Bicycle and Vehicle Collisions
Earlier this year, a 53-year old Loveland Colorado bicyclist was critically injured in a collision with a car as she was navigating her way across the intersection of College Avenue and Conifer Street. She had successfully crossed the southbound lanes when she was hit by a northbound driver. The impact of the crash threw the bike rider onto the vehicle’s windshield, breaking the windshield and causing the roof to cave in. The car driver was uninjured, but the bike rider was unresponsive and rushed to the hospital. The northbound lanes of College were closed for approximately four hours while investigators did their work and the damaged car and bicycle were cleared from the roadway.
In one brief moment, the lives of both the bicycle rider and the driver were changed forever. The rider, if she lives, will no doubt have a long and difficult recovery. The driver, if found negligent, will be responsible for paying for the injured woman’s damages. Hopefully, the driver has adequate liability insurance coverage. Fault has not been determined in this case and the cause of the crash is under investigation. Unfortunately, this was only one of many accidents between bicyclists and motorists that occur every year.
According to the National Highway Safety Transportation Administration (NHSTA), in 2013, approximately 48,000 people were seriously injured nationwide and 743 people were killed in crashes between bicycles and motor vehicles. Illinois was the site of 30 of those deaths making it the state with the fifth highest bicycle crash fatality rate.
Most Common Causes of Bicycle/Motor Vehicle Crashes
Even when bicyclists obey the law and ride to the side of the road, they are still at risk of being injured when motorists:
- Exit their car and open their door into the cyclist or the path of the cyclist. This is almost always the fault of the driver since the door is only to be opened when it is safe to do so. That means looking out for bicyclists.
- Make a right hand turn in front of the bike lane.
- Suddenly change lanes into the path of a bicyclist.
- Drive while distracted, which is a major cause of all vehicular accidents.
Bicycle/Motor Vehicle Crash Statistics
The most recent relevant statistics concerning bicyclists being hit by motor vehicles were compiled by the NHTSA for the year 2013 and include:
- Sixty-eight percent of all such accidents occurred in urban areas.
- More than one-third of the accidents involved alcohol use, either by the driver or bicyclist.
- Nearly 60 percent of collisions occurred between intersections.
- More than half of collisions occurred between 3 p.m. and midnight.
- The average age of cyclists killed was 41, while the average age of those injured was 31.
- More accidents occurred in the month of June than in any other month, followed closely by September.
Common Types of Injuries
Bicyclists are vulnerable to serious injury when in a collision with a vehicle no matter how much protective gear they wear. They can be struck and thrown and and tend to suffer far more serious injuries than do vehicle passengers in accidents between two vehicles. For example, more than 50 percent of all fatal injuries are to the head. When not fatal, the head injuries are life-threatening and life-altering. Statistically, helmets provide protection, but are not required to be worn under Illinois law. Broken bones of all types are common. Some injuries are so severe, the injured person’s life is changed and will never again be the same.
Proving Fault and Collecting Damages
Bicycle riders and vehicle drivers are expected to follow the rules of the road. When there is a crash between a bicycle rider and a motorist, the same rules of negligence apply that apply to any personal injury case. In order to prove the driver was at fault, the bicyclist must prove all the elements of negligence, the same as if the accident had been between two vehicles. When the proof shows the driver was negligent, and that the driver’s negligence was the cause of the bicyclist’s injuries, the damages to which the bicyclist is entitled include, but are not limited to:
- All current and expected future medical expenses.
- All current and future lost wages.
- Pain and suffering.
- Costs of vocational and physician rehabilitation.
- Long term nursing care when necessary.
If you were injured in a bicycle accident, or if a bicyclist you love was killed by a negligent driver, contact us at the Blumenshine Law Group for a free consultation. The law requires a claim for compensation to be filed within a certain period of time after the accident. Call now to be sure you do not miss your deadline.