Bicycle Accident Attorneys in New Jersey
Many Americans use cycling as a form of transportation, exercise, sport, and recreation. It keeps them active and social and is better for the environment. Unfortunately, bicycling also has some drawbacks. One of the significant drawbacks is the risk of accidents and serious injuries posed by motor vehicles.
Those involved in these accidents often have thousands of dollars in medical bills, not to mention their pain and suffering as well as other challenges and financial hardships. They deserve compensation for their injuries. Sadly, it’s unlikely they will receive a fair financial recovery without putting up a fight, and it’s best to have a competent New Jersey bicycle accident attorney leading this fight.
While New Jersey tries to be a bike-friendly state for both commuters and athletes, accidents continue to happen. After a bike accident, discuss your options with Reinartz Law Firm. We represent injury victims and recover millions in compensation for medical bills and other losses.
Table of Contents
- Bicycle Accident Statistics
- What Causes Bicycle Accidents?
- Proving Negligence in a Bicycle Accident
- Common Bicycle Accident Injuries
- Injured in a Bicycle Accident? Contact an Experienced New Jersey Bicycle Accident Lawyer Today
Bicycle Accident Statistics
Most people don't understand what a significant problem bicycle accidents are in the U.S. today.
- Nearly 1,000 bicyclists lose their lives every year.
- Over 130,000 bicyclists suffer an injury in crashes on U.S. roads each year.
- Bicycle accident costs exceed $23 billion annually (including the costs of health care and lost work productivity, and approximate costs for lost quality of life and lost lives)
While individuals between the ages of 10 and 24 make up nearly one-third of all bicycle-related injuries seen in emergency rooms in this country, it’s those aged 55 to 69 who have the highest bicycle accident fatality rates. Males are six times more likely to die and five times more likely to suffer an injury compared to female bicyclists. Most bicycle fatalities happen in urban areas, and over two-thirds happen away from intersections. Approximately one-third of bicycle accidents involve alcohol.
What Causes Bicycle Accidents?
To hold the motorist who caused a bicycle accident accountable for your injuries and damages, you or your New Jersey bicycle accident attorney must prove that they were negligent in causing the crash. Just because someone hit you doesn’t necessarily mean that this specific driver was to blame. Although this is typically the case, the injured victim must prove it. Therefore, you need to affirmatively show that the driver is responsible for your losses for your injury case to be successful.
How do you establish that the driver who hit you was negligent? It usually begins with an investigation into how the accident occurred. Your New Jersey bicycle accident lawyer has the experience, skills, and resources to perform such an investigation. The most common causes of bicycle accidents are the following.
Distracted driving happens all the time. It’s a leading cause of all car accidents, including those with bicycles. Suppose a driver pays attention to their phone or something else rather than their surroundings. In that case, they are much more likely to cause an easily preventable crash.
Common forms of driver distraction include:
- Adjusting the car’s infotainment system
- Eating and drinking
- Personal hygiene tasks
- Talking to passengers
- Dealing with kids or pets inside the vehicle
- Paying attention to something outside of the vehicle, such as when passing a recent accident
- Reading and responding to text messages.
- Dialing phone numbers
- Talking on the phone
- Using social media
Not Leaving an Adequate Buffer
The more room between a vehicle and a bicycle, the safer the bicyclist is. However, most motorists fail to leave adequate buffers between them and the bikes around them. Drivers who follow cyclists too closely or pass within less than three feet of them create dangerous situations. First, these drivers are more likely to crash into a bicyclist, and they also leave the bicyclist (and themselves) with much fewer options to avoid potential crashes.
Speeding increases a driver's stopping distance and time and also decreases the time they have to make decisions behind the wheel. Even though high-speed collisions are more likely to cause severe, catastrophic, or even life-threatening injuries, accidents at relatively low speeds can be extremely hazardous for cyclists.
Weaving Through Traffic
Motorists who weave through traffic are less likely to see bicyclists sharing the road. These drivers are also less likely to have the ability to make evasive maneuvers to help avoid collisions. Weaving drivers drift outside their traffic lanes and into bicycle lanes and shoulders.
Unsafe Lane Changes
Even if a driver isn’t weaving, a single unsafe lane change still puts bicyclists at risk. Bike accidents arising from unsafe lane changes usually result from motorists merging into cyclists’ lanes without ensuring that the lane is clear.
Turning Without Looking
Drivers might have a green light to turn at an intersection, but they often forget they still must look for bicyclists and pedestrians attempting to cross the road. Turning without checking for bikes is a frequent and preventable cause of bicycle accidents at intersections.
Running a Red Light or Stop Sign
Whether in neighborhoods, suburban areas, city centers, or other urban locations, running red lights and stop signs is often the cause of intersection accidents involving bicycles. Running a traffic sign or signal in any situation, however, the risks increase when drivers don’t look for bicyclists who have the right of way.
Failing to Yield
Another form of reckless or careless driving that presents severe risks for bicycle riders is the failure to yield. Many different circumstances require drivers to yield to oncoming traffic whether that traffic is a motor vehicle or a bicycle, including roundabouts and intersections with merging lanes.
