Bike Accident Injuries: Causes & Legal Options (2024)

Reviewed By Adam Ramirez, J.D.


Read in 6 mins

Nearly 1,000 bicycle-related fatalities and 130,000 bike accident injuries occur on U.S. roads annually, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. These roadshare accidents cost $23 billion yearly.

If you or a loved one has been struck as a cyclist by a car, this guide can help you understand the causes, your legal remedies, and available compensation options.

Common Accident Causes

Besides a helmet, a cyclist is fully exposed to road dangers. The National Highway Safety Administration says car accidents cause the most frequent and severe bicycle injuries. The driver is most typically at fault.

The most common causes for cycling accidents include:

  • Distracted Driving: Texting and other distractions create dangerous driving conditions for cyclists and drivers alike.
  • Bad Road Conditions: Poor weather conditions like snow or rain and hazardous roadways compromise a cyclist’s safety.
  • Left Cross Turns: Responsible for over half of all cyclist accidents, these collisions occur when the driver attempts a left turn without seeing an oncoming cyclist.
  • Dooring and Right Hook Hazards: Commonly, dooring occurs when a driver opens their door and strikes an approaching cyclist. Also dangerous, right hook collisions happen when a driver attempts a right turn and hits an oncoming cyclist.

If a traffic violation is involved, the driver could be automatically liable for negligence per se.

Drivers can also be negligent by:

  • Failing to yield right of way
  • Speeding
  • Driving drunk
  • Tailgating a cyclist
  • Improperly parked vehicles
  • Aggressively overtaking
  • Passing too closely
  • Honking

Cyclist Missteps and Equipment Failures

Cyclists must exercise caution, or duty of care. Failure to do so or even bicycle malfunctions commonly cause:

  • Failure to yield right of way
  • Not cycling in the indicated bike lane
  • Running a stop sign or traffic light
  • Cycling into oncoming traffic
  • Aggressive overtaking
  • Sidewalk riding

Roadway Hazards

Road defects such as potholes and unevenly paved roads can also cause accidents. Other examples include:

  • T-junctions
  • Roundabouts
  • Painted lines and wet metal
  • Railroad tracks

If you feel poor roadway conditions are to blame for your bike accident, you could seek government compensation. Continue reading to find out more.

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What To Do After A Bike Accident

Here’s what to do after being hit by a car:

Wait for Police Help

Call for emergency help and get a police report about what happened. Ensure that your version is recorded and try to get the driver ticketed. If you’re involved in a hit-and-run, wait for police help.

Don’t Try to Negotiate with the Driver

What you say after the accident matters. Don’t argue with the driver. Just get their identifying details.

Take Photos

Remember to take photos and videos of where the accident happened, any hazards, and any damage to you and the vehicle. Also get any witness contact details.

Document What Happened

Write down what happened for a clearer recollection.

Contact Your Insurance Provider

Reach out to your insurance company. Your accident notes may prove helpful.

Common Bike Accident Injuries

Your injuries could heal quicker if you know what to do right after the accident. You may not feel like you need to see a doctor because you may not immediately feel your injuries. However, it’s often best that you do. Get an early diagnosis to minimize your recovery time and preserve your claim.

Injuries can range from immediate to long lasting depending on where and to what extent you have been hit. Here are some common injuries:

Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBI)

Depending on the severity of a head injury, you might have a concussion or a TBI. Normal brain function can sometimes not be regained after a TBI.

Back Injuries and Fractures

Bicycle accident injury affecting the neck, back and spinal cord can cause herniated disc injuries and back sprains. Paralysis can even occur. Whiplash, broken bones and fractures are also common. An injured cyclist might even need surgery or physical therapy.

Soft Tissue Damage and Road Rash

Cuts, contusions, and abrasions are typical. Road rash and surface burns are also common and can heal relatively quickly.

Lingering Effects

Compounding your injuries are any emotional scars. Make sure to get the therapeutic support you need.

Who Owes You for Your Bike Accident Injuries?

As mentioned, your entire claim turns on proving who was negligent or at fault in the accident.

Establishing Fault

If the driver was negligent, you stand to recover from them or their insurance provider. However, if you feel you might be somewhat to blame, you could still recover if you live in a comparative fault state. Here, if the driver was 80% at fault, you could recover 80% worth of the damages. However, if you lived in a contributory fault state, you can not claim anything if you were partially at fault.

Your Best Evidence

Cycling accidents come down to who was negligent and how severe the damages were. Here are some questions to consider:

  • Did the driver’s negligence cause direct injury to you?
  • How serious are your injuries?
  • Did you cause or contribute to the accident in any way?

These cases can be hard-fought and emotionally draining. Because proving such an accident can often be complex, it might be best to consult an attorney.

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Recoverable Damages

You may be entitled to recover:

  • Medical Expenses
  • Lost Wages
  • Property Damage
  • Pain and Suffering

Pursuing an insurance claim with an adjuster can be frustrating, especially when you’re trying to heal. An expert attorney could help.

Pursuing Secondary Compensation

The following secondary options might better compensate you for your injuries:

  • Health, Auto and Home/Renter Policies: Hidden coverage options might exist in your own insurance. Your driver’s insurance policy may include a personal injury protection (PIP), medical payments (MedPay) plan or uninsured/underinsured motorist (UM/UIM) coverage that could help with injury costs.
  • Manufacturer Liability: If your accident was caused by faulty bike manufacturing like defective brakes, you could recover from the bike maker.
  • Employer Liability: If the driver was on the job during the accident, the employer might be vicariously liable. You might be paid more because of their deeper pockets.
  • Government Liability: If a faulty traffic light or other roadway defect caused the accident, then you could be compensated by your local, city or state government.
  • Driver’s At-Fault Personal Liability: Depending on the degree of recklessness and harm, you might also be able to negotiate a personal settlement or directly sue the driver.

The Clock is Ticking

Although you need to recover from your injuries, time is of the essence. The statute of limitations requires that you file your claim before it expires. Typically, you can file a lawsuit within one to three years after the accident. It could be longer, so check with your local courts.

Get the Legal Help You Need for Your Cycling Accident Injuries

If you or a loved one has experienced a bike accident, don’t handle the claim on your own. A personal injury lawyer is ready to help you get back on the road to recovery.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Head injuries are the most frequent type of injury in a bike accident. This can range from contusions to traumatic brain injuries (TBI). You reduce the chances and gravity of a head injury by 85% by wearing a helmet.

  • After a bike accident, the body often suffers traumas to the head, spine, soft tissue and bones, especially in the arms and legs. Accidents come not only at a physical cost, but the medical and psychological toll is also high.

  • For those with sprains, fractures or broken bones, recovery time usually takes two months. For more minor injuries, healing time takes less. Remember not to overexert yourself to try to heal quicker.

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