Bicycling is a low-impact form of exercise that lends itself to all ages. Great for cardiac health, cycling is gentle on the joints, strengthens muscles and burns 650 calories an hour. Cyclists often find this pastime turning into a passion when they begin to experience improved balance and coordination, a trimmer waistline and a renewed lease on life.
Despite all of the advantages, cycling can sometimes be a dangerous pastime, even in a bike-friendly city like Richmond. Virginia has strict rules for both motorists and cyclists and is one of 32 states with safe passing laws in place. This mandate is designed to ensure motor vehicles allow sufficient space when passing a bicycle to prevent a sideswiping accident.
Accidents Shouldn’t Happen—But When They Do…
Even the most experienced and conscientious cyclist is vulnerable when pedal-pushing on the streets of Richmond, and especially when navigating some of our dangerous intersections. There are important steps anyone should take immediately following a bicycle accident.
First and foremost, everyone involved in an accident should have a medical evaluation. Not every injury will be obvious at first glance. The unexpected nature of a bicycle accident can send pain-masking adrenaline coursing through the body.
Safety first is always the best rule to follow. Move to a secure location, and when safe to do so:
- Contact law enforcement and file an accident report
- Gather insurance information for all motor vehicles involved in the incident
- Collect contact information for any witnesses
- If possible, take pictures of the area, the position of all vehicles at the time of impact, the damage to the bike, traffic signs, road debris, skid marks
It is also a good idea to preserve any potential evidence. Leave the bicycle in its post-accident condition, and bag the clothing and shoes worn at the time of the collision.
A Lack of Protection Results in Serious Injuries
With no real protection, bicycle accident injuries often result in serious physical injury and catastrophic financial hardship. Some of the injuries our bike accident clients have suffered include:
- Head trauma
- Traumatic brain injury
- Neurological damage
- Facial injuries
- Spinal cord damage
- Traumatic brain injury
- Sprains, strains, and lacerations
- Wrongful death
According to 2018 data provided by the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles, 593 bike riders in the Commonwealth were injured on our roadways last year. There are various contributing factors to consider when determining the cause of a bicycle accident.
Collisions With Motor Vehicles Can Happen When:
- Drivers fail to check blind spots
- Drivers are distracted
- A car turns right in front of a bicyclist (right-hook accident)
- A left turning car does not yield to a cyclist (left-hook accident)
- A car door is opened directly in front of a cyclist (dooring)
- A motor vehicle driver is under the influence of alcohol or drugs
- Car drivers fail to obey traffic signs and signals
- Drivers pull out from driveways, parking lots, or side streets without looking
Not all cycling accidents are the result of negligence or misjudgment. Manufacturing defects or worn out parts can be at the root of a cycling accident. Some examples include:
- Defective brakes
- Bad tires
- Problems with design or materials
- Faulty chains
Aging Infrastructure, Environmental Conditions, and Road Defects
It is possible for any of the following conditions to play a part in a bicycle accident:
- Poor visibility due to heavy rain, fog, or overgrown vegetation
- Inadequate lighting
- Broken traffic signals or missing signs
- Uneven pavement
- Debris in the road
- Broken guardrails
Minimize the Risks
Be proactive, and protect yourself by practicing some basic safety measures. Whether you are a daily bicycle commuter, an exercise enthusiast, or just out for a leisurely ride it is wise to:
- Be visible, choose bright and reflective clothing
- Stay focused and aware of your surroundings
- Keep your bike in excellent condition
Insurance claim adjusters will attempt to minimize their financial liability in a bicycle accident claim in several ways. They will contact the victim, sometimes even at the scene of the incident, and attempt to solicit a statement. Anything a victim says may negatively impact a potential case. It is also possible that they will offer a quick financial settlement. Do not allow an insurance company to summarily decide the value of your loss. The legal staff at Emroch & Kilduff understands how to thoroughly investigate every aspect of a bicycle injury accident, to make sure any settlement compensates our client for immediate and long-term needs. We will fight aggressively for fair and just compensation.
Richmond Cyclists Have Responsibilities and Rights
Bicyclists have rights and responsibilities, just like any other user of Virginia’s roads. “Every person riding a bicycle on a highway shall be subject to the provisions of the Code of Virginia section on motor vehicles and shall have the rights and duties applicable to the driver of a vehicle unless a provision clearly indicates otherwise.” (Virginia Department of Transportation)
A Cyclist in Virginia has a responsibility to:
- Pass safely
- Use caution when turning
- Use correct hand signals when turning
- Observe speed limits and traffic signals
- Yield to pedestrians
- Use lights and reflectors at night
A bicyclist in Richmond has a right:
- To ride with the flow of traffic on the right side of the road
- To use the full lane if the road is too narrow to share
- To pass on either the right or the left
- To ride two abreast as long as it does not hinder the flow of traffic
- To expect a motor vehicle to afford a three-foot clearance before they pass
The personal injury attorneys at Emroch & Kilduff believe that cyclists who are injured, through no fault of their own, are entitled to fair compensation. Holding those with legal liability financially accountable often requires proving they acted with negligence. In Virginia, this can be a complicated process, because of rules that limit compensation when the injured person is found to be partially at fault. Our team of award-winning litigators will fight tirelessly for victims and their family members to ensure the best possible financial recovery. Contact our Richmond office at (804) 358-1568.
Richmond Bicycle Accident FAQs
Over the last few decades, Richmond, Virginia has evolved into a hub for cyclists. The Richmond Area Bicycling Association hosts numerous events and rides throughout the area, year-round, including the world championship of road cycling in 2015. Richmond residents, workers, and visitors, alike, ride every type of bike for every type of purpose, from commuting, to exercise, or for just plain fun.
