Riding one’s bicycle can be both a wonderful alternative mode of transportation on a beautiful day and an excellent form of exercise. Unfortunately, however, traffic congested roadways are dangerous places for a minimally protected bicyclist, where an exhilarating bicycle ride can become the catastrophic and painful scene of an accident. Although there are numerous causes and types of bicycle accidents which will be further discussed below, bicyclists are statistically most likely to be involved in collisions with motor vehicles. According to the New York City Department of Transportation, from the beginning of October, 2011 until December 31, 2011 alone, 754 crashes between a bicycle and a motor vehicle were reported to the police in New York City with resulting injuries to bicycle occupants. These collisions are more likely to result in severe injuries to bicycle occupants than from any other kind of bicycle accident, causing such devastating injuries as dislocated joints, fractures, torn ligaments, spinal cord injuries, brain damage or even death. If you or a loved one has been involved in a bicycle accident and sustained injuries or someone close to you has died as a result, call the Law Offices of Ira M. Perlman, P.C. & Robert D. Rosen, P.C. for a free initial consultation regarding your legal rights in order to obtain full and fair compensation and damages due to your harms and losses.
Bicycle Accident Causes
Since bicycles are two-wheeled vehicles, they are inherently less stable and more vulnerable to serious accidents than your standard 4-wheeled motor vehicle. Poorly maintained roads, impaired visibility and negligence of other drivers on the public way unfortunately result in many forms of bicycle crashes . The lack of protection from outside factors when operating a bicycle all too often results in injuries which can range from insignificant scrapes and bruises to the opposite extreme, death .
The most typical cause of a bicycle accident is unfortunately the most dangerous cause as well, which is the accident caused by negligence by motorists. All too often, drivers of motor vehicles are not watching for bicyclists in their blind spots and fail to recognize the potential danger before it is too late. In 1999, a study performed by the US Department of Transportation in conjunction with the University of North Carolina created six common classifications for the cause behind all bicycle accidents:
- Failure to yield at an intersection by the motorist (21.7%) or by the bicyclist (16.8%)
- Unexpected or sudden turns by motorists into the path of an oncoming bicyclist (12.1%) or by bicyclists into the path of an oncoming motorist (7.3%)
- Failure by bicyclists, generally children, to yield at a mid-block location such as a residential driveway (11.7%)
- Motorists attempting to pass bicyclists (8.6%)
Bicycle Accident Injuries
Regardless of whether a bicyclist or a passenger on a bicycle is wearing all of the recommended protective gear including a helmet, protective clothing and padding, he or she is still more than likely to sustain serious injuries in the event of a collision with a motor vehicle. The most commonly documented forms of serious injuries from bicycle accidents include:
- Potentially infectious abrasions commonly known as road rash
- Fractures and broken bones
- Severed limbs
- Spinal cord injuries
- Traumatic brain injury
In order to receive the maximum amount of compensation for your injuries, you will need the help of competent attorneys like those at the Law Offices of Ira M. Perlman, P.C. & Robert D. Rosen, P.C. who are equipped with the knowledge, experience and the willingness to expend all necessary expenses to best evaluate and pursue your claim.
Fatalities and Wrongful Death
The harsh reality of riding a bicycle is that you are at great risk if an accident occurs, and deaths as a result are all too common. The sudden and unexpected loss of a family member or loved one to a bicycle accident can cause overwhelming sadness and grief, and it can also cause losses in various areas such as benefits, income, love and companionship. In the event of a wrongful death, it is suggested you read the Wrongful Death page in this website. It is important that if your family member or loved one died in a bicycle accident due to the negligent conduct of another driver, a defective bicycle, other defective equipment, or because of hazardous road conditions, you call the experienced and knowledgeable wrongful death attorneys at the Law Offices of Ira M. Perlman, P.C. & Robert D. Rosen, P.C. because you only have one opportunity to recover full and adequate compensation for all your losses.
Bicycle Accident Insurance
If the bicycle accident resulted from contact with a motor vehicle, the laws enacted in the State of New York, commonly referred to as No-Fault, will provide immediate benefits for the bicyclist which allow for coverage related to medical, remedial and certain health care expenses including lost earnings as defined by the State of New York Insurance law. This coverage is known as “Basic Economic Loss” or “No-Fault” and is available for up to $50,000.00 per person. The purpose of this coverage is to provide you with monies to cover medical costs, lost wages and other reasonable expenses shortly after the accident.
