speed limit, ignoring traffic signals, or failing to use a turn signal.
Collecting compensation from the negligent parties is especially important in these cases because injuries sustained in collisions between bicyclists and motorists are often extremely serious. This is due to the fact that bicyclists are largely unprotected from their surroundings, while motorists have access to seat belts, air bags, and thousands of pounds of steel and glass between themselves and the road. For these reasons, bicyclists experience the full force of an impact, which can result in the following injuries:
- Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs), which can lead to memory problems, loss of speech, and even comas;
- Spinal cord injury, which in severe cases can lead to partial or full paralysis;
- Compound bone fractures and joint dislocations, which often require surgery and the placement of metal rods and pins for support;
- Severe lacerations from coming into contact with glass, steel, flying debris, and the road, which can lead to severe blood loss;
- Limb amputations;
- Soft tissue and muscle injuries; and
- Chest and abdomen injuries, such as organ damage, which if left untreated can quickly lead to internal bleeding and death.
Treating these types of serious injuries can be ruinously expensive, as many injured parties are required to undergo numerous surgeries, attend physical therapy, and pay for expensive medications. Furthermore, injured parties must usually take a significant amount of time off from work in order to fully recuperate. This can be especially stressful for families that are supported by a single income. Fortunately, injured parties can collect compensation for these expenses as well as future medical costs and lost wages from the responsible party.
While driver negligence is one of the leading causes of bicycle accidents across the state, there are a number of other parties that can be held liable for their negligent actions, including:
- Road maintenance crews if they were notified of a dangerous road condition and did nothing to address it;
- Municipalities, if they failed to address road safety concerns;
- Negligent traffic safety officers;
- City planners who negligently designed a road or bike lane; and
- A bicycle’s manufacturer or designer if the defect caused the accident.
Hit and Run Accidents
Bicyclists are much more likely than other parties to be the victims of a hit and run. This can have deadly consequences for the injured party, who may require immediate medical attention. However, it can also have serious repercussions for the driver, who is legally required to stop at the scene, provide information to the police, and give aid to anyone who is injured. A driver who fails to remain at the scene of an accident where a person was seriously injured can be charged with a third degree felony, which is punishable by up to seven years in prison and a fine of $1,000. Even when the only damage sustained was to a person’s property, the driver faces a third degree misdemeanor charge, up to one year in prison, and a $2,500 fine.
Because injuries sustained in bicycle accidents tend to be so serious, it is critical that cyclists take precautionary steps to avoid injury, such as:
- Wearing bright clothes;
- Using a front headlight and a rear red light at night;
- Adding reflective tape to clothing;
- Refraining from riding on sidewalks;
- Obeying all traffic laws; and
- Keeping an eye out for any road defects, such as potholes or cracked pavement.
It is also important for drivers to remain vigilant at all times and only use bike lanes when conducting a legal turn. Motorists should also give cyclists plenty of room when passing. Although taking these steps does not guarantee that a person will not be injured in a bicycle accident, it can go a long way towards reducing his or her chances of being involved in a crash with a motorist.
Contact Our Legal Team Today to Consult With an Experienced Bicycle Accident Attorney
To speak with an experienced bicycle accident attorney at The Levin Firm, please contact our Norristown office today by calling (215) 825-5183 or by initiating a live chat with a member of our legal team.