With few protections in the event of an accident, bicycle accidents are some of the most tragic accident types. And, accidents involving cyclists take the lives of hundreds of people each year – the Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center reports that in a single year, there were nearly 750 people killed in bicycle-motor vehicle crashes in the United States, or just under two people every single day.
While bicyclists are killed less frequently than are those who operate motor vehicles, it is important to note that bicyclists make up only one percent of all trips taken in the United States, yet account for more than one percent of all traffic fatalities.
Determining Fault In Bicycle Accidents
When an accident with a bicyclist occurs, determining fault is essential for the cyclists if they want to recover compensation for their injuries.
Remember, fault is based on negligence, or the failure to operate (a bike or car) with a reasonable level of care. One way to determine negligence is to determine whether or not any traffic regulations were violated, creating a dangerous situation.
In Indiana, bicyclists are held to the same standards as are motor vehicles – in fact, Section 9-21-11-2 of Indiana Traffic Regulations reads that, “A person riding a bicycle upon a roadway shall have the same rights and duties under this article that are applicable to a person who drives a vehicle.” If either operator acted in a manner that is not consistent with Indiana traffic code, then, this driver may be held liable for damages. Gathering evidence will be key to proving negligence.
As a note, many cyclists who are injured wonder whether or not there is a law regarding helmet use, and if so, how this will affect their claim. Indiana has no law regarding the use of helmets for bicycle riders. However, if you sustain a head injury, your lack of helmet may still be considered contributory negligence as you should have known that using a helmet could protect your head. You should always wear your helmet when riding your bike.
Common Injuries to Bicyclists
Based on the few protections that bicyclists are afforded (i.e. lack of seatbelts, doors, etc.), injuries sustained are often tragic. Common injuries include:
- External head and traumatic brain injuries;
- Road rash;
- Broken bone injuries;
- Serious scarring and disfigurement;
- Back, neck, and spinal cord injuries; and
- Internal injuries.
A cyclist who is involved in a crash may also sustain psychological injuries as well, such as post-traumatic stress disorder related to the crash, or depression related to scarring and disfigurement.
Filing a Claim and Recovering Compensation
In a bicycle accident, the liability insurance of the at fault driver is responsible for paying for the cyclist’s damages. If the cyclist carries certain insurance coverage types, such as medical payments coverage and health insurance, these may also be applied to help pay for damages. Of course, the cyclist also has the right to file a lawsuit directly against the negligent party.