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Bicycling is not only a popular recreational activity but also an increasingly common mode of transportation in urban settings. As more people take to the roads on their bikes, the potential for accidents, unfortunately, grows. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), in 2018, 857 bicyclists died in traffic accidents nationwide and approximately 47,000 were injured. Given these alarming statistics, understanding the common causes, consequences, and legal implications of bicycle accidents is crucial for cyclists and motorists alike to navigate the busy streets safely and responsibly.

Common Causes of Bicycle Accidents

  • Car drivers not seeing the cyclist: Many bicycle accidents occur simply because a motorist fails to spot the cyclist, especially in conditions with low visibility. Blind spots, sun glare, or just inattentiveness can lead to a driver overlooking a bicyclist.
  • Drivers turning in front of cyclists: A frequent scenario is when a vehicle makes a turn, either left or right, directly in the path of an oncoming cyclist. Drivers may misjudge the speed of the cyclist or may not see them at all.
  • Poor road conditions or design: Hazards like potholes, debris, or poorly designed intersections can be especially dangerous for cyclists. Bicyclists have less stability than cars and can be easily thrown off balance by irregularities in the road.
  • Distracted driving: With the rise of mobile devices, distracted driving has become a significant cause of accidents. A driver checking a message or making a call might not notice a cyclist in time to prevent a collision.
  • Cyclists not following road rules: Just as with drivers, cyclists can sometimes be the cause of accidents when they disregard traffic signals, ride against traffic, or fail to signal turns. Adhering to road rules is crucial for the safety of both cyclists and motorists.

Typical Injuries Sustained in Bicycle Accidents

Bicycle accidents often lead to severe injuries because of the exposed nature of cyclists compared to enclosed vehicle passengers. Among the most common are scrapes, bruises, and road rash. Road rash, in particular, is a skin abrasion that can result from sliding on pavement after a fall. These abrasions, while seemingly minor, can lead to significant pain, potential infections, and scarring if not treated properly.

More concerning are traumatic injuries such as broken or fractured bones. Cyclists can easily sustain fractures, especially in the arms, legs, and collarbone, during a collision or a fall. Head injuries, including concussions or more severe traumatic brain injuries, are particularly worrisome, especially if the cyclist was not wearing a helmet at the time of the accident. In addition to these, spinal cord injuries, which can have life-altering consequences, are not uncommon in serious bicycle crashes.

Safety Tips to Avoid Bicycle Accidents in Nassau County

Cycling safety begins with proactive measures to ensure visibility and protection. Always wearing a helmet is paramount; it can dramatically reduce the risk of severe head injuries in case of an accident. For nighttime or low-light conditions, cyclists should equip their bikes with front and rear lights and use reflective gear to increase their visibility. Reflectors on the bike’s wheels and pedals can also catch the attention of drivers, alerting them to a cyclist’s presence.

Beyond protective gear, adhering to road rules is crucial for cyclists. This includes signaling turns using hand signals, obeying traffic signals, and riding with the flow of traffic rather than against it. Being hyper-aware of surroundings can help anticipate potential hazards, like car doors opening or pedestrians crossing. Additionally, cyclists should avoid distractions like using headphones while riding, which can diminish their ability to hear oncoming traffic or other potential dangers.

What to Do in the Aftermath of a Bicycle Accident in Nassau County

After a bicycle accident, the immediate priority is to seek medical attention, even if injuries seem minor, as some injuries may not manifest symptoms immediately. Once safely out of traffic, it’s essential to contact the police and file an accident report, ensuring all details are accurately recorded. Documenting the scene with photos, noting the road conditions, and gathering witness information can be invaluable for any subsequent claims or legal actions. Avoid negotiating directly with the at-fault party or their insurance without legal consultation, as this can compromise one’s rights and potential compensation.

How a Personal Injury Attorney Can Help

Engaging a personal injury attorney after a bicycle accident offers victims a comprehensive approach to ensuring their rights and interests are protected. These legal professionals are adept at evaluating the specifics of the accident, identifying liable parties, and determining the potential compensation owed for medical bills, pain, suffering, and lost wages. Their experience with similar cases also means they can anticipate and counteract common tactics used by insurance companies to minimize payouts.

Beyond initial evaluations, personal injury attorneys play a pivotal role in negotiating with insurance companies, leveraging their expertise to secure fair settlements. If a satisfactory settlement cannot be reached, they can take the case to court, advocating for their client’s best interests. Having an attorney by one’s side ensures that the complexities of legal processes and negotiations are navigated effectively, maximizing the chances of a favorable outcome.

New York State Laws Impacting Bicycle Accident Compensation

In New York State, the legal landscape around bicycle accidents holds distinct features that both cyclists and motorists should be aware of. Notably, New York operates under the no-fault law for motor vehicle accidents, which means that in the event of an accident, each party’s insurance will cover their respective medical bills and lost earnings, regardless of who was at fault. However, there are certain thresholds, both economic and related to the severity of injury, that if met, can allow a cyclist to pursue a claim beyond no-fault benefits.

Moreover, New York has a specific time limit, known as the statute of limitations, within which a lawsuit after a bicycle accident must be filed. Generally, personal injury claims in New York must be initiated within three years from the date of the accident. For claims against a city or municipality, the time frame is even shorter, often requiring notice within 90 days. Given these tight timelines, timely action and consultation with an attorney become crucial for anyone involved in a bicycle accident in Nassau County or Suffolk County.

Get Help If You Are Involved in a Bicycle Accident

Navigating the aftermath of a bicycle accident can be overwhelming, but it’s important to make sure that your rights are protected and that you receive fair compensation. The experienced team at Civardi & Obiol is dedicated to advocating for victims of bicycle accidents and guiding them through this challenging process. If you or a loved one has been involved in such an accident, don’t hesitate to reach out to Civardi & Obiol for a free consultation and to receive legal assistance.