Bicycling is a healthy, enjoyable, and popular way to get around. Unfortunately, many drivers ignore or overlook bicyclists. According to the League of American Bicyclists, Indiana ranks as the 22nd most bicycle-friendly state in the nation, with 15 bicycle-friendly communities, 54 bicycle-friendly businesses, and three bicycle-friendly universities.
Despite these statistics, even the most conscientious bicycle rider is at risk when riding in traffic — and while helmets are a smart idea, they provide little protection for bicyclists involved in motor vehicle accidents. Those riders often suffer severe and catastrophic injuries from a motorist’s negligence.
Gerling Law’s bicycle accident lawyers are experienced in personal injury law. We are dedicated to obtaining full and fair compensation for your bicycle accident injury or wrongful death compensation if a family member was killed while riding a bike.
We will thoroughly investigate the accident to determine who was at fault and to preserve evidence. That includes situations when a faulty product may have contributed to the accident.
At Gerling Law, we take bicycle safety very seriously. For example, through our Gerling Law Great Helmet Giveaway, we are involved in bicycle safety in our community and have a special empathy for the victims of these accidents. Contact an Evansville bicycle accident attorney at our firm to discuss your rights and remedies.
Bicycle Accident Statistics
According to the most recent publication on Indiana Crash Facts by the Indiana University Public Policy Institute, traffic fatalities have risen in recent years.
Further, data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) indicates that Indiana is in the top 10 states with the highest bicyclist fatalities per capita. Recent data shows 897 total deaths and 20 bicyclist fatalities in Indiana in the last reporting year. Although bike trips amount to just 1% of all trips in the country, cyclists make up 2% of all people who die in motor vehicle accidents in the United States.
Indiana Bike Laws
Generally, under Indiana’s bicycle laws, bicycle riders have the same rights and responsibilities as motor vehicle drivers. For example, cyclists must ride in or as close to the right-hand lane as possible when traveling slower than the speed of traffic. Further, while bicyclists are typically not forbidden from riding on sidewalks, it is advisable to use bike lanes. Bike lanes are usually more smoothly paved and, therefore, less hazardous. Also, you are less likely to run the risk of colliding with an unsuspecting pedestrian if you use bike lanes. In addition, certain specific equipment and operation laws apply to Indiana bicyclists. Those who violate these laws or any local ordinances directed at cyclists might face penalties.
Bike Accident Injuries
Although Indiana does not require cyclists to wear helmets, helmets can prevent severe and potentially deadly injuries. A recent study by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) found that bicycling leads to the highest number of sport and recreation-related emergency department visits for traumatic brain injuries in the country. You would be wise to take this statistic seriously. Many people dislike helmets, and it’s easy to see why. They are not particularly comfortable, and many people would far rather feel the wind in their hair than put on a clunky helmet. But a traumatic brain injury can permanently alter your life, so wearing a helmet and protecting your brain just makes good sense.
The most common injuries after an Evansville bike accident might include trauma to the following areas:
- Head: resulting in fractures, concussions, or hemorrhaging;
- Face and eyes: causing dental or facial fractures or contusions;
- Chest: causing injury to the lungs or ribs;
- Abdomen: resulting in ruptures, lacerations, or hernias;
- Genitourinary: causing vulva, rectal, or pelvic trauma; and
- Soft tissue: resulting in road rash or contusions.
Several factors can influence the severity of injuries from a bicycle accident, including helmet use, the speed at which the vehicles are traveling, objects with which the vehicles collide, driver impairment, other unsafe driving behaviors, and emergency response times.
In addition, there are several effective precautions that can reduce or prevent serious and fatal bike accidents. Useful precautions include helmet use, fluorescent clothing, retro-reflective clothes, and active lighting. However, sometimes, even the most careful and vigilant cyclist can end up in a collision. If a negligent driver injures you while you are riding your bike, your expenses can add up quickly. An Evansville bike accident lawyer can help bike crash victims address compensation for their injuries.
Fault in Evansville Bike Accident Claims
Most Indiana bike accident lawsuits against motorists involve negligence claims. In Indiana, a bike accident victim who wishes to recover against an at-fault motorist must establish the following elements of negligence:
- The motorist owed the bicyclist a duty to exercise reasonable care;
- The motorist breached their duty;
- The motorist’s breach caused the victim’s injuries; and
- The breach resulted in actual losses and harm.
In addition to motorists, other parties may be liable for a bike accident. Some potentially liable parties include:
- Other cyclists,
- Government entities, and
- Manufacturers of defective vehicles, vehicle parts, or bike parts.
Establishing fault is crucial to recovering compensation after an accident. One of our attorneys will work with you to determine all of the parties that might be liable. Sometimes this determination is straightforward as only one other party is involved. However, sometimes, more than one party might be at fault. For instance, if the car that you collided with was a work vehicle, the driver’s employer might bear some responsibility—particularly if they negligently hired or failed to train their employee. Also, if the crash was due to a defective part on your bike or the car that hit you, you might have a cause of action against the manufacturer. This can sometimes be complicated, so let us help you determine proper liability and the most effective way to recover damages in your case.
Comparative Fault Claims After Bike Accidents
In some cases, you—as the injured bicyclist—might be partially responsible for the accident. Indiana follows modified comparative fault principles. Under this framework, a bike accident victim’s damages are reduced in proportion to their level of fault. However, if the accident victim is more than 51% at fault for the accident, they cannot recover any damages. The insurance company will do all it can to pin more than 51% of the blame on you, so they don’t have to pay compensation. We know how to help prevent them from successfully using this tactic against you.
Types of Damages in Bike Accident Personal Injury Lawsuits
Indiana permits bike accident victims to secure economic and noneconomic damages. Additionally, in narrow circumstances, Indiana allows punitive damages.
Economic damages involve tangible monetary losses stemming from the accident. Examples of economic damages include medical expenses, lost wages, and property damage.
Noneconomic damages are more subjective and intangible. They involve the non-monetary losses you experienced because of the at-fault party’s negligence. These damages include emotional distress, loss of enjoyment of life, and pain and suffering.
Unlike economic and noneconomic damages, which aim to make the victim “whole again,” punitive damages serve to punish the at-fault party for their conduct. In Indiana, punitive or exemplary damages are only available in cases where the victim can establish with clear and convincing evidence that the at-fault party acted with malice, fraud, gross negligence, or oppressiveness. However, Indiana limits punitive damages in some instances, such as in claims against governmental entities.
An attorney can help clients determine the type and amount of compensation available for their bike accident injuries.
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Speak with a Dedicated Evansville Bicycle Accident Lawyer to Get The Legal Help You Deserve
If you or a family member has been seriously injured in a bicycle accident, talking to a law firm with experience in accident cases makes sense. Call Gerling Law today at 888-437-5464 or complete the free case review form for a free, no-obligation initial consultation with an Evansville bike accident attorney on our team. Remember, Go with Experience. Go with Gerling. We offer free consultations to all accident victims and will not bill you for our services unless we can recover compensation on your behalf.