Despite the increasing amount of bicycle safety information, accidents happen all too frequently. According to the Active Transportation Alliance, there were almost 7,000 bicycle accidents in Chicago in 2016, with a bicyclist being injured approximately every two hours. Bicycle accidents occur most frequently at intersections or highways. They also are more likely to occur in urban areas, like Chicago.
Bicycles are smaller and less noticeable on the road than cars, trucks, or buses. A bicyclist also has much less protection than a passenger in a car does, leaving them more vulnerable in the event of an accident. Many bicycle accident victims end up with serious injuries that require extensive medical care and recovery time.
While most cycle accidents involve a collision with a motor vehicle, other accidents may involve pedestrians or another cyclist. Depending on the cause of the accident, you may be able to recover damages in a personal injury lawsuit or from the other party’s insurance.
Chicago-based Agruss Law Firm advises that there are many causes of bicycle accidents, and determining the cause can help you know what you are entitled to.
The most common cause of bicycle accidents is automobile collisions due to driver or biker negligence. Often, an automobile driver fails to see a bicyclist due to oversight. Reasons for this might include speeding, failure to stop at a red light, failure to stop at a stop sign, or failure to yield. Drunk driving or driving under the influence of drugs is a form of criminal negligence that can lead to crashes and serious injury.
Distracted Drivers or Bicyclists
The Illinois Secretary of State’s office shares that distracted driving leads to many bicycle-auto collisions each year. Distracted driving is illegal and includes texting or using a cell phone while operating a motor vehicle. Distracted driving can also occur when a driver is busy talking with another passenger, fooling around with the radio, or looking at themselves in the mirror. Similarly, a cyclist could also be distracted and negligent in adhering to the rules of the road. Oftentimes, this happens when a bicyclist is listening to music on headphones or earbuds and is unable to hear oncoming traffic.
Poor Weather and Visibility
Poor weather conditions are another common cause of bicycle accidents. These may involve collisions with another vehicle or pedestrian, or it could be an accident with only the cyclist. Even the most cautious and experienced driver or cyclist can have trouble navigating through treacherous weather. Dangerous weather conditions include snow, rain, sleet, or ice.
Stormy weather can cause darkness and fog, making visibility poor. Such conditions can impact a cyclist’s sight and focus. Icy or wet conditions can cause one to lose total control of their bicycle. In cases like these, it is better to stay off the road, but storms can appear suddenly. Remain focused and slow down in unexpected poor weather conditions. Be prudent about the weather forecast before planning to take a long ride. The decision to bike in poor conditions could lead to accidents and injury.
Dangerous Road Conditions
Poor road conditions are another common cause of bicycle accidents. In these incidents, a person may be biking safely and according to the rules, but roads in a state of disrepair may result in an accident. Examples include poorly maintained roads—such as potholes and broken asphalt—road debris, poor lighting, construction work zones, and improper signage.
Bicycle riders can sometimes suffer more serious injuries in an accident than motor vehicle drivers or passengers. This is because cars, trucks, or buses are bigger and offer more protection, whereas, a cyclist is open and exposed. If you were in an Illinois bicycle accident due to poor road conditions, consider contacting a bicycle accident law firm to file a claim for damages.
Crashes with a Pedestrian
Unfortunately, bicycle accidents with pedestrians can result in serious injuries to both the cyclist and the pedestrian. Sometimes, crashes involving pedestrians occur when a pedestrian dashes out or “jay walks” into a bike path. Other times, a pedestrian is not paying attention to oncoming traffic. In other cases, a bicyclist may be the one at fault due to speeding, rider error, or distraction.
Faulty or Defective Bicycle
A faulty bicycle can also cause an accident. This may occur if the pedals are loose, the breaks fail, or the suspension system falters. A defective product or poor upkeep may cause these types of accidents. Just like a car owner must keep their vehicle in good condition, a biker should check their bike and repair any issues.
What to Do to Prevent an Accident
A person in a bicycle accident could experience serious injuries such as broken bones, head injury, traumatic brain injury, spinal cord injury, or skin abrasions. Cyclists can protect themselves by always being vigilant and following all traffic laws. Always wear a helmet to reduce your likelihood of head trauma. Before riding, inspect your bike to ensure the breaks work and all reflectors are in place. It is also recommended to research bicycle insurance plans.
What to Do After an Accident
If you were in a bicycle accident, immediately seek medical care. If you have suffered damage and injury, you may want to file a personal injury or insurance claim against the other party.