New York Bicycle Accident Attorney
Bicycling is rapidly becoming an alternate and viable mode of transportation for many New York City residents. According to the New York City Department of Transportation (NYCDOT), commuter cycling has increased by 26 percent between 2008 and 2009 and has more than doubled since 2005. The New York City Department of Health estimates that more than half a million New Yorkers ride bikes.
However, it is important to remember that bicyclists face a number of dangers on New York City roadways regardless of which borough they ride in. When a bicycle and a vehicle collide, it is often the bicyclist who suffers serious, catastrophic or fatal injuries. Bicyclists lack the kind of protection that a motor vehicle offers such as seatbelts, airbags or body panels and a cabin frame.
Injured bicyclists may face significant medical expenses, hospitalization costs and expenses relating to rehabilitative treatment and continuing care. Injured victims may also not be able to return to work until they have completely recovered. Some are permanently injured or disabled and are unable to reintegrate into the workforce. If you or a loved one has been injured in a New York City bicycle accident, it is essential that you have a better understanding of your legal rights and options.
New York City’s Biking Laws
First and foremost, it is important for all motorists to understand that bicyclists have the same rights and responsibilities as drivers of other motor vehicles. There are specific laws in New York City that address a bicyclist’s movements such as –
- Ride in the street, not on the sidewalks. The exception to this law is when the rider is 12 or younger and the bicycle’s wheels are less than 26 inches in diameter.
- Ride with traffic and not against it.
- Stop at red lights and stop signs. Be sure to obey all traffic signals, signs and pavement markings. Exercise due care to avoid collisions with pedestrians, other bicyclists or motor vehicles.
- Use marked bike lanes or paths when available except when making turns or when it is not safe to do so.
- If the road is too narrow for a bicycle and a car to travel safely side by side, bicyclists have the right to ride in the middle of the travel lane. Remember, bicycling is permitted on all main and local streets throughout New York City even though no designated route exists.
- Fit your bicycle with a white headlight and a red taillight as well as a bell or horn and reflectors.
New York City’s Bike Lanes
The New York City Department of Transportation, over the last five years, has increased the city’s bike network by more than 400 miles. NYCDOT’s safety study in 2010 found that streets with bike lanes are 40 percent less deadly for pedestrians. Also, streets with protected bike paths have seen some of the most dramatic reductions in injuries for all users, not just bicyclists.
For example, the bike lane on Columbus Avenue saw a 58 percent growth in bike riders while car crashes resulting in injuries dropped nearly 20 percent during the NYCDOT’s study period. Bike lanes on Ninth Avenue helped reduce injuries by as much as 58 percent. Crashes with injuries went down by 63 percent on Prospect Park West while ridership doubled and tripled. Also, traffic injuries were down by as much as 21percent on First Avenue as ridership increased by almost 177 percent. The rise in the number of New York City bicyclists may be attributed to the recently implemented Citi Bike Share program.
What Causes Bicycle Accidents in NYC?
A number of bicycle accidents in New York City are caused by drivers who fail to see bicyclists who are sharing the road; motorists who operate their vehicles too fast, carelessly or recklessly; and drivers who pass bicyclists without giving them enough room. Motorists also cause bicycle accidents when they fail to judge a bicyclist’s speed or path. The most dangerous types of collisions for bicyclists are those that occur at or near street intersections. T-intersections are particularly hazardous for bicyclists.
Our legal team has represented many bicycle riders who have been injured as a result of drivers who did not pay attention to traffic conditions. Some of the bicycle accident cases we have handled involve drivers who:
- Cut into the path of bicyclists: Under New York law, bicyclists have the same rights and responsibilities as drivers of other vehicles. Due to their small size, bicycles are often missed by inattentive or negligent drivers who fail to yield them the right-of-way or cross into their path.
- Rear-end bicyclists: Often we handle bike accident cases where the driver and bicyclist were traveling in the same direction and the motorist rear-ends the bicyclist. This often occurs because the motorist is impaired, distracted or speeding, or has misjudged the bicycle’s speed.
- Cause “dooring” accidents: Dooring accidents are caused by careless drivers or passengers who open doors in the path of moving bicyclists. These types of accidents may prove catastrophic or even fatal for bicyclists, especially if they get thrown into the path of other vehicles on the roadway.
- Make unsafe lane changes: When drivers change lanes without yielding to bicyclists, the consequences can be devastating.
- Intrude into the bike lane: Bike lanes are present for the safety of bicyclists. However, when drivers intrude into the bike lane, the resulting collision may be devastating for bicyclists.
- Make dangerous turns: New York City has a number of busy intersections. When drivers make turns at intersections without yielding the right-of-way to bicyclists, serious injury accidents may occur.
- Fail to yield: Any time a motorist exits or enters a driveway or parking lot, he or she is required to yield the right-of-way to bicyclists and pedestrians on the sidewalk. When they fail to do so, the resulting collision may prove catastrophic for the bicyclist.
Bicycle Accident Injuries
Bicycle accidents tend to cause severe or even catastrophic injuries – permanent injuries or disabilities that are long-term or lifelong. Here are some of the types of injuries bicyclists are at risk of suffering in the event of a collision:
- Traumatic brain injuries: Bicyclists are at risk of suffering serious head injuries including traumatic brain injuries. Those who suffer these types of brain injuries may permanently lose their physical and mental abilities. Brain injury victims also require lengthy rehabilitative treatments and care, the costs of which may add up very quickly.
