The New Jersey bicycle accident lawyers at Davis & Brusca, are here to help seek compensation for victims injured in bike accidents. Such accidents are becoming increasingly more common as the popularity of cycling continues to rise. The United States Census Bureau reports that, between 2002 and 2012, bicycles were the fastest-growing mode of commuter transportation. This should come as no surprise given that bicycling is a great source of exercise, is economical as it saves money on gas, and is environmentally friendly by reducing the amount of pollutants emitted into the air. However, for all the positives of commuting by bike, cyclists remain vulnerable to injuries in a crash. Helmets and protective clothing help mitigate the danger, but cyclists remain at risk for serious injuries from bicycle accidents. These can range from simple scrapes and bruises to broken bones, head injuries. In a serous wreck, the injuries can even prove fatal.
Examples of injuries which commonly occur in a bicycle crash include:
Broken bones: Any bone can be broken in a bicycle crash, but fractures to the upper extremities are among the most common. This is because a cyclists often reflexively extend their arm or hand to break a fall, frequently resulting in a broken wrist, finger, arm, or elbow.
Dental and jaw injuries: Bicycle helmets protect the head, but do not cover the face, mouth and jaw as would a “Full face” helmet used by a motorcyclist. As such, injuries can include cuts to the lips, cheeks, and tongue, broken or chipped teeth, or a broken jaw. These can require extensive dental procedures to repair and may leave permanent cosmetic defects.
Head injuries: Cyclists often suffer head lacerations, skull fractures, and traumatic brain injuries. Wearing a helmet can mitigate some injuries, but the risk of serious injury remains. Anytime a rider hits their head in a bicycle accident, they should seek immediate medical attention.
Joint dislocation: This type of injury occurs when there is a separation of the joint where two bones meet. It can cause intense pain, swelling, and bruising and may cause permanent damage to the ligaments, tendons and other joint structures. Only a trained medical professional should return the joint to its normal position. Splints or bandages help hold the joint in place as it heals. Physical therapy or even surgery may be required.
Neck and Spine injuries: The sudden impact of a collision can affect the cyclist’s neck resulting in a variety of injuries to the spinal column. Neck or back pain pain, stiffness, or pain/numbness which “radiates” to the arms, hands or into the lower extremities may signify very serious spinal injury and should never be ignored.
Nerve damage: Some injuries can cause chronic nerve damage, affecting the arms, fingers, legs, and toes. Physical therapy may help alleviate certain symptoms, but numbness and pain can be permanent. Loss of sensation or use of the affected body party may occur and can be permanent.
Paralysis: In extreme cases, an injury is so severe that it causes the victims to become paralyzed. Bicyclists are particularly vulnerable to injuries which can cause paralysis, such as spinal injury and brain injury.
Safety Tips to Avoid Bicycle Accidents
Even a relatively minor bicycle accident can cause chronic injuries that can have a serious impact on your quality of life. Due to the difference in mass between a cyclist and a car, and the fact that the cyclist has no physical protection from the bike, the amount of property damage is not an indicator of the severity of a bike crash. If you tend to ride your bike to work, or are regularly sharing the road with other vehicles, it is crucial that you follow these important safety tips:
Always wear a bike helmet
Be alert and aware of your surroundings
Use appropriate hand signals to let others know if you are turning
Wear bright-colored clothing during the day and reflective gear at night so that you are visible in the dark. Look for clothing which also has reflective properties, and consider adding reflective tape to your helmet.
Obey the rules of the road – ALWAYS!
Always slow down when approaching intersections in case you need to brake quickly, and act as though the drivers are not looking out for you BECAUSE THEY PROBABLY AREN’T!
Ride “with the flow (in the same direction) of traffic, not against it
Never pass a car on the right as you approach an intersection
If riding with other cyclists, ride single-file when cars are around and keep a following distance between yourself and the rider ahead of you. Call out any potential safety hazard to alert your fellow bicyclists of potential problems ahead of them.
Common Misconceptions About Bicycle Accidents
A bicycle can provide you with great exercise and a transportation option, but always carries the risk for accidents with vehicles and physical injury. If you were injured while riding your bicycle, it’s important to understand the facts about bicycle laws and your right to compensation. Here are some common misconceptions about bicycle accidents.
Misconception #1: Bicycles shouldn’t be on the road. This just isn’t true. Bicyclists generally have just as much right to be on the road as motorists (except on certain roadways – such as an expressway). Sidewalks are not intended for bikes. In fact, bicycling on the sidewalk can be more dangerous than the road, because pedestrians can be unpredictable and the sidewalk is comparatively narrow. Colliding with a pedestrian carries a high risk of injury to the pedestrian and will expose the cyclist to liability for any injury as the pedestrian will have the right of way on a sidewalk. Finally, in many jurisdictions, it is actually against the law for a cyclist to ride on the sidewalk.
Misconception #2: Cyclists should ride facing traffic. The opposite is actually true. When you ride a bike your conduct must essentially mirror what would apply if you were operating a vehicle for purposes of the motor vehicle law. Cyclists are required to ride with the flow of traffic. Riding against the flow (facing oncoming traffic) actually increases the closing speed and reduces the time and opportunity for evasive action. It also makes motorists nervous, both of which will increase the likelihood of an accident.
Misconception #3: Biyclists are usually responsible for accidents. While a bicyclist can be at-fault for some accidents, many bicycle-vs-vehicle accidents are caused by negligent motorists. Presuming the cyclist is at fault is a form of anti-cyclist bias which is all too common in our society. An experienced bicycle accident lawyer, like the experienced legal team at Davis & Brusca, LLC, can help prove when a motorists is responsible for the crash.
Misconception #4:Bicyclists often disobey traffic laws. This is another all-too-common misconception people have about bicyclists. While there are some who disobey traffic laws, such as by failing to stop at red lights, not using proper signals, or riding against the flow of traffic, most cyclists are careful and follow the rules of the road to reduce their risk of getting into an accident.
Misconception #5: Bicyclists don’t need to seek medical care following an accident if they feel only modest pain. Serious injuries can exist even if the cyclist don’t feel severe symptoms initially. The adrenaline rush which follows a wreck may mask serious injuries. And it may take several days for the real pain to set in. Head injuries may exist with no pain at all. Delaying treatment may complicate diagnosis or create problems connecting the injuries to the accident. For all these reasons, cyclists should seek emergency medical care after any accident involving a motorist. A doctor will properly diagnose their injuries and recommend the appropriate treatment.
Misconception #6: The driver’s insurance company will want to help me. Even if there’s clear evidence that the driver was at-fault in the accident, you can’t expect an insurance company to try to help you. In fact, they are usually driven by the desire to keep their claims exposure low and will likely look for ways to devalue your claim. Insurance companies generally place their “bottom line” (financial position) first and aren’t concerned with helping accident victims.
Misconception #7: Hiring a bicycle accident lawyer is too expensive. Unfortunately, some cyclists who get hurt in accidents assume they can’t afford to hire a lawyer. However, most bicycle accident lawyers work on a contingency basis, so they will only collect a fee if you win your case.
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