Injured in a Bicycle Accident? Know your Legal Rights
In October of 2011, one of our clients was bicycling to work when he was hit by a large SUV exiting a shopping center parking lot. He suffered a separated shoulder which required two surgeries and resulted in residual pain and significant physical limitations which prohibited him from returning to his job working in an aquarium.
Thankfully, our client knew his legal rights and retained our law offices to represent him with a personal injury claim. Our attorneys and staff went to work to ensure that he received maximum compensation for his medical treatment, loss of current and future salary and wages, emotional distress, pain and suffering and property loss. We were successful in obtaining a $300,000 verdict on his behalf; and, because his injuries resulted in a permanent disability, we also successfully represented him in a claim for Social Security disability benefits, providing him with a monthly paycheck for the remainder of his lifetime.
At a time of year when the nice weather brings out more bicyclists and the frequency of bike accidents is the highest, this case underscores the importance of bicyclists understanding their rights and responsibilities. To help ensure a safe ride for you and your family, our law offices are pleased to provide these reminders about bicycle laws and what you should know if an accident with another motorist happens.
First, it’s important to know that in most states, including Pennsylvania and Maryland, a bicycle is considered a legal vehicle and a person riding a bicycle has all of the rights and duties of a driver of a vehicle. New Jersey is one of only four states in the nation that does not define bicycles as vehicles, but a bicyclist is still granted the same rights and subject to the same duties as a motor vehicle driver. This means that bicyclists are expected to comply with traffic laws. They are also legally entitled to “share the road” with vehicle drivers and, if a collision occurs that was the result of another motorist’s negligence, a bicyclist may file a personal injury claim and seek compensation for their injuries and losses. See Bicycle Laws by State
Steps to Take After a Bicycle Accident
After an accident, there are a number of immediate steps you should take to protect your rights and support any subsequent insurance and legal proceedings.
– Call 911 to request the police come to the scene and make a report. Some police are not required to report to a crash where no injuries are reported and both vehicles can drive away. If this is the case, you can obtain a crash report via phone or in person at a nearby police station.
– Make sure you obtain all relevant information about the other driver and vehicle, including:
– The driver’s name, date of birth, contact info and insurance information.
– The license plate number and state of issue.
– The names and phone numbers of any witnesses.
– The responding police officer’s name and badge number.
– Request that the motorist and/or witnesses wait for the police to arrive. If the motorist refuses and/or doesn’t give you an ID, write a short description of the person, their car and license plate information.
When the police arrive:
– An incident report is required if there is personal injury or property damage so make sure to request an incident report from the police. This will be essential to settling the case with the driver’s insurance company.
– Make sure you give your statement to the officer about what occurred.
– If the accident was caused by dooring, ask the officer to cite the motorist for dooring.
– If it is a hit and run, file a police report as soon as possible.
– If possible, take photos of the accident scene and any damage to your bicycle and the other vehicle.
After the accident:
– If medical treatment at a hospital is not immediately needed, see a doctor as soon as possible and ask for detailed documentation of your injuries. Follow up with all recommended appointments and treatment.
– Write your own detailed description of what happened in the accident.
– Contact witnesses and ask them to e-mail you their version of what happened.
– Take good photos of your injuries.
– Get an estimate for bike repairs from a bike shop.
Contact a lawyer and do not communicate with the insurance company before consulting with an attorney. It is always prudent to first consult with an experienced personal injury attorney who can investigate your case to determine potential negligence and liability and assist you in filing a claim for damages and losses connected with the accident and your injuries. The law firm will handle all of the details of your case.
We hope this information is helpful and wish you a safe ride! If you are injured as the result of a bicycle accident, please contact the Law Offices of Eric A. Shore immediately for a FREE initial consultation. Some of our largest recoveries have been for clients who were injured while riding bicycles.
Our law firm works on a “contingency basis” meaning you don’t pay anything for us to handle your case. Our fee is contingent on recovering money for you and if nothing is recovered, you owe nothing. Read more about how our firm assists bike accident victims.