Unfortunately, the increased popularity of cycling comes with inevitable consequences. Despite even the most precautious cycling practices, bicycle accidents often cause severe, life-threatening injuries. Victims of bicycle accidents and the families of those whose lives are tragically lost often have important questions about their legal rights. Below are the answers to some of the most commonly asked questions following a bicycle accident.
For specific answers to questions about the unique circumstances of your own or a loved one’s bicycle accident, contact a skilled bicycle accident injury lawyer at Emroch & Kilduff.
I got hurt in a bike accident. Should I sue?
Possibly. Whether to pursue legal action after suffering injuries in an accident depends on what happened and who was to blame.
In Virginia, anyone whose unreasonably dangerous actions cause a bicycle accident may be legally liable for any accident-related injuries and losses incurred. To seek and obtain compensation for damages, accident victims may be required to file a lawsuit against the responsible parties.
Speaking with an experienced bicycle accident injury lawyer is the most reliable way to determine whether you have a legal right to sue another for compensation. In the meantime, you can get a sense of your potential rights by asking yourself: Is it possible that something out of my control caused the accident that injured me? If you answer yes or possibly, then it is likely that you may be afforded a legal right to seek compensation for damages caused by the accident.
What amount of compensation can I expect from a bicycle accident claim?
The amount of compensation awarded to an injured victim also ultimately depends on what happened and who was to blame. No lawyer can guarantee that your claim will be successful or that you will receive any amount of compensation when you assert a claim against an at-fault party for your bicycle accident injuries.
However, generally, most bicycle accident victims in Richmond may be entitled to seek compensation for:
- Medical expenses;
- Other accident- and injury-related expenses;
- Lost wages and future income;
- Pain and suffering; and
- Sometimes, punitive damages.
Broadly speaking, the more severe your injuries and the greater their impact on your life, the more money you may have the right to recover through legal action.
The amount of money you can realistically expect to obtain, however, can sometimes differ from the amount the law entitles you to receive. The strength of your case and the financial resources of the party who owes you damages may also play a role in the outcome of a claim.
To give yourself the best shot at maximizing compensation for your bicycle accident injuries, consider retaining a skilled attorney to represent you throughout the claims process.
When can I expect to receive my compensation settlement or award for my bicycle accident case?
You’re probably tired of hearing this, but the time it takes to receive compensation after the successful resolution of your claim depends on a wide variety of factors, many of which are out of victims’ control.
Some factors that may affect the time it takes for a case to conclude include:
- The number of parties in the case;
- The severity of your injuries and the expected timeline and outcome of your recovery;
- The availability of evidence; and
- The amount of dispute over liability and damages.
Also, as mentioned, there is no guarantee that you will receive compensation. However, you can drastically increase your chances of obtaining a favorable and speedy outcome by speaking with an experienced bicycle accident injury lawyer as soon as possible.
Does it matter that I wasn’t wearing a bicycle helmet?
In most cases, whether an injured bicycle accident victim was wearing a helmet should not affect their ability to seek compensation. In Richmond, cyclists have no legal obligation to wear a bicycle helmet. However, that does not mean that insurance companies and defense lawyers won’t try to use your decision to ride without a helmet against you. Therefore, it is important to consult with a skilled bicycle accident lawyer as soon as you are able. An attorney can communicate with insurance representatives and defense counsel on your behalf to ensure your rights are protected and the true value of your claim is realized.
The driver who hit me offered me cash to settle, without getting insurance or the police involved. Should I take the money?
No, it is never a good idea to personally settle up with an at-fault driver before involving both parties’ insurance companies. To avoid being taken advantage of, do not accept any direct compensation from the driver who hit you, especially if it comes with a condition that you refrain from reporting the accident to your insurance company or the police.
By accepting the driver’s money, you risk losing your legal rights to seek compensation. Taking money from an at-fault driver will almost certainly risk leaving you under-compensated for the injuries and losses you have suffered.
Instead, say “no, thank you” to any offer by the driver, or even the driver’s insurance company. Leave it to a skilled lawyer to negotiate a settlement on your behalf.
Can I afford a lawyer?
Yes. At Emroch & Kilduff, attorneys’ fees and costs for bicycle accident claims are structured in a way that makes them accessible and affordable for accident victims. We offer a free initial consultation and case evaluation for injured bicycle accident victims.
Additionally, our lawyers always represent their clients on a contingency fee basis. Under a contingency fee agreement, lawyers do the upfront legal work for a client in exchange for a percentage of any money the lawyer secures on their behalf. Typically, clients will not be required to pay upfront for legal services, rather the lawyers only get paid after their clients receive their compensation.
Can I do anything to help my Richmond bicycle accident case?
Yes! First, make sure you seek medical attention and treatment as soon as possible after the accident. Do not wait for an injury to start hurting, and never assume that just because you feel okay immediately after a crash that you have escaped injury. Many severe and even life-threatening injuries do not immediately show symptoms. To ensure a full recovery, it is best if a doctor performs diagnostic testing as soon after the accident as possible.
Also, make sure you follow the treatment plan and recommendations from your doctor. Keep follow-up appointments, go to physical therapy sessions, and take your medication. By taking care of yourself and seeking treatment, you will create documentation that may serve as valuable evidence in support of your claim.
Once you have your medical care squared away and you are on the road to recovery, contact our experienced bicycle accident injury attorneys at Emroch & Kilduff for a free consultation and to protect your legal rights. Our attorneys and legal team are ready to fight and go after the compensation you deserve. Contact us today to discuss your case or call our office at (804) 358-1568.
“My attorney and everyone here at Emroch & Kilduff have been amazing. They have been there for me through the entire process of my case and have always answered any questions that I have had. This was great because I had several. I highly recommend them to everyone.”
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