October 3, 2016
The conclusion of September bestows relief upon the valley and offers light at the end of the tunnel that is the Phoenix summer months. Phoenicians are finally experiencing their first post summer weeks with daily highs under 100 degrees and many are taking full advantage, in particular, members of the cycling community.
Whether you’re a cycling die hard, decked out in spandex on a high-dollar specialized bike, or just a weekend rider, cruising the neighborhood, one thing is for certain: the cycling community is growing. Regardless of the reason, cycling offers many benefits. Not only is it a fun way to exercise, it’s eco-friendly, and reduces traffic. But, like anything else, an increase in popularity often leads to an escalation in accidents.
Personal injury claims involving bicyclist can be problematic in proving exactly what happened and who is at fault. Below are a couple questions and answers regarding scenarios in which a bicycle injury lawsuit may arise.
1. A Cyclist Gets “Doored” by a Parked or Stopped Car
Primarily threatening for bicyclists who navigate urban settings, the possibility of colliding with an open car door while riding along a line of parked cars represents one of the biggest dangers for cyclists. Essentially, this threat turns every vehicle that a bicyclist passes into a potential landmine that could pop off at any moment, sending the rider tumbling. So, who is at fault? Is it the Biker? Should they have done a better job looking out for potential hazards? Is it the driver, or perhaps the passenger?
Most already know traffic laws require bicyclists to travel in designated bike lanes or to the right of traffic. These regulations place bicyclists extremely close to parked cars especially in urban and city environments. As such drivers and passengers are required to check for oncoming bicycle traffic before opening their door, and therefore, are typically liable for a collision.
In some instances where there is no motor vehicle traffic and a door collision does happen, the individual responsible could argue that the cyclist had a chance to avoid the door. The motorist could then claim that the cyclist contributed to the accident and should be held partly liable. That said, drivers and passengers should always check their mirrors or look over their shoulder to be sure the door-zone is clear of any bicyclist traffic.
2. Can Bicyclist Be Liable for Traffic Accidents?
Cycling’s increased popularity is great. As stated above, biking is great exercise, and reduces pollution as well as traffic. As a cyclist, it is also very encouraging to know that states and cities are implementing new bike and traffic laws to protect bicyclists on the road. That said, do these laws excuse cyclists of liability in traffic accidents? Can bicyclists be held responsible, or is it always the driver of the motor vehicle who is at fault?
Well, it should be stated that in Arizona, bicyclists must obey the same traffic laws as automobiles while on the road. These include: sharing the road, stopping at red lights and stop signs, and of course yielding the right of way to pedestrians and motor vehicles when necessary.
In regards to traffic accidents and collisions, the same liability standards will apply both bicyclists and motor vehicles sharing the road. Ultimately, the negligent party will be held liable for any injuries or damages. If a bicyclist omits to meet the applicable standard of care and acts carelessly or recklessly, he/she will be at fault.
3. Are Cities Required to Snow Plow Bike Lanes?
While most residents of Southern Arizona will never have to worry about snow covered bike lanes, there are individuals who reside in Northern Arizona that commute via bicycle in the heart of winter. So for those of you who brave the cold during the winter months, it is important to understand that getting around on your bike may be a bit more difficult during the winter months. This is because the bike lanes are usually the part of the street where snowplows push the snow. The degree to which a city must clear its bike lanes of snow is dependent on local laws. For this reason, it is imperative to speak with an attorney for injuries that occur due to plowing negligence.
4. What Should You Do if a Car hits you?
Unfortunately motor vehicles collide with bicyclists far to often. If this happens to you, it is important to not negotiate with the driver, but instead contact the police. By involving the police, you are protecting yourself against false promises and ensuring that the driver’s contact and insurance information are correct. It is imperative to also provide the responding officer your account of what happened. If the driver who caused the accident is cited, it is likely that your case will be augmented and the chances of recovering for any damages will be high.
Concluding the accident, it is important to promptly seek medical treatment. Cyclists often experience high levels of adrenaline, especially after an accident. Due to this, an injury may go undiscovered until some time later or even the next day. By seeking medical attention, you will have documentation of any injuries sustained from the accident. You will also need to take photos. Photos should include your injuries and the scene of the accident as well as physical evidence such as your bike, helmet, and the other individual’s car. Finally, do not discuss any details of the incident with the drivers insurance company before speaking to an attorney!
Every bicycle injury case is different, and for this reason, it is nearly impossible to give clear-cut advice pertaining to your injury. The answers and scenarios given above are general answers and do not substitute for a consultation with an experienced and aggressive attorney. If you are injured, give Torgenson Law a call for a free consultation at 602-759-0012.