The bicycle accident attorneys at the Philadelphia law firm of The Levin Firm understand that representing bicycle accident victims requires a particular type of Pennsylvania personal injury lawyer with the skills, knowledge, and ability to understand the rights of bicyclists, which others often take for granted. Our Philadelphia bicycle accident attorneys fight to recover compensation for the many types of damages to which our clients are entitled, including medical expenses, hospital bills, rehabilitation expenses, lost earnings, future wage losses, lost earnings capacity, physical disabilities, scars, losses of limbs, brain and head injuries, emotional distress, depression, anxiety, grief, and pain and suffering. We understand the issues that bicycle accident victims often face, so we work with our clients, their friends and family, as well as their doctors, psychologists, long-term care planners, and others, to ensure that our clients receive not only the finest legal representation but also the finest support and medical care.
Riding a bike can be a great form of exercise, a way to enjoy a beautiful day, and an inexpensive and environmentally friendly mode of transportation. Unfortunately, it can also become deadly when drivers of motor vehicles do not pay attention to the bicyclists with whom they are supposed to share the road. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 52,000 bicyclists were injured and 716 killed in 2008 as a result of collisions with motor vehicles. Most of those accidents (69 percent) occurred in busy urban areas. Twenty-eight bicyclist deaths occurred in Pennsylvania and New Jersey in 2008.
Unlike people riding in cars or trucks, bicyclists are completely exposed to the world around them. Consequently, they are extremely vulnerable to serious injuries when they are involved in accidents with motor vehicles. These injuries can come from the impact of the motor vehicle itself or when an accident throws a bicyclist onto to the ground, into traffic, or against another object. Cyclists can sustain the following serious injuries in accidents:
Traumatic brain injuries – TBIs can occur anytime a cyclist’s head hits something during the course of an accident—including when the cyclist is wearing a helmet. Even mild TBIs, like concussions, can result in serious symptoms that damage victims’ lives in profound ways for days, weeks, or even months. When bicyclists sustain severe TBIs that involve skull fractures or objects penetrating into their brains, they often develop cognitive or physical disabilities that can hurt them for the rest of their lives.
Spinal cord injuries – A bicycle accident that damages or penetrates any part of the spinal column, including ligaments, discs, nerves, or vertebrae, can result in spinal cord injuries. Spinal cord injuries can result in significant complications, including chronic pain, muscle weakness, numbness, and even paralysis below the site of the injuries.
Fractures – The forces involved in bicycle accidents can easily break a person’s bones. Cyclists who are involved in accidents often break arms, legs, hips, hands, fingers, and bones in the face. In many cases, these injuries require emergency medical treatments, from immobilization and traction to emergency and reconstructive surgeries.
People can sustain these and other injuries in bicycle accidents, not only resulting in enormous pain and suffering, but also secondary issues such as substantial and unexpected medical expenses, lost income from the inability to work, and a significant and ongoing loss of qualify of life. Fortunately, victims can seek compensation for these and other accident-related losses under both Pennsylvania and New Jersey law. For this reason, those injured in bicycle accidents should retain legal counsel as soon as possible to fully protect their legal rights.
Though motorists are expected to “share the road” with bicyclists, many drivers do not pay proper attention or use enough caution. Other reasons may also contribute to serious accidents for bicycle riders. Some common reasons for bicycle accidents include the following:
These are only a few examples of how other parties may act in a negligent fashion to cause a bicycle accident. If a driver or other party’s negligence caused you injury, that party should be held responsible for their actions and you deserve to receive a fair settlement.
Bicyclists must comply with all traffic laws when riding on public roadways, just as if they were operating motor vehicles. Neither motor vehicles nor bicycles have the right of way over the other—drivers of both must be aware of all other vehicles and follow the rules of the road. Unfortunately, bicyclists, despite their best efforts to comply with all appropriate laws, get struck by motorists who do not pay attention to their surroundings. Sadly, bicyclists suffer the most serious injuries in these situations.
