Potential Dangers of Bicycling in Folsom, California
According to a 2016 report from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), California is the most dangerous state in the country for bicyclists. This report indicated that bicycle accidents represented about 4% of the state’s total fatal accidents for 2016 and that the majority of fatal bike accidents, about 71% of them, occur in urban areas.
When bicyclists have accidents with motor vehicles, it is almost always the bicyclist who suffers worse injuries. A bicycle affords a rider no protection whatsoever from the force of a crash. Additionally, the bicyclist will experience not only primary injuries from the impact of the crash but also secondary injuries from hitting the pavement after falling from the bike. These injuries can be severe and sometimes fatal. Anyone who experiences a bicycle accident in Folsom or loses a loved one to a fatal bike accident in the area should contact a bicycle accident personal injury attorney in Folsom, California, as soon as possible to discuss potential legal options.
Most bicycle accidents involving motor vehicles happen because the driver of the motor vehicle does not notice the bicyclist in time to avoid a crash. Other accidents occur due to aggressive driving, driving under the influence (DUI), or failing to show a bicyclist the courtesy due to another motorist on the road. When a bicycle accident occurs due to negligence, the injured party can file a personal injury claim against the negligent party responsible for causing the accident.
What Are the Most Common Causes of Bicycle Accidents?
Sadly, much of the time, bicycle accidents occur as a result of a motor vehicle driver’s negligence. It is a driver’s duty of care— whether they are operating a car, a truck, or any other motor vehicle— to remain mindful and reasonably preserve the safety of others on the road. As a result, drivers must remain aware of cyclists and their rightful presence on the road.
Colliding with a bicyclist is not excusable simply because the driver failed to see them. If the bicyclist is obeying traffic laws, it is the driver’s responsibility to account for them. Failing to notice a bicyclist and causing a crash constitutes negligence. In these cases, seek legal counsel from a bicycle accidents lawyer.
Below are some of the most common causes of bicycle accidents on the road:
- Distracted driving or driver inattention. As stated, if a driver of a motor vehicle fails to pay proper attention to the road, then they may cause an accident with a bicyclist. Distracted driving can take a variety of forms. For example, if a driver is texting or talking on the phone while driving, they are considerably more likely to collide with a cyclist due to inattention. Even a moment of inattention can be enough to cause a devastating accident, resulting in serious or even fatal injury in the cyclist. Distracted or inattentive drivers are also more likely to clip bicyclists, adding to a cyclist’s stress on the road.
- Dangerous conditions on the road. Drivers of motor vehicles are not the only ones who have a duty of care. It is vital that cities do their due diligence to maintain safe road conditions at all times, reducing the likelihood of avoidable accidents. When a city fails to correctly maintain bike lanes and roads, allowing them to fall into mild or even extreme disrepair, accidents become increasingly more likely to occur. Failing to clearly mark bike lanes is another instance where poor road maintenance could lead to severe bicycle accidents, and the same goes for uneven pavement, cracks, or potholes left in the road. These issues make it easier for bicyclists to fall or potentially find themselves in oncoming traffic.
- Failing to yield to the bicyclist’s right of way. When a driver fails to yield to a bicyclist at an intersection, accidents often occur. Although this may seem like a simple or even common driving mistake, it is far from innocuous. Rather, failure to yield has the potential to lead to serious or even fatal accidents with law-abiding cyclists. A driver failing to yield sometimes occurs due to reckless or hurried driving, but it can also occur when a driver is simply ignorant of local traffic laws. Again, this is not excusable confusion but driver negligence, plain and simple. Frequent intersection collisions are the reason intersections are considered the most dangerous portion of a bicyclist’s ride. Researchers estimate that around 45% of bicycle accidents occur at intersections.
- Cars making a right turn. When a motor vehicle performs a right turn, they often pass right through city bike paths—and the paths of cyclists traveling in the same direction. In this instance, the vehicle moves past the bicyclist before slowing down as they prepare to make a right turn. Unfortunately, the cyclist is left without anywhere to go. If the driver fails to look before turning right, the inattentive action can lead to an accident with a bicyclist and is an act of negligence on the part of the driver.
- Vehicle “doorings”. Dooring accidents are considerably more common in urban areas, than in rural areas, due to the relative prevalence of parked vehicles along the sides of the road. If a driver parks their vehicle and opens the door without looking both ways, there is a chance a bicyclist could crash directly into the open car door. This is yet another act of simple negligence by the driver of the vehicle, which could have been prevented by taking precautions like looking both ways before opening a car door.
- Defective parts. Some bicycle accidents occur due to defective bike parts or other mechanisms. When this defective component malfunctions, a subsequent accident may lead to the potentially serious injury of the cyclist. In cases of bicycle malfunction, it is possible for the cyclist to file a claim against the responsible manufacturer with the assistance of a bicycle accident attorney.
Injuries Most Commonly Sustained Due to Bike Accidents
Similar to any accident on the road, a bicycle accident can cause myriad different injuries on the part of both the bicyclist and motorist. However, when a car collides with a cyclist, it is almost guaranteed that the bicyclist will suffer the brunt of the injury. While the vehicle driver is protected by the mass of their vehicle, a cyclist is not afforded this advantage. Even with a helmet and other safety necessities, a cyclist’s body remains exposed to injury.