This No-Fault coverage is separate and apart from any lawsuit commenced by you or your loved ones for any pain, suffering, loss of enjoyment in life, debilitating and chronic injury or wrongful death associated with a bicycle accident which must be brought against all of the responsible parties in a court of law and has nothing to do with the No-Fault benefits which are available to the victim whether one chooses to sue or not to sue.
For a more detailed explanation concerning No-Fault benefits that arise due to an accident with a motor vehicle, see our website content on HOW ARE MEDICAL/HEALTH EXPENSES, LOST EARNINGS AND OTHER EXPENSES COVERED AS A RESULT OF A MOTOR VEHICLE ACCIDENT?
The Controlling Law
If there is an accident involving both a bicyclist and a motorist, New York law requires both the bicyclist and the motorist to use the same degree of care that a reasonably prudent person would have used under the same circumstances. What this means is that a motorist is required to keep a reasonably vigilant lookout for bicyclists as well as to sound the vehicle’s horn when a reasonably prudent person would do so in order to warn a bicyclist of danger in addition to operating the vehicle with reasonable care to avoid colliding with anyone on the road.
Likewise, the bicyclist is required to use reasonable care for his her or her own safety and to keep a reasonably vigilant lookout for vehicles and to avoid placing himself or herself in a dangerous position.
There are also vehicle and traffic statutes and laws which are required to be obeyed by both the motorist and the bicyclist. As an example, Section 1146 of the New York State Vehicle and Traffic Law provides that every driver of a vehicle shall exercise due care to avoid colliding with any bicyclist upon any roadway and shall give warning by sounding the horn when necessary. On the other hand, Section 1234(a) of the New York State Vehicle and Traffic Law provides that upon all roadways, any bicycle shall be driven either near the right-hand curb or edge of the roadway or upon a usable right-hand shoulder in such a manner as to prevent undue interference with the flow of traffic except when preparing for a left turn or when reasonably necessary to avoid conditions that would make it unsafe to continue along or near the right-hand curb or edge. Conditions to be taken into consideration include, but are not limited to, fixed or moving objects, vehicles, bicycles, pedestrians, animals, surface hazards or traffic lanes too narrow for a bicycle and a vehicle to travel safely side-by-side within the lane.
Furthermore, there are certain laws within the City of New York in the five boroughs which were enacted by the legislature in the City of New York which require bicyclists to use a bicycle lane or path which has been provided except when preparing to turn at an intersection or into a private road or driveway or, similarly to the state statute, when reasonably necessary to avoid conditions as described above. Furthermore, under New York City law, motorists are not permitted to drive on or across a designated bicycle lane except when it is reasonable and necessary to enter or leave a driveway, to enter or leave a legal curbside parking space, to cross an intersection, to turn within an intersection or to comply with the direction of any law enforcement officer. Further, under New York City law, any person operating a bicycle upon a roadway that carries traffic in one direction only and is at least forty (40) feet wide may ride as near as is practicable to either the left or the right hand curb or edge on such roadway provided that bicycles are not prohibited from using this particular roadway. These rules are stated in Section 4-12 of the Traffic Rules of the Department of Transportation of the City of New York.
Additionally, there are other statutes placing requirements upon motorists and bicyclists alike.
Every new bicycle must also be equipped with reflective tires or, alternately, a reflex reflector mounted on the spokes of each wheel pursuant to Section 1236(d) of the New York Vehicle and Traffic Law. Moreover, every bicycle, when in use during the period from one-half (2) hour after sunset to one-half (2) hour before sunrise, must be equipped with reflective devices or material meeting certain standards under New York Vehicle and Traffic Law Section 1236(e). In fact, Section 1236(a) of the New York Vehicle and Traffic Law requires every bicycle, when in use during this period of time, to have a lamp/light on the front of the bicycle which must emit a white light visible during hours of darkness from a distance of at least five hundred (500) feet to the front and with a red light visible to the rear for three hundred (300) feet. At least one of these lights must also be visible for two hundred (200) feet from each side. Additionally, it is unlawful to operate a bicycle unless it is equipped with a bell or other device capable of giving a signal audible for a distance of at least one hundred (100) feet.