As in other types of accidents, to recover compensation, bicyclists must show that someone else’s negligence caused their accidents. Negligence occurs when a person fails to use the degree of care that a reasonable person in the same or similar circumstances would ordinarily use. Driver negligence that can lead to serious bicycle accidents includes:
Driver negligence can take many other forms, all with the potential to seriously injure bicyclists who share the road with cars and trucks. Nevertheless, in some cases, a driver’s fault is not clear, and evidence of negligence may require significant investigation to uncover. For this reason, anyone who was hurt in a bicycle accident involving a motor vehicle should review the facts of the accident with an attorney.
A statute of limitations requires a person to bring a legal action within a certain period of time after an incident occurs. This law exists for many reasons—the reliability and quality of evidence can deteriorate during time, and potential defendants should have some degree of certainty whether they face a lawsuit for an act that occurred in the distant past.
Under Pennsylvania law, bicycle accident victims (and all other people injured in accidents) have two years from the date of the injury to bring claims. There are some limited exceptions to this rule, but typically, if you wait longer than two years to file a claim, you will lose your right to recover compensation for your accident-related losses.
This is not to say that accident victims should wait one year and 364 days to file their claims. As mentioned above, the availability and reliability of evidence tend to degrade over time—memories fade, witnesses move away, surveillance footage is erased—so it is best to retain a lawyer as soon as possible after an accident. A lawyer will begin any necessary investigation immediately, maximizing your chances of recovering compensation for your losses.
As reported by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), almost 50,000 bicyclists suffered injuries in traffic-related accidents in 2012 alone. Many of these injured bicyclists naturally wonder: how can I hold a driver responsible for my injuries? Your first step after a bicycle accident should always be to consult with an experienced personal injury attorney for free. A lawyer can advise you on whether or not you have the right to recover depending on the facts of your particular case.
Often, drivers collide into bicyclists because they are not paying attention, not following traffic laws, or acting in an otherwise negligent manner. Not surprisingly, most drivers will not readily come forward and admit that they were distracted or failed to yield or made some other type of mistake. For this reason, identifying negligence in a bicycle accident often requires further investigation and analysis.
One sign that often helps determine who was at fault in a bicycle accident is the type of collision that occurred. The four most common types of bicycle accidents are as follows:
The Side Swipe – this collision usually happens when a motorist fails to properly look for a bicyclist prior to changing lanes.
Rear-end Collisions – a driver may hit a bicycle from behind if he or she is following the bicycle too closely, misjudges the bicycle’s speed, is speeding, or is driving in an otherwise aggressive manner. Conversely, the bicyclist may collide with the rear-end of a car if the driver stops suddenly and without warning.
The “Left Cross” – this occurs when a driver attempts to make a left turn at an intersection and runs into a bicyclist traveling in the opposite direction. It also may happen that a vehicle turns in front of a bicyclist, who then does not have time to stop and subsequently runs into the car.
The “Right Hook” – the opposite of a Left Cross, this collision results from a driver trying to pass a bicyclist on the left side and then turn right in front of the bicyclist. This often happens when a driver is impatient with the relatively slow speed of a bicycle.
The type of collision that occurred can speak volumes as to the potentially negligent acts of the driver involved, and a Philadelphia bicyclist accident lawyer can help you recover whenever possible.
A perhaps misunderstood reality of personal injury law is that the vast majority of cases settle out of court—sometimes without a lawsuit ever being filed. This is because in many cases, liability is not contested, which means that the at-fault party (or, more accurately, the insurance company) concedes liability. This leaves damages as the only issue that needs resolution.
In such cases, retaining an attorney may seem pointless, but this could not be further from the truth. Establishing damages in personal injury cases is complicated, and many, like pain and suffering and future medical expenses, are subjective and speculative. For this reason, settling a case with an insurance company runs the risk of accepting an offer that is far less than what your case is actually worth. An experienced attorney will determine how much your case is really worth and ensure that the insurance company treats you fairly. If the insurance company refuses to offer an acceptable settlement, your lawyer may file a lawsuit on your behalf to ensure that you get the compensation you deserve.
Representing bicycle victims requires a team of aggressive investigators and lawyers all devoting their maximum efforts to their clients. At The Levin Firm of Pennsylvania, our personal injury attorneys investigate every claim so that we may aggressively and zealously represent our clients and obtain the best possible results.
When you need a Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, or New Jersey personal injury attorney to represent you, a family member, or a friend who has suffered a bicycle accident injury, call The Levin Firm at (215) 825-5183 or contact us online.
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