Many drivers do not realize that bicycles have the legal right to use most roads, and have the same rights and responsibilities as a car when doing so. In short, bicycles are entitled to be there, and motorists are required to share the roadways with cyclists. Unfortunately, some drivers act aggressively toward cyclists. Others simply do not look out for bicycles, often because they do not expect to see them on the road. Even if drivers are alert, a bicycle can blend into the visual landscape and be overlooked, resulting in tragic crashes.
Some common causes of bicycle accidents include:
In New Jersey bicycles must abide by the same traffic rules as a car. In addition, there are specific regulations that apply to bikes. All cyclists under the age of 17 are legally required to wear a helmet that is properly fitted and fastened. Bicyclists over the age of 17 should also wear helmets, even though they not legally required to do so. Bikes are also required to ride “as near to the right roadside as practicable,” and to exercise caution when passing stationary vehicles or cars proceeding in the same direction.
Injured cyclists have the same access to the insurance claim process and legal system as drivers who are involved in auto-on-auto or auto-on-truck accidents. Negligent drivers can be held liable for injuries, pain & suffering, lost wages and other economic harms. In certain circumstances, a third party may be liable, such as a landowner, municipality or the manufacturer or retailer of a bicycle.
When a bicyclist sues to recover damages for their injuries, the focus will be on the circumstances of the accident (i.e., who is “at fault”) and the severity of the injury and other harm caused. Irrespective of whether or not it is fair, there will also be a strong attempt to “blame the cyclist”. An experienced bicycle accident lawyer can help you determine whether you have a viable claim for damages, and insure you are treated fairly by the system.
While it may be shocking, it is not uncommon for a motorist to flee the scene of an accident after hitting a bicyclist. There are a variety of reasons. Often, it is can be because they did not see the cyclist or do not have car insurance. They may not realize what they hit, or may presume the cyclist is fine, because it was a “minor” crash, and simply don’t wait to see if the cyclist is injured. Victims of hit and runs have options. In certain circumstances, their own insurance company may cover the claim. Trust the experienced bicycle accident lawyers at Davis & Brusca to investigate your case and the rights you have.
After an accident, you should seek medical attention for any persistent pain. Even if you do not notice an injury immediately following the accident, or otherwise presume “it will go away”, you should get checked out as bicycle accident injuries may take days or weeks to become clear. File a police report and obtain the names and contact information of the other party involved in the accident and any witnesses. Take pictures of the accident scene and your injury, and keep a journal of your injuries and physical limitations.