Philadelphia Bicycle Accident Lawyer
The bicycle is a tried and true method of transportation that permits individuals to travel quickly and conveniently throughout Pennsylvania and Philadelphia. Unfortunately, as nearly any cyclist can attest, drivers of cars and trucks and other motorists do not always respect the rights of bikers.
Under Title 75 of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, Chapter 35, Section 3501, riders of bicycles in Pennsylvania have the same rights and duties as drivers in vehicles. Cyclists and drivers are equal on the road. However, all too often, drivers of other vehicles fail to exercise the-the due care required of them and treat bicyclists as a nuisance or an obstacle. In some cases, this results in mere annoyance to the bicycle rider or riders. However, in other cases, particularly dangerous or even deadly situations can arise. Unfortunately, as bicycle ridership in Philadelphia and throughout Pennsylvania continues to increase, the number of bike accidents also continues to increase.
If you were injured in a bike crash, the driver or drivers responsible should have to cover your damages. Our bicycle accident lawyers are here to help you. For a free case review, call The Reiff Law Firm at (215) 709-6940.
The Main Causes of Bike Accidents in Philadelphia
Cycling accidents are some of the most devastating kinds of accidents a person can go through. Many factors can lead to a bicycle accident and subsequent injuries. However, we have identified driver negligence as the most prevalent cause of cycling accidents in Philadelphia.
The vast majority of cycling accidents happen due to a driver’s negligence. Cyclists are often at the mercy of other car drivers on the road. Their poor decisions behind the steering wheel often lead to devastating results, especially when involving unsuspecting bicyclists. Drivers’ negligence can take many forms, and each has its own set of dangers.
For instance, speeding is one of the most common forms of driver negligence. Driving above established speed limits often leads to severe accidents. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), in 2018, speeding was responsible for 9,378 deaths in the U.S.
Distracted driving is another behavior many negligent drivers engage in while on the road. Texting, eating, drinking, and grooming while driving are typical examples of actions that often lead to distractions. A distracted driver cannot realize that there is a cyclist nearby. A distracted driver can run a red light and hit a bicyclist as a result.
One of the most dangerous behaviors of negligent drivers is drunk driving. Driving a vehicle under the effects of alcohol can lead to a devastating accident. According to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), millions of people are reported drinking and driving throughout the U.S. Thousands of cyclists have suffered severe injuries caused by drunk drivers in Philadelphia and throughout the country. If a negligent driver in Philadelphia injured you, our bicycle accident lawyers can help.
Dooring is another common cause of cyclist accidents in Philadelphia. Dooring happens when bicyclists run into the open door of a parked car. It also refers to situations where cyclists must swerve to avoid an open door and crashes. This kind of accident happens because the car driver fails to make sure that there is no oncoming traffic before opening their vehicle’s door. Many times, the car driver fails to exercise caution, which often leads to an accident.
Hit and Runs
Unfortunately, hit and run accidents involving bicycles do occur, and many motorists do not have the decency to remain at the scene of the accident or to call for needed medical care for the injured cyclist. In fact, a 2003 NHTSA report indicated that 20 percent of motorists who hit a bicyclist or a pedestrian flee the scene of the accident.
What to Do After a Cycling Accident in Philadelphia
Being involved in a cycling accident in Philadelphia can be scary and overwhelming. However, it is critical to consider that everything you do after your accident can significantly impact any future claim. For this reason, it is essential to follow a series of steps after your crash.
Get to Safety
The first thing you should do after your bicycle accident is to think about your safety. If you are physically able to, find a safe place away from incoming traffic. This can help you avoid any subsequent accident(s). Once you have found a safe place, call 911 and report your accident. Getting emergency medical treatment can help you rule out any underlying health issues resulting from your crash.
Gather Evidence for Your Bicycle Accident Claim
You must have evidence backing up your claims to prove the defendant was negligent and caused your injuries. Evidence can be tricky to wrap your mind around because it could be almost anything and is often unique to each accident and situation. Even so, there are some common pieces of evidence that our bicycle accident lawyers can help you investigate.
