What You Need to Know About Bicycle Accidents
Bicycling, like walking, is not only an enjoyable past time and form of exercise, but a critical mode of transportation for many people, as well. While many communities across Pennsylvania, including Lancaster County, have taken steps to make the roadways more bicycle-friendly, cyclists are still subject to significant risks.
Hazardous road conditions, poor street maintenance, and negligent drivers can put cyclists of any age in harm’s way, and can lead to serious injuries or even death. In 2010 alone, 1,483 bicycle crashes were reported in Pennsylvania, resulting in 1,474 injuries and 21 deaths. While there are many precautions you can take to protect yourself, sometimes accidents are unavoidable.
How can I protect myself while riding a bike?
We all have a responsibility to share the road with our fellow drivers and bicyclists. Though they utilize different forms of transportation, cyclists must still follow common traffic laws and remain alert while biking. In accordance with the Pennsylvania Vehicle Code, cyclists must:
- Ride in the same direction as traffic
- Stay to the right side of the road when riding more slowly than traffic
- Use lights and reflectors at night
- Keep brakes in good repair so you can stop within 15 feet when going 15 mph
- Signal stops and turns appropriately
- Follow relevant traffic laws when riding in a vehicle lane
By law, only children under the age of 12 are required to wear a helmet while biking, though the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation recommends everyone wear one to prevent head injuries. It is also suggested that bicyclists wear bright clothing and reflectors in order to increase their visibility to motorists.
What are the most common dangers to cyclists?
Despite following traffic laws and taking proper precautions, cyclists can still be the victims of a wreck. Just like motorcycles, bicycles are more affected by uneven roads, potholes, or other hazardous conditions than cars are. These imperfections in the road surface, as well as improper maintenance by local municipalities and government agencies can often lead to a crash.
Negligence on the part of a motorist is also a common cause of bicycle accidents, and can occur when the driver ignores traffic laws, uses the bike lane as a turning lane, fails to yield, or tries to pass you on a narrow road. Aggressive driving can also be the cause of an accident.
What should I do if I’m injured in a bicycle accident?
The most important thing to do if you’re injured in a biking accident is to seek proper medical attention. A doctor will not only tend to your injuries and see you get the proper treatment, but they will also document the extent of your injuries, which will serve as a critical record in case you choose to sue for damages.
Whenever you are able to do so, you should immediately contact legal counsel. A lawyer and their team will negotiate with auto insurance companies to reach a fair settlement for compensation for your bicycle wreck. They will also pursue legal action against the state or county if your accident was caused by poor street maintenance or other road hazards.
To speak to an experienced personal injury lawyer, contact the Georgelis Injury Law Firm, P.C. to schedule your free initial consultation. Because bike wrecks often occur outside of regular business hours, we make ourselves available in the evenings and on weekends, and we also make home, hospital and rehabilitation center visits if you are unable to travel.