Seattle Bicycle Accident Attorney
With the increasing awareness of the impact that internal combustion engines have on our environment, and the ongoing challenges associated with volume of traffic and congestion in the greater Seattle area, more and more people are turning to bicycles for their commute to and from work on a daily basis. In addition to commuters, recreational bicycling is very popular here in the Pacific Northwest. The result is an increasing number of bicyclists sharing the road with cars and trucks which, unfortunately, has resulted in more accidents and more injuries from collisions with motor vehicles. Even with appropriate safety gear, including reflective clothing, helmets and lights, a bicyclist is no match for a 4,000 pound SUV, and the resulting collisions often lead to tragic injuries for the cyclist.
Part of the problem is that motor vehicle drivers, often fail to see the bicyclists, they literally “look right through them” – as they are looking for cars and simply fail to register that a bicycle and rider have the same rights as a motor vehicle in terms of duty to yield, etc. A common scenario is for a driver to make a turn without seeing the bike rider (either oncoming or in the same lane), effectively cutting off the cyclist and causing an accident. Another type of bike accident involves getting ’doored’ where a person in a parked car opens their door into moving traffic and hits a passing biker causing damage and injury. Many bikers have been thrown into the middle of the street and suffered horrible injury when they then get run over by a passing car or truck; all because the driver of the motor vehicle failed to see the cyclist.
Motor vehicle drivers must be attentive to all bicycle riders as they have the same rights and responsibilities while riding on a roadway that a car does (http://www.wsdot.wa.gov/bike/laws.htm).
As cyclist myself, I am especially sensitive to the plight of injured bicyclists. I know that my clients are not encased in 3,000 lb. steel cages with air bags and seat belts and that every time you ride on the street you are taking a calculated risk. I understand this and I am prepared to fight for the rights of those who have been injured while riding their bike.
In many cases, a bicycle accident results from a motorist’s negligence or inattentiveness while operating his or her vehicle. The following are some common types of collisions that a cyclist may be injured in:
- A motor vehicle driver turning directly in front of a bicyclist;
- An automobile driver entering the street from a driveway or parking spot and pulls out into traffic in front of the bicyclist;
- A motorist’s failure to yield at an intersection or running a stop sign or red light;
- A vehicle driver’s inattention while driving past a bicyclist;
- An automobile driver’s failure to look both ways when resuming travel after stopping at a stop sign;
- An automobile driver is under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
Professionally trained staff members work with our bike accident clients to help ensure that they receive full and fair compensation for their claim:
- We will photograph, investigate and analyze any damage that occurred to the bicycle, such as chipped paint, stressed metal, bent wheels and damaged brake pads;
- We will examine the scene of the accident to address any claim by the motorist that a cyclist was speeding or or swerved into traffic.
- Head injuries account for about 75% of all serious injuries and fatalities from bicycle accidents;
- While collisions with cars account for only 1/3rd of all bicycle accidents, they account for the majority of catastrophic injuries and deaths.
What Causes Bicycle Accidents?
Although statistics can be hard to come by, as bike accidents are not always reported to law enforcement, there appear to be several common scenarios that lead to serious bicycle accidents with motor vehicles:
- Failing to yield the right-of-way at an intersection by motorist or bicyclist;
- Motorists unexpectedly turning or merging into the path of a cyclist, often making left turns in the path of an oncoming cyclist;
- Bicyclist, failing to yield the right-of-way at a mid-block location, often a residential driveway;
- Motorists overtaking bicyclists, often by miscalculating the space needed to safely pass; and
- Bicyclists unexpectedly turning or merging into the path of a motorist, often making left turns into the path of an oncoming motorist.
Some bike accidents are caused by defective design, repair or manufacture of the bicycle itself, which can lead to a product liability claim. If you suspect that your bicycle may be dangerously defective for any reason, it is essential to preserve the bicycle and have it examined by an expert if you are to pursue any claim.Bicycle Injuries
Bicycle accidents commonly result in a variety of very serious injuries that can affect the rider for a lifetime. Common serious injuries from bicycle accidents include:
- head injuries
- fractures or broken bones
- spinal cord injuries
- severe muscle sprains
- torn ligaments
- foot and ankle injuries
- torn cartilage
- knee injuries
- serious abrasions or “road rash” that can lead to infection
These types of injuries common to bike accidents may deprive a cyclist not only of his or her good health, but to the bicyclist’s capacity to earn a living, and the ability to care for his or her family. Bicycle accident victims often require costly medical care. The need for this care in cases involving catastrophic injuries may continue throughout the cyclist’s entire life.
Bicycle Accidents: Expert Witnesses to Help your Case
Determining liability for a bike accident case often requires the use of expert witnesses, whose knowledge and ability to communicate to a judge or jury can make a difference in your outcome. Expert witnesses may be needed to analyze and testify about:
- road conditions, including any construction or weather-related issues;
- reconstruction of the events that led to the bicycle accident, including the evaluation of the relative positions and speed of the bicycle and vehicles involved;
- the role of traffic controls, including any obstruction of site lines;
- the speed at which the bicycle and vehicle were traveling, and;
- mechanical failures caused by defective parts or maintenance.
Expert witnesses can also be helpful in evaluating and explaining your injuries and the impact that these injuries may have on your life in the future, including the need for future care and treatment. If you have been involved in a serious bicycle accident, it is important that you consult with an attorney who has experience working with these types of experts and dealing with the issues that commonly arise in bicycle accident claims. Please contact me to set up a free initial consultation so we can discuss your potential claim.
Compensation for Your Injuries
Because injuries sustained in a bike accident can be substantial, bicyclists and their families may lose the quality of life they previously enjoyed. If you have been injured in a bicycle accident, you may be able to recover your past and future lost wages, expenses for doctors, hospitals and other healthcare providers, and other expenses related to your bicycle accident. You also may be entitled to money that would compensate you for any pain, suffering, disability and disfigurement you have and may continue to suffer.
Consult With an Experienced Seattle Bicycle Accident Attorney Promptly
Accident scenes change quickly and witnesses’ memories fade in short period of time. To preserve evidence that may be of great importance to your bicycle accident case, there are several actions that should be considered immediately. You should save all of the clothes that you were wearing at the time of the accident and do not wash them, no matter how soiled – as they may be useful evidence to demonstrate your damages and injuries. If possible and safe to do so, photograph the scene of the accident, your bicycle, all vehicles involved and yourself at the scene (especially any bruising or abrasions). You also need to preserve the bicycle. An experienced bicycle accident attorney can arrange for the safe storage of your bicycle for later inspection for potential defects and to present as evidence to a jury of the violence of the accident. It is essential to conduct a thorough investigation of the accident scene, and interview eyewitnesses while facts are fresh in their minds.
Prompt action by an experienced Seattle bicycle accident attorney familiar with bike accidents, can make a big difference in the outcome of your potential case. Please contact me for a free initial consultation to discuss your potential bicycle accident case. I can help you with the legal and insurance issues, while you and your healthcare providers take care of your injuries, your physical recovery and getting you back on your bike.