After a car accident, drivers often take photos of their vehicles and the surrounding area to present to insurance companies to prove their claims. The same principle applies to bike accidents. If possible, you should take as many photos of the scene as you can. These photos might help preserve valuable details and information that could be lost once the police arrive and clear the scene away. These photos might also prove who was at the accident when it happened (e.g., the defendant, other drivers, witnesses).
Often, bike accidents happen on busy streets in view of numerous people. We can help you find people who saw the accident so they can testify about what they know in court. Some witnesses can be identified because they stopped to render aid. Other witnesses might be identified through police reports if they were interviewed by the authorities. Still, other witnesses might be found by examining photos or security camera footage from the scene.
One of the most important pieces of evidence is your bicycle. In many cases, defendants try to fight the allegations against them by arguing that the accident was not severe, and that your injuries are fake or exaggerated. We can present your destroyed bike to help support your claims that the accident was indeed serious, and that your injuries are severe.
Call the Philadelphia Police and Make a Report
Call the police and report your accident. A police officer will show up to the crash scene and perform an investigation. After their investigation, they will make a report. This report may contain essential information that can be used in any future claim. Make sure to ask for a copy.
Make sure to gather as much information as possible. Taking video footage and photographic evidence of your crash can shed additional light on your case and help establish liability in your claim. Gather essential data such as the involved party’s name, address, phone number, and insurance information.
Since bicycles are considered a vehicle in the eyes of the law in Pennsylvania, it is wise to report the accident and treat it as if it were a crash in a motor vehicle. However, it is important to note that police in Philadelphia and some other jurisdictions are not generally required to complete an accident report where no injuries occur, and both vehicles are able to drive away. Police may also hesitate to consider a damaged bicycle a “vehicle” despite what Pennsylvania law says on the subject. Furthermore, for various reasons, it can sometimes be challenging to get the police to show up, even when there are minor injuries. However, reporting the accident is always a wise step, even if the police will not come to the scene.
What to Do if the Philadelphia Police Won’t Take Your Report or Don’t Show Up
If you sustain serious and potentially life-altering injuries, the police should make a report, and you should focus on getting the medical treatment you need. But, if the police don’t come to the scene of your bike crash, there are certain steps you should take before you leave the scene, provided that you are medically able to do so.
If you are involved in a bike crash with a car, truck, motorcycle, or another vehicle, do not leave the accident scene without first obtaining the vehicle’s license plate number, the name and contact information of the driver, and the driver’s insurance. Furthermore, you should obtain the name and contact information of any individuals who witnessed the crash or who can provide information regarding the accident. If a police officer comes to the scene but won’t make a report, it is also a good idea to get their name and badge number.
You should then take this information to the local precinct office. An officer at this location will likely provide you with a PA Driver’s Accident Report. This form should be completed and submitted as stated on the form. If you are having difficulties completing the form, working with a bike accident lawyer can be the first step to making your claim.
Common Types of Injuries Resulting from Bicycle Accidents in Philadelphia
People ride bicycles for enjoyment, exercise, or as inexpensive means of transportation. Unfortunately, when an accident occurs, the resulting injuries could be severe or even fatal. Unlike people traveling in cars or other larger vehicles, someone on a bicycle is completely exposed. Outside of a helmet, most bicyclists do not wear much protective or safety equipment. Consequently, many bicyclists suffer severe injuries when involved in an accident with another vehicle.
Traumatic Brain Injuries
A bicycle helmet provides protection but it is not as strong or protective as a motorcycle helmet. When a cyclist is hit by a car or violently impacts the ground, serious head injuries could occur. Even mild head injuries, such as a concussion, could result in serious symptoms lasting for days, weeks, or even months. Depending on the seriousness of the injury, a bicycle accident could result in permanent brain damage.
A bicyclist has no protection on most of their body. The excessive force of an accident will often fracture or shatter a cyclists’ bones. Broken bones sustained in bike accidents range from fractures in the hands and fingers to compound fractures of their arms or legs. Many fractures require stabilizing medical attention and take months to recover. Depending on the severity, an injured cyclist could require physical therapy and miss a substantial amount of work.
