Injured in a Bicycle Accident? Choose a Boston Law Firm with more than 25 Years of Experience.
As of the past decade, 15 million bicycles are purchased each year in the US. The reasons? Gas prices continue to soar, and car transportation in major US cities is congested. Therefore, more and more Americans have ditched their automobiles and switched to pedal power. With more bicyclists riding on the busy streets of Boston and Massachusetts overall, the likelihood of an accident with a motor vehicle increases.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 743 bicyclists died in motor vehicle accidents in 2013. An October 11, 2014 article in the Boston Globe entitled “Bike fatalities rise in Greater Boston’s suburbs” reported that:
Collisions involving bicycles in the Greater Boston suburban area increased by 9 percent from 2010 to 2012, while statewide the number jumped 13 percent during the same three-year period, according to a Globe analysis of accident data provided by the Massachusetts Department of Transportation. Nearly 70 percent of the crashes resulted in injuries.
Additionally, according to the NHTSA, “in 2012, 726 pedal cyclists were killed and an additional 49,000 were injured in motor vehicle traffic crashes. Pedal cyclist deaths accounted for 2 percent of all motor vehicle traffic fatalities and made up 2 percent of the people injured in traffic crashed during the year.” In 2012, the National Safety Council (NSC) calculated the average cost of non-fatal and fatal injuries from motor vehicle crashes. The NSC looked at lost wages and productivity, medical expenses, administrative expenses (including legal costs), and vehicle damage. The average cost for nonfatal, disabling injuries came to $78,900. The average cost for fatal injuries came to $1.4 million.
Many states have strict helmet laws, including Massachusetts, which requires all riders under 16 to wear helmets that meet US Consumer Product Safety Commission requirements on any bike, anywhere, at all times. The helmet must fit the rider’s head and the chin strap must be fastened. Riders who wish to avoid the expense or inconvenience of wearing a helmet increase their risk of injury or death in a traffic accident. Approximately 75 percent of all bicycle fatalities were from head injuries, and helmet usage has been estimated to reduce the risk of head injury by an astonishing 85 percent.
Massachusetts also requires bicyclists to use a white headlight and red taillight or rear reflector if the person is riding anytime from a half-hour after sunset until a half-hour before sunrise. At night, the rider must wear ankle reflectors if there are no reflectors on his pedals. The NHTSA found that many bicycle fatalities occur around nighttime.
Massachusetts is one of the states with the highest rates of bicyclist deaths; as of 2012, the rate is 4.3 percent. This puts Massachusetts behind Florida and California, but before New York, according to the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA).
Biking is a popular leisure activity and sport in Massachusetts. Many towns have developed bike trails for their residents to enjoy. There are a plethora of bicyclist organizations and clubs in the state including MassBike.org. This group advocates for cyclists and the issues that concern them. Another is Rails to Trails Conservancy. It lobbies for unused railroad lines to be converted to hiking and bicycle paths.
The Somerville Bicycle Committee was established in 2001 and works to promote bicycling as a means of transportation, to develop new trails, and to improve safety issues for riders.
Unfortunately, bicycle accidents and injuries in Massachusetts are inevitable. Drivers cause many of them, but some are the result of not adhering to safety rules, including wearing helmets, using hand signals, riding on safe paths designated for bicycles, and maintaining an awareness of the surrounding traffic.
What Kind Of Information Should I Gather If I Am In A Bicycle Accident?
If you’re involved in a bicycle accident, you should do the same basic things you would do if you were in a car accident.
You should get the name, license, registration, and insurance information of any drivers involved in the accident. If any other bicyclists are involved, you should get their name and telephone number, too. It’s also a good idea to ask any witnesses if they would mind giving you their contact information in case you need third-party confirmation of what happened.
It will most likely be easiest to gather most of this information by taking pictures of relevant documents with your cell phone. You should also take pictures of the accident scene and anything you feel is noteworthy such as visible injuries, the condition of your bike, nearby traffic signs or signals, or irregular road or bike lane conditions.
Do I Need To File An Accident Report After A Bicycle Accident?
Yes, if your accident involves any injuries or property damage over $100, you must file an accident report within five days.
The best thing to do is call the police—or 911 if there are serious injuries—and have an officer make a report of the accident. If there are no police at the scene to make a report, you can get accident report forms at any police station or download an accident report on the Registry of Motor Vehicles website.
You can request a copy of a police accident report from the RMV site as well.
It is recommended that you make a few copies of any accident report(s) and keep one copy for yourself and a copy to submit to any involved insurance companies if they request one.
What Documents Will I Need To File An Injury Claim After A Bicycle Accident?
After a bicycle accident, if you want to file a personal injury claim, you should be sure to keep any documentation related to your medical treatment as well as any repairs made to your bike and/or equipment you need to replace (helmet, pads, etc.).
The more documentation you have of what the accident has cost you financially, the better the chances that you will be able to recover those expenses through a bicycle accident injury claim.
What Should I Do If An Insurance Company Wants Me To Sign A Release In Order To Get Reimbursed?
If you accept payment from an insurance company and sign a release, you are giving up your right to make any further claims based on the incident they are paying you for. That means that if you sign a release and later discover that your injuries are more serious than you thought, you won’t be able to make another claim or sue for more damages.
You have to remember that the insurance company is not on your side. Their job is to take in as much money as possible and payout as little as possible, just like any other business. It is in your best interest to consult with a qualified bicycle accident lawyer before signing any paperwork sent to you by an insurance company.
Do I Really Need A Lawyer To Handle A Claim For A Bicycle Accident Injury?
There is no legal requirement that you hire a lawyer in order to make a claim for an injury sustained in a bicycle accident. You have to keep in mind, though, as we mentioned above, the insurance companies are not on your side. In order to make sure that your rights are protected and that you receive the full and fair compensation to which you are entitled, you should speak with an experienced bike accident attorney.
An attorney will be able to fully evaluate and investigate your case, making sure that you get everything you deserve without accidentally signing away any of your rights. You can be sure that the insurance company has lawyers working on their side. You will be at a big disadvantage without an attorney on your side.
Do You Need A Bicycle Accident Lawyer?
If you, or someone you know, have been injured in a Massachusetts bicycle accident, you may be entitled to damages. To speak with a highly experienced Massachusetts personal injury lawyer, phone Parker Scheer LLP seven days a week, toll-free at (617) 886-0500. There is no fee charged to discuss your case with our personal injury lawyers, and all information furnished, will be kept strictly confidential. Contact us today.