RHODE ISLAND BICYCLE ACCIDENT LAWYERS: HOW CAN WE PROVIDE HELP FOR INJURED BICYCLISTS?
Whether riding for exercise, commuting, or for fun, bicycling on Rhode Island roads comes with risks. Because of these known risks, most bicyclists take measures to minimize danger from riding on Rhode Island roads, which include wearing a helmet at a minimum, to bicycling on less traveled roads or at specific times of the day in which there is less traffic.
Regrettably, despite the proactive and preventative measures one can take to avoid the chances of a collision with a motor vehicle while bicycling, it is virtually impossible to eliminate all risks of being struck by a motor vehicle while on a bicycle. Distracted driving, aggressive driving, and faulty equipment on vehicles all routinely contribute to bicycle accidents.
WHAT EVIDENCE MIGHT HELP MY RHODE ISLAND BICYCLE ACCIDENT CLAIM?
Every bicycle accident case is unique. Evidence that may be important for one claim might not be for another claim. Therefore, it is vitally important to seek the counsel of a local Rhode Island bicycle accident lawyer for guidance about the best way to investigate and handle the particular facts of your case.
At Marin and Barrett, Inc., we can tailor our legal strategy to the individual nature of each Rhode Island bicycle accident case. Using our experience we will be able to conduct an investigation to obtain time-sensitive evidence and bring in necessary expert testimony and file motions and subpoenas to compel disclosure of evidence that is being withheld.
Some examples of evidence that might be useful to your bicycle accident case include:
THE POLICE REPORT
Rhode Island law requires a car accident to be reported if it results in the bodily injury or death of any person or it results in damage to property in excess of $1,000. (Rhode Island General Laws Section 31-26-3.2). The accident report should include details about the cause of the crash, any injuries suffered, and possibly witness statements. Both your bicycle accident attorney and the insurance company will obtain a copy of the accident report as part of the investigation.
CHEMICAL TEST RESULTS
Alcohol is a large contributing factor in a high percentage of bicycle accidents. Statistics show that among bicycle accident fatalities, 37 percent had alcohol involvement for either the automobile driver (or bicycle driver). If the driver that hit you was impaired, the chemical test results can be used to prove negligence and liability.
CELL PHONE RECORDS
One of the leading causes of bicycle accidents in 2020 is distracted driving. In most cases, cell phone providers will not voluntarily provide those records and our experienced attorneys will not hesitate to file a subpoena to obtain the driver’s cell phone records if they will contribute important evidence to your claim.
If your accident happened in front of a business or an intersection, it might have been caught on surveillance video. If there is a dispute about who was at fault, the surveillance video footage might be critical evidence.
Our investigation will include speaking with all eyewitnesses and asking them to provide testimony if it is helpful to the case.
EXPERT WITNESS TESTIMONY
Injuries from bicycle accidents can be very serious and it is common for the testimony of medical and economic experts to testify in the proceedings. This testimony can be used to prove the severity of the injuries and the total value of any future medical bills and lost career earnings.
PHOTOS OF PROPERTY DAMAGE, SKID MARKS, AND INJURIES
Photographs of property damage, damage to your bicycle and or helmet, skid marks, and injuries can be used to prove negligence and contradict the other side’s assertions about fault in the accident.
BICYCLIST INJURY STATISTICS IN THE UNITED STATES
According to the NHTSA, in 2018 approximately 47,000 bicyclists were injured in traffic accidents (a decrease from 50,000 or 6.4 percent from 2017). This accounts for 1.7 percent of all traffic accidents resulting in injuries in 2018 in the United States. With respect to fatalities, in 2018, there were 857 fatalities as a result of traffic accidents (an increase from 806 fatalities in 2017 or 6.3 percent from 2017). In fact, nationwide, the fatality rate for bicyclists has increased steadily from 2009 to 2018 (with the exception from 2016-2017. This increase in the number of bicycle accident related fatalities accounted for 2.3 percent of all traffic fatalities for the year (36,560 total).
WHAT ARE THE ELEMENTS OF A SUCCESSFUL BICYCLE ACCIDENT CLAIM IN RHODE ISLAND?
