Lakewood Bicycle Accident Lawyers
If you or a loved one were recently injured in a bicycle accident, the Lakewood personal injury lawyers of The Law Offices of Briggs & Briggs can help. Bicycles can be a fun and cost-effective way to get around, but they are no match for cars in a collision. Cyclists who are hit by cars can suffer serious injuries due to being directly hit or thrown many feet away. Although bicycles are becoming more and more common on the roads, many drivers still don’t think to watch for them or don’t quite know how to interact with them. The fact is that bicycles are legally entitled to share the road with cars. When drivers fail to recognize this fact, they put cyclists in catastrophic danger.
At The Law Offices of Briggs & Briggs, we believe that negligent drivers should be held accountable when they hit and injure cyclists. If you or someone you love has been injured on a ride, our Lakewood bicycle accident attorneys are here to help. With over sixty years of service to personal injury victims in Lakewood, Tacoma, Olympia, Puyallup, Chehalis, and Bremerton, we have the experience needed to fight the driver who hit you and increase your chances of winning financial compensation for your injuries. Contact us at (253) 588-6696 to set up a free consultation today.
Causes of Bicycle Accidents
For some drivers, seeing bicycles on the road may still seem like a fairly new phenomenon, and many don’t expect it. In addition, bicycles are smaller than cars and can be harder to spot unless drivers are paying close attention, especially at night. Here are some of the common ways that drivers cause bicycle accidents:
- Distracted driving – When driving while distracted, drivers are more likely to get into an accident. Some examples of distracted driving are: text messaging, talking on the phone, and eating while driving.
- Driving too close behind the bicycle – Tailgating a bicycle does not leave adequate space for the driver to stop in time. This can cause the driver to rear-end the slower moving bicyclist.
- Speeding – Speeding can decrease the time a driver has to react to unexpected hazards. If the driver does not see the bicyclist in time, a collision is likely to happen.
- Weaving through traffic – Drivers who weave in and out through traffic are more likely to overlook or just not see smaller vehicles, such as bicycles. This leaves very little time to react in case they encounter a bicyclist in their path.
- Turning without looking – Failing to watch for bicycles before making a turn is often a cause of accidents at intersections.
- Running a red traffic light or a stop sign – Failing to make a proper stop at an intersection is also a common cause of bicycle accidents at intersections. If a driver makes a rolling stop at an intersection, they are unlikely to look carefully in all directions to see if there’s a bicyclist in their path.
- Failing to yield – Drivers have a duty to yield to oncoming traffic, including bicycles. When a driver fails to yield, it can lead to a collision.
- Impaired driving – When drivers get behind the wheel while under the influence of drugs or alcohol, their inability to make rational decisions and react quickly can increase the risk of an accident.
- Driver fatigue – When drivers are fatigued, they have similar reaction times to those who are impaired by alcohol or drugs and can pose a serious threat to others on the road.
- Opening a car door while a bicycle is coming – Because cars often park on the curbside along the bicyclist’s right of way, bicyclists are often hit by car doors being opened in their path.
Any of these negligent behaviors can cause serious injury, or even death, to the cyclist. However, the driver is not always to blame, as cyclists can be negligent as well. Both drivers and cyclists need to respect each other as equal vehicles on the road.
Most Common Bicycle Accident Injuries
When a car collides with a bicycle, the impact is so destructive that the injuries can have long-term results and can even be life-threatening. The most common traffic-related bicycle accident injuries include:
- Head injury
- Brain trauma
- Neck injury
- Back and spinal cord injury
- Dental injury
- Facial trauma or maxillofacial trauma
- Road Rash
- Broken bones and bone fractures
- Hand injury
- Joint dislocation
- Nerve Damage
- Internal injuries
Bike Traffic Laws in Washington State
Under Washington law, bicycles are treated in essentially the same way as cars. Cyclists must follow all traffic laws and are also entitled to the same respect by drivers as are other drivers. In addition to this basic equality, here are some of the traffic laws surrounding bicycles that all drivers and cyclists should be aware of:
- Bicycles may ride in normal traffic lanes, but may also switch to bike lanes or shoulders as their safety requires.
- Two cyclists may ride side-by-side in the road. This does not apply to groups larger than two.
- Parents may not permit their children to break traffic laws while riding bikes.
- Some roads, especially highways, may be closed to bicycles.
- In Pierce County, all cyclists must wear helmets while riding on the road.
By keeping all of these laws in mind, drivers and cyclists alike can help ensure safer roads. If someone broke one of these laws or was otherwise negligent, that can help to determine who was responsible for the accident.
Bike Accident Statistics
According to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Fatality Analysis Reporting System, about 2 percent of traffic accident fatalities are bicyclists. In addition, there has been a 36 percent increase in bicycle accident deaths since their lowest point in 2010. Following are more sobering statistics that involve bicycle-related traffic accidents:
- In 2019, there have been 843 bicyclists killed in traffic accidents.
- Deaths among bicyclists 20 years old and older have tripled since 1975.
- 21 percent of bicyclists 16 years old and older who were killed had blood alcohol concentrations of 0.08 percent or more.
- 35 percent of bicycle accident fatalities occurred at intersections.
- In Washington, 70 percent of bicyclists killed in traffic were involved an accident in a 30 miles per hour zone or higher.
Determining Fault in a Bicycle Accident
When it comes to determining fault in an accident, Washington is a pure comparative negligence state. This means that each person involved in an accident can be found partially at fault. The percentage of fault a person shares will be deducted from their award in a successful personal injury suit. Since bicycles are treated just like cars, they are also subject to comparative negligence.
Proving fault after an accident will involve determining what negligent actions the driver and cyclist each took that contributed to the accident and resulting injuries. For example, if a car turns right in front of a bike lane and crashes into a bicycle, but the cyclist was looking at their phone, a jury might find that the driver was 70 percent at fault and the cyclist was 30 percent at fault. If the cyclist filed a personal injury suit and the jury awarded them $10,000, that award would be reduced by 30 percent, leaving them with $7,000.
Recovering Damages in a Personal Injury Suit
Since cyclists are more exposed to the elements than drivers are, they often suffer extremely serious injuries. Unfortunately, some do not survive. Whatever the extent of their injuries, cyclists injured in accidents can file a personal injury suit in hopes of recovering damages for a number of costs, including:
- Medical bills
- Bicycle repairs
- Lost wages due to time off work while recovering
- Future lost income due to temporary or permanent disability
- Physical and emotional pain and suffering
- Other miscellaneous, recovery-related expenses
- If the cyclist was killed, wrongful death
In situations in which the cyclist was at fault, the driver may recover similar damages. In any case, the defendant in any personal injury suit will do everything they can to reduce their portion of fault and therefore minimize their payout. If you have been injured in a bicycle accident, it is important to start gathering evidence and contact a lawyer as soon as you decide to take legal action.
Recovering from a bicycle accident is difficult. You could be experiencing anything from road rash to a concussion to total paralysis. You may even be the grieving loved one of a cyclist killed by a negligent driver. Whatever the case, you don’t have to face this difficult time alone. You should consider taking legal action.
The Lakewood, Washington bicycle accident lawyers of The Law Offices of Briggs & Briggs can help. Our attorneys have the experience and know-how required to fight for our clients and hold negligent drivers financially accountable. We are familiar with the laws and expectations surrounding bicycles on Washington roads, and we handle each and every case with care and respect. If you or your loved one has been injured in a bicycle accident in Lakewood, Tacoma, Olympia, Puyallup, Chehalis, or Bremerton, don’t hesitate. Call us now at (253) 588-6696 for more information on how we can help.