In 2012, the number of bicyclists killed in motor vehicle crashes jumped to 726 fatalities—a 6% increase from 2011. In addition, 49,000 bicyclists suffered serious injuries in a variety of traffic accidents that could have been avoided. Even more surprising is that the majority of bicycling deaths now occur in urban areas (69%), and male riders represent 88% of cyclists that are injured or killed.
If you or someone you love is injured in a bicycling accident in Washington, D.C., Maryland, or Virginia, the experienced bicycle accident attorneys at Patrick Malone & Associates can help. Call us today at 1-202-742-1500 or 1-888-625-6635 or fill out our confidential contact form for a FREE Consultation and review of your case.
Bicycling in Washington, D.C.
Washington, D.C. is a biker friendly city with miles of multi-use bike trails throughout the city. D.C. residents and visitors alike can enjoy beautiful biking excursions along the Potomac, through Arlington, Virginia, or through Washington DC all the way to Cumberland, Maryland. In addition, nearly all major streets in Washington, D.C. have protected bike lanes to help improve biking safety.
Washington, D.C. is also home to a very popular bike-sharing program known as Capital Bikeshare! This program allows anyone to stop in and rent one of more than 2500 bicycles and ride it anywhere across Washington, D.C., Arlington and Alexandria, Virginia, and Montgomery County, Maryland. Cyclists can then return the bike to any station 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
Yet even with all of these biker-friendly options, bicyclists in Washington, D.C. are vulnerable to inattentive and careless drivers.
Bicycle Injuries are Often Severe
Bicycles do not offer their riders protection from the dangers of the road. Even potholes can prove hazardous. As such, when bicyclists are involved in accidents with other vehicles, their injuries are often life-threatening and catastrophic, even in accidents that occur at low speeds. Even when bicyclists take appropriate safety precautions and wear helmets, their injuries can result in permanent disability and even death.
Types of Injuries Sustained in Bicycle Accidents
Common bicycle accident injuries include:
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Spinal cord injuries
- Broken bones
- Crushing injuries
- Soft tissue injuries
- Back injuries
- Disfigurement and scarring
- Road burns and severe abrasions
- Internal organ damage
- And more
Common Types of Bicycle Accidents
There are numerous ways a bicycle accident could occur in Washington, D.C., including:
- Car door accidents – it’s not just moving cars that pose a danger to bicyclists. Parked cars are hazardous as well. In urban areas, a driver may quickly park his or her car and then open the door into the path of an oncoming bicyclist. Dooring accidents account for less than 2% of all crashes; however, they can cause serious and fatal injuries to cyclists.
- Crossing an intersection – other drivers simply aren’t watching out for bicyclists on their path. Since bicycles have lower profiles, distracted drivers often fail to recognize them on the road, especially at intersections. A car may turn left or right across an intersection and directly into a bicyclist that is crossing at an intersection.
- Riding against traffic – bicyclists are supposed to ride with the flow of traffic. Some cyclists, however, feel safer riding against traffic because they can see the vehicles as they approach. This can be dangerous. It is estimated that riding against the flow of traffic accounts for a quarter of all bicycle accidents.
- Rear-end at a stoplight – it is not uncommon for a car to simply not see a bicyclist at a stop sign or stoplight. As a result, they may overtake the cyclist and hit them from behind. This is especially common when visibility is low or at sunset when the sun may blind drivers from seeing everything on the road.
- Sideswipe accidents – drivers may veer out of their lane and into the bike lane, sideswiping bicyclists in the process. Drivers will almost always say the bicyclist rode too far to the left in order to pass the blame.
Common Causes of Bicycle Accidents
A bicycle accident can occur at any time and to anyone on the road. Small children are often victims because their small size makes them easy for motorists to overlook. In addition, small children may take risks and dart out across the street without using proper safety procedures. Yet car drivers are responsible for the majority of bicycle accidents.
