Many drivers do not realize that bicycles are legally considered vehicles and are afforded the same rights and responsibilities as other vehicles. Bicycles are entitled to share the roadways. Unfortunately, some drivers are aggressive toward cyclists. Others simply do not look out for bicycles, because they do not expect to see them on the road. Even if drivers are alert, bicycles can blend into the visual landscape and be overlooked, resulting in tragic accidents.
Some common causes of bicycle accidents include:
In New Jersey, bicycles are considered vehicles and must abide by all traffic rules. 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. 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.
Negligent drivers can be held liable for medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering. 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. In certain circumstances, a third party will be liable, such as the manufacturer or retailer of a bicycle.
When a bicyclist sues to recover damages for their injuries, the court will consider whether negligence caused the accident and whether the bicyclist was also at fault. An experienced bicycle accident lawyer can help you determine whether you have a viable claim for damages.
It is not uncommon for a motorist to flee the scene of an accident with a bicyclist. This can be because they do not have car insurance, they do not know what they hit and panicked, or their own vehicle is not severely damaged so they do not stay to see if the biker is injured. Victims of hit and runs have options. In certain circumstances, your own insurance company may cover the claim or you can file a claim against the insurer of the property where the accident occurred.
After an accident, seek medical attention. Even if you do not notice any injury immediately following the bicycle accident, get checked out as injuries may take days or weeks to become clear after an accident. 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 about your injuries.