Our Attorneys Can Help If You or a Loved One Suffered Injuries in a Bicycle Accident in Olympia
Cycling is a popular pastime in Olympia and other areas of Washington. Unfortunately, traveling by bike on roads with so many vehicles creates significant danger for riders.
Even if you are wearing a helmet and other protective gear, injuries in a bicycle accident can be serious. These injuries can affect you and your family for years to come.
If you are injured by a motor vehicle while on a bicycle, the motor vehicle insurance coverage of the at-fault vehicle may be able to pay your medical bills and wage loss even before your claim is resolved. The attorneys at Fuller and Fuller can help you with this. A Fuller and Fuller attorney can give you IMMEDIATE guidance on insurance coverage, your rights as an accident victim, and how you can prove your injury and financial loss from the accident.
When you hire Fuller & Fuller, our attorneys respond as soon as possible if you contact us with questions or concerns about your case. We will be in contact with you every step of the way, from settlement negotiations and review of pending offers to going to court if necessary.
Common Injuries in Bicycle Accidents
Bicycles are at a decided disadvantage in encounters with motor vehicles. According to data gathered by the Washington Traffic Safety Commission over a five-year period, bicyclists and pedestrians accounted for over 18% of deaths and over 22% of serious injuries in traffic accidents.
Some of the major injuries bicycle accident victims suffer include:
- Traumatic brain injury
- Broken bones
- Road rash
- Spinal cord injury, including paralysis
- Damage to the discs in the neck and back
- Cuts and lacerations
- Internal injuries
These injuries are serious and require immediate medical attention. You may need to undergo multiple types of treatment, including one or more surgeries, and lengthy recovery and rehabilitation to restore function. Unfortunately, some of these injuries may result in lifelong impairments.
As the statistics from the Washington Traffic Safety Commission show, the potential for fatal injury in a bicycle accident is high. If you tragically lost your loved one due to injuries sustained in a cycling accident, our lawyers can pursue a wrongful death claim on your family’s behalf.
What Are the Causes of Bicycle Accidents?
Crashes involving bicyclists often happen due to the same reasons that motor vehicle accidents and other related collisions occur. The difference, however, is that people on bikes have significantly less protection from injury than those in a passenger vehicle.
Although Washington State law treats bicycles the same as motor vehicles when riding on roadways, vehicles take up significantly more of the road. As a result, negligence on the part of a driver poses a risk not only to other cars but to cyclists as well.
Some of the leading causes of bicycle accidents involving negligence on the part of the driver include:
- Distracted driving due to:
- Cell phone use
- Passengers and pets in the vehicle
- Eating or drinking
- Putting on makeup
- Loud music
- Driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs
- Running a red light or stop sign
- Failure to yield
- Aggressive driving, such as tailgating and improper passing
- Drifting into another lane, the shoulder, or a bike lane
- Failing to check blind spots when making a right turn
- Failing to check the oncoming lane when making a left turn
Negligence resulting in a bicycle accident can also occur when a vehicle is stationary, when no crash takes place, and even with no car at all.
Open Door Bike Accidents
Depending on the design of the road, parked vehicles can present considerable danger to bicyclists. Drivers and passengers behind them may open the door to exit their vehicle without first checking the blindspot. If a bike is passing on the driver’s side at the moment this happens, colliding with the door can cause serious injuries.
In addition to the preliminary impact with the door, the accident can then cause a cyclist to fall into the road or propel them into an intersection. This creates the risk of secondary injury from other vehicles traveling on the road.
Near-Miss Bicycle Accidents
In some cases, a bicycle accident may occur with no contact between the bike and the negligent driver’s vehicle. When a driver is careless behind the wheel, cyclists are often forced to take evasive action by braking, changing direction, and more. This may prevent collision with the negligent driver, but the possibility for danger still exists.
Evasive maneuvers may put the cyclist in the path of another vehicle. You may strike the curb, a tree, or another object. You may be run off the road, which could present many additional hazards depending on the terrain.
Just because the negligent driver didn’t hit you does not mean he or she may not be liable for your injuries. Our lawyers will perform a thorough investigation and take action on your behalf if the driver’s negligence resulted in a “near-miss” that you were injured while trying to avoid.
Bicycle Accidents on Dangerous & Defective Roads
Washington has been repeatedly ranked the most bicycle-friendly state in the country by The League of American Bicyclists. However, this does not mean that the roads in Olympia and other communities are free from dangers that can cause injuries to riders.
Some of the most common roadway safety issues that can cause bicycle accidents include:
- Cracks in the pavement
- Lack of bike lanes and other design issues that bring cars and bikes too close together
- Hydroplaning and freezing caused by Insufficient grading of the road
- Poor drainage, resulting in buildup of gravel, silt, dirt, and debris
- Damaged guardrails
- Missing or damaged road signs
- Faded paint on the road surface
A dangerous or defective road may result in an accident involving only a bicycle, or it could cause a crash between a bike and one or more vehicles. In such cases, the liable parties may include the municipal agency responsible for the road, the construction company that built the road, and/or subcontractors who may have caused the defect or danger.
What to Do After a Bicycle Accident
You may need to be transported immediately to the hospital if your bicycle accident injuries are severe enough. However, in the event that you don’t require urgent treatment, there are a few things you can do to start building your case:
- Get information from the driver(s) involved: Just like in a motor vehicle accident, you want to gather the name, driver license number, contact details, insurance information, and license plate number for the driver who caused the accident. Do the same for each driver if more than one vehicle is involved.
- Speak to witnesses: Ask anybody on the scene what they saw and take down their name and contact information.
