Bicycle Accident Injuries: How to Protect Yourself and Preserve Your Legal Rights
Whether you are a serious, experienced bicyclist or someone who enjoys biking as a leisure activity, you can sustain an injury caused by distracted drivers or the failure to follow bicycle safety laws. In this blog, Attorney Dixon Gahnz discusses what you should do to protect yourself and preserve legal rights if you or a loved one is involved in a bicycle accident.
Bicycle Accident Basics
Bicycles are considered “vehicles” on Wisconsin roadways. Both drivers and bicyclists are required to obey the rules of the road. These rules include obeying traffic laws, such as signals and stop signs. The rules also include exercising ordinary care with respect to one’s own safety and the safety of others.
When an accident occurs, who is at fault usually is determined by who had the right-of-way – the car driver or the bicyclist. If you are the cyclist who was injured in an accident, the outcome on whether you can recover money damages will depend on two questions:
- Did the driver’s negligence cause the accident that resulted in injuries?
- Did your negligence contribute to the accident
How is negligence determined?
Bicycle accidents are usually caused by either the driver or the cyclist being negligent. Examples of driver negligence include speeding, running a stop sign or drifting into a bike lane. Examples of cyclist negligence include riding the wrong way on a one-way street, running a stop sign, or turning into traffic without proper signaling.
Bicyclist accident lawsuits are determined based upon the facts specific to each case. A negligent bicyclist who contributed to the cause of the accident may be unable to collected damages for injuries unless the driver’s negligence is found to be 50% or more.
What should I do and how can I preserve my legal rights if I am involved in a bicycle accident?
What happens immediately after a bicycle accident can impact your ability to recover for your injuries and the damage to your bicycle. The following lists things you should do:
- Wait for the police to arrive. Even if you think you have not been injured, it is important to file a police report. Make sure you get your version of the events into the police report.
- Get medical attention. Make sure that you receive the medical care and that you do not delay seeking treatment. Sometimes injuries do not become apparent until a few days after an accident. Sometimes what seems to be a minor injury turns into serious problems later.
- Document your injuries. It is a good idea to take photographs of injuries. You should also consider starting a journal of your physical symptoms and make entries every few days.
- Preserve damaged property. Do not attempt to fix your bike or any other property that was damaged during the accident. Do not send your bike, helmet or any other equipment to anyone other than your attorney. It is also helpful to take photographs of your damaged equipment.
- Seek advice from an attorney. Contact an experienced personal injury attorney to get advice on how to proceed with your case. Do not give a statement to a claims adjuster or insurance agent without consulting with an attorney first. Also, do not sign any documents without getting advice from an attorney. An experienced personal injury lawyer will deal with claims adjusters and negotiate with insurance companies so you can focus on healing.
Accidents involving bicycles can involve serious injuries that can result in large liabilities. Even the most careful cyclists cannot always avoid accidents. If you or a loved one has been injured in a bicycle accident, contact an experienced injury attorney as soon as possible. An experienced injury attorney will help you protect your rights, guide you through the legal process and help you receive the compensation you deserve for your injuries.