Lawyers in New York Bicycle Accidents

Riding a bicycle is fast becoming an alternative and viable mode of transportation for many residents of New York City. According to the New York Department of Transportation (NYCDOT), 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 of New Yorkers ride bicycles.

However, it is important to remember that cyclists face a series of road hazards in New York City, regardless of the municipality in which they ride. When a bicycle and a vehicle collide, it is often the cyclist who suffers serious, catastrophic or fatal injuries. Cyclists lack the kind of protection offered by a motor vehicle, such as seat belts, airbags or body panels, and a cabin frame.

Injured cyclists can cope with significant medical expenses, hospitalization costs and expenses related to rehabilitation treatment and continued care. Injured victims will not be able to return to work until they have fully recovered. Some are injured or permanently disabled and are unable to reintegrate into the workforce. If you or a loved one has been injured in a bicycle accident in New York City, it is essential that you have a better understanding of your rights and legal options.

The bicycle riding law of New York City

First of all, it is important for all motorists who understand that cyclists have the same rights and responsibilities as drivers of other motor vehicles. There are specific laws in New York City that deal with the movements of a cyclist like –

  • Walking on the street, not on the sidewalks. The exception to this law is when the driver is 12 years old or younger and the bicycle wheels are less than 26 inches in diameter.
  • Walk with traffic and not against it.
  • Stop in red lights and stop signs. Be sure to obey all traffic signs, signs and markings on the pavement. Pay utmost care to avoid collisions with pedestrians, cyclists or other motor vehicles.
  • Use the lanes or roads when it is available, except when you are going to turn 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, cyclists have the right to travel in the middle of the traffic lane. Remember, cycling is allowed on all major streets and locations throughout New York City even though there is no designated route.
  • Ride your bike with a white headlight and a red taillight, as well as a buzzer or horn and reflectors.

Bicycle lanes of New York City

The New York City Department of Transportation, in the last five years, has increased the city’s bicycle network by more than 400 miles. A NYCDOT safety study in 2010 found that streets with bicycle lanes are 40 percent less deadly for pedestrians. In addition, streets with protected lanes have seen some of the most dramatic reductions in injuries for all users, not just cyclists.

For example, the bicycle lane on Columbus Avenue saw 58 percent growth in cyclists, while car accidents resulting in injuries decreased by almost 20 percent during the study period of the NYCDOT. Bicycle lanes on Ninth Avenue helped reduce injuries by up to 58 percent. Accidents with injuries were reduced by 63 percent in Prospect Park West, while passengers doubled and tripled. In addition, traffic injuries were reduced by up to 21 percent on First Avenue as passenger increased by almost 177 percent. The increase in the number of cyclists in New York City can be attributed to the Citi Bike program.

What causes bicycle accidents in New York?

A number of bicycle accidents in New York City are caused by drivers who do not see cyclists who are sharing the road; motorists who operate their vehicles too quickly, by carelessness or recklessness; and the drivers who pass the cyclists without giving them enough space. Drivers can also cause bicycle accidents when they do not know the speed or trajectory of a cyclist. The most dangerous types of collisions for cyclists are those that occur at or near street intersections. The intersections are particularly dangerous for cyclists.

Our legal team has represented many cyclists who have been injured as a result of drivers who do not pay attention to traffic conditions. Some of the cases of bicycle accidents that drivers have handled that involve:

  • Cut in the path of cyclists: Under New York law, cyclists have the same rights and responsibilities as drivers of other vehicles. Due to their small size, bicycles are often lost due to lack of attention or negligent drivers who do not give way to the right way of crossing or crossing their path.
  • Rear range cyclists: Often we handle cases of bicycle accidents where the driver and cyclist were traveling in the same direction and the rear motorist gives the cyclist. This is because the motorist deteriorates, distracts or speeds up, or has miscalculated the speed of the bicycle.
  • Cause «dooring» accidents: Dooring accidents are caused by negligent drivers or passengers who will break doors in the path of cyclists on the move. These types of accidents can be catastrophic or even deadly for cyclists, especially if they are thrown in the way of other vehicles on the road.
  • Making dangerous lane changes: When drivers change lanes without yielding to cyclists, the consequences can be devastating.
  • Invade the bicycle lane: Bicycle lanes are present in the safety of cyclists. However, when drivers interfere in the lane, the resulting collision can be devastating for cyclists.
  • Making dangerous turns: New York City has a number of busy intersections. When drivers make turns at intersections without yielding cyclists right-of-way, accidents with serious injuries may occur.
  • Do not give in: Whenever a motorist exits or enters a large amount of driveway or parking lot, he or she is obligated to yield the right-of-way to cyclists and pedestrians on the sidewalk. When they do not, the resulting collision can be catastrophic for the cyclist.

