Bike Accident Common Causes

When a bicycle crash involving a motor vehicle results in injuries, there is a common misconception that it is the cyclist who is probably to blame. However, statistics show motorists are more often at-fault.

The City of Boston reported that in 55 percent of bicycle vs. vehicle accidents locally, it’s the motor vehicle operator who is cited.

At The Law Offices of Jeffrey S. Glassman's BikeAttorney.com, our bicycle accident attorneys in Boston know anytime injuries result from carelessness or recklessness of a driver, it is grounds to pursue a claim for compensation.

Bicycle accident fatalities account for 2 percent of all traffic-related deaths, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). However, hospital data shows only a fraction of bicycle accidents that result in injury are recorded by police. Even among recorded cycling accidents, the National Safety Council reports a 9 percent increase between 2001 and 2011. There was also a 9 percent increase in bicyclist deaths between 2011 and 2013.

For insurance purposes, collisions between bicyclists and vehicle drivers are considered “auto accidents,” and injured cyclists are entitled to collect damages to cover hospital bills, lost wages and other costs. In hit-and-run accidents or those in which the driver lacks or has limited insurance, the cyclist can also use his or her own uninsured/ underinsured auto coverage.

Who are the Bicycle Accident Victims?

To better understand the common causes of bicycle accidents in Boston, we need to first touch on who is most at-risk.

The NHTSA offers a detailed breakdown of bicycle accident victims and the circumstances under which they were harmed. Among those most recent findings:

  • The average age of victims in fatal bicycle accidents rose from 24 in 1988 to 32 in 1998 to 44 in 2013.
  • Of those who were killed, 83 percent were male.
  • The majority of bicycle deaths – 68 percent – happened in urban areas.
  • A significant portion of deadly crashes – 22 percent – occurred in the three-hour span of 6 p.m. and 9 p.m.
  • In nearly one-third of all bicycle crashes, either the driver or the cyclist had a blood-alcohol level that was 0.08 g/dL or higher.

In Boston, bicycle accident victims skew a bit younger, according to data from the City. Local EMS and Boston Police report the peak age for bicycling accidents is 22. The average age is 31. Adults between the ages of 18 and 30 comprise 50 percent of those injured.

Similarly, while men in Boston do represent the majority of crash victims – 77 percent – women account for a more significant portion of injuries locally than nationally.

Of the 1,813 bicycle crashes reported by the Boston Police Department from 2009 through 2012, 91 percent involved a vehicle.

Why Are Bicycle Crashes Happening?

According to an NHTSA National Survey on Bicyclist and Pedestrian Attitudes and Behaviors, the six most common causes of injury to cyclists were:

  • Hit by a car (30 percent)
  • Fell (17 percent)
  • Roadway not in good repair (13 percent)
  • Rider error (13 percent)
  • Crashed/ collision with fixed object (7 percent)
  • Dog ran out (4 percent)

Here in Boston, 50 percent of crashes occur in June, July, August and September. This is unsurprising because it coincides with favorable weather. It’s also in line with the influx of students into the city’s more than 60 colleges and universities at the start of the fall semester.

Who Is At Fault for Bicycle Accidents

The Boston Police Department keeps track of behavioral factors of those involved in bicycle accidents that sheds further light on accident causes. These include:

  • 18 percent – driver failed to see cyclist
  • 24 percent – cyclist ran a red light or failed to stop for a stop sign
  • 22 percent – driver or passenger opened a car door into an oncoming cyclist

In some cases, there may be a combination of factors that contribute to bicycle accidents. In any situation where total or partial blame is on another, our Boston injury lawyers can explore pursuit of damages. Mass. Gen. Law Ch. 231, Section 85, stipulates that comparative negligence (partial fault by the injured person) won’t bar that individual’s right to recover damages from other at-fault parties. However, the amount of compensation can be diminished by his or her own fault portion.

In the example of a bicycle accident, violation of a traffic ordinance, such as failure to yield, can be used as evidence of negligence on the part of the cyclist, but it still won’t in and of itself be reason to block the rider from collecting damages.

Other factors that often play a role in Boston bike accidents are:

  • Distraction with electronics/ phone
  • Not paying attention
  • Speeding
  • Aggressive behavior
  • Construction zone

The city further ascertained that 60 percent of all bicycle accidents occurred at street intersections.

Boston bicyclists can protect themselves by:

  • Obeying all traffic laws
  • Remaining alert
  • Wearing a helmet and other protective gear
  • Securing adequate amounts of uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage

If you have any questions or need assistance with a Boston injury claim, we are here to help.

Contact the Boston Bicycle Accident Lawyers at The Law Offices of Jeffrey S. Glassman's BikeAttorney.com.