In a city as densely-packed as New York, a bicycle is a great way to get around—and with more than 450,000 daily trips, it seems bicyclists agree. Bicycles are cheap to operate, eco-friendly, and good for your health.
But bicycle riding has a dark side. From uneven pavement to out-of-control vehicles to other drivers who refuse to yield, bicycles are no match for some of the hazards of the road. If you or a loved one has been injured in a bicycle accident, the experienced bicycle accident lawyers at Halperin & Halperin, P.C. can fight for the compensation you deserve.
Why Bicycle Accidents are Common
Not all bicycle accidents are serious enough to be reported. Despite this, there are thousands of accidents reported in New York City each year, even as the City has put measures in place in an attempt to completely eliminate bicycle fatalities by the year 2024. But many bicycle accidents persist in NYC for numerous reasons:
- Confusing and inconsistent bicycle infrastructure, including lane markings;
- Inexperienced riders;
- Congested traffic;
- Speeding drivers and drivers who fail to yield; and
- Distracted drivers, pedestrians, and bicyclists.
Not all bicycle accidents have a single clear cause. In many cases, many factors may converge to injure a bicycle rider.
What Injuries Do Bicyclists Tend to Suffer?
Because a bicycle has no outer frame, it offers little protection to riders in a collision. And although bicyclists can be injured in solo crashes or by colliding with another bicyclist or pedestrian, the most serious injuries and fatalities are almost always associated with a vehicle collision.
These injuries include
- Broken bones
- Scrapes, contusions, and “road rash”
- Degloving injuries
- Concussions and other traumatic brain injuries
- Back and neck injuries
- Spinal cord damage and paralysis
- Limb amputations
Some bicycle injuries can be treated at the scene or at home, but others may require hospitalization, physical therapy, or even a lifetime of nursing care. Head and brain injuries can lead to memory loss, personality changes, and even early-onset dementia.
What Should You Do After a New York Bicycle Accident?
Even a minor bicycle accident can leave you shaken and sore. If you need medical treatment, you may not get a chance to talk to police officers at the scene. You may also just want to move on from this unpleasant event once you begin to recover. However, it is important to take quick action after your accident to preserve evidence, obtain medical treatment, and seek advice from a bicycle accident attorney.
Pictures, video, witness statements, and a police report are all important evidence in any accident investigation. As soon as possible, you should contact the police to file an accident report. You should also call your insurance company, and speak to any known witnesses.
Other valuable evidence can include GPS and cell phone data and the damaged bike itself. This can show the speed you were traveling and the angle of the collision.
You or someone you know may want to photograph or videotape the scene as soon as possible after the accident. These photos are the best evidence of what the scene looked like at the time of the accident, and will become very important if the makeup of the scene is changed between accident and the trial.
Seek Medical Treatment and Follow Doctors’ Orders
Even if you feel okay after a bicycle accident, you should see a doctor as soon as possible. Many injuries, like whiplash or muscle strain, may not be noticeable for several days. Going to the doctor early can help you avoid complications later.
To be properly compensated for your injuries, it is important not only to get medical attention right after the accident but also to follow all medical recommendations. If you skip physical therapy or stop going to follow-up appointments, the defendant may argue that your medical issues are not serious.
Consult a Bicycle Accident Attorney
Bicycle accidents can be complicated.
- What caused the accident?
- Who is responsible for the accident?
- What compensation can be recovered?
If an accident was caused by a defect in city property, like a pothole or an obstructed stop sign, New York City may be liable. The City can also be liable if a bicyclist is struck by an MTA bus or other public transit vehicle.
Personal injury cases filed against a city have a different set of rules and procedures than other personal injury cases. Failing to follow these rules can result in the dismissal of your case, so it is important to contact a bicycle accident attorney as soon as possible.
The bicycle itself could play a role in the bicyclist’s injuries. The bicyclist may sue the manufacturer or retailer for defective product design. It is not uncommon for a bicycle accident lawsuit to include multiple defendants who each bear a share of responsibility for the crash.
An insurance company may contact you shortly after your accident to settle the claim. Their interest lies in settling for as little as possible. Once you accept a settlement, you give up your right to additional compensation.
A bicycle accident attorney, like the team at Halperin & Halperin, P.C. can evaluate settlement offers to make sure you’re compensated fairly.
What Compensation is Available?
Recovering from a bicycle accident can be exhausting and expensive. When someone else’s negligence caused your accident, you deserve compensation for the injuries you have suffered.
Some of the compensation that may be available in a personal injury lawsuit includes:
- Medical expenses. This includes billed medical expenses and other costs like medical equipment, prescriptions, and physical therapy.
- Lost wages and loss of future income. Even a minor bicycle accident can leave you sidelined for a week or two. And if your injuries prevent you from returning to work, you may be entitled to future wages you would have earned if not for your accident.
- Pain and suffering. Some bicyclists suffer post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) after an accident. But even if you do not develop PTSD, you can recover compensation for the emotional injuries you experienced during your accident and recovery.
- Temporary or permanent disability. You may be entitled to these damages if you are unable to return to your normal activities after your accident, even if the disability allows you to keep working.
- Loss of consortium. This claim can be brought by a spouse who also has been affected by the accident victim’s injuries.
Compensation for Wrongful Death
A wrongful death lawsuit is similar to a personal injury lawsuit but will be filed only when the bicyclist dies as a result of his or her injuries. The bicyclist’s estate or surviving family members can sue on his or her behalf and recover any or all of the damages listed above. The bicyclist’s surviving family members can also recover funeral expenses and damages for loss of support and loss of love and companionship.
New York’s Comparative Fault Laws
Like many states, New York has a comparative fault law. This reduces the amount an injured bicyclist can recover to the degree the bicyclist is responsible for the crash.
A jury may decide that a bicyclist is 20 percent at fault because they could have avoided the accident if they were paying more attention. If the jury determines the bicyclist suffered $200,000 in damages, the bicyclist can recover only $160,000 (or $200,000 minus 20 percent). If the bicyclist is 50 percent or more at fault, they will not receive any compensation at all.
Apportioning fault can be one of the biggest challenges in any bicycle accident case and is another reason why you should have a bicycle accident attorney who will thoroughly investigate your claim. This helps you rebut any comparative fault defenses the defendant may raise.
Contact a New York City Bicycle Accident Attorney
If you or a loved one has been injured or killed in a bicycle accident, let the experienced bicycle accident lawyers at Halperin & Halperin, P.C. fight for the money you deserve. Our record reflects our successes inside and outside the courtroom. We have the experience to raise any and all potential claims and protect your rights throughout this traumatic time.
You must act quickly as New York State has a short statute of limitations on personal injury claims, and waiting too long could mean you never get your day in court. Give Halperin & Halperin, P.C. a call today or fill out the contact form on our website to set up your free, no-obligation consultation.