Kansas City Bike Accident Attorney
Bikes offer a welcome reprieve to the roadway commute. Whether you’re an avid triathlete or just like to use your bike to run errands, bikes offer a good opportunity for both exercise and fresh air. While bikes are a healthy way of getting from place to place, they also pose dangers. Bicyclists who are struck by cars sustain serious injuries, and it doesn’t take much – speeds as low as 10 miles per hour can result in injuries with long-lasting, even permanent, consequences.
The “Share the Road” Philosophy
Motorists are required by law to share the road with bicyclists, and riders are required to follow the same laws of the road as drivers. Drivers should give riders a wide berth, but riders should also obey all traffic signals and use crosswalks whenever they’re available. This set of laws is known as “sharing the road.” Unfortunately, motorists don’t always take these rules to heart.
The Most Common Types of Bike Accidents
Accidents between cars and bikes most often occur at intersections. A familiar scenario: You’re biking across an intersection with a green light. A car turns right, striking you and knocking you off your bike.
Only a tenth of all biking accidents involve a car, but of those, 50% happen at an intersection. Sometimes drivers misjudge the distance or speed of the biker, and other times they’re simply not paying attention. No matter the reason, drivers are often at fault for accidents involving bikes.
In some cases, however, both parties can share the blame for an accident. This is a concept referred to as “comparative negligence.” In comparative negligence states like Missouri, you can collect a personal injury claim if you share up to 50% of the fault – but your settlement will only be the driver’s percentage of fault. For example, say you’re seeking $100,000 in damages from an accident, but a jury finds you 20% at fault. Your maximum settlement would be $80,000.
The Most Common Types of Bike Accidents and How to Avoid Them
If you ride your bike every day, you may think you know all the rules of the road and how to obey them. Unfortunately, you can’t always rely on other motorists on the road to follow the rules. Know the most common causes of bike accidents and what you can do to prevent serious injury.
The “Right Cross”
This is likely the most common scenario to seasoned bikers. It occurs when a car turns right from a street, ally, or driveway, and strikes a biker who has the right of way. Either a motorist misjudges the speed of the biker, causing a crash, or they don’t give the cyclist enough time to react. Either way, these accidents are almost always a motorist’s fault, since they should be yielding the right of way.
Avoid It: Take steps to be visible to drivers, especially if you ride in the early morning or late in the evening. Use headlamps, reflective clothing, and a bike light to alert others to your presence.
The “Right T-Bone”
The right T-Bone is similar to a right cross, but occurs when a biker is in a crosswalk or on the side of the road and a motorist turns right into them, striking their side (forming a slanted T). This may happen simply because a driver doesn’t see a biker, or, more commonly, because they try to overtake a biker and cut them off. Motorists are often at fault for this because they fail to yield the right of way.
Avoid It: Ride closer to the left of the shoulder so drivers are forced to pass you more deliberately. Wearing reflective gear and plenty of lighting will alert drivers in inclement conditions.
The Door Clothesline
Many cyclists can relate to having to swerve to avoid opening car doors. In a door clothesline, a cyclist runs into an open door because the driver didn’t look before exiting their vehicle. In this instance, bikers have a viable claim for negligence, since the driver failed to be on the lookout for potential hazards.
Avoid It: Riding further along the road protects bikers against this painful problem, but often they feel guilty about holding up traffic. Allow cars to pass you, but also make sure you have a wide berth from any parked cars.
Cyclists are particularly concerned about being rear-ended when a car overtakes them, and for good reason. Rear-end accidents can cause your bike to flip, causing head, neck, and spinal injuries. Drunk drivers, in particular, are more likely to rear-end bikers. Cyclists who are rear-ended have viable grounds for personal injury claims, since drivers must assure a safe distance just as they would for other cars.
Avoid It: Helmets and neon reflective clothing may not be fashionable, but they just might save your life. Load up on reflective strips for your bike too. Though it may seem counterintuitive, it’s also helpful to ride closer to the road where drivers can see you. Don’t weave from sidewalks to the side of the road, and signal if you have to avoid road hazards like potholes or traffic cones.
You’ve Been Injured in an Accident: Next Steps
Bike accident injuries are often extensive enough to require long-term rehabilitation and care. These bills can run into thousands of dollars quickly. If you’ve been injured in a bike accident, call the bike accident attorneys at Fowler Pickert Eisenmenger Norfleet. Schedule a free case evaluation, and he’ll review the specifics of your case and help you decide on the best course of action. Don’t spend one more minute worrying about your bills – get in touch with our office today.
What About My Medical Expenses?
One of the things bicyclists worry about the most when they’re in an accident is how to pay for their medical expenses. Bike accident injuries, particularly when they involve cars, are often extensive. You may require weeks, even months, of hospital care and rehabilitation. Fortunately for accident victims, Missouri is a “fault” state when it comes to accidents, meaning you can file a claim with your own insurer, the at-fault driver’s insurer, or even a third party to pay your medical bills. Unlike no-fault states, there aren’t strict rules about who and when you can sue, though statute of limitation rules apply.
A police investigation determines who’s at fault for the accident. Make sure the officer files a report your legal team can use later.
I Disagree With a Fault Ruling
Insurance companies conduct their own investigations, and may come up with a different fault ruling than the police. Insurance companies are businesses, after all, and they want to avoid hefty payouts. If you think your fault ruling or settlement is unfair, get in touch with a personal injury attorney. Sometimes hiring a lawyer will cause an insurance company to change its offer.
We’re Committed to Kansas City Cyclists
The immediate aftermath of an accident can be scary. You may not know how to pay for your medical expenses, or even what your legal rights are. Hiring a personal injury attorney after a bike accident can help bring you peace of mind. Contact the attorneys at Fowler Pickert Eisenmenger Norfleet today for a free case evaluation. We operate on a contingency-fee basis, so you only pay if we win. Get in touch with us today.