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  • Philadelphia Bicycle Accident Lawyers

    Whether it is a mode of transportation or leisure activity, bike riding is popular throughout the United States. Many cities are investing in new bike lanes, bike zones, and traffic-calming devices designed to help bike riders and improve their green footprint.

    Bikes often share the road with larger vehicles, which means that bicycle accidents will occur. Since bike riders are mostly unprotected, their injuries are often severe and can be fatal. Vehicle drivers may be distracted, using a cellphone, or simply not paying attention to the road, and they may hit a bike rider. Whatever the cause, a bicyclist involved in an accident should discuss their circumstances with a lawyer.

    bicycle helmetWhat Are the Rules and Regulations for Bicyclists?

    In Pennsylvania and many other states, bicyclists must follow the same rules and regulations as motor vehicle drivers:

    • Stop at traffic lights: All bicyclists must obey traffic lights and signals.
    • Stop at stop signs: Treat stops the same as you would if driving a car.
    • Wear a helmet: In Pennsylvania, bike riders who are 12 years old and under must wear a helmet as either the rider or the passenger. Those over 12 years old are not required by law to wear a helmet, but the state highly recommends they do so to help prevent serious injury.
    • Safety devices: Bicyclists who ride between sunset and sunrise must have a front lamp, rear reflectors, and side reflectors visible from at least 500 feet on their bikes. All bikes must have working brakes that can stop the bike within 15 feet while going 15 miles per hour on level pavement. Some municipalities require bikes to have bells and other safety or signaling devices.
    • Ride on the sidewalk: Bicycle riding is not permitted on sidewalks in business districts except where permitted by traffic control devices. Pedestrians always have the right-of-way if riding on a sidewalk.
    • Ride in right lane: Bicyclists must ride in the right lane of a multi-lane road unless overtaking a vehicle moving in the same direction, turning left, or there is an obstruction in the right lane.
    • Do not ride on highway, turnpike, interstate, and freeways: Bicycles are not permitted on freeways and similar high-traffic roadways without permission from the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation. Approval is generally granted only for bike races and similar events.
    • Do not ride across a crosswalk: If you want to use a crosswalk, you must get off your bike and walk it across.

    What Responsibilities Do Vehicle Drivers Have Regarding Bicycles?

    In all states, vehicle drivers have a duty to use reasonable care to avoid causing injury to bicycle riders and anyone else on the road. In addition, in Pennsylvania, vehicles must allow 4 feet of distance when overtaking a bike rider and not open any car door while passing a bicyclist.

    causes bicycle accidentsWhat Causes Bicycle Accidents?

    Vehicles are the number one cause of bicycle accidents. A bike rider will need to prove that a car driver was negligent if they file a legal claim. The following are common causes of car-bicycle accidents:

    • Distracted driving: Car drivers have many distractions: their cellphone, loud volumes, rowdy passengers, reading or responding to texts, fiddling with climate controls or the GPS system, and others. Distracted drivers can easily miss seeing a bicyclist sharing the road.
    • Speeding: Speeding is a common cause of many different accidents. A speeding driver cannot stop, make decisions, or move out of the way quickly enough to keep a nearby bike rider safe from harm.
    • Not leaving a buffer: Drivers who follow cyclists too closely or pass them within less than 4 feet create dangerous situations. These drivers are more likely to hit cyclists and leave bike riders with fewer options to ride to safety or avoid other cars.
    • Changing lanes: Drivers have the right to change lanes but must do so with caution. Unfortunately, they may not see a bike rider on the right side or elsewhere on the road.
    • Reckless driving: Some drivers weave in and out of traffic, tailgate, or commit any number of driving offenses. Reckless driving is unsafe to other motorists but exponentially more dangerous for unprotected bike riders.
    • Turning: Drivers who turn without checking in all directions can easily miss a bicycle rider coming up behind them or crossing the road into which they are turning.
    • Running a light or stop sign: Running a red light or stop sign is dangerous for other motorists and bicycle riders who are expecting the vehicle to stop.
    • Failing to yield: Failure to yield is a careless mistake that can cause serious injury to a bicycle rider. From roundabouts, intersections, to merged lanes, vehicle drivers must yield to traffic, including bicycles.
    • Driving while impaired: Some drivers decide to get behind the wheel after drinking or doing drugs. Even some prescription or over-the-counter medications can affect driving. Bike riders are particularly at risk, as impaired drivers find it hard to drive within lanes and may miss traffic lights or stop signs.
    • Fatigued driving: Drivers who are tired or fall asleep at the wheel are responsible for many car accidents and bicycle accidents. A tired driver may not see a bike rider or may not be able to react in time when they encounter a bicyclist.
    • Opening a car door: Bike riders are sometimes hurt by a car door opening while it is passing next to or near them.
    • Inattention in a construction zone: Navigating a construction zone can be dangerous for any driver, but a bicyclist is especially vulnerable to a car hitting them as they are in a construction area.

    What Are Common Bicycle Accident Injuries?

    A bike rider has little protection against the sheer size and weight of a vehicle. Even a car driving at a slow speed can seriously injure or kill a bike rider. The following are some of the injuries for which bicyclists are most often treated.

    Traumatic Brain Injuries

    Helmets help protect the skull and brain in a bicycle accident. Riders who do not wear a helmet are subject to traumatic brain injuries that could impair them for life.

