Cyclists v. Cars: The War Wages
The war between car drivers and cyclists seems to be reaching a boiling point in Illinois. Many residents choose to use the more environmentally friendly and cheaper option of commuting to work and throughout the city by bike, but for many, this commute is full of danger. Cyclists fear for their lives almost daily. While the law advises drivers to share the road a biker is no stranger to be honked or cursed at, and the bike lanes are often clogged with cars, forcing them to veer off into an unsafe path. Despite the obstacles, over the past 15 years, the number of bicyclists in the U.S has gone up 60%. However, with increased usage comes increased risk of collisions between bicycles, vehicles and even pedestrians. According to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 818 bicyclists were killed, and 45,000 cyclists were injured nationwide in crashes with just motor vehicles in 2015, which is the latest available report. With the number of cyclists rising, we can only wonder what that means for these deadly statistics.
While the law imposes some requirements on bicyclists, it also affords protection to them that drivers need to adhere to, which could save a life. All drivers are required to exercise ‘due care’ to avoid colliding with bicyclists which include the prohibition of opening doors into oncoming traffic to prevent dooring accidents. While dooring sounds like a biker may walk away with only a few scrapes and bruises, cyclists average around 15 mph, and if they unexpectedly hit an open door they can be catapulted several feet, resulting in broken bones, severe head trauma, and possibly death. Drivers are also required to maintain three feet from bicycles when passing on the left and are required to yield to bicyclists when traveling in an opposite or approaching direction to a bicyclist.
Damage from bicycle accidents can result in property damage and personal injuries. Property damage includes damage to your bike as well as any other belongings that you may be carrying when the accident occurred. Personal injuries may vary from minor hand injuries to fatalities. The most common injuries in bike crashes are hand/wrist fractures, broken collar bones, and ribs. These injuries can give rise to severe long-term problems such as arthritis, loss of smooth motion, nerve damage, psychological trauma, temporary or permanent disability and paralysis.
What should you do if you have been involved in a bicycle accident? If you have suffered damage to your property you should collect evidence like photographs of the accident and your injuries, other driver’s information like their contact number, license plate and insurance company information plus witness information when possible. Also, consider calling the police if they are not already present.
If you have been in an accident and suffered an injury you may be afraid and overwhelmed, so it’s important to have an emergency plan in place now. The first thing to do is call the police to make notes on the circumstances of the scene of the accident and then seek medical attention. The next step is to contact a personal injury attorney. A personal injury attorney can help you evaluate and possibly bring a claim against the negligent driver’s insurance company. If the negligent driver does not have insurance, you may have other options. Your claim may help you cover your medical bills, wage losses, and any other expenses that you may have incurred like damage done to your bike. The time limit for filing a claim for your personal injuries is two years from the date of the accident, whereas the time limit for property damage is five years, which means that if you do not file your claim within that period, you may be permanently barred from bringing that claim.
While a cycling accident may be severe and certainly traumatizing there is help. If you have been in a bicycle accident, please call us at 888.4.HAMMER