When you are injured in a bicycle accident and someone else is to blame you have the legal right to demand just compensation. But in order for a bicycle accident victim to have a valid personal injury claim and receive compensation, he or she must prove four elements in civil court (or through a negotiated settlement agreement). First, that the defendant (driver of the automobile) owed the bicycle accident victim a duty of care at the time of the accident. Second, that the defendant failed to fulfill this duty of care through either distracted driving, speeding, driving while impaired/drunk, or another form of negligence). Third, this failure caused the accident. And fourth, that the victim sustained damages (physical, emotional, and or mental) as a result.
WHAT ARE THE LAWS IN RHODE ISLAND THAT PROTECT BICYCLISTS WHILE ON PUBLIC ROADS?
Rhode Island has numerous laws that provide protections for bicyclists and pedestrians, including:
Helmet Law – R.I. Gen. Law 31-19-2.1 – requires any person under age of 15 riding a bicycle to wear a protective helmet.Safe Passing Laws – R.I. Gen. Law 31-15-18 – requiring that a driver of an automobile must pass a bicyclist by driving on the left of the motorcyclist at a safe distance, that is sufficient to prevent contact with the person operating the bicycle if the person were to fall into the driver’s lane of travel, and returning to the lane of travel once the automobile is safely clear of the overtaken bicycle.
Where to Ride – R.I. Gen. Law – 31-19-6 – requiring any person operating a bicycle on a road in Rhode Island to ride as near to the right side of the roadway as practical, exercising due care when passing a standing vehicle or one proceeding in the same direction except where official traffic control devices (signs of pavement markings) specifically direct bicyclist to do otherwise.
“Dooring” Law – R.I. Gen. Law 31-21-14 – requiring that no person open the door of an automobile on the roadways, streets, or highways of this state, available to moving traffic, unless and until it is reasonably safe to do so, and can be done without interfering with the movement of other traffic, including pedestrians and bicycles on sidewalks, shoulders, or bicycle lanes. In addition, no person shall leave a door open on the side of a vehicle available to moving traffic, including pedestrians and bicycles on sidewalks, shoulders or bicycle lanes, for a period of time longer than necessary to load or unload passengers.
CAN I RECOVER IF I WAS ALSO AT FAULT IN MY BICYCLE ACCIDENT?
Were you partially at fault in causing your bicycle accident or injury? If so, don’t worry. You are still entitled to a financial recovery as long as someone else also shares blame in causing the accident. The amount of your recovery will be reduced by your proportional share in the fault. Because of this, it is vitally important that you gather evidence that limits your responsibility in the accident.
WHAT ARE COMMON BICYCLE ACCIDENT INJURIES?
A collision between an automobile and a bicyclist can result in catastrophic injuries for the person riding the bicycle. Unlike automobile accidents involving two or more cars where passengers have the benefit of a steel structure, airbags, and seatbelts, there are fewer protections for bicyclist accident victims when automobiles strike them. This lack of protection from serious injury is why cyclists involved in a car crash are 1.5 times more likely to be killed than passenger vehicle occupants.
Fortunately, most bicycle accidents are not fatal accidents. Some of the most commonly reported bicycle accident injuries include:
TRAUMATIC BRAIN INJURY (TBI)
Even with a helmet on, the force generated by a crash can cause brain injuries extended beyond a mere concussion. Sometimes these injuries will not be symptomatic immediately, but the effects can be devastating.
NECK – BACK – SPINAL CORD INJURIES
Impact or whiplash to the neck and back can cause spinal cord injuries, potentially resulting in full or partial paralysis and respiratory problems.
Skin abrasions caused by sliding on pavement can result in agonizing pain, scarring, as well as a heightened risk of infection.
BROKEN BONES AND INTERNAL INJURIES
With such a high degree of force broken bones and internal injuries and bleeding are commonplace in victims of a bicycle accident.
Whether from the pavement, a burn, or broken glass and debris, facial lacerations and fractures are a common and unfortunate result of bicycle accidents. Severe cases may involve plastic surgery or partial transplants.
Unfortunately, a significant percentage of bicyclists may not survive the crash. If your loved one was killed in a bicycle accident you may have the option to file a wrongful death lawsuit.
Contact the local Rhode Island bicycle accident attorneys at Marin and Barrett, Inc. if you or a loved one has suffered injuries in a bicycle accident in Rhode Island. We can help you recover the compensation you are entitled to and we are available 24/7 at 401-228-8271.