Spinal Cord Injuries
Spinal cord injuries could result in everything from severe discomfort to permanent paralysis. These devastating injuries are not uncommon in bicycle accidents because of how exposed the back of a cyclist is to excess force and impact. Spinal injuries also result in significant and adverse medical complications, including infections, chronic pain, weakness and numbness in the muscles, and temporary or permanent paralysis below the injury.
Compensation Available in a Bicycle Accident Personal Injury Lawsuit
One of the most important aspects – if not the main purpose of – your case is damages. Damages represent the various losses you experienced because of the bike accident. Damages are often economic in nature and reflect lost money and other expenses. They can also be non-economic and be based on subjective, painful experiences. Our bicycle accident lawyers can assist you in accurately calculating your damages and maximizing compensation.
Your economic damages are calculated based on monetary losses and expenses related to the bike crash. The primary source of economic damages is often medical bills. If your injuries are severe, your medical expenses are likely to be higher. Even if your medical expenses are largely covered by insurance, you can still claim high deductibles as part of your economic damages. Other economic damages might include lost income if you took time off work to recover and the cost of repairing or replacing your bike.
Your non-economic damages are somewhat harder to determine because they stem from subjective experiences and often do not have a concrete monetary value. Your physical pain and mental or emotional suffering are significant factors in your economic damages calculations. You can also claim damages related to humiliation or damage to your reputation, if applicable.
Whom to Sue For a Bike Accident in Philadelphia
Negligent drivers often cause bike crashes, but bike accidents are sometimes more complicated, and numerous drivers might be involved. In such cases, it can be difficult to determine whom to name in a lawsuit. Our bicycle accident lawyers can assist you in determining which party or parties to name in your case.
Many bike collisions involve one bike rider and one driver. In those cases, figuring out whom to sue for your damages and injuries is relatively simple. The driver who hit you should be held responsible, but even this can become challenging if the driver’s identity is unclear. For example, in hit and run accidents, drivers flee the scene before they can be identified. We might have to wait for the police to find the driver before we can initiate a lawsuit. It might also be hard to determine whom to sue if the driver used a falsified driver’s license or provided fake information after the accident.
In many other cases, several drivers are involved in a bike crash, and each driver might have contributed to the accident in their own way. For example, you might have been hit by a negligent driver while you were riding your bike through an intersection. Suppose the driver who hit you did not have working brake lights, and a speeding driver struck them from behind, causing them to slam into you. In that case. Both drivers were negligent and can be held liable.
If the driver who hit you was driving as part of their job, you might be able to sue their employer. A driver’s employer might be held vicariously liable if the driver’s negligence occurred within the scope and in furtherance of their job duties. Delivery, taxi, and bus drivers are common examples of these kinds of cases.
Establishing Liability in a Cycling Accident in Philadelphia
Pennsylvania state safe passing law HB 170 provides that drivers must provide ample space when passing cyclists. In fact, Pennsylvania’s law requiring at least 4 feet of clearance when passing is the toughest and most generous in the nation. Furthermore, it is unlawful for the driver of a motor vehicle to force a cyclist off the road. Additionally, state law prohibits any turn by a driver of a motor vehicle from interfering with a cyclist proceeding straight on a roadway or shoulder of a roadway. However, cyclists are also required to ride prudently and follow the rules of the road.
The first thing you may ask after being involved in a bicycle accident with a car is who will be liable for your losses. In order to establish liability for your cycling accident in Philadelphia, you need to prove the at-fault driver’s negligence. As a plaintiff, you must prove the existence of four main elements in your personal injury claim.
First, you must establish that the driver owed you some sort of legal duty. For instance, you may argue that the driver owed a legal obligation to drive safely, following all traffic laws. Second, you must establish that the defendant in your case breached their legal duty. In other words, evidence can show that the defendant failed to follow traffic law. Next, you must establish a link between the defendant’s actions or omissions and your losses. This is what is known as causation. Finally, you will need to be able to show your losses to the court. For example, you can provide evidence of losses such as your medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering. Once you have proven your case, the court may grant you compensation.
