No one really ever expects to hop on their bicycle and be injured in a crash. Unfortunately, bicycle accidents occur more often than many people think. In 2018, 857 cyclists were killed in traffic crashes and thousands more sustained nonfatal injuries.
As you can expect, when collisions occur between bikes and vehicles, it is the cyclist who is the one injured. Not all bicycle accidents are caused by drivers who participate in outright “reckless” actions like drunk driving or road rage. Instead, many are caused by something called driver negligence.
Vehicle drivers have a legal obligation to operate their vehicles with a certain standard of safety and care. Negligence is the failure to perform an act behind the wheel that a reasonable person would have done.
When it comes to bicycle accidents, here are a few ways that negligent driving can lead to devastating cyclist injuries.
Failing to Obey Traffic Laws
When drivers fail to obey the legal rules of the road, the worst can happen. One of the most common examples of negligent driving is speeding—in fact, this is also one of the most common causes of bicycle accidents.
The speed limit is there for a reason, and when drivers do not abide by it, they simply do not have the time to brake or come to a complete stop if a bicycle appears in their path.
Other examples of traffic violations include:
Speeding through yellow lights
Running red lights or stop signs
Texting while driving
Failing to slow down in school or construction zones
In Colorado, bicyclists and motorists have the same rights and responsibilities when using public roads. This means that drivers are required to share the road with bicyclists as they would with other vehicles. Failing to do so could mean negligence and lead to an accident.
Failing to Pay Attention Behind the Wheel
We often hear of distracted driving as a leading cause of car accidents, but it is a risk factor for those on two wheels and a common cause of bicycle collisions. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), define three types of driving distractions:
Visual. Anything that takes your eyes off the road
Manual. Anything that takes your hands off the wheel
Cognitive. Anything that takes your mind off of driving
Texting and driving, for instance, is a distraction that could fall under each of these categories, making it that much more dangerous behind the wheel. Not only is it illegal to text while driving in Colorado, but it can also be considered negligence if a crash occurs as a result.
Other types of driving distractions include:
Talking on the phone
Using a GPS
Eating or drinking
Talking to passengers
Failing to Maintain Control of the Vehicle
When a driver is behind the wheel, he or she is completely responsible for maintaining control of that vehicle. This person must maintain a proper lookout in order to make any last-minute or emergency driving adjustments when the time comes. Some examples of failing to maintain control include:
Taking your hands off the wheel
Failing to Use the Car’s Features Properly
Everything in, on, or a part a vehicle is placed there for a reason. Many of these elements improve safety for both the person or persons within the vehicle as well as everyone else on the road.
When drives fail to use the car’s features the way they should, accidents can occur. Some examples include these car features include:
Using turn signals
Adjusting side and rearview mirrors
Having working tail lights
Using hazard lights
Using brakes/emergency brakes
Turning on headlights
Dimming high beams
Holding Responsible Parties Accountable
It’s important to note that negligence does not have to involve intentional acts. Regardless of intent, when it comes to proving liability in a bicycle accident, your injury attorney must show that four elements are present:
- Duty of Care. The driver had a legal obligation to act with a certain duty of care.
- Breach. The driver breached, or violated, this law of duty.
- Causation. The breach directly caused the accident.
- Damages. As a result of the accident, damages were sustained.
Drivers who do not uphold their legal responsibilities can be held liable for injuries sustained to bicycle riders. Such damages can include both physical and emotional injuries and victims may be able to pursue compensation for:
Future medical expenses
Lost earning capacity
Long-term or lifelong disabilities
Diminished quality of life
If you’ve been injured in a bicycle accident, please don’t hesitate to reach out to our firm for a free consultation. There are factors that can come into play when it comes to proving driver negligence and liability.
With over 60 years of combined experience, the legal team at Klein Frank has successfully recovered compensation for 100% of our previous bicycle accident clients. Our team will investigate the cause of your bicycle accident and come up with an effective legal strategy to move forward with pursuing full compensation.
Contact our firm at (303) 448-8884 to get started on your bicycle accident case.