Causes of Bicycle Accidents
Bicycles are a popular form of transportation in Chicago, but they can also be dangerous. In 2018, there were more than 1,000 bicycle accidents in the city.
Were you injured in a bicycle accident and seeking financial compensation for your damages? At Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers, LLC, our personal injury attorneys are legal advocates for injured bicyclists harmed by another's negligence.
Contact our Chicago bicycle accident lawyers at (888) 424-5757 (toll-free phone number) or use the contact form today for legal advice and schedule a free consultation. All confidential or sensitive information you share with our legal team remains private through an attorney-client relationship.
Significant Causes of Bicycle Accidents
According to the Chicago Department of Transportation, there were 1,269 bicycle accidents in 2016. Of these bicycle injuries and fatalities, one-third occurred at intersections.
The number of cyclists on the road is growing every year due to insufficient bicycle safety laws. While this is a positive trend, more people are getting hit by cars or trucks while riding their bicycles, even in a bike lane.
Drivers often like to cite errant or reckless bicyclists as the cause for collisions or accidents, but their lack of attention or decision not to provide the right of way are normally the greatest contributing factors.
The Chicago bicycle accident attorneys of Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers LLC have helped thousands of bicyclists injured in auto accidents recover the compensation they were duly entitled to after being struck or doored by a negligent driver.
As a cyclist, however, it may benefit you greatly to understand the common causes of these accidents so that you can take a more active and defensive approach to stay out of harm's way.
Positioning Is a Key Factor in Bicycle Accidents
One of the most common causes of bicycle crashes is the bicyclist's position on the road relative to the motorist who collides with them.
Five different types of accidents can be attributed to the position of the bike or vehicle, which follow below:
- Dooring accidents: A bicycle dooring accident where the bicyclist runs into a parked car door opened into the bike path. It is common on busy streets with heavier traffic that forces bicyclists to ride closer to parked cars. Again, it is the responsibility of drivers to make sure that they check to ensure no bicycle or vehicle is coming before exiting their vehicles. The best way to avoid this is to move to the left. It places you into another precarious position.
- Side swiping bicyclists: Sideswipes occur when the motorist doesn't give the bicyclist enough room while passing. It is a common complaint by drivers that bicyclists get in the way of traffic when they move to the left, but the alternative is to place themselves at greater risk of being doored. Illinois law protects the bicyclist by requiring drivers to maintain a safe distance whenever overtaking any bicycle.
- Rear ending the bicyclist: Most drivers who rear-end bicyclists are not paying attention or are following way too closely. These accidents are common at stop signs and when a cyclist attempts to move left to move around parked cars.
- Crossing in front of the bike: "right cross" and "left cross" accidents have the same cause: a vehicle crossing into the bicyclist's path at an intersection or from a driveway or alley. The bike has entered the intersection when the turn is performed in both cases, and visibility is the primary factor. Drivers are either not paying attention or do not see the bicyclist. The best way to prevent these accidents is to wear clothing that makes you visible, use a headlight and reflective gear at night and ride further to the left so that you have more time to react.
- Turning bicycles drivers on their right side: If a bicyclist is to the right of a car at an intersection, they may be hooked by the vehicle if it is turning right. Many drivers do not check their blind spot s before making a right-hand turn. Riding farther to the left makes you more visible, as the driver will need to overtake you to perform their turn.
Overall, the best way to prevent bicycling accidents is for cyclists and motorists to be more aware of their surroundings. Bicyclists should always stay out of a driver's blind spot and ride defensively.
The law in Illinois requires that drivers provide reasonable clearance when overtaking any bicycle, especially involving an oncoming cyclist. However, motorists are not required to pass a bicycle when there is oncoming traffic.
Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers understands the many causes of bicycle accidents, and represent victims injured in all types of crashes.
Human Error and Distraction Play Pivotal Roles in Bicycle Accidents
Our Chicago bicycle injury lawyers have noticed that most bicycling accidents can be prevented if drivers are more aware of their surroundings and act more responsibly.
Distraction is a key cause in auto accidents as well as in accidents involving bicyclists. Unfortunately, new technologies and a fast-paced society have encouraged more people to multi-task behind the wheel, despite documented evidence that doing so increases their likelihood of being involved in a collision.