    Head and Skull Injuries

    The most common injuries to the head and skull include:

    • Skull fracture.
    • Cranial hemorrhage.
    • Concussions.
    • Contusions.
    • Broken bones in the face and jaw.
    • Dental fractures.
    • Facial disfigurement.

    Broken Bones

    Bike riders often land directly on a bone or injure their bones trying to stop their fall. Commonly broken bones in a bicycle accident are ribs, pelvis, wrists, shoulders, arms, and legs. Breaks and fractures generally cause pain, swelling, bruising, difficulty moving, or inability to move the affected bone.

    Internal Injuries

    A bike rider may be directly impacted by a car, fixed object, or the ground. The handlebars can also impale them. Blunt force trauma can cause internal bleeding and damage to any number of organs:

    • Ruptured spleen.
    • Pancreatic trauma.
    • Bowel, rectal injuries.
    • Hernia.
    • Renal system, kidney damage.

    Soft Tissue Injuries

    Anytime muscles, tendons, nerves, and other soft tissues are violently pulled in an accident, sprains, tears, and further damage can occur.

    Road Rash

    Road rash occurs when a person skids across the pavement in an accident, harming the bare skin on their arms, legs, torso, back, and face. Road rash leaves horrible abrasions, often peeling back layers of skin and leaving raw skin subject to infections.

    Bruises and Lacerations

    Even in a minor accident, a bicyclist could suffer from cuts, scrapes, and bruises. However, they should always get checked out by a doctor because some injuries may not be readily apparent.

    What Should I Do After a Bicycle Accident?

    The first step is to seek medical treatment. Nearby motorists and bystanders will often call for help if you cannot. Never refuse treatment on the scene, even if you believe you have only minor injuries. Some injuries take hours or even days to show up. If you are not transported to a hospital, be sure to follow up with your medical provider right after the accident and whenever new symptoms appear later.

    Make sure to see a licensed medical provider who can order the necessary tests and scans. Some providers, such as chiropractors or alternative medicine practitioners, cannot fully evaluate you for breaks, internal injuries, and brain or skull damages. It is essential to be thoroughly checked after a bicycle accident.

    While on the scene, make sure police make an accurate report. Provide honest answers to the best of your knowledge, but do not ever admit guilt, blame, or responsibility. Get the name, contact information, and insurance information if a driver has hit you.

    If you have a cellphone on you and are physically able, take pictures and videos at the scene, including damage to your bike and the offending car, strewn parts, road conditions, and position of the bike and vehicle. If you cannot take pictures or videos, ask a bystander or witness to do so and send them to you.

    Also, if able, talk to witnesses. Get their contact information and statements about what they saw. Write down your own recollections as well, since memories tend to fade over time.

    Contact a lawyer once your medical issues are known and treated. If a car, fixed object, or condition of the pavement caused your accident, you may be able to pursue a lawsuit if a negligent party caused your injury.

    How Do I Prove the Driver Is Responsible for the Accident?

    Proving negligence in a bicycle accident is best left to a lawyer. They can put together a strong case on your behalf. You, through your lawyer, must prove the following after a bicycle accident:

    • The driver owed you a duty. The law states that drivers owe all others on the road, including drivers, bicyclists, and pedestrians, the duty to drive with a reasonable degree of care.
    • The driver breached their duty. Your lawyer will prove that the driver failed to drive with a reasonable degree of care. For example, if the driver was talking on a cellphone and did not see a bike rider in their path, this is a breach of duty to use a reasonable degree of care.
    • You suffered damages due to the driver’s breach of duty. Your lawyer will present evidence and testimony showing that the driver’s negligent actions directly caused the accident and your ensuing damages, such as injuries, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other losses.

    What Insurance Covers Bicycle Accident Injuries?

    In Pennsylvania, bicycle accidents are covered by car insurance, whether it is compensation from the insurer of the driver who hit you or your own coverage. It depends on the type of insurance you have, which an experienced lawyer can guide you through.

    It is important to note that Pennsylvania follows a modified comparative negligence rule. Under this rule, a plaintiff’s damages are reduced by their percentage of fault. Therefore, if a bicycle rider is determined to have been less than 50 percent responsible, their compensation is reduced by the percentage of their fault. If their portion of responsibility exceeds 50 percent or more, they cannot recover any damages.

    Always Be Safe While Riding a Bike

    The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation offers these important safety tips for bike riders:

    • Always wear a helmet, regardless of your age.
    • Obey all traffic laws just as you would in a car.
    • Do not ride against the flow of traffic.
    • Maintain your ride in a straight line; check to be sure the path is clear.
    • Signal when turning.
    • Make yourself visible with clothing and required lights and reflectors.
    • Maintain your bike in good working order; carry a pump and patch kit.
    • Take care of yourself: bring water and snacks for longer rides and have an emergency first-aid kit on the bike.
    • Keep a cellphone on you, but do not use it while riding.

    Philadelphia Bicycle Accident Lawyers at Galfand Berger LLP Will Protect Your Rights After a Severe Bicycle Accident

    If you have been injured in a bicycle accident, reach out to our Philadelphia bicycle accident lawyers at Galfand Berger LLP. We can help you prove that a negligent party caused your accident and related injuries. To schedule a free and confidential consultation, call us at 800-222-USWA (8792) or contact us online. From our offices in Philadelphia, Bethlehem, Lancaster, and Reading, Pennsylvania, we proudly serve clients throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey, including Allentown and Harrisburg.