However, particularly young children may not be charged with knowledge and understanding of traffic regulations. Moreover, a child under the age of four is incapable as a matter of law of understanding danger and cannot be found negligent and is not responsible for his or her acts. On the other hand, an older child who is able to understand provisions of the Vehicle and Traffic Law or local law may be found negligent if there has been a failure to obey various provisions and statutes under the law.
Obviously, there are a number of rules, regulations and statutes that become important in any type of bicycle accident case and only a lawyer knowledgeable and thoroughly familiar with all bicycle laws should be handling a bicycle accident lawsuit. The Law Offices of Ira M. Perlman, P.C. & Robert D. Rosen, P.C. have handled bicycle accident cases for over 30 years and are entirely familiar and experienced in recovering full compensation for you and your loved ones due to all harms and losses sustained as a result of such an accident.
It is important to realize that even when liability has been proven against the owner and/or operator of a motor vehicle involved in a motorist-bicyclist accident, the inquiry does not end there under the law in court. The reason for this is that in the State of New York, bicyclists who are the victims of motor vehicle accidents also have the duty act reasonably as well, as indicated above. Therefore, even if a jury has made a determination that a motorist or some other named defendant other than the bicyclist was negligent and responsible for causing an accident, the same jury will have the responsibility to determine whether or not the bicyclist victim himself or herself bears a percentage of liability or responsibility for contributing to the happening of the accident.
In plain English, this means that a jury has the capability of finding a defendant only partially responsible for a bicyclist’s accident whereby the accident victim who was riding the bicycle bears the remaining responsibility for the accident. For example, if a jury finds that the defendant motorist and the plaintiff bicyclist were equally at fault, then they would report back that each party was fifty (50%) percent responsible. However, if a jury found that one party was more at fault, the jury would assign a higher percentage to that party and a lower percentage to the other party, with the total of the percentages equaling one hundred (100%) percent.
Therefore, any combination of percentages between the parties is possible as long as the total of one hundred (100%) percent is reached. Very importantly, if the bicyclist victim is found to be partially at fault for causing the accident, then whatever amount of money is awarded to the bicyclist victim for his or her injuries, harms and losses will also be reduced in proportion to the percentage of liability found against the bicyclist victim. Therefore, if a jury awarded an bicyclist victim $100,000.00 for his or her injuries, that award would have to be reduced to $50,000.00 if the same jury found that the bicyclist victim was fifty (50%) percent responsible for the happening of the accident.
At the Law Offices of Ira M. Perlman, P.C. & Robert D. Rosen, P.C., our goal is to help our clients recover maximum compensation for all losses, both economic and non-economic. In any bicycle accident case, our goal is to make sure that no unfair or unjustified blame is assigned to our bicyclist client. Unfortunately, partial blame, or comparative negligence, is often unjustly placed upon the bicyclist merely because a person was on a bicycle on a busy street with motor vehicle traffic. This fact alone should not give rise to blame, but it is often used by defendants time and time again to conjure up some sort of bias or prejudice against people who utilize bicycles in and around the City and State of New York. The Law Offices of Ira M. Perlman, P.C. & Robert D. Rosen, P.C. will always protect its bicycle clients by negating any claim of unfounded comparative or contributory negligence which has no basis in a bicycle accident lawsuit.
HOW WE CAN HELP YOU
Ira Perlman and Robert Rosen have over 30 years of experience in winning their clients full and complete monetary compensation for their harms and losses as well as the respect and dignity they so justly deserve. Mr. Perlman is a tenacious and seasoned trial attorney who has been successfully trying his clients’ cases as well as cases referred to the office from other attorneys for over 30 years. Mr. Rosen, with his adept litigation and writing skills has navigated clients’ lawsuits inside and outside the courthouse in order to achieve the excellent results that generate their ongoing success. The Law Offices of Ira M. Perlman, P.C. & Robert D. Rosen, P.C. are prepared to expend all of the necessary resources, financial or otherwise, in order to investigate and prosecute your case including retaining all necessary medical and/or technical experts in the relevant areas and fields and taking your case to verdict at trial if the insurance companies who represent the wrongdoers do not want to fully and fairly compensate you and your loved ones. If you, a family member or a loved one has become a victim due to an accident, malpractice or a serious injury and you would like to achieve optimum results relating to your claims, call the Law Offices of Ira M. Perlman, P.C. & Robert D. Rosen, P.C. at 212-689-5000 for help now including a free initial consultation.