- Take pictures: Photographic evidence showing the immediate aftermath of the accident is key. Take pictures of your bike and the vehicles involved, as well as the roadway and surrounding area to show conditions at the scene.
- Give a statement to the police, but be careful: If a police officer is called to the scene of the accident, give an honest account of what happened. Do not embellish or offer more information than necessary, as the insurance company for the at-fault driver will scrutinize anything you say that winds up in the officer’s report.
- Seek timely medical attention: Having taken these preliminary steps, you should go to the doctor as soon as possible. Just because you weren’t taken in an ambulance doesn’t mean you are free and clear from potentially serious injuries. Furthermore, a delay in seeking care may be used against you by the insurance company if you take action at a later date.
- Contact a bicycle accident lawyer: It is in your best interest to seek legal representation sooner than later after an accident. An attorney can investigate your case and handle interactions with the insurance company, preserving your legal rights and giving you time to focus on recuperation.
Near-misses and hit-and-run accidents are unfortunately common in bicycle crash cases. If the at-fault driver leaves the scene, do your best to gather what information you can from witnesses and any evidence at the scene, such as paint transfer on your bicycle. Also be sure to note the exact time and location of the accident.
Compensation in Your Bicycle Accident Case
Whether a vehicle collides with your bicycle or you crash your bike in a near-miss or due to a road defect, the consequences can be dire. Emergency treatment and ongoing rehabilitation are expensive. You might miss work for weeks or months at a time, or be unable to return to the job you had before the accident. And, depending on the type and severity of your injuries, you may suffer lifelong complications.
When you hire Fuller & Fuller, our bicycle accident lawyers will pursue full compensation for the injuries you suffer. Damages that may be available in your case include:
- Medical bills, past and future
- Lost wages, past and future
- Property damage
- Pain and suffering
- Permanent disability
- Permanent disfigurement
- Household help while incapacitated
If you lost a family member in a bicycle accident, our attorneys can pursue compensation for burial and funeral costs, as well as medical expenses incurred prior to the death of your loved one. Additional damages that may be available in a wrongful death claim include the loss of expected income and benefits, as well as compensation for the emotional burdens you and your surviving family members experience.
Understanding Washington State Bicycle Law
One of the most common defense tactics in any bicycle accident lawsuit is to argue that the rider was negligent, and this negligence contributed to his or her injuries. Bicyclists on roadways have the same rights and responsibilities as motorists under Washington State law. As a result, it is in the best interests of cyclists to follow the law and take all safety precautions. Not only can this reduce your risk of injury but, In the event of an accident, doing so may help preserve your claim.
Key tips for bicyclist safety include:
1. Wear a Helmet
There is no statewide law in Washington requiring all cyclists to wear a helmet. However, some communities, including Tacoma, and all of Pierce County, have instituted laws requiring helmets for bicyclists of all ages.
Not only is wearing a helmet the law in these areas, but it could make all the difference in preventing a head injury in a fall or accident. Therefore, whether you’re in a city with a helmet law like Tacoma or a city with no such law like Olympia, it is in your best interest to wear a helmet any time you go out for a bike ride.
2. Have the Right Equipment for Nighttime Rides
When riding at night, Washington State law requires that all bicyclists “shall be equipped with a lamp on the front which shall emit a white light visible from a distance of at least five hundred feet to the front,” as well as “a red reflector on the rear … which shall be visible from all distances up to six hundred feet to the rear.” Red-light lamps and flashing LED taillights are also permitted for night riding in conjunction with the red reflector.
You may also consider wearing a vest or jacket with reflective tape. Overall, these steps improve your visibility at one of the most dangerous times to bike.
3. Know Your Options
Bicyclists have several different options by law for where they can ride. These include:
- On roadways, just like cars
- The shoulder of the road
- Bike lanes (if available)
Ultimately, the choice of where you ride comes down to where you feel safest. Some areas, however, don’t have a shoulder or bike lane, which unfortunately puts you in traffic with drivers who may be impatient, distracted, or impaired. Drivers who fail to share the road present one of the biggest dangers to cyclists, especially when they are in the same lane.
4. Ride Side-by-Side Safely
Bicyclists are permitted to ride two abreast in Washington. On pathways designated for bicycle use only, more riders can travel side-by-side.
Riding more than two abreast on roads puts bicyclists in danger of vehicle collisions. This is true even when traveling on the shoulder of the road or in a bike lane, especially for the rider who is closest to the road.
5. Observe Road Closures
Certain areas of U.S. and interstate highways in Washington are permanently restricted to bicyclists. These include sections of the I-5 in Olympia and Tacoma, as well as U.S. 7, 16, and 101.
You may be ticketed or fined for riding your bike in an unauthorized area. What’s more, in the event of an accident, failing to observe road closures could be presented as negligence on your part, which may reduce the damages available for your injuries.
Why Choose Fuller & Fuller for Your Bicycle Accident Case in Olympia
As a family law firm serving communities in Washington for over 45 years, Fuller & Fuller has extensive experience in many types of accident and injury cases. Our lawyers understand the nuances of bicycle accident claims, and we work fervidly to recover just compensation for the injuries you have suffered or for the death of your loved one.
During your initial consultation, our attorneys will perform a thorough review of your case. We will ask intelligent questions not only about the dollar-value of your injuries but how you and your family have been impacted physically, mentally, and emotionally. Knowing these details makes it possible for our firm to provide you with optimal service.
Contact Fuller & Fuller in Olympia Today
If you are looking for a lawyer after a bicycle accident, we invite you to meet our family of attorneys and contact us for an initial consultation. You can reach us online or by phone at (800) 570-4878.
Fuller & Fuller serves clients in Olympia, Tacoma, and nearby areas of Washington. We look forward to learning how we can help you in your time of need.