Other causes of bicycle accidents can include the following:
- Speeding: Excessive speed is one of the main causes of bicycle accidents involving motor vehicles. Drivers in a hurry have less time to react, which can be catastrophic for an unsuspecting cyclist.
- Weather: Many bicycle accidents happen during torrential downpours; sleet, ice, snow, or inclement weather is one of the common causes of bicycle accidents. Rush hours usually coincide with when the sun is best positioned to blind drivers with glare if they are driving into the sun. Bicyclists caught in a rainstorm are also much less visible and should wear reflective clothing or have a headlight to make their presence known.
- The influence of drugs and alcohol: Drunken driving is the cause of one out of every three auto-related fatalities, and bicyclists are at greater risk due to the limited protection. Therefore, there is no excuse for drivers to take the wheel while intoxicated and be held fully accountable for their actions.
- Reckless bicyclists: The act of riding a bicycle does not excuse someone from acting responsibly and safely. Unfortunately, many accidents involving bicyclists result from the cyclist making sudden movements into the path of vehicles, failing to make themselves visible, running stop signs or stop lights, or acting in an otherwise aggressive manner. These bicyclists place themselves at risk but may also put other cyclists in harm's way if riding in a group.
- Failure to follow traffic control devices: Drivers who fail to stop at a stop sign or light are dangerous to everyone. It is reasonable for bicyclists to expect vehicles to yield the right of way, but they should never assume that the driver will do so. And, even if the motorist does stop at a traffic light or for a stop sign, they may fail to yield to oncoming bicycles.
- Road Hazards: Drivers and bicyclists need to be aware of the hazards that exist on the road, such as broken glass, potholes, and railroad crossings. It is up to both groups to avoid these dangers by riding defensively.
- Distracted Driving: It is estimated that up to 660,000 drivers are using cell phones or manipulating electronic devices while behind the wheel of their car. Drivers who text while driving are 23 times more likely to be involved in a bike accident than those who do not use this technology. Using these devices behind the wheel endangers not only bicyclists but also other drivers and pedestrians.
- Inadequate Surveillance: Drivers depend on their sight when driving, but there are many other ways that a bicyclist can become visible to motorists. Make noise with a bell or horn or wear reflective gear to increase visibility. Studies have found that many drivers do not look for bicycle riders when they enter streets and intersections, increasing the risk of an accident.
Safety precautions around other vehicles can help prevent accidents when the driver fails to follow bicycle safety laws.
Bicycle accidents happen most often when the person riding fails to consider the driver is distracted or does not make eye contact while remaining at a safe distance of at least three feet, though sharing the roadway with larger vehicles traveling in the same direction.
Preventing Bicycle Accidents
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), many bicycle accidents involving severe injury or death can be prevented if both motorists and bicyclists follow certain safety precautions.
- Obey all traffic controls
- Identify hand signals when turning or changing lanes
- Yield to pedestrians on sidewalks
- Use designated bicycle trails to avoid accidents with cars
- Wear bright clothing for visibility during daylight hours
- Equip bicycles with a horn or bell for audible warnings
- Ensure that the bicycle is in proper working order
- Be alert and aware of surroundings, particularly when turning corners
- Obey posted speed limits
- Check mirrors before entering a street or changing lanes
- Yield to bicyclists and pedestrians when turning
- Avoid distractions such as cell phones, eating, or drinking
- Use caution when opening a motor vehicle door on the side of the street
Many of these preventative actions involve common sense, but bicyclists and motorists should always be aware of their surroundings and make an effort to stay safe.
Everyone has heard of the "look twice, save a life" slogan when driving or bicycling. The truth is that even the smallest action could mean the difference between life and death on the road.
Bicyclists should obey traffic laws and avoid dangerous behaviors such as running red lights or stop signs, riding against traffic, and riding in the opposite direction of oncoming cars so that motorists can see them.
If possible, bicyclists should also avoid riding at night when it is more difficult for drivers to see them.
Drivers should be more vigilant during rush hours and must be aware of children on bicycles or skateboards, pets being walked by their owners, and signs of inclement weather that may affect visibility while driving.
