If you are friends with cyclists or are a cyclist yourself you know the saying goes: “not if you get hit by a car,” but “when you get hit by a car.” Even when riding in a group of other cyclists or in a designated bike lane you are still at risk of being hit by a car. The stakes are much higher when riding a bike because you don’t have much to protect you from the automobile. Car crashes often result in traumatic brain injury, broken or shattered bones, and deep lacerations.
What to do After the Accident?
If you are lucky enough to be able to communicate or physically move after the accident, the first thing you should do is call 911.
After phoning 911, take pictures of the scene. Look to see if there are road signs or if there is an absence of road signs. Did someone drive fail to yield at a sign or roll through a stop sign?
What was the weather like? Were the roads slick from rain or snow? Was it a sunny, dry day out? Was it dark out or was there lots of fog? The weather plays a major role in an accident.
Get the names and numbers of any witnesses. You may need them to help your case down the road. Ask them to write statements, the further away from the accident you get the less likely you are to remember.
Get the driver's contact information and insurance information. You will need this to file a claim for any injuries you may have or damage done to your property.
Make sure you file a police report. This too is essential in building a case against the driver that hit you.
Go to a medical facility and have a comprehensive evaluation done. You may be in shock after your accident and not notice that something is physically wrong.
Are drivers of motorized vehicles always to blame?
No, bike riders can be at fault for the accident as well. A bike rider needs to follow laws just as motorists do. They must ride with traffic, following the same laws as a motorist. At night the bike must be equipped with a white light on the front of the bike and a red light on the back of the bike. The lights must be visible for 300 feet. You must also equip your bicycle with a reflective mirror. Bicycles are not allowed on highways.
The Most Common Types of Accidents Involving Motorists and Bikes:
The right hook
When a car is making a right hand turn and a cyclist is continuing straight, causing the cyclist to hit the side of the vehicle turning.
The left cross
Making a left hand turn is one of the biggest reasons for accidents, bike or otherwise. The left cross is when a cyclist is moving through an intersection and the motorist is making a left hand turn.
When a cyclist is traveling in a lane and an unsuspecting motorist opens up their door to exit their vehicle and the cyclist slams into the door. As a driver of a vehicle, always make sure to check your side view mirror before exiting your vehicle.
Most vehicles are equipped with backup sensors or videos, but they may miss a cyclist coming down the road. A motorist backs quickly down their driveway and hits an unsuspecting cyclist.
Loss of control
It is not uncommon for a cyclist to hit road debris and go into oncoming traffic. This type of accident can result in horrific consequences.
A bicyclist is pedaling along when a vehicle starts to pass and gets distracted and veers into the person on a bike pinning their wheels against the curb or knocking the cyclist off their bike.
Ways to Prevent Accidents
A cyclist needs to be hyper vigilant when riding their bike even if they have a bike infrastructure like they do in parts of Charlotte.
- Always make sure to signal when making a turn, vehicles and bicycles).
- When passing a cyclist make sure to do it when you can leave at least 2 ft in between you and the bike.
- At night cyclists should wear reflective clothing and make sure they have proper functioning lights on their bikes.
- Cyclists should not wear headphones when riding. They need to keep their focus sharp and hear all of the sounds around them.
- Cyclists should not bob and weave through traffic, it makes them harder to be seen by motorists and more likely to be hit.
- Pay attention while driving, put down your cell phone and do not text or any other action that takes your eyes off of the road.
- It is safer for cyclists to ride in packs, it makes them more visible while riding.
Can You Sue for Your Accident?
If you are hit by a motorist and not found to be at fault for the accident you can sue just as you would in a car accident. In the state of North Carolina you have three years to file a claim against the person that hit you.
Do Cyclists Need to Carry Insurance?
In the state of North Carolina, cyclists do not need to carry insurance. If you do carry car insurance it may cover your injuries. Many homeowners or renters policies may provide coverage. You may want to consider additional insurance if you have low limits or steep deductibles, your bicycle costs more than your homeowners or renters will cover, or if you cycle competitively.
What Type of Attorney do You Need?
When involved in an accident with a cyclist and motorist you would want a personal injury attorney or an attorney that specializes in car accidents. If you are injured in North Carolina you will want an attorney that has passed the bar in North Carolina, where you were injured.
The attorneys at Rosensteel Fleishman have been in business since 2005. They are experienced and efficient. They handle all types of accidents and personal injury cases. If you have been injured in a cycling accident and have some questions, give them a call today.