How Most Bicycle Accidents are Caused

Lewis and Tompkins is a Washington, D.C. injury law firm that offers legal counsel to those who have been injured in accidents due to no fault of their own. One important aspect of our practice is defending bicyclists who have been hit and injured by cars. If you or a loved one has been injured in a bicycle accident in D.C., Maryland or Virginia, contact the bicycle accident attorneys at Lewis and Tompkins today.

People ride bicycles for many reasons. Some ride to stay in shape, some ride because it’s cheaper than a car, some ride because they live in an area where owning a bike is more practical than owning a car, and some ride because they view it as an environmentally friendly way to get from point A to point B.

All of these are fine reasons to ride a bike, but what a bike cannot offer you is protection. Bear in mind that your average automobile has seat belts, airbags, sensor devices, anti-lock brakes, while a bicyclist has none of those things. While the required helmet is certainly protection against taking a spill on the pavement, it doesn’t do much good when the cyclist is hit by a car weighing several thousand pounds and moving at fifty miles an hour. And since most D.C. area bicyclists share the road with cars, and indeed have to follow the same traffic rules as cars, bicycle accidents are more than likely.

Cyclists are legally allowed to ride on any road that is not a freeway. They can ride in the right lane, preferably off to the right or on the shoulder of the road if there is one. Bicycle riders are also legally allowed to move over to the next lane to pass slower cars if necessary.

According to the NHTSA, there were 44,000 bicyclists injured in traffic accidents in 2006, and 773 of the injury victims ended up dead. Believe it or not, the greater percentage of these accidents all happened due to the same reasons. Most of them aren’t freak accidents or random occurrences. Most bicycle accidents occur due to:

Drivers Turning into the Path of the Bicyclist: Bicyclists are small enough to the point where they are much less obvious to drivers of cars and trucks. They certainly don’t show up in the blind spot. These sorts of accidents happen when the driver is unaware that a bicyclist is behind him on his right and makes a sudden left turn, causing the driver to plow into the side of the car.

Hidden Driveways, Hidden Streets: The streets of suburbia are loaded with driveways where the entrances are not entirely noticeable. There are plenty of bicycle accidents that occur when a driver backs out of his hidden driveway and blindsides a bicyclist.

Stop Signs, Red Lights: Drivers that run red lights or stop signs often end up causing accidents. When the victim is riding a car, it’s even money whether or not there will be an injury. When the victim is on a bike, you can pretty much guarantee that there will be a serious injury.

Inattention by Other Drivers: Drivers today drive distracted. That’s not even up for dispute. They drive while eating, they drive while talking on cell phones, they drive while sending text messages, they drive while putting on makeup, they drive while fiddling around on their iPods, and they drive while talking to passengers. Is it any surprise that they would be inattentive enough to hit bicyclists on a regular basis.

Failure to Look Both Ways at a Red Light or a Stop Sign: A driver might actually look both ways, but the problem is that bicycles are small, unobtrusive vehicles. So the question is whether or not the driver looked carefully both ways, or simply gave a quick glace to both sides. If the answer is the latter, then the odds of a bicyclist getting hit are that much greater.

At Lewis and Tompkins, we fully understand that bicycle injuries are usually very painful and very difficult to get over. We also understand that insurance companies go out of their way to pay as little as possible for your medical bills, lost wages, recovery costs and emotional distress. It is our job to help victims of bicycle accidents in the DC area get back on their feet with a minimum of stress from insurers.

If you or a loved one has been injured in a bicycle accident in Maryland, DC or Northern Virginia, contact Lewis and Tompkins for a free legal consultation today.

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