Bicycle Accident Injury
Arizona Bicycle Accident Injury Lawyer for Accidents on a Bike
In Phoenix, Arizona, many people choose to ride bicycles as a form of recreation or for transportation to their schools or workplaces. Arizona’s year-round warmth allows residents to enjoy riding bikes throughout the year. You can also enjoy numerous health benefits from riding your bicycle.
While bicycling is an excellent form of exercise and an economical form of transportation, riding a bicycle also places you at a much greater risk of severe injuries if you are hit by a car on a bike.
Bicyclists do not have the same types of protection in accidents that the occupants of motor vehicles enjoy. When you ride your bicycle, you do not have the protection offered by a car’s metal cab, collision avoidance technology, safety belts, or airbags. Instead, you are largely unprotected from the physical forces released when you are hit by a car on a bike.
An experienced bicycle accident attorney at Hutzler Law can evaluate what happened and explain the legal merits of your claim. If your accident was caused by the driver’s negligence, you might be entitled to recover compensation for all of your losses.
How Common are Bicycle Accidents?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that bicycles only account for 1% of all of the trips people take in the U.S. Even though people take much fewer trips by bike than by other modes of transportation, they have a much greater risk of being seriously injured or killed in bicycle accidents than in car accidents.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety reports that 843 bicyclists were killed in accidents in 2019 alone. The CDC reports that children and adolescents between the ages of five and 19 account for one-third of all bicycle accident injuries that are treated in emergency departments each year.
In Arizona, the Arizona Department of Transportation reports that there were a total of 1,275 bicycle accidents in 2019. In those accidents, 1,259 bicyclists were injured, and 30 cyclists were killed.
Common Causes of a Bike Accident Injury
A bike accident injury can be caused by many different factors. Accidents can happen because of negligence, road conditions, reduced visibility, and weather conditions. Some of the common types of driver-related factors that can result in bicycle accidents include the following:
- Distracted driving
- Inattentive driving
- Failing to signal
- Failing to yield
- Impaired driving
- Unsafe lane changes
- Aggressive driving
- Failing to watch for cyclists when backing out of driveways
Common Types of Bicycle Accidents
The Federal Highway Administration has identified six common types of bicycle accident scenarios occurring in three main categories. The main categories of bicycle accidents include crossing-path accidents, parallel-path accidents, and specific-circumstances accidents. These categories are further divided into the identified scenarios.
Crossing-path accidents happen when one party crosses the path of another. In this category of bicycle accidents, the FHA found that 21.7% were caused by the motorists’ failures to yield to cyclists. In 16.8% of the crossing-path collisions, the cyclists failed to yield to oncoming motorists in intersections. Another 11.8% of crossing-path accidents happened when bicyclists attempted to cross streets in midblock areas.
Parallel-path accidents happen when motorists and cyclists are traveling in the same direction. In this category of crashes, the FHA found that 12.2% occurred when the motorists merged into the cyclists’ lanes or turned across them, striking the bicycles.
The FHA also found that 8.6% of parallel-path accidents happened when drivers overtook cyclists and struck them from behind. Finally, 7.3% occurred when bicyclists turned into the paths of oncoming motorists.
Most of these types of accidents are preventable. When drivers negligently cause bicycle accidents and injuries, the victims may be entitled to pursue compensation by filing personal injury lawsuits with the help of a bicycle accident attorney at Hutzler Law.
Common Types of Bicycle Accident Injuries
When motor vehicles strike bicycles, catastrophic injuries can result. Some of the common types of bicycle accident injuries that can happen are the following:
- Fractured arms and legs
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Skull fractures
- Head, face, and neck injuries
- Severe lacerations
- Thoracic injuries
- Organ damage
- Abdominal injuries
- Internal bleeding
- Spinal cord injuries
Bicyclists who are struck by cars often suffer multiple injuries and may be permanently disabled or killed.
Bicycle Laws in Arizona
Arizona has numerous laws that apply to bicyclists. Bicyclists are responsible for following the same laws that apply to all motorists, including the following:
- Duty to stop at stoplights and stop signs under ARS 28-644
- Duty to use a red rear reflector and a white headlight when cycling before sunrise or after sunset under ARS 28-817
- Duty to yield to pedestrians on sidewalks and in crosswalks under ARS 28-792
- Duty to look and signal before changing lanes under ARS 28-756
- Duty to drive in the right-hand lane or as close to the edge as possible other than when turning left or passing under ARS 28-721
- Duty to pull off at a safe area when followed by five or more vehicles on a two-lane road under ARS 28-704
- Two bicyclists allowed to ride side-by-side under ARS 28-815
There are also a number of laws that are specific to bicyclists only, including the following:
- Regular bicycle seats required under ARS 28-813
- Bicycles must have brakes that cause the wheels to skid under ARS 28-817
- Bicyclists must ride with at least one hand on the handlebar under ARS 28-816
- Cyclists prohibited from holding onto other vehicles on the roads under ARS 28-814
As a cyclist in Arizona, it is critical for you to know the bicycle safety laws in the state.
