Each year, numerous bicyclists are seriously – and sometimes fatally – injured in accidents involving motor vehicles. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that 726 cyclists were killed in accidents in the U.S. in 2015, which represented a six percent increase since 2006 (source). Bicyclists have a much greater risk of being seriously injured in a collision than occupants of motor vehicles, because they do not have the benefit of a vehicle frame around them for added protection. If you have been seriously injured in a collision while cycling, and the accident was caused by the negligence of a motorist, a bicycle accident lawyer can help you recover damages.
Why a Bicycle Accident Lawyer May Be Necessary
Some motorists become impatient when sharing the road with bicyclists, and they may drive recklessly around them. Other motorists, distracted by their cell phones, may fail to notice bicyclists who are oncoming or traveling in the lane ahead of them or beside them. When a bicycle accident is caused by a driver’s negligent conduct, it is common for insurance companies to dispute the liability of the driver and to instead try to blame the bicyclist for causing his or her own accident and injuries. In order to successfully recover damages for losses sustained in a bicycle accident, you need to consult an experienced bicycle accident lawyer to get legal help filing a civil personal injury lawsuit against the motorist. This can help convince the insurance company that a fair and reasonable settlement is warranted.
Missouri Law and the Duties of Motorists and Cyclists
Under Missouri law, both bicyclists and motorists owe certain duties and hold certain responsibilities when they are operating their vehicles on the roads. Bicyclists have the same rights and responsibilities as drivers and are expected to follow the traffic laws.
Motorists have several duties that they owe to bicyclists when they are traveling around them. First, they must allow enough clearance room between their vehicles and the bicyclists. So when they are overtaking bicyclists, they are supposed to maintain a safe distance, preferably moving into another lane to do so.
Motorists also have duties of care to drive cautiously and to observe others on the roads around them, including bicyclists. When they are behind bicyclists and plan to turn right, the law provides that the motorists are supposed to slow behind the bicyclists and allow them to proceed through the intersection before making their turn. When turning, motorists are advised to be aware that cyclists may be traveling at greater speeds than they might think, and they are supposed to avoid cutting them off in order to avoid causing collisions. In addition, motorists are expected to follow all traffic laws when driving. When drivers fail to adhere to these regulations, the consequences can be disastrous.
Common Causes of Bicycle Accidents
Increasingly distracted drivers are the cause of many bicycle accidents involving motor vehicles. When people are distracted by their cell phones, tablets, radios, and other devices, they may fail to see bicyclists. This can cause them to turn in front of oncoming cyclists, fail to allow safe distances between their vehicles and bicycles, fail to stop at traffic control devices, or pull out of driveways without looking both ways. All of these actions can lead to bicycle accidents that may cause serious injuries or fatalities. For example, it is not uncommon for cyclists to suffer fractures, spinal cord injuries, traumatic brain injuries, and injuries to their extremities, amongst other severe injuries, following a collision with a car.
The available damages in a bicycle accident case depend on the circumstances as well as the severity of the injuries and the extent of the resulting losses. Plaintiffs may recover their past and future medical expenses, past and future income losses, pain and suffering, emotional distress, and others. In particularly egregious cases, the plaintiffs may also be able to recover punitive damages. Even if a cyclist shares a portion of the fault, he or she may still be able to recover a percentage of damages for the losses that were sustained.
If you have been injured or your loved one has been killed in a bicycle accident caused by the negligence of a motorist, contact the Law Offices of Bryan Musgrave for a free case review. We can assess your case, provide valuable advice, and help you pursue the compensation you deserve.