There are many reasons to ride a bicycle including health, economic, and environmental factors. Whether riding to work, to a social gathering or just for exercise, riding a bicycle has many benefits. Unfortunately, it also has the risk of being involved in a bicycle accident.
Bicycle accidents are all too common and often result in catastrophic injury or even death. In fact, according to NCDOT, each year approximately 16-20 bicyclists are killed in collisions with motor vehicles and over 600 bicycle related crashes. If you have been injured in a bicycle accident in North Carolina, contact Bradford Law today for a free case review. We will handle your case with the personal attention it deserves and work in your best interests.
In North Carolina, bicycles are essentially treated as non-motorized vehicles. Thus, bicyclists are treated as drivers of vehicles. Generally, bicycles have all the rights of a motor vehicle operating upon the roadways of North Carolina, including use of the full marked lane. Additionally because bicycles are vehicles, bicyclists have the responsibility to obey NC traffic laws just as other operators of vehicles, including DWI laws.
For more detailed information on North Carolina’s bicycle laws and safety, please visit NCDOT’s Division of Bicycle & Pedestrian Transportation and the NC Driver’s Handbook (Page 85.)
What Often Causes a Bicycle Accident in Charlotte, NC?
There are many common factors that contribute to the collision of a bicycle with a motor vehicle. These factors include the following:
When someone is speeding, there is less space between vehicles and less time to react and hit the brakes when necessary. Drivers who are speeding often fail to notice bicyclists or to leave a healthy amount of room between their motor vehicle and the bike. This increases the odds that an accident will occur.
2. Distracted Driving
Unfortunately, distracted driving is widespread. This is due in large part to ever-changing technology, namely, the Smartphone. Drivers commonly use their phones in some manner while behind the wheel. But using the phone isn’t the only kind of distracted driving. Any time a driver takes their hands, eyes, or mind off of the road they are distracted. Examples of this include:
- Changing the radio station/music
- Talking to passengers
- Eating or drinking
- Putting on makeup
When a driver is distracted, he or she usually pays less attention to what is going on around them.
3. Impaired Driving
Impaired driving is a serious cause of all types of accidents including bicycle accidents. Any time someone drinks alcohol or consumes illegal drugs or certain types of legal drugs before getting behind the wheel, they are considered impaired. Impaired driving is so serious because these substances impact an individual’s reaction time, attention span, and decision-making abilities.
4. Unsafe Lane Changes
It’s key that drivers signal lane changes or turns prior to actually taking them. When a driver fails to signal and there are other vehicles around them, they commonly end up in collisions. It’s also important that drivers ensure that they stay in their lane and avoid taking up any space in the bike lane, where bicyclists are riding.
5. Failure to Yield
Many drivers of motor vehicles don’t recognize the rights of bicyclists while on the road. They are under the false impression that they have the right of way when compared with bicyclists. Because of this, they can fail to yield to bicyclists who did, in fact, have the right of way, and end up hitting them. This most commonly occurs when the driver is:
- Entering an intersection
- Making a left-hand turn
- Failing to stop at stop signs
- Backing out of driveways
- Backing out of parking spaces
6. Defective or Malfunctioning Parts
It’s important that bicycles are safely made in order to protect their riders. Sadly, when a bicycle has defective or malfunctioning parts, it can become very dangerous to ride. Unfortunately, many bicyclists don’t realize the defective part until the issue becomes hazardous. Bicyclists who are involved in an accident with a bike that has defective or malfunctioning parts can sometimes file a claim against the bike’s manufacturer for product liability.
7. Road Rage
Road rage, which consists of aggressive or reckless driving often includes a wide variety of behaviors that all contribute to accidents. Such behaviors include:
- Yelling and profanities
- Excessively honking
- Failing to follow traffic laws
- Failing to signal/cutting someone off
- Inappropriate hand gestures
- Blocking the bike lane
While you can’t always prevent a bicycle accident from occurring, there are steps that you can take that increase your safety. These include:
- Wearing a helmet
- Only using a cell phone in the event of an emergency
- Inspecting and maintaining your bike’s brakes
- Refraining from the consumption of drugs and alcohol
- Avoiding the use of headphones – especially one in each ear
- Refraining from stopping in the bike lane
- Refraining from riding your bike on the freeway
- Making sure that your bicycle has reflectors on every side of it
- Using a headlight when biking at night
- Yielding to pedestrians
Proving Liability in a North Carolina Bicycle Accident
Should you find yourself injured in a bicycle accident, it can be important to hold those who are responsible, accountable for your injuries. There may be more than one person at fault and multiple parties can be held liable:
- Negligent Driver – If another vehicle caused the accident and was responsible for your injuries, you may have a claim against the negligent driver or their insurance company.
- Public Agency or City – If a road hazard such as a poorly maintained roadway or negligently placed bike lane was the cause of your accident, you may have a claim against a public agency or city in which the accident occurred.
- Bike Manufacturer – If the bicycle you were on had a defective design, you may have a claim against the manufacturer.
If a bicyclist dies as a result of an accident, the loved ones of the deceased may be able to bring a case for wrongful death and receive compensation.
Bicycle accidents can be extremely serious, often causing severe injury or death. When you are busy trying to recover from your injuries, the last thing you want to have to worry about is how to deal with insurance companies and other legal matters. If you have lost a loved one in a bicycle accident, it can be difficult to take legal action when you are grieving. That’s why it’s in your best interest to consult with a knowledgeable and experienced bicycle accident attorney who can take the reins and walk you through each step of the process with compassion.
Bradford Law Fights for Those in Charlotte Who Have Been Injured in a Bicycle Accident
Bicycle accident injuries can be devastating, uprooting your life and the lives of your loved ones. If you have been injured or have lost a loved one in a bike accident, you may be entitled to compensation. While no money can undo what has transpired, compensation can help you to move forward with your life, putting your accident behind you.
At Bradford Law, we will work tirelessly to hold the responsible party accountable and get you meaningful compensation. We have comprehensive knowledge of the applicable negligence and insurance laws and will put those laws to work for you. We understand the lasting impact a serious injury can have on you and your family and will make sure that all of your medical and financial needs are met. To learn more or to schedule a free consultation, contact us today!