Bicycle accidents happen quite often and can cause serious injury and even death.
The reasons for these incidents are many. One major cause is distracted driving. Motor vehicles are dangerous instruments that require constant alertness; even an experienced professional driver can find it impossible to react in time to every situation. A driver who divides his attention between driving and doing something else greatly increases the risk of a serious accident. These distractions can be something simple like eating a hamburger, tuning the radio, or adjusting the air conditioning. Modern technology adds even more distractions, such as operating a GPS unit while driving, using a cell phone without a hands-free device, or even texting. Alcohol is also a major factor. Drinking alcohol reduces reaction time, clouds judgment and impairs concentration. Another cause is speeding. Driving too fast is always dangerous. A driver can only react so fast and a vehicle can only brake so quickly. Going over the speed limit makes it only harder to stop in time. In slippery conditions, it also increases the chances of skidding out of control. Speeding on crowded urban roads where people may step off the curb unexpectedly can literally be fatal. Like speeding, generally poor and reckless driving puts cyclists at risk. Safety depends in part on being able to predict the actions of others and reckless behavior such as running stop signs, tailgating, failing to signal turns, and improper lane changes make it difficult for cyclists or other drivers to react properly.
Weather can also be hazardous. Rain, snow and fog can reduce visibility, and wet or icy road surfaces can be extremely slippery. In such conditions, even the best drivers may have difficulty and it is very easy to underestimate how challenging it is to keep a vehicle under control. Any of the above causes are made worse by driving at night when visibility drops dramatically and the danger of being dazzled by oncoming headlights is added. Even the most careful driver under the best conditions must be alert when the sun goes down – especially when suddenly encountering a cyclist without reflectors and wearing dark clothing.
Combine these hazards and their causes with the laws surrounding bicycle accidents, and it may not be easy to determine who is legally at fault. Many people think that because they’ve been hit by a car, they have an open and shut case. Not so. A determination of liability is heavily dependent on the facts involved in each case. Since the driver and bicyclist each have a duty to act “reasonably under the circumstances,” the parties may share fault for what has happened. In these cases, it may take much more effort, time and expense by the by the victim to recover fair compensation for medical bills, lost wages, and other damages caused by the accident.
It is highly recommended to consult with an experienced attorney if you have been severely injured in a bicycle accident. Call Davis Law Group at (206) 727-4000 for a free consultation.