What Are the Most Common Causes of Bicycle Accidents?
Whether you ride a bicycle for fun, to commute, or for sport, you run the risk of being injured or killed in a cycling accident. There are approximately 45,000 bicycle accidents and 850 bicycle fatalities in the United States each year. Often, these accidents involve collisions with vehicles.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), these are the most common reasons bicycle accidents happen.
- 30% of bicycle accidents happen when the cyclist is hit by a car
- 17% of bicycle accidents happen when the cyclist falls off the bike
- 13% of bicycle accidents are caused by mistakes made by the cyclist
- 13% of bicycle accidents are caused by unsafe road conditions
- 7% of bicycle accidents happen when the cyclist collides with a fixed object
- 4% of bicycle accidents are caused by a dog running out in front of the bike
Some other causes of bicycle accidents that are caused by drivers include distracted driving, driving too close to a shoulder or a bike lane, speeding, driving under the influence, making an unsafe lane change, or turning without looking for cyclists.
What to Do if You’ve Been in an Accident
No matter how careful you are when you’re cycling, there is still the risk of accidents. No cyclist is a match for a vehicle, and the odds are against you when you’re on the road. If you end up on the wrong side of the odds, here’s what you need to do to protect your rights.
Call the Police or 911
It’s against the law to leave the scene of an accident if there are injuries or property damage, so you and any other parties involved need to stay to wait for the police. You may initially believe that you have not been injured, but injuries can become apparent days later. You can visit this link to learn more about delayed concussion symptoms.
Don’t let any drivers involved with your accident go without getting their contact and insurance information. Once that driver is gone, you likely won’t be able to find them again if you need to file a lawsuit.
The other driver may accept blame for the accident, but that doesn’t mean they won’t change their mind later once the reality of being responsible for your damages has had time to sink in. The driver may also try to pay you a small amount of money to make their problem go away. It’s important that you do not accept it, because it may not be enough to cover your damages.
Don’t Admit Fault
If you admit fault, it can be used against you in court, even if later on it becomes apparent that you were not the at-fault party. The other party’s attorneys will use this against you during the settlement process.
Get Immediate Medical Attention
Even if your injuries seem minor or you don’t appear to be injured at all, it’s important to be evaluated by a doctor. You’ll also want to photograph your injuries and document how your healing is progressing, where you are on the pain scale, and how it’s impacted your day-to-day life.
Get Witness Contact Information and Statements
Were there any witnesses to the accident? Be sure to get their names and contact information at the scene if it’s possible. If you have a cell phone with you, you may also want to videotape their statements. The more time passes, the less they will remember about what happened.
Save and Document Evidence
Your clothes, your damaged bicycle, and any other damaged property can be used to strengthen your legal case. Be sure to save everything without washing it or getting any repairs if it’s possible. If you need to use your bicycle because it’s your only mode of transportation, document and photograph the damage first.
Write Down Everything That Happened
As soon as possible after the accident, write down everything you can remember. Write the location of the accident, the weather that day, whether or not there were any stop signs or traffic lights, and any other information about how the accident took place.
Give Your Report to the Police
Contact the officer who arrived at the scene of the accident or go to the police department to make sure your documentation is included in the police report.
Let Your Lawyer Negotiate With the Insurance Company
According to one Atlanta bicycle accident lawyer, the insurance company may offer you a small settlement, but you are under no obligation to accept it if it’s not sufficient to cover your damages. You should never negotiate directly with the at-fault party’s insurers. Instead, let your lawyer do the talking.