In Binghamton as well as across New York State and the nation, bicycle riding is on the rise. Many people have come to the conclusion that bicycling is an important part of living a healthy life. Sadly, this means that bicycle accidents are also on the rise.
The Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center reports that in 2013 743 bicyclists were killed and 48,000 bicyclists were injured in collisions involving motor vehicles. Although bicycle-related deaths are less than two percent of the total traffic fatalities nationwide, bicycle trips account for only one percent of all trips in the nation. With an 8.9 percent increase in fatalities over a recent two-year period, the increase is a matter of concern to those who ride a bicycle in Binghamton and the surrounding communities.
Bicycle Accident Injuries
The injuries sustained in a bike accident are often extremely severe or fatal. Even a bicyclist who always wears a helmet is at risk of being seriously injured if hit by any motor vehicle. The types of injuries sustained in a bicycle accident include:
- Head injuries
- Neck injuries
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Spinal cord injuries
- Broken bones
- Internal injuries
- Severe abrasions
- Crush injuries
- Fatal injuries
The risk of serious injuries is extremely high when the bicyclist is hit by another vehicle. Multiple bone fractures are a very real possibility. Secondary impacts may occur if the bicyclist is thrown into other traffic, making the situation potentially fatal. Those that survive these impacts often face a very long road to recovery. They may never fully heal or enjoy the level of fitness and health they had prior to the accident. Loss of mobility, cognitive impairments from a brain injury, and permanent disabilities from bone fractures may leave a cyclist facing a lifetime of challenges. Families suffer emotional pain and anguish when a loved one suffers a catastrophic injury or dies from a bicycle accident.
Common Causes of New York Bike Crashes
Bicyclists, no matter how carefully they obey the rules of the road, are at risk of injury from other vehicles. Car, truck and other vehicle drivers may engage in dangerous behavior that leads to tragedy.
Common causes of bike crashes include:
Drivers who are turning left often fail to see a bicyclist riding in the opposite direction. By the time the driver becomes aware of the bicyclist, it is too late, and the impact is unavoidable.
The Right Hook
The right hook is an incident in which a vehicle driver is passing a bicyclist riding in the same direction, in the bike lane, or on the right shoulder, and then turns into the lane into the path of the bicyclist, who is unable to stop.
Bicyclists travelling along the side of any roadway are at risk of being seriously injured when a motorist who has parked suddenly opens the door of the vehicle directly into the path of the bicyclist. Upon impact, the bicyclist can be thrown into moving lanes of traffic, with a tragic outcome.
Shocking as it may seem, it is not uncommon for a bicyclist to be rear-ended by a driver. The profile of the bicycle and rider is far smaller than another vehicle, and driver distraction can play a role in how these dangerous and potentially fatal accidents occur.
Your Legal Rights As an Injured Bicyclist in Binghamton
Bicycle riders are obviously at a very serious disadvantage in any collision. All bicyclists should wear helmets as a safety measure, but helmets cannot fully protect against serious injuries. New York State is a “no-fault” insurance state. That means that damages, including medical expenses and lost income will be paid by the insurance company of the motor vehicle involved, no matter which party is at fault. This does not mean that you cannot seek compensation for bodily injury and pain and suffering – a separate legal matter.
A bicyclist that is injured by a motor vehicle driver should immediately engage the services of a qualified personal injury lawyer – it can make a significant difference in the amount recovered in a settlement or jury award. The insurance company is obligated to pay out up to $50,000 for economic damages, which may include medical bills, prescriptions, lost wages, rehabilitation and other costs.
The bicyclist can also pursue further compensation by filing a claim against the driver who was responsible for his or her bodily injuries. It is strongly advised that you speak with an attorney immediately if you or a loved one has been in a bicycle accident. These are often life-changing events and can impact every aspect of your life far into the future. Full compensation for these losses should be pursued in cases of serious injury. Compensation for pain and suffering and other damages may be available through this legal process.
How To Avoid a Bike Accident
As a bicycle rider, you hold certain responsibilities. You are required to follow the rules of the road, just as do standard vehicle operators. If your actions are predictable, you can reduce the chances of being hit by a car or other vehicle. Important actions you can take as a bicyclist, include:
- Use the bike lane if available and be aware of intersections, driveways and other conflict points.
- Wear an approved helmet, correctly fitted to your head.
- Never drink alcohol or consume drugs and then ride a bicycle.
- Always signal, as required by law.
- Use your ears and eyes – do not wear headphones or other gear that could limit your ability to hear a vehicle behind you.
- Wear bright colors when riding a bicycle.
- Ensure you have the correct lights on your bike.
- If you ride at dusk or night, have reflective strips on your clothing, as well as lights on your bicycle. Stay on high alert – you are hard to see.
- Be alert for drivers who are turning left, or may make a U-turn in an intersection you are approaching.
- Be alert for drivers behind you who may pull into a bike lane for a right-hand turn.
What To Do If You Are In A Bike Accident
There are several actions you should take if you are hit by a vehicle. Follow this list to assist in protecting your right to fair compensation for damages:
- Call 911 for emergency services.
- If you are able, take photos of the accident scene, your bicycle, any skid marks on roadway, your location, and the vehicle. These photos may be a significant help in your claim.
- Speak with an attorney as soon as possible, prior to providing a statement to an insurance company.
- Inform the doctor that you were hit by a vehicle as a bicyclist. Follow the treatment plan advised by the medical professional who attended you.
- Keep a log of your daily condition, and the pain or difficulties you are experiencing.
Binghamton Bicycle Accident Lawyer
Attorney Scott C. Gottlieb has your interests as the guiding factor in every legal action he takes. If you were injured in a bicycle accident, or have a loved one that was seriously injured or killed, it is crucial that you get legal help at once.
With the highest possible rating, AV Preeminent®, from Martindale-Hubbell®, you can be confident that you are being represented by an experienced legal professional. Mr. Gottlieb has recovered tens of millions in damages for his clients in his years in practice. Call our firm directly, connect with us on our live chat feature, or use our online contact form. We stand ready to help you to pursue justice and full compensation.
*Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome