Bicycle travel is a rising trend for commuters and recreationists alike. Biking offers multiple health benefits for bicyclists and the environment while providing an affordable and fun method of transportation. Unfortunately, bike riders are also vulnerable to road accidents and sustaining minor or serious injuries.
When these injuries occur, it is important to consult with a New Jersey bike accident lawyer as soon as possible to build a defense and ensure your claim is as strong as possible. To learn more or begin discussing your claim, consult with an injury attorney in New Jersey today.
Bike Accidents and Liability
When a bicycle is involved in an accident with a motor vehicle, the bicyclist is more likely to suffer injury than the driver of the vehicle. Even though all states enforce roadway safety for bicyclists, accidents can occur. Cyclists must follow “side-of-the-road” rules, limiting them to biking on the far right side of the road or in a designated bike lane. However, law-abiding bicyclists still risk colliding with open doors of parked cars or being hit by a driver turning right.
Unless stated otherwise, bicycles have the same rights to roadways as vehicles. Bicyclists are entitled to a full lane if a bike lane is unavailable. Bicyclists must keep to the far right lane of a roadway and have the right of way as long as they are in the correct lane. If an accident or collision with a car occurs while a cyclist is following road rules, the operator of the vehicle is typically liable for the accident.
Drivers are required by law to give cyclists a wide berth on the roadways. This ruling applies to both parked and moving cars. A person in a parked car is responsible for checking to ensure that their car door is not opened until after a cyclist has passed to avoid “dooring” accidents.
Moreover, vehicles that are trying to pass a cyclist must leave a reasonable amount of space between them and the biker. The driver of the vehicle must wait until it is safe to pass or face legal penalties if an accident occurs while passing. If a motorist hits a bicycle while turning right, the motorist is usually considered at-fault and the cyclist should consult with a New Jersey bike accident lawyer.
What To Do if You Are in a Bike Accident
In the event of an accident, bicyclists should know what measures to take to protect themselves from litigation and prepare for their own lawsuit if the accident was someone else’s fault. Accident victims must remain calm and implement the following resolution strategies.
1. Call the Police and Remain at the Scene until They Arrive
Every accident, no matter how minor, should be followed up with a police report. Sometimes, bicyclists assume that they are uninjured, hop on their bikes and continue on their way, realizing after it is too late that they have suffered damages and may need medical attention or legal assistance. If a police report was not filed, it can be extremely difficult to pursue compensation. Once the police are on their way, bicyclists should remain at the scene and not attempt to engage the other driver.
2. Offer your Statement for Official Record
It is essential for both parties involved in an accident to record their version of events in the police report. Cyclists should speak to the police personally and detail the events of the accident and every injury. Even minor details should be included in the report in case they become significant later.
3. Exchange Contact Information with the Driver and Witnesses
While cyclists should limit the amount of communication they have with the other party, it is important to exchange relevant information such as contact information and insurance. Witnesses should be asked to provide their contact information as well.
4. Document Accident and Injury Details for your Personal Records
Police reports are helpful if litigation is pursued, but accident victims should also record information pertaining to the accident for their own personal records. Information such as date, time, place, weather and road conditions could become a factor in a lawsuit. Medical injuries should also be documented. Accident victims must list all injuries and track their progress, as well as document any medical treatment sought.
Photographic evidence can make a stronger case. Accident victims should photograph what they can. Take photos at the scene of the accident if possible. Any injuries should be photographed and included in a victim’s personal records.
5. Preserve All Evidence from the Accident
All material from the accident should be preserved as evidence until the case is completely resolved. Cyclists should not attempt to have their bikes or equipment repaired or send it out of state. Clothing worn during the accident should be preserved without washing or cleaning. It is important to partner with a bike accident lawyer in New Jersey who can inform victims on the steps to take to pursue a legal claim.
Benefit of An Attorney
If you are a bicyclist or the family member of a cyclist who has been injured in an accident with a car, you may be entitled to compensation from the at-fault party. The types of compensation typically available include reimbursement for lost wages, healthcare and rehabilitation costs.
Additionally, there is often the potential for monetary awards for pain and suffering or wrongful death. New Jersey bike accident attorneys at Grungo Colarulo are well-versed in representing victims of bicycle accidents and their families.