With all the gridlock in New York City, biking has become a popular alternative transportation method. However, accidents resulting in serious injury or death involving urban cyclists and rogue drivers have increased exponentially within the last few years.
As a seriously injured cyclist, you have the right to be fully and fairly compensated for your injuries. This includes medical expenses and any loss of earnings as you recover. Hiring an experienced bicycle accident attorney if you or a loved one has been harmed is vital in these cases. It is important to know that you will not be charged anything unless your case is won.
Common Types of Bicycle Accidents
It is imperative to understand that cyclists are required to follow the same traffic laws as motorists and are not automatically in the “right” because they are on a bike. ‘Right of Way’ disputes are all too common in bicycle accidents. The following types of accidents are caused by the failure of one party to yield correctly.
Collisions at Stop-Sign Intersections Cyclists must treat all light signals and road signs the same as if they were behind the wheel of a car. Which means coming to a full stop at stop signs, and allow a vehicle to pass if they have the right of way. Most accidents that occur at intersections are caused by misinterpretation of who was entitled to the right of way. Sometimes, the liability for injuries and damages in these cases falls upon both parties.
The best way to avoid this type of misfortune is to be sure that vehicles are giving you the right of way. Always position your bike farther to the left to ensure drivers have better visibility of you.
Collisions at Uncontrolled Intersections
When two vehicles are moving towards an intersection at the same time and there are no signs or lights, the vehicle that reached the intersection first is assumed to have the right of way. Drivers may not always be cordial towards allowing cyclists to pass them, so slow down when approaching the intersection and be prepared to stop.
Collisions at Stoplights
If a cyclist is at a stoplight and crosses before the signal turns green, they are responsible if hit by an oncoming vehicle. Conversely, if a cyclist has a green light and is hit while crossing, the driver is liable.
The Left Cross
The left cross phenomenon happens when a left-turning vehicle crosses the path of a cyclist who is crossing the road. Because left turners must yield the right of way, it is most always the motorist’s fault when this type of accident occurs. To avoid being blindsided by an inattentive motorist, you should wear bright colors, use reflective gear at night, and move farther to the left to help make yourself more visible.
The Right Hook
Similar to the left cross, the right hook occurs when a bicyclist is positioned on the right side of the road and a vehicle turning right makes contact with the cyclist. It is usually due to the failure of the driver to notice the bicyclist and an example of why you should move farther left when you are riding.
There are often many factors that contribute to every bicycle accident, and while the right of way is a common factor for many cases in New York City, it is not the only cause. The following types of accidents are almost always the fault of the motorist due to careless behavior:
- Dooring accidents happen when a driver exits their vehicle without making sure that the zone to the side of the car is free of traffic. A traveling bicyclist has very little time to react and consequently rides into the door of the car.
- Distracted driving accidents are escalating as the rise of smart device connectivity becomes a distraction for drivers. The decision to use a mobile device while operating a vehicle can prove fatal for both the driver and whoever they strike. When the victim is a bicyclist, the results can be catastrophic.
- Rear end collisions and side swipe most commonly occur when drivers misjudge the space they have between their vehicles and the bicycles they attempt to pass on the road.
Regardless of what type of accident you have been involved in, it is important to document the events that transpired by obtaining witnesses and photographs (if possible) of the scene. Even if you share fault as a cyclist, you still may be able to recover damages for the motorist’s role in the accident. Never admit fault in an accident before speaking to a qualified attorney who specializes in bike crashes.
Remember the turning signals you learned in Driver’s Education class? While they may have seemed meaningless then, they’re very helpful when riding a bike. Especially in a busy landscape like New York City, which is concentrated with walkers, runners, dogs, strollers and construction hazards. Be conscious, even if you do not see anyone around, and restrain from speeding in case you have to brake for an emergency.
Even if you’re biking in a quiet neighborhood, wear a helmet and other protective biking gear that fits securely. New York City offers free riding equipment to cyclists through the Department of Transportation.
Do not ride in places that signify they are only for pedestrians, such as on sidewalks. Stay within bike lanes, as they are the safest places to ride, and obey all traffic laws the same as if you were driving a motor vehicle. Designated lanes for cyclists are normally marked in green or white and clearly separated from auto traffic. Ensure you recognize which direction the lane is pointing, as bike lanes are not two-way tracks like regular roadways.
The Ashley law firm will represent you and hold the motorist accountable for the accident and the injuries they have caused. If you or someone you know has been struck while riding a bicycle because of a careless driver, call us at 212-513-1300 or visit our website’s contact page.