Unfortunately, many bicyclists receive catastrophic injuries from a collision with a motor vehicle. Examples of potential injuries resulting from a cycling accident include but are not limited to:
- Brain injuries. Even in the case of a responsible cyclist wearing a high-quality helmet, there is still a risk of concussion or another form of traumatic brain injury during a bicycle accident. In fact, injuries of this nature typically occur without visible damage or injury to the skull. If a cyclist is launched off their bike, a head-first landing will ensure that their helmet and their skull are stopped immediately—however, this is not the case for their brain. The brain is suspended within the skull and continues its movement even after the cyclist’s head strikes a surface. If the brain contacts the interior of the skull forcefully, the trauma can result in pressure, bleeding, swelling, lesions, or hemorrhaging. A cyclist who suffers a traumatic brain injury may even require emergency surgery in order to relieve pressure and swelling of the brain. Sometimes brain injuries can take years to heal or may result in permanent damage.
- Injuries to the neck or back. Various spinal cord injuries are a common result of a traumatic bicycling accident, as are other injuries to the neck or back. While the cyclist’s helmet may lessen the force of the impact on their skull, it does not protect their spine, neck, or back. As the cyclist’s head collides with the ground, movement in the rest of the body continues. As a result, the cyclist’s spine must endure an enormous amount of force. In especially severe instances when the spine absorbs too much force, it is possible for vertebrae to fracture or burst. Severe “burst fractures” can result in paralysis. In addition, injuries impacting the discs separating the vertebrae, including annular tears or herniated discs, can leave cyclists experiencing long-term pain, difficulty moving, and an inability to return to normal activities.
- Orthopedic injuries. Bone injuries are also common following the ejection of a cyclist from their bike. Injuries of an orthopedic nature can take on a variety of forms, including broken limbs, fractured shoulders, sprains, dislocations, and more. In the case of severe bike accidents, cyclists may need to seek emergency surgery. Sadly, however, emergency surgeries are typically a stopgap measure—they will prevent the injury from worsening, but they are not likely to fix the issue on their own. Cyclists who have undergone emergency surgery for orthopedic injuries will likely require extensive physical therapy. Further, the victim may also require other surgeries in the future to achieve a more permanent fix or lasting comfort.
- Road rash. When a cyclist involved in an accident skids across concrete or pavement, skin tears away from the underlying tissue, resulting in an incredibly painful wound. Since road rash exposes a large area of internal tissue, muscle, or even bone, cyclists risk infection and scarring. These abrasions must be washed, any debris removed, and bandaged as soon as possible to prevent infection. In severe cases of road rash, the victim may require skin grafting to replace large areas of damaged or missing skin.
It Is Worth Getting an Attorney for a Bicycle Accident?
After you experience a bicycle accident, securing the services of a skilled bicycle accident lawyer is essential to help you navigate your personal injury claim. In fact, hiring an experienced personal injury attorney is your first step to achieving the compensation you deserve for your injuries. Here are just some of the reasons why injured cyclists should hire a bike accident attorney:
- You received injuries. Injuries sustained during bike accidents are often severe, due to the nature of a bicycle. In most cases, you were fully exposed to impacts from both the vehicle and the ground, which can result in injuries that require ongoing treatment. If you experience injuries as the result of a bicycle accident, contact a bicycle injury lawyer to pursue compensation to relieve your financial burden.
- Your injuries caused ongoing pain and lasting trauma. In the aftermath of a bicycle accident, it can be difficult to ascertain the full extent of your injuries. Unfortunately, many injuries, like spinal cord injuries, severe orthopedic injuries, TBI and more, can cause trauma that lasts the rest of your life. If lasting trauma affects your ability to enjoy life as you did before, a bicycle injury attorney can help you pursue pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, disability, and other means of nonspecific compensation.
- You have no experience with personal injury claims. Trauma can make it highly difficult to manage the aftermath of an accident, especially if you do not have any experience with personal injury law. Contacting a bicycle accident attorney enables you to continue your recovery while your attorney takes charge of your case. You can focus on healing with the peace of mind that comes with knowing that a skilled professional accustomed to personal injury litigation is ensuring you achieve the best possible outcome in your case.
- You must make a claim with a third-party insurance company. In most cases, you must file a claim with the other driver’s insurance company to pursue compensation for your damages. Unfortunately, many insurance companies take advantage of the complex nature of bicycle accident injury cases and work to avoid liability. Beginning your claim with the help of a bicycle accidents lawyer ensures your claim will be comprehensive and secure the maximum possible settlement. In addition, your attorney can help you navigate the litigation process should the insurance company attempt to avoid payment.
- An insurance company has offered you a low settlement, or denied you a settlement. Without an attorney, you are far more likely to be misled by an insurance company. Sadly, these companies are not on your side, even when it feels like they should be—instead, insurance companies are profit-driven. They do not have your personal or financial wellbeing in mind and will not pursue the settlement you deserve. Rather, insurance companies often try to provide you with the lowest possible payment. Never accept an insurance settlement without consulting with a bicycle accident attorney familiar with the inner workings of the insurance company.
- The driver has denied any fault. Most times, fault in a car versus bicycle accident remains relatively clear. In these cases, drivers often accept responsibility and proceed accordingly. However, if the driver attempts to accuse you of negligent bicycle operation or causing the accident, secure the services of a bicycle accident attorney. Your attorney can help you navigate the complicated process of demonstrating fault and negligence of the other party, and how it caused your injuries in a bicycle accident.
When Should You Contact a Lawyer After an Accident?
If you sustained an injury during a bicycle accident, you should contact a Folsom bicycle accidents lawyer as soon as possible. You will want your attorney to receive any and all documentation regarding your injuries, including medical bills, diagnoses, medications, medical equipment, and more. Your attorney can help you begin the documentation process to prepare your claim right away.
If you try to work directly with the insurance companies, they may attempt to get you to give a statement regarding the accident, potentially assigning you fault and lowering your claim amount. Even a seemingly innocuous statement about the accident or your injuries can be manipulated into an admittance of partial fault or used to diminish the severity of your injuries. Do not speak to these profit-driven companies on your own, without an experienced personal injury attorney at your side.