- Spinal cord injuries: Bicyclists tend to suffer severe neck and back injuries if they fall off their bikes in the event of a crash. When a victim’s back hits the hard pavement, serious spinal cord damage may occur. In worst cases, these types of injuries may result in paralysis.
- Broken bones: While fractures sound like injuries that may heal, there are certain types of broken bone injuries that may result in permanent damage. Compound fractures where the bone protrudes out of the person’s skin, multiple fractures or incidents where the bones are crushed are examples of this type of an injury where permanent damage may occur.
- Internal organ damage: In a bicycle accident, there is a danger of catastrophic injuries to a person’s internal organs such as lungs, kidneys and spleen.
- Amputations: Depending on the nature and circumstances of the bicycle accident, victims may lose limbs or fingers.
- Road rash: These are severe injuries to the skin that occur when a bicyclist is dragged on the rough roadway.
Safety Tips for Bicyclists
There are numerous safety measures bicyclists can take to prevent serious injury accidents:
- Obey traffic signs and signals. Make sure you stop for red lights and stop signs.
- Never ride against traffic because drivers are not looking for bicyclists riding on the wrong side of the road.
- Follow lane markings. For example, do not turn left from the right lane. Drivers are not expecting you to do that.
- Do not pass on the right. Motorists often don’t look for or see a bicycle passing on the right.
- Scan the road behind you. Look over your shoulder without losing your balance or swerving. Some bicyclists even use rear-view mirrors.
- Keep both hands ready to brake.
- Wear a helmet always, even when you are riding short distances. Several studies have shown that bike helmets help prevent serious or catastrophic head and traumatic brain injuries.
- Never wear headphones while riding a bike. Avoid all types of distractions when you are riding your bicycle.
- Dress appropriately for the weather. In the winter, dress in layers so you can adjust to temperature changes and retain body warmth.
- Do not ride when it’s dark. But, if you must do so, wear bright-colored clothing and use a bright headlamp in front and back of your bicycle to ensure that you are visible to motorists.
- Make eye contact with drivers. It is best to assume that other drivers don’t see you until you are sure that they do. It is also a good idea to use hand signals so other motorists understand your intentions.
- Look for road hazards such as sewer grates, gravel, ice, sand or debris that might pose a tripping or slipping hazard.
- Maintain your bike. Check your brakes and tires regularly.
Safety Tips for Motorists
Here are some measures motorists can take to avoid colliding with bicyclists:
- When you’re passing, be sure to clear the bicyclist before moving back into your lane. Give the bicyclist at least 3 feet when passing.
- Always look for bicyclists before pulling over to park.
- Always look for bicyclists before opening a car door. Dooring accidents have the potential to cause catastrophic or even fatal injuries. Drivers can be held responsible for dooring accidents.
- Yield to bicyclists when you make a turn.
- Remember that bicyclists going straight through an intersection have the right-of-way over turning vehicles.
- Never turn right after passing a bicyclist.
- Always yield to bicyclists before turning left.
- Yield to bicyclists before you enter or exit a parking lot or driveway. It is the driver’s responsibility to look for pedestrians, bicyclists and others who may be walking on the sidewalk and yield the right-of-way to them.
- Avoid all types of distractions when you are driving.
Damages in Bicycle Accident Cases
If you have been injured in a bicycle accident, you may be able to seek compensation for injuries and damages you have sustained. Injured victims can seek compensation for damages including, but not limited to, medical expenses, lost wages and benefits, hospitalization, rehabilitation, permanent injuries, disabilities, past and future pain and suffering, etc. When a bicyclist is killed in an accident, family members of the deceased victim can file a wrongful death claim seeking compensation for damages such as lost future income, medical expenses, funeral costs, pain and suffering, etc.
Bicycle Accident Verdicts and Settlements
Here are some of the verdicts and settlements that have been obtained for clients of the Law Offices of Kenneth A. Wilhelm:
- $5,600,000 settlement for an injured bicyclist who was rendered paraplegic and suffered brain damage after being struck by a vehicle.
- $600,000 for the family of a man who died in a bicycle accident after he rode his bike through a red light at an intersection. We made this recovery despite the fact that the deceased bicyclist was found to have had marijuana in his system, and there were three eyewitnesses against us.
- $505,000 for a person injured in a bicycle accident. Our firm obtained $305,000 out of a $300,000 insurance policy for the victim as well as $200,000 in additional benefits from workers’ compensation insurance.
Contacting an Experienced Lawyer
If you or a loved one has been injured in a bicycle accident, the experienced New York personal injury attorneys at the Law Offices of Kenneth A. Wilhelm can help you better understand your legal rights and options. Please contact us TOLL FREE 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-800-WORK-4-YOU (1-800-967-5496). WE CAN EVEN COME TO YOU. There is no attorneys’ fee unless we recover money for you. We can also help with personal injury cases in New Jersey, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, or Florida. If you have been seriously injured in any of the 50 U.S. states, please call us and we will try to help you with your case.
Other TOLL FREE phone numbers for us are:
1-800-RADIO-LAW, 1-888-WYPADEK, OR 1-800-LAS-LEYES
Please visit us at: www.WORK4YOULAW.com