It’s not necessarily the first thing that comes to mind when talking about pedestrian safety, but bicycle vs. pedestrian collisions happen more often than you think – especially in a city like Seattle. Bicyclists have a lot to be concerned about when they’re navigating the busy streets of downtown, and that may affect their ability to avoid collisions with pedestrians who may be walking in a crosswalk or on the sidewalk.
If and when a bicyclist collides with a pedestrian, it’s likely that both parties involved will be injured to some extent. Depending upon who is determined to be legally at-fault for causing the incident, one or more parties may be able to pursue a personal injury claim for damages that resulted from the bicycle-versus-pedestrian collision.
Bicycle-Pedestrian Collisions in Seattle and Beyond
According to a 2011 study conducted by a group of professors at Hunter College in New York, more than 500 pedestrians are significantly injured after being struck by bicycles each year in New York City alone. In the entire state of New York, the number of pedestrians annually injured in collisions with bicycles was approximately 1,000.
There has been very little research on this topic – which is the reason we’re citing a study from across the country – but the 2011 study disrupted experts’ preconceptions about the frequency of these collisions; in 2009, a separate study concluded that there were just over 1,000 total bicycle-versus-pedestrian collisions in the entire United States. Part of the reason for the increase in reported bicycle and pedestrian crashes is likely due to a combination of factors. First, it’s possible that there are simply more people reporting these incidents or seeking medical treatment for their injuries immediately after such a collision. Also, there may be more concise reporting of these incidents so that they are not simply considered regular motor vehicle accidents.
In 2010, an elderly woman was killed while walking on the Cedar River Trail after stepping in the path of a bicyclist by mistake. Back in 2013, an unidentified man suffered critical injuries after being struck by a man riding a bicycle in the Madison Park area of Seattle. The bicyclist was also injured in this collision, though predictably not as badly as the pedestrian. The pedestrian suffered a serious head injury and was hospitalized with life-threatening injuries. And also in 2013 in San Francisco, a bicyclist was actually charged with felonly vehicular manslaughter after he struck and killed a pedestrian while running a red light on his bike.
How to Pay for Medical Bills
A large number of people are unaware that many auto insurance policies will provide coverage to a person in the event that they are involved in an accident while riding their bicycle. That could apply to bicyclists who are struck by a vehicle as well as bicyclists who strike a pedestrian and cause injury to that person. In a situation where a bicyclist strikes and injures a pedestrian, the bicyclist’s liability coverage may be available as a source of financial recovery for the injured person.
Of course, whether or not the bicyclist’s insurance will cover an injured pedestrian depends upon a number of factors, including the exactly language of the insurance policy in question and the nature of the collision. These factors can be complex in unorthodox accidents such as a bicycle-versus-pedestrian collision, and so determining the victim’s best course of legal action can be difficult.
A qualified personal injury attorney who has handled bicycle and pedestrian collision cases will likely be able to determine whether there is any insurance coverage available in such an accident. An experienced attorney will also be able to help the victim and his or her family decide if hiring a lawyer can make a difference in the outcome of the claim and is in their best interests.