Hundreds of bicyclists lose their lives every year and tens of thousands are seriously injured. Almost two a day are killed and more than 131 are hurt. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports a nearly 20 percent increase in just a short, three-year period.
In Boston, city streets are dotted with white “ghost bikes,” a sobering reminder of the terrible and immense loss that can be suffered in the midst of a seemingly ordinary day.
Understanding why bicycle accidents happen is a major step in preventing them.
At The Law Offices of Jeffrey S. Glassman and BikeAttorney.com, our Boston bike accident lawyers are committed to protecting the rights of the injured. We will fight to maximize compensation for those whose lives have been upended due to the careless, reckless and negligent acts of others.
The fact is, most serious bicycle accidents in Boston are caused by motor vehicle drivers who were distracted, drunk, driving aggressively or simply failed to exercise appropriate care. In these cases, cyclists are entitled to receive compensation from at-fault parties for medical expenses, lost wages, property damage, pain and suffering and more.
Still, it would be preferable if these crashes never happened in the first place.Types of Bicycle Accidents
In determining how best to halt crashes before they happen, we need to know first how they are occurring.
We should start by saying not all bike accidents involve motor vehicles, though typically the most serious do. Those incidents account for about one-third of all bicycle accidents, according to bicyclist survey results from the NHTSA. Still, they may be over-represented in the data officially reported because riders are more likely to report to authorities those accidents that are more severe.
Other types of crashes include:
- Fell – 17%
- Poor road condition – 13%
- Rider error – 13%
- Crash/ collision with fixed object – 7%
- Dog ran out – 4%
In some of these situations, it may still be worthwhile to plaintiffs to speak with an attorney, as there may be opportunity for compensation, even if a car wasn’t involved. For example, if a dog aggressively chases a rider, causing him or her to fall or crash, the owner of that dog may be held liable for damages. In another scenario, a roadway defect that is dangerous and causes rider to fall or crash could be grounds for a lawsuit against the government agency responsible to maintain it.
Note that even when a cyclist is partially responsible for the crash, contributory negligence is not a bar to financial recovery. It will reduce the overall amount one can receive, but it doesn’t stop the cyclist from still pursuing the case.Common Car vs. Bike Accident Types
As far as motor vehicle vs. bicycles, these are the most studied accidents because they cause the most injury and death by far. The League of American Bicyclists, as part of its initiative, “Every Bicyclist Counts,” conducted a study to determine the most common crash types, based on data from the federal Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) from February 2011 through February 2013.
They discovered the most common types of motorist vs. bicyclist were:
- Vehicle rear-ends bike: 40%
- Cyclist side/ car front: 11%
- T-hit: 10%
- Head-on: 8%
- Right-Hook: 6%
- Driver failure to yield: 6%
- Sideswipe: 5%
- Cyclist failure to yield: 2%
- Left cross: 1%
- Left hook: 1%
The rest were either for other reasons or unknown reasons.
As far as the reasons why those crashes occurred, study authors concluded that where the driver was responsible, the most common causes were:
- Drivers who were operating a vehicle in a careless or inattentive manner: 42%
- Drivers who were under the influence of drugs or alcohol: 12%
In another 36 percent of those cases, drivers involved committed a hit-and-run.
Where cyclists were deemed at least partially responsible for the crash, researchers found common problems were:
- Cyclist was riding on wrong side of the road – 23%
- Cyclist failed to yield the right-of-way – 17%
In Boston, the city’s Cyclist Safety Report revealed similar recurring themes when it came to injurious and fatal bicycle crashes. These included:
- Driver/passenger dooring cyclist – 22%
- Driver didn’t see cyclist – 18%
- Cyclist failed to yield – 24 %
- Speeding – 6%
- Distraction/ not paying attention – 3%
- Aggressive behavior – 4%
- Phone/ electronics – 1%
- Construction zone – 1%
Still in the majority of cases – 55 percent – was the driver or occupant of the motor vehicle who was at-fault.
Bicyclists in Boston can protect themselves from accidents by obeying all traffic laws, avoiding distraction, wearing a helmet and securing enough insurance (health, uninsured/ underinsured motorist, bicycle insurance, etc.) to make certain coverage is available if you need it.
Contact the Boston Bicycle Accident Lawyers at The Law Offices of Jeffrey S. Glassman and BikeAttorney.com at (888) 789-BIKE.