Birmingham Bicycle Accident Attorneys
While bicycling in Alabama may not be as popular in other states, more people are choosing to ride on two wheels. Taking the bike to work or spend a weekend hitting the mountain trails with the family in tow is great for our health.
In November of 2015, the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy released a study that found a dramatic increase in cycling could save society $24 trillion and cut CO2 emissions from urban transportation by 11%.
There is one glaring factor that keeps many people from becoming dedicated cyclists: fear of getting hit by a car. It’s a fear that goes both ways. Surely no one wants to be responsible for hitting a cyclist either. In 2015 alone, five cyclists were killed in collisions with cars.
When comparing the frame of a bicycle to the size and weight of a car – you’re practically guaranteed that the cyclist will be injured in any kind of collision. When a cyclist is hit by a car, speaking with a personal injury attorney can be a critical step in protecting your interests.
Common Bicycle Accidents
Despite a bike’s positive impact on health and the environment, riding a bicycle can be dangerous. As little as three years ago, the Centers for Disease Control reported over 900 bicyclists were killed, with an estimated 494,000 visits to the emergency room for bicycle accident injuries in the U.S. alone. Adolescents, young adults and adults over the age of 45 have the highest bicycle fatality rates.
It doesn’t help that Alabama was recently listed as the least bicycle friendly state by the League of American Bicyclists. Few people regularly ride to work or for fun, as the likelihood of being injured or killed are higher than those states that are bike-friendly.
Auto drivers have a duty to exercise higher care in regards to cyclists, but driver negligence is a leading contributor in bicycle accident cases. Common bicycle accidents include:
- Side-swipe collision – this occurs when a car driver refuses to share the road with a cyclist, coming too close to the bicycle and striking them in passing.
- Left turn collision – happens when the car’s driver and the cyclist approach the intersection from opposite directions. As the car makes a left turn, it collides with the cyclist.
- Right turn collision – results from the car cutting off a cyclist as they turn right, or turns into the bicycle when both are at a stop light and the light changes. This is a common cause of wrongful death in bicycle accidents.
- Failure to stop – often cyclists forget to give the right-of-way to the car at a stop sign by not coming to a full and complete stop at an intersection. Motorists can be guilty of the same behavior, hitting a bicycle by failing to stop completely.
- Failure to yield – a cyclist entering an intersection must always come to a complete stop and let the motorist have the right-of-way. Failure to yield could result in the cyclist being found at fault in an accident.
- The door zone – Alabama vehicle code section 32-5A-263 states that cyclist must stay as far to right on any roadway not specifically marked with a bicycle lane. Drivers in cars frequently forget this fact. They also forget to check for people on bikes before exiting their vehicle. In these circumstances, the cyclist has two options: be hit by the door or swerve towards on-coming traffic. The results are often deadly.
Bicycle Accident Liability
The successful outcome of a bicycle accident lawsuit rests on the ability to prove liability, namely the driver’s. The law holds both automobile drivers and cyclists responsible for their actions on the road. However, vehicle drivers are held to higher degree of reasonable care, assuming because of the physics involved in a car-bicycle collision.
A deciding factor in personal injury cases lies within the reckless behavior of others. A driver who is speeding, under the influence, running a stop sign or stoplight, or drifts into a bike lane would be considered negligent. Eye-witness testimony can greatly assist in determining driver negligence.
Several factors can cause a cyclist to be found partially responsible (also known as comparative negligence) for a bicycle accident. Failure to yield or riding through a stop sign are examples of cyclist negligence, and cyclist found guilt may be unable to recover damages. It’s important to remember that riding against the flow of traffic is illegal, and would be considered recklessness in a bicycle accident lawsuit.
Child Bicycle Accident Liability
Bicycle accidents involving children account for almost 52% of all bicycle related injuries in U.S. emergency departments (CDC, 2013). For motorists, the amount of care and precaution increases whenever children are present. A child on a bicycle is considered to be incapable of contributing negligence in a bicycle accident. This is commonly referred to as “Tender Years” doctrine. However, this does not mean a motorist who accidently injures a child on a bike will automatically be found negligent. If the driver involved exercised the highest level of caution possible and the accident still could not be avoided, they may not be found negligent.
Any time you are injured in an accident involving a car, wait until the police arrive before leaving the scene. It isn’t unheard of for a driver to immediately admit blame in a bicycle accident, only to later deny everything. The police report is one of the strongest tools for proving who is at fault in any kind of car accident.
Report every injury you have to the officer at the scene. You may not realize the extent of your injuries right away, having an officer document your injures can strengthen your case when seeking damages.
Be sure to get the name, address and insurance information of the driver, as well as their driver’s license and vehicle license plate number. Get the same information from any witnesses to the event. Take photos if you can, of both the scene and your injuries. When you’re able, document your version of the accident. Write down the time of day, conditions of the road and the weather, and how the accident happened.
How Our Attorneys Can Help
Bicycle accident legal issues can be complex. A personal injury attorney with experience in bicycle accident forensics will be better able to get the compensation you deserve. It’s rare that the cyclist and the driver’s insurance company agree on negligence and the proper settlement amount.
Pittman, Dutton & Hellums have decades of experience and a proven record of success handling personal injury cases involving all kinds of motor vehicle accidents, from bicycles to motorcycles to buses to tractor trailers or large trucks. We are very familiar with the tactics insurance companies use to pressure victims into agreeing to settlements far below the actual total cost of injuries – amounts that do not take into account time lost from work, pain and suffering or the total lifetime costs of severe injuries or wrongful death.
We are here to help injured victims and their families throughout the state of Alabama. You absolutely have the right to hold those involved accountable for your injuries. To discover more about your legal options, contact us today for a free case evaluation.I would like to speak to an attorney