Common causes of bicycle accidents include:
- Using a cellphone while driving
- Distracted driving
- Failure to allow an adequate clearance when passing bicyclists on the road
- Making a left turn into a bicyclist
- Failure to yield the right of way to a bicyclist at an intersection
- Aggressive driving
- Driving impaired
- And more
Ways to Avoid a Bicycle Accident
Not all bicycle accidents can be prevented. However, with a little planning and care, many bicycle accident injuries can be minimized. In order to reduce the risk of serious injury, consider taking the following steps:
- Always wear a properly fitted bicycle helmet at all times
- Use hand signals when appropriate
- Always ride in a designated bike lane whenever possible
- Obey all road laws
- Wear bright and reflective clothing
- When riding at night, use a bike light and reflectors
- Ride with the traffic and not against it
- Use rear-view mirrors on your bike
What to Do After a Washington D.C., Bicycle Accident
If you have been injured in a bicycle accident, it is important to know what you can do to increase your chances of recovery. Bicycle accidents are notoriously catastrophic, and injured accident victims may be struggling with a serious and debilitating injury after an accident. Nevertheless, it is important to know what steps to take after a bicycle accident.
- Call 911 – if you are able, call 911 or have someone call 911 for you. It is important to have the police arrive at the scene to gather evidence and fill out their police report.
- Seek medical attention – bicycle accident injuries can be severe and life-threatening. Seeking medical attention quickly could be the difference between life and death. Even if you don’t believe that you are seriously injured, it is best to be examined by an emergency room physician.
- Gather evidence – take pictures of the accident scene, your injuries, and document any details from the event. Gather the names and contact information of the driver, as well as any eyewitnesses who may have seen the accident.
- Get legal advice – bicycle accident cases are often complex, and injuries may be severe. As such, it is best to have an experienced bicycle accident attorney on your side throughout the legal process. Your attorney will be able to negotiate a higher settlement with the insurance company and ensure you have the money you need to put your life back together again.
Act Quickly After a Bicycle Accident
In Washington D.C., injured bicycle accident victims only have three years from the date of their accident to file a claim. This is known as the statute of limitations. If you miss this deadline, you could be prevented from filing a claim in the future.
Hiring an attorney is the best way to ensure that you do not miss any critical deadlines during the legal process. Your attorney will be able to negotiate with the insurance company throughout to obtain maximum compensation for your injuries. Without an attorney on your side, insurance companies may try to take advantage of you and your injuries.
Recovering from a Bicycle Accident
Even accidents that occur at relatively low speeds can cause serious harm to bicyclists. As a result, recovering from a bicycle accident may take months, even years, and sadly, some cyclists will never ride again. Injured bicyclists need an attorney on their side who understands the long road to recovery and who can obtain the compensation they need to cover medical expenses—both now and in the future.
During recovery, injured cyclists may require extensive physical therapy, hospitalizations, multiple plastic surgeries, and even disability equipment. In addition, the cost of pain medications, doctors’ visits, and even in-patient care facilities can threaten to financially cripple families who are already struggling. When the injured cyclist is the breadwinner for the family, the loss of wages and reduced income could even result in bankruptcy or foreclosure for families in crisis.
Injured bicycle accident victims are able to seek compensation for non-economic and economic damages after a crash. The “at fault” driver’s insurance company should also pay for these damages. In general, injured cyclists are able to seek compensation for:
- Medical expenses
- Rehabilitation costs
- Long-term care
- Future medical expenses
- Lost wages
- Loss of future earnings
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of consortium
- And more
Bicycle Accident FAQ
- What if I am hit by an uninsured driver? If you have purchased UM/UIM insurance, you may be able to file a claim with your insurance company even if you are injured as a bicyclist. Your attorney can review the details surrounding your accident and help you determine how to obtain the maximum compensation after a crash.
- The insurance company said I was to blame for the accident, now what? Insurance companies notoriously try to shift the blame back onto injured cyclists. They may claim you weren’t riding in the bike lane or they may state that you aren’t as injured as you claim to be. When this occurs, it is important to have an attorney on your side who can fight for you and your rights to full compensation.
- What if I am uninjured? Do I still need to call 911? – YES. Even if you believe that you are uninjured, you still need to file a police report after an accident. This police report will help your attorney establish liability and make it easier for you to collect compensation. Without the police report, it will be just your word against the other driver’s. In addition, you should be examined by a medical professional. Failure to do so could jeopardize your ability to file a claim.
Contact Bicycle Accident Lawyers
At Patrick Malone & Associates, our bicycle accident lawyers understand how truly devastating bicycle accidents can be for families in the Washington, D.C. metro area, Virginia, and Maryland. We also know the extensive medical care you may require as a result of your injuries.
Our accident attorneys work tirelessly from the very start to ensure that all our injured clients receive the compensation they need to fully recover. Call us at 1-202-742-1500 or 1-888-625-6635 or fill out our confidential contact form for a FREE Consultation and review of your case.