Bike Accidents that Result in Death
While many people still consider bicycle deaths and injuries to be something that more frequently impacts children and teens, the truth is that all age groups, from children, to adults, to senior citizens, are affected by bike injuries and deaths. In fact, adults from ages 20 to 34 accounted for 21.1 percent of bicycling deaths and 32.7 percent of all cycling injuries. Similarly, adults ranging from age 45 to age 44 accounted for nearly 16 percent of cycling fatalities and 8.3 percent of deaths. Adults aged 55 years to 64 years accounted for 21.1 percent of cycling deaths. In all, these three age cohorts accounted for nearly 60 percent of all cycling deaths.
The 2014 Pennsylvania crash statistics stated that just over 75% of all bike accident injuries occurred while it was light outside. By contrast, 20 % of injuries occurred when it was dark. As for deaths, 52.6% occurred during the day. For deaths that occurred during the dark evening hours, 26.3 percent occurred where street lights were present. 21.1 percent of nighttime bicycle deaths occurred where no street lights were present.
Filing a Wrongful Death Claim
If your loved one has passed away from injuries related to a bicycle crash, you may be entitled to compensation under Pennsylvania’s Wrongful Death Act (42 Pa. C.S. § 8301 et seq.). The Act provides that an action for wrongful death may be brought to recover damages for the death of a victim caused by the illegal violence, wrongful act, or negligence of another.
The personal representative of a victim’s estate has the option to file a wrongful death action within 6 months of the date of death. The personal representative is the executor or administrator of the victim’s estate. After 6 months, a beneficiary may bring a wrongful death action as trustee ad litem. Pa.R.Civ.P. 2201, 2202. Note, though, that wrongful death actions in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania have a 2-year statute of limitations.
Beneficiaries of a Wrongful Death Claim
Beneficiaries include a victim’s spouse, children, and/or parents. The share of damages that a beneficiary can recover is calculated in accordance with the laws governing intestacy in Pennsylvania. If it is determined that a victim has no beneficiaries, the decedent’s personal representative may bring an action to recover damages.
Bicycle accidents are among the most catastrophic accidents that can occur on the road today. The injuries sustained by bicyclists are typically very severe, and fatalities are not uncommon. If a victim received medical treatment before succumbing to injuries, the medical bills and hospital expenses could cost survivors hundreds, sometimes even thousands of dollars. Thus, it is imperative that loved ones seek the counsel of our experienced bicycle accident attorney to put themselves in an optimal position for financial recovery.
How an Attorney Can Help Your Bicycle Accident Case
If you have suffered serious injuries due to a collision with a car, truck, motorcycle, or other vehicle in Pennsylvania, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries. Getting compensation on your own can be extremely challenging, and a skilled attorney can help you. Our bicycle accident lawyers are familiar with the legal procedures surrounding accident claims and cases and can assist you with your case.
In some cases, a bike accident injury demand letter is sufficient to obtain the compensation you need to cover the medical expenses related to the treatment of your serious injuries. However, in other cases, the responsible driver or their insurance company may fight your attempts to obtain reasonable compensation at every step in the process. In these situations, working with an experienced bicycle accident and personal injury lawyer can make all the difference in holding a responsible party financially accountable.
An attorney can also help you prepare your lawsuit for filing. Lawsuits often require a great deal of prep work, including gathering evidence, assessing damages, and figuring out effective legal strategies. Evidence might be hard to come by, and your attorney can help you build a strong case using what little evidence might be available. On top of all this, the legal procedures involved in getting your case to court are complicated, and a lawyer can help you jump these hurdles so you can get compensation.
Our Philadelphia Bicycle Accident Attorneys Can Help
For more than 40 years, the lawyers of The Reiff Law Firm have fought for injury victims in Philadelphia and throughout Pennsylvania. We fight aggressively and strategically for injured people when it seems like their world is falling apart and they have nowhere to turn. To schedule a free and confidential legal consultation at their Philadelphia law office by calling (215) 709-6940 today.