If you are injured in a bicycle accident with a motor vehicle, it will be much easier for you to prove that the driver was at fault if you followed all of the bicycle laws in Arizona.
Determining Liability in a Bicycle Accident
Determining liability in a bicycle accident is critical. Your attorney at Hutzler Law will carefully review the accident reports and other evidence to make a liability determination. This process might require your lawyer to work with experts such as accident reconstruction experts, medical experts, and others.
Determining liability means figuring out all of the parties that contributed to an accident’s cause so that they can be named as defendants in your lawsuit.
If you fail to name a responsible party as a defendant in your lawsuit, you will not be able to recover the percentage of damages that the jury allocates to it.
Determining liability also helps your attorney show the insurance company why it is in the company’s interest to agree to settle your claim fairly instead of risking a jury trial.
How to Prove Liability in a Bicycle Accident
Most bicycle accident claims involve negligence causes of action. Bicyclists and motorists have a duty to obey the state’s traffic laws. Motorists owe a duty to operate their vehicles in a reasonably prudent manner to reduce the risk of accidents and injuries to others.
To prove a negligence injury claim, you will have to prove that you were owed a duty of care by the motorist. You will also have to present evidence showing that the motorist breached the duty of care and that the breach was the direct or proximate cause of your accident and injuries.
To prove a negligence injury claim, you will have to prove that you were owed a duty of care by the motorist.
Finally, you will have to show that you suffered actual losses as a result. Each of these elements must be proved by a preponderance of the evidence. If you prove all of the elements but one, you will not be able to recover damages.
For example, if a car backed up and knocked your bicycle over, you will not be able to recover damages in a lawsuit if your bike was undamaged and you were uninjured.
In some cases, both the bicyclist and the motorist may share fault for a bicycle accident. When that happens, Arizona’s comparative negligence law will apply.
Comparative Negligence in Bicycle Accidents
Arizona follows a comparative negligence rule under ARS 12-2505. Under this law, a plaintiff will not be barred from recovering compensation simply because he or she shared fault in the cause of a bicycle accident. Instead, the jury will determine the percentage of fault to allocate to each party.
Once the allocation is completed, the plaintiff’s recovery amount will be reduced by his or her percentage of fault. For example, if you are found to be 20% at fault for your bicycle accident, your damages will be reduced by 20%.
Under ARS 12-2501, if two or more other people are responsible for causing your bicycle accident and injuries, there is a right to contribution. This means that all of the responsible parties will share the responsibility of paying your damages.
What Damages are Available in Arizona Bicycle Accidents?
Compensatory damages in bicycle accident claims are divided into economic and non-economic damages. Some of the types of damages you might be able to recover include the following:
- Past and future medical expenses
- Past and future wage losses
- Future reduction in your ability to earn a living
- Property damage
- Physical pain and suffering
- Emotional harm
- Loss of your ability to enjoy life
- Loss of consortium
If you lost your loved one in a bicycle accident, you might be able to recover funeral and burial expenses as well as other damages.
In rare cases, punitive damages might be available. These are monetary amounts defendants are ordered to pay above and beyond the victims’ compensation. However, they are only ordered in cases when the defendants have acted outrageously. Your attorney can help you to understand the types of damages you might recover and the potential value of your claim.
When Should You File a Bicycle Accident Claim?
Arizona has a two-year statute of limitations for injury accident claims found in ARS 12-542. This means you must file a lawsuit no later than two years after your bicycle accident or risk losing your right to recover compensation for your losses.
In practice, however, it is best for you to talk to an experienced attorney as soon after your accident as possible. This will provide your attorney with more time to investigate your case and build a stronger claim to present to the insurance company.
Get Help from the Bicycle Accident Injury Lawyer at Hutzler Law
If you have suffered serious injuries in a bicycle accident in Arizona, you should contact Hutzler Law as soon as possible.
Call our law firm today to request a free consultation at (602) 730-4530.