If you’re a bicyclist, injuries from car accidents are a pervasive and growing threat. Based on the sheer difference in mechanical magnitude, the biker is extremely vulnerable to injury or even death when an accident occurs. You can help avoid an accident of this nature in many ways, but no matter how careful you are, sharing the road with distracted and careless drivers remains a fact of life for the cyclist. If you are involved in an accident with a motor vehicle, your recovery may depend on the steps you take in the aftermath.
Bike Accidents Are a Growing U.S. Problem
The Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center reported that U.S. cyclists suffered 49,000 injuries and 726 deaths in 2012. These numbers represent a 6.4 percent increase over 2011. Although it is difficult to ascertain how many of these incidents were related to the rider’s negligence rather than the driver’s, the frequency with which bicyclists are involved in crashes is almost double that of motorized vehicle drivers. In most cases, the governing laws of states and municipalities define a cyclist’s obligations for safety and the observation of traffic laws. In Idaho, bicycles are treated like vehicles, with the same rights and duties of the rider to obey traffic laws and safety standards. Unfortunately, doing everything right can’t always protect you from bad drivers.
Avoiding a Crash While on Your Bike
Before hitting the road on your bike, familiarize yourself with local cycling laws. Even if you are not required by law to wear a helmet, using one regularly is shown to significantly reduce the risk of serious head trauma and death. Keeping your bike well-maintained, especially the brakes, is also important. If riding at night, use lights and reflectors to make sure drivers can see you. Likewise, use rearview mirrors and other equipment to increase your own sight lines. Ride with traffic and stay as far to the right as possible, especially if there are no bike lanes. Although riding on the sidewalk is not generally prohibited in Idaho, a high percentage of collisions between autos and bikes occur when cyclists emerge from riding on the sidewalk. Drivers, especially those who are distracted or in a hurry, are not accustomed to checking the sidewalk for oncoming traffic.
What to Do if You’re Hit by a Car
Understanding local cycling laws will help preserve your safety on the road, but it can also help you if you’re involved in an accident. Alert the police if you’re involved in an accident, even if you don’t believe you are injured or if the motorist assures you he or she will take care of your damages. This will ensure that a report is filed and the driver’s information is collected. Do not admit fault or discuss the circumstances of the accident with the driver or any witnesses. Write down as many details as possible and collect contact information from witnesses whenever possible.
Use your phone to take photos of the scene, your bike and the car. Keep your bike, helmet, clothing and any other potential evidence intact, and do not attempt to make repairs until you have spoken with an attorney. Bicycle injuries can sometimes manifest days after the incident, so do not assume that you aren’t hurt. In fact, most experts advise seeking medical treatment right away to be sure you have no internal damage.
The professional attorneys of Montgomery Law specialize in personal injury claims, including those involving bicycle collisions. Contact them today if you or a loved one has been involved in a bicycle accident with a motor vehicle. Don’t leave your recovery to chance. For a bicyclist, injuries and accidents can be serious and long lasting.