Bicycle accident injuries

Bicycle accidents tend to cause serious or even catastrophic injuries – permanent injuries or disabilities that are long term. Here are some types of cyclist injuries are at risk of suffering in the event of a collision:

  • Traumatic brain injuries: Cyclists are at risk of serious head injuries, including traumatic brain injuries. Those who suffer this type of brain injury can permanently lose their physical and mental abilities. Victims of brain injuries also require lengthy rehabilitation and care treatments, the costs of which can add up very quickly.
  • Spinal cord injuries: Cyclists tend to suffer serious neck and back injuries if they fall off their bikes in the event of an accident. When the victim’s back hits the hard pavement, it can cause serious damage to the spinal cord. In the worst case, this type of injury can cause paralysis.
  • Bone fractures : Fractures while sounding like injuries that can heal, there are certain types of injuries to broken bones that can result in permanent damage. Compound fractures where the bone protrudes from the person’s skin, multiple fractures or incidents in which the bones are crushed are examples of this type of injury, where permanent damage can occur.
  • Damage to internal organs: In a bicycle accident, there is a danger of catastrophic injury to a person’s internal organs, such as the lungs, kidneys and spleen.
  • Amputations: Depending on the nature and circumstances of the bicycle accident, victims may lose limbs or fingers.
  • The eruption of the road: These are serious skin injuries that occurs when a cyclist crawls on the rough roadway.

Safety tips for cyclists

There are numerous safety measures cyclists can take to avoid accidents with serious injuries:

  • Obey traffic signals. Be sure to go through the red lights and stop signs.
  • Never drive against traffic because drivers are not looking for cyclists riding on the wrong side of the road.
  • Follow the lane markings. For example, do not turn left from the right lane. The drivers do not expect you to do that.
  • Do not pass by the right. Drivers often do not look for or see a bicycle that goes to the right.
  • Observe the path behind you. Look over your shoulder without losing balance or turning sharply. Some cyclists even use the rear-view mirrors.
  • Keep both hands ready to brake.
  • Always wear a helmet, even when the vehicle is used over short distances. Several studies have shown that bicycle helmets help prevent serious or catastrophic head injuries and traumatic brain injuries.
  • Never use headphones while riding a bicycle. Avoid all kinds of distractions when you are riding your bicycle.
  • Dress appropriately for the weather. In the winter, dress in layers so you can adapt to changes in temperature and preserve body heat.
  • Do not travel when it is dark. However, if you have to do so, wear brightly colored clothing and use a bright headlight on the front and back of the bicycle to make sure it is visible to motorists.
  • Make eye contact with the drivers. It is best to assume that other drivers do not see it until you are sure that they do. It is also a good idea to use hand signals so that other motorists understand your intentions.
  • Look for road hazards, such as sewer grates, gravel, ice, sand or debris that could create a trip or slip hazard.
  • Keep your bicycle. Check that the brakes and tires work regularly.

Safety tips for motorcyclists

These are some of the measures that motorists can take to avoid colliding with cyclists:

  • When you are passing, be sure to clear the cyclist before returning to your lane. Give the cyclist at least 3 feet when passing.
  • Always look for cyclists before pulling into the park.
  • Always look for cyclists 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.
  • Give way to cyclists when you make a turn.
  • Remember that cyclists who go directly through an intersection have the right of way over the vehicles that turn.
  • Never turn right after passing a cyclist.
  • Always yield to cyclists before turning left.
  • Give way to cyclists before entering or leaving a parking lot or at the entrance. It is the driver’s responsibility to look for pedestrians, cyclists and others who may be walking on the sidewalk and yield the right of way to them.
  • Avoid all kinds of distractions when you are driving.

Damages in case of bicycle accidents

If you have been injured in a bicycle accident, you may be able to obtain compensation for damages you have suffered. Injured victims can seek compensation for damages, including, but not limited to, medical expenses, lost wages and benefits, hospitalization, rehabilitation, permanent injuries, disability, pain and suffering of the past and future, etc. When a cyclist dies in an accident, members of the family of the deceased victim can file a wrongful death claim for damages such as loss of future income, medical expenses, funeral expenses, pain and suffering, etc.

Bicycle accident verdicts and settlements

Here are some of the verdicts and agreements that have been obtained for clients of Kenneth A. Wilhelm’s legal office:

  • $ 5,600,000 settlement for an injured cyclist who was rendered paraplegic and suffered brain damage after being hit by a vehicle.
  • $ 600,000 to the family of a man who died in a bicycle accident after he rode his bicycle through a red light at an intersection. We made this recovery even though the deceased cyclist was found to have had marijuana in his system, and there were three witnesses against us.
  • $ 505,000 for a person injured in a bicycle accident. Our firm obtained $ 305,000 from a $ 300,000 insurance policy for the victim, as well as $ 200,000 from additional workers’ compensation insurance benefits.

Contact an experienced lawyer

If you or a loved one has been injured in a bicycle accident, experienced personal injury lawyers in Kenneth A. Wilhelm’s legal office can help you better understand your rights and legal 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 are no lawyer fees 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 states of the United States, please call us and we will try to help you with your case.

Other telephone numbers at no cost to us are:

1-800-RADIO-LAW, 1-888-WYPADEK, or 1-800-LAS-LEYES

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