People who decide to drive drunk or use drugs and then operate a motor vehicle are a danger to themselves and everyone else on the road. Alcohol and drug use significantly decreases a driver's ability to make wise decisions and prevent accidents. Unfortunately, those that drive under the influence of drugs or alcohol cause too many collisions involving bicyclists.
Driver Drowsiness or Fatigue
Recent studies show that the risks of driving while fatigued are similar to those of driving while impaired. Drivers who are out early in the morning, late at night, or those trying to get home after a long shift can increase the risk of causing serious collisions due to fatigue. Fatigued driving is also a significant factor in accidents involving commercial trucks, like semi-trucks.
No matter what happened to cause your accident, if you suffered serious injuries due to a motor vehicle, you must meet with a New Jersey bicycle accident attorney as soon as possible.
Proving Negligence in a Bicycle Accident
Negligence is usually the basis for most personal injury claims, bicycle accident cases included. If someone is negligent, they fail to act in a way that a reasonably prudent individual should act in the same situation. Someone’s negligence can make them liable or legally responsible for the damages they cause. However, you must prove that they were negligent and caused you to suffer injuries.
When you meet with an attorney to discuss your case, they will be evaluating your cause for merit.
In doing so, they will be looking to see if they can prove the following elements of negligence:
- Duty: The driver owed you a duty of care. Most of the time, this is easy to establish based on traffic laws. For example, all drivers must stop at red lights and yield to bicyclists in crosswalks.
- Breach of Duty: The driver who caused your accident breached their duty. Perhaps they failed to give you enough space or cut you off while in the bike lane.
- Proximate Cause: The driver’s breach of duty was the direct cause of your injuries.
- Damages: Your injuries resulted in compensable damages, such as medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering.
If they can't prove any of these elements, your bicycle accident case won't likely succeed.
The Importance of Evidence
A large part of proving these elements relies on evidence. While some evidence is available no matter what such as your medical records and bills, other pieces of evidence can quickly be changed or destroyed. For instance, tire skid marks on the road or the condition of the car that hit you can be valuable evidence.
Collecting some pieces of evidence as soon as possible after an accident is imperative. A bicycle accident attorney in New Jersey can immediately collect and preserve valuable evidence when it's fresh.
Common Bicycle Accident Injuries
Bicyclists are extremely vulnerable in the event of an accident. They lack the safety features and gear afforded to drivers and their passengers in a vehicle, such as seat belts, airbags, and crumple zones. Even with helmets and protective shoes, clothing, or gear, bicyclists still often sustain serious and even life-threatening injuries in these types of accidents.
Typical bicycle accident injuries include:
- Brain injuries - They range from cuts and scrapes to concussions and traumatic brain injuries (TBI). The head can be jostled around and hit the pavement during an accident leading to many different injuries even if the cyclist is wearing a helmet. A helmet can decrease the severity of a head injury. Some head injuries are life-threatening, and others may change a person forever, leading to seizure disorders, personality changes, and problems with sleep and memory.
- Spinal cord injuries (SCI) - May result in temporary or permanent paralysis and require lifelong and extensive medical care and rehabilitation. The spinal cord can become bruised or severed due to trauma from a bicycle accident.
- Back and neck injuries - The back and neck can suffer fractures, whiplash, slipped discs, and various other injuries in a bicycle accident. Some may require surgery and rehabilitation. They can be quite painful and even debilitating.
- Broken bones - Especially ribs, pelvis, and legs but also arms, ankles, wrists, and the skull are pretty common fractures in bicycle accident victims. Some may require little medical attention and heal on their own in weeks; others require surgery, rehabilitation, and months of recovery time to heal. Some broken bones may have lifelong implications.
- Internal injuries - Bicyclists may suffer damage to their internal organs, such as bruising or a puncture from a broken rib or pelvis. They can also experience internal bleeding, which can be life-threatening.
- Road rash - A bicycle accident can cause the skin to rub against concrete, asphalt, or other surfaces, resulting in road rash. While some cases of road rash can be rather superficial, some can be deep, even exposing muscle or bone. Road rash puts victims at risk for infection, scarring, and other complications.
- Mental and emotional injuries - Being involved in a bicycle accident is an undeniably traumatic experience. Some people may suffer post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, anxiety, insomnia, recurring nightmares, and other mental health issues after such an accident. They may require medications and therapy, and even then, they might never recover from these injuries.
Injured in a Bicycle Accident? Contact an Experienced New Jersey Bicycle Accident Lawyer Today
Whether you ride your bicycle on your daily commute, for exercise, or you are a serious cyclist, the reality is that you are at risk every time you get out on the road. Even though bicyclists are entitled to the same privileges and rights as motorists, it’s no surprise that many drivers treat bike riders as second-class citizens.
Motorists routinely put cyclists in dangerous situations, from riding on cyclists' back wheels to passing with barely any room to spare; careless or inattentive drivers can cause accidents before they even notice a bike rider.
Bicycle accidents often result in serious injury and financial damages. If you or a family member recently suffered injuries in a bicycle accident, we can pursue the compensation you deserve on your behalf. At Reinartz Law Firm, we have many years of experience handling personal injury cases and a proven track record of success.
Contact us today at (201) 778-HURT for your confidential, free consultation.
The Reinartz Law Firm - Hackensack Office
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