Riding a bicycle can be a great form of exercise and a great way to get to where you are going. North Carolina’s generally mild climate makes riding a bicycle a year round activity. When out for a ride, the last thing you are likely thinking about is getting into an accident. Unfortunately, according to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) more than 800 people are killed per year in bicycle accidents in the United States. North Carolina’s Department of Transportation (NCOT) estimates that 1,000 bicyclists are involved in accidents with cars each year. Of those, approximately 20 bicyclists are killed, with the most likely victims being children and young adults.
Other sobering statistics found on the NHTSA’s website include:
- 6pm - 9pm is the most deadly time to ride a bicycle
- urban areas, cities like Charlotte, had a higher rate of bicycle deaths than rural areas - 78% v. 22%
- female bicyclists were 6 times more likely to be killed than male bicyclists
- drinking is also an issue for bicyclists. 1 out of every 4 bicycle fatalities involved drinking
Steps To Take To Avoid a Bicycle Accident
- Wear a helmet. North Carolina law requires only that children 16 and under wear a helmet while riding a bicycle. While North Carolina does not legally require that anyone 16 or over wear a helmet, it has been proven that helmets do protect from serious head injury and should be worn by all bicyclists.
- Always follow the rules of the road. Like cars, bicyclists are expected to be aware of and follow the rules of the road. Specifically, bicyclists should:
- ride with, not against, traffic
- follow lights, stop signs and other street signs as if you were driving a car
- always use hand signals to indicate that you are turning. If you are turning, stay as close to side of the road as possible and avoid taking wide turns that would put you in the middle of a lane
- ride defensively - assume that cars do not see you, watch out for hazardous road conditions and take extra care when avoiding them, especially if there are cars on the road
- stay alert. Like when driving a car, you should be paying attention to the road, not texting or looking at your phone
- Be visible. This is particularly important if it is dawn, dusk, after dark or the weather conditions make it hard to see. Bicyclists should take into account sun glare that makes it particularly hard for motorists to see. If it is dark out, reflective clothing should be worn and there should be reflectors and lights on the bicycle making it more visible. North Carolina law requires that bicyclists:
- have a reflex mirror on the back of their bicycle;
- have a light on the front of their bicycle that can be seen from at least 300 feet away;
- have a light on the back of their bicycle with a red light that can be seen from at least 300 feet away or the bicyclist must wear reflective clothing that can be seen from at least 300 feet behind the bicycle
- Maintain your bicycle. It is important to make sure that your bicycle is working properly at all times. This includes maintaining and checking brakes and keeping tires properly inflated.
- Try to avoid heavily trafficked areas. You have as much right to be on the road as a car, however, if there is a less trafficked route that you can take or a route where the speed limit on the road is lower, it might be in your best interests to do so.
Steps to Take if You are Injured in a Bicycle Accident
If you were injured in a bicycle accident, you should take the same steps that you would take if you were injured in a car accident including:
- Seek immediate medical attention if necessary. If you are not seriously injured, you should take the steps below and then seek medical attention. It is important that a doctor documents what happened. Some symptoms, particularly those related to back and neck injuries, may not manifest themselves for a few days or a few weeks until after the accident. Having documentation by a doctor could be important to your claim if the other side tries to deny liability.
- Call 911. A police report could be a valuable tool in establishing liability on the part of the person who injured you.
- Exchange information. You should get the driver’s information including name, address, phone number, and insurance information. If there were any witnesses to the accident, ask for their contact information.
- If possible, take pictures of the scene of the bicycle accident as well as the car and any damage to the bicycle and any injuries you sustained.
- Call a Charlotte, North Carolina bicycle accident attorney. It is important that you understand the law, and in particular North Carolina’s contributory negligence rule and how it might impact your case and your damages.
What can you recover if you are injured in a bicycle accident?
If you were injured in a bicycle accident in North Carolina, you may be entitled to recover:
- medical costs - these include emergency room visits, doctors visits, prescriptions, rehabilitation, surgery costs,and assistive devices
- lost wages if you have to miss time from work
- pain and suffering
- other costs, like the cost of fixing or replacing your bike
- if a loved one was victim of a bicycle accident, you may be able to recover burial and funeral expenses
Why Do I Need a Charlotte Law Firm?
Bicycle accidents happen more frequently than most people expect and often result in serious injury to the bicyclist. The Charlotte, NC based lawyers at Rosensteel Fleishman, PLLC are experienced personal injury attorneys who can help you understand your rights and whether or not you have damages and should proceed with a claim. Please contact our office at 704-714-1450. There is no fee for an initial consultation.