Anyone who has spent a lot of time on a bicycle knows injury is never far away. Often, the only thing between a rider and a multi-ton vehicle or aggressive dog is a helmet or a couple layers of clothing. While this may be enough to save a life, it usually isn’t sufficient to prevent severe injuries like broken bones, head trauma or internal complications. And these can take a long time to recover from. In fact, many people never get back to where they were before the incident, resulting in reduced quality of life or an inability to continue working. This can place an enormous emotional and financial strain on the victim and their family, especially if ongoing medical treatment is necessary. That’s why so many turn to an attorney to help them attain justice for another party’s carelessness.
WHAT ARE SOME IMPORTANT STATISTICS REGARDING BICYCLE ACCIDENTS?
In recent years, there has been a major push for people to pedal their way around town. Experts attribute this to economic factors, as motor vehicles are expensive to fuel and maintain. Many also believe that people under 35 are driving much less than previous generations, and the easiest alternative to driving is riding a bike.
However, this has resulted in a higher incidence of bicycle accidents and risk of fatal injury. In 2003, there were about 43,000 total fatalities resulting from traffic crashes, including 629 killed riders. In 2012, 726 riders were killed in traffic crashes. A number that may not seem significant, but the total number of fatalities (again, this number includes motor vehicle drivers) arising from traffic wrecks actually dropped by about 10,000. The roads are getting safer for everyone but riders, who now make up 2.2 percent of all fatalities, a major increase from 1.5 percent in 2003.
Nearly 70 percent of all incidents occur in an urban area, which should be expected given the greater number of motor vehicles. The majority of urban area crashes occur at intersections and the number one factor involved in wrecks is driver inattention. The chances of a serious accident go up dramatically at night; 60 percent of fatal accidents occur between 4 p.m. and 4 a.m. Another serious risk is a rider sharing the road with a motorist under the influence of alcohol (motorists register a blood alcohol concentration of at least .01 in 37 percent of all crashes involving a rider fatality).
WHAT SHOULD THE VICTIM DO IF THEY HAVE BEEN HIT WHILE ON A BICYCLE AND SUFFERED INJURY?
Unfortunately, many motorists attempt to flee the scene of an accident to avoid facing consequences, so it is always best to travel with other riders. If an accident occurs, the first thing to do is get help, but it’s also important to remember as many details about the crash as possible. Get contact information for witnesses if possible, and keep a record of all medical reports and expenses. If you are considering exercising your legal rights following a crash, it is best to approach a lawyer as soon as possible. It is easier to gather information and recall details if the accident is recent, and this will greatly help a victim’s case.