People ride bicycles for recreation, as a mode of transportation, and as a way to get exercise. However, every year, hundreds of people are killed in bike accidents, and thousands more are injured. Bicycles offer little protection from vehicles or other hazards. A helmet is usually the only safety feature cyclists use to protect themselves from a serious head injury. Whether a bike accident is caused by the rider, a vehicle, dangerous road conditions, or a bicycle defect, accidents can result in serious injuries. This often leads to expensive medical bills, lost wages, and expensive bike repairs.
According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), in 2013 in the U.S., more than 900 cyclists were killed in accidents. Emergency rooms saw almost half a million visits due to bike-related injuries. Statistically, men are much more likely to be involved in a bicycle accident than females. Most bicycle deaths occur in urban areas, and less often at intersection locations. The highest rates of bicycle deaths occur with adolescents, young adults, and adults over the age of 40. Children and young adults have the highest rates of nonfatal bike accidents, which account for more than 1/3rd of bike accident emergency department visits.
Causes of Bicycle Accidents
There are a number of causes of bicycle accidents, although vehicles are involved in most serious bike accidents. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the most frequent causes of bicycle injuries involve getting hit by a car, falling off the bike, roadway in poor repair, rider error, collisions, and dogs running out in front of a bike.
Of all causes of bike injuries, almost 1/3rd involve cyclists who are hit by a car. Drivers who are speeding, distracted, intoxicated, or not watching for cyclists are responsible for a number of bicycle-related fatal accidents. Bike riders regularly experience drivers cutting them off, turning in front of them, pulling out in front of them, and passing at high speeds without giving the cyclist space.
In some cases, property owners or local government may share some responsibility in bike accidents. When roadways or walkways are in poor repair, this can cause a cyclist to crash, resulting in serious injury. In other cases, the bicyclist may share some of the fault of the accident. This includes riding while intoxicated, driving at night without lights, riding recklessly, or not keeping their bike in proper repair.
Bicycle Accident Injuries
Maryland law requires all cyclists under the age of 16 to wear a helmet when riding on public property. Some counties mandate helmets for older riders as well. Montgomery County requires helmets for riders under the age of 18, and Sykesville requires all age riders to wear a helmet. Helmets reduce the risk of head and brain injuries for bike riders of any age; however, many cyclists still refuse to use a helmet when riding their bikes.
Bicycle accident injuries may depend on the speed of the cyclist, the type of accident, and whether the accident involved a motor vehicle. High-speed crashes and bicycle-vehicle accidents often result in serious injuries or even death. A cyclist has little protection aside from the helmet. Serious bike accidents can result in head or neck injury, back injury, broken bones, and internal injuries. A serious bicycle accident can result in emergency medical treatment, surgery, require a hospital stay, and include long-term medical treatment. In some cases, the rider may never fully recover from their injuries, requiring medical treatment for the rest of their lives.
Even minor bike accidents can lead to serious injuries. Cuts and abrasions caused by road rash can leave dirt, rocks, and asphalt embedded in the skin. If a wound is not properly cleaned out after a bike crash, an infection could develop. A serious infection could require medical treatment, and leave the individual with permanent scarring.
Bicycle Injury Lawsuits
The individuals who created the dangerous condition or caused the accident should be held responsible for the cyclist's injuries. An injured cyclist can file a lawsuit against a negligent driver for causing the accident. According to a CDC study, in 2010, fatal and non-fatal bicycle crash related injuries resulted in lifetime medical costs and productivity losses of $10 billion. A civil lawsuit allows an injured cyclist to seek money damages for their medical bills, lost wages, loss of earning capacity, bike repair, and pain and suffering.
Bicycle Accident Lawyers
If you or a loved one was injured in a bicycle accident, you should talk to an experienced Maryland personal injury attorney about getting compensation for your lost wages, medical bills, and pain and suffering. Your personal injury attorney will help guide you through the claims process and advise you of your options. You should not have to suffer due to someone else's negligence. Do not hesitate to call Gilman & Bedigian today for a free consultation.