Types of Bicycle Injuries
Bicyclists who become involved in accidents with cars often suffer severe injuries to their head, neck, and back because these areas of the body are unprotected by shock-absorbing material such as an automobile's metal frame.
If a motor vehicle swerves suddenly and collides with a bicyclist, the force could cause bodily and spinal injuries and potentially lead to paralysis.
Bicycle accidents commonly cause damage to the knees, legs, and ankles because these areas of the body are frequently hit by motorists' vehicle bumpers or dragged beneath a car's tires during motor vehicle/bicycle crashes.
Riders who fall off their bicycles onto the roadway may be struck by oncoming cars if they are not seen in time to stop.
Additional Serious Injuries
According to our lawyers, bicycle accidents often lead to more than just physical injuries for bicyclists.
Many riders develop post-traumatic stress disorder or depression after being involved in a crash because they cannot return to work or engage in normal activities.
Many cyclists who are hit by cars end up with:
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Fractures and broken bones
- Cuts and lacerations
- Broken collarbone
- Whiplash injuries
- Neck and shoulder injuries
- Spinal cord injuries
- Temporary or permanent disability
- Total or partial paralysis including paraplegia, quadriplegia, or tetraplegia
- Broken ribs
- Punctured and collapsed lungs
- Internal bleeding and other organ damage
- Facial and skull fractures, including jaw fractures, eye socket fractures, and cheekbone fractures
- In addition to being extremely painful, road rash canlead to infections, including septicemia and necrotizing fasciitis ("flesh-eating" bacterial infection)
- Bicycle accidents can lead to life-threatening injuries that leave victims scarred for life, both physically and emotionally
Many cyclists involved in bike accidents with cars suffer from road rash due to skidding across the pavement. In some cases, the victims may experience paralysis if a fall from a bicycle results in a spinal cord injury.
In many states across the U.S., a driver who is found to be at fault for injuring or killing a bicyclist or pedestrian will be held responsible for compensating the cyclist for all damages, including medical expenses, lost wages, pain, and suffering, and more.
Insurance and Bike Accidents
A rider involved in a bike accident with an automobile driver could seek compensation from the at-fault party's insurance company. Victims often consider filing a claim because it can be costly to pay for expensive medical procedures and cover the costs of missing work while recovering from injuries.
Any motorist who fails to maintain awareness to avoid bicycle accidents can be held legally responsible for all damages when causing the crash. In addition, their insurance company will likely provide financial compensation in most bike accidents occurring in suburban and rural areas.
Although there has been a significant overall decline in bike accidents, many people die each year on bikes, especially in events involving urban bicycle accidents.
As a result, many communities have initiated car and bicycle share-the-lanes laws to minimize the human error and distraction that played pivotal roles in bicycle accidents.
Despite the best efforts made by bicyclists and motorists to avoid collisions, sometimes bike accidents occur. In those cases, both parties must understand their rights and be held responsible for any injuries resulting from a collision.
Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers LLC had helped many bicyclists recover fair compensation through a personal injury claim, especially when a negligent driver caused the accident.
Hiring a Personal Injury Attorney to Resolve a Bicycle Accident Case
As Chicago continues to become an even friendlier city for bicyclists, it is important to develop safe habits to stay safe on the roads and avoid fatal accidents involving bicycles and motor vehicles.
Drivers and bicyclists alike should be aware of the most common causes of bicycle accidents and apply appropriate measures to ensure their safety and those around them.
Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers LLC is an award-winning personal injury law firm representing the needs and interests of countless bicyclists who suffered devastating injuries in bicycle accidents.
Suppose you have been injured in an accident. In that case, we have the resources needed to connect you with the medical specialists needed to help you through your recovery and an expert legal team that has experience and success recovering damages on behalf of clients in similar positions.
Call our law firm at (888) 424-5757 (toll-free phone number) for legal advice in a free legal consultation. Learn more about what we can do to assure you the greatest chance of a successful financial recovery and how we can maximize the value of your case.
Your Chicago bicycle accident attorney will collect all of the information needed to evaluate and investigate your matter and will review all of your legal options with you so that you exactly know what you can expect each step of the way.
We also ensure every one of our clients that our services come risk-free on a contingency fee basis, and you will never be asked to pay attorneys' fees until we have secured damages on your behalf.