Bicycle accidents have a much higher incidence of serious injury and death per accident than car accidents. Some studies have found that people involved in bicycle accidents are 3 times more likely to be injured and 14 times more likely to be killed than occupants of motor vehicles. While helmet laws, enacted in many states, are helping to reduce these numbers, bicyclists are still at greater risk of catastrophic injury or death when they are involved in bicycle-vehicle collisions.
If you were injured or if someone you love tragically passed away after being struck by a careless or reckless motorist, reach out to our team at The Law Offices Of James C. DeZao, P.A. With over 150 years of combined experience and hundreds of millions of dollars in compensation recovered, our attorneys have what it takes to effectively advocate for you. We are committed to securing the fair compensation you are owed and the justice you deserve.
Safety Tips for Bicyclists
Anyone who rides a bike in New Jersey should be aware of and follow all applicable state laws. The same goes for motorists who share the road with bicyclists.
It is always wise to take precautions when riding a bicycle, including:
- Wear a helmet; anyone under the age of 17 is required by law to wear a properly secured safety helmet, but it is strongly recommended that all cyclists wear helmets to prevent serious injury
- Use bike lanes when possible and, if riding on the road, follow all applicable traffic laws, such as obeying traffic signals and stop signs, riding in the direction of traffic, etc.
- If riding at night, use a front light that is visible from at least 600 feet and a red rear light that is visible from at least 600 feet
Remember that you are not as large or as visible as an automobile, so do all you can to increase your own visibility, such as riding with the headlight on at all times and wearing reflective clothing after dark.
Additionally, road hazards have a much greater effect on a small, two-wheeled vehicle, so watch for bumps, potholes, cracks, loose gravel, debris, or any other condition that might cause you to lose control. Bicyclists are legally allowed to ride in traffic lanes to avoid roadway hazards.
The purpose of filing a personal injury claim after a bicycle accident is twofold: First, you can recover monetary compensation for damages, such as medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering. Second, you can hold the negligent party accountable and secure a much needed (and deserved) sense of justice. While a fair settlement or jury verdict cannot undo the trauma you have endured, it can allow you to recover the monetary resources you need to heal.
Under New Jersey’s no-fault car insurance system, the victim of a bicycle accident can recover compensation for certain damages by filing a claim with their own auto insurance provider. Your personal injury protection (PIP) covers bicycle-vehicle accidents, meaning you do not necessarily need to prove that the other party was at fault to be compensated for covered losses. However, PIP coverage is limited, and if you do not have auto insurance, you are not covered at all. In many cases, it is in your best interests to go outside the no-fault system and file a third-party claim against the at-fault driver’s insurance company or even sue the liable party directly.
To bring a personal injury claim or lawsuit after a bicycle accident, you will likely need to prove the following elements:
- You were injured and suffered measurable damages
- The driver’s negligent or wrongful conduct was the cause of your injuries
- You were not more than 50 percent at fault for the crash (if you were partly at fault)
- You sustained a specific injury that meets the state’s “serious injury” threshold
Under the New Jersey “limited right to sue” rule, you can only go outside of the no-fault system and bring legal action against an at-fault driver if you can prove that you suffered a “serious injury,” as defined by the state.
The following types of injuries qualify as “serious injuries” in New Jersey:
- Amputation/loss of a body part
- Displaced fractures
- Permanent injury
- Significant scarring and/or disfigurement
- Loss of a fetus
Death is also considered a “serious injury” in the state of New Jersey. This means that if your loved one died after being involved in a bicycle accident, you likely have grounds to sue the at-fault party for damages. You do not necessarily need to seek compensation within the confines of PIP provisions.
Note that if you have a “Standard Policy,” and you have elected the “unlimited right to sue” option, you may sue for both economic and non-economic damages, such as pain and suffering. If you have chosen the “limited right to sue” option, you may only seek compensation for economic damages (in most cases).
Like other personal injury claims, bicycle accident claims are subject to a statute of limitations in New Jersey. This means that you have a limited amount of time to file a lawsuit. Note that this does not apply to no-fault insurance claims (or other insurance claims). The amount of time you have to file an insurance claim is typically dictated by the specific provisions of the applicable policy.
In New Jersey, you typically have just two years to file a bicycle accident lawsuit. If you do not bring a lawsuit within two years of the date of the accident, meaning the statute of limitations expires before you take legal action, your case will most likely be dismissed. This means that you will lose your right to file a lawsuit and will be unable to recover compensation for your damages.
When you reach out to The Law Offices Of James C. DeZao, P.A., your initial consultation is free of charge, and if we agree to handle your case, we will work on a contingency fee basis. This means we get paid for our services only if there is a monetary recovery of funds.
Our New Jersey bicycle accident attorneys are available to assist you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. We answer our phones at all hours and are always here to provide the information you need to move forward. We take great pride in providing our clients with highly personalized and compassionate service. Our attorneys are dedicated advocates, both in and out of the courtroom, and are prepared to aggressively seek the maximum compensation you are owed.
Unfortunately, even when you are being as safe as possible, you cannot always avoid an accident. In fact, most bike accidents occur not as a result of the cyclist’s error or negligence but due to the careless or reckless conduct of motor vehicle drivers.
Specifically, some of the most common causes of bicycle accidents include:
- Distracted driving, including texting while driving
- Drunk driving/driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs
- Speeding, including driving too fast for current conditions
- Failing to yield the right of way to bicyclists
- Failing to check for bicyclists in vehicle blind spots
- Passing or following a bicyclist too closely
- Running red lights, stop signs, and other traffic control devices
- Reckless and/or aggressive driving, including road rage
- Driving, stopping, or parking in designated bicycle lanes
- Failing to leave adequate room when overtaking a cyclist
- Turning, passing, or changing lanes unsafely or unlawfully
Sometimes, outside factors can contribute to or cause a bicycle crash. Poorly maintained roadways, defective roadway design, and roadway hazards can all lead to serious accidents.
Common Types of Bicycle Accident Injuries
Even when bicycle accidents are not fatal, victims tend to sustain severe, life-altering injuries.
Some examples of common injuries resulting from bicycle accidents include:
- Brain injuries
- Broken bones
- Cuts, scrapes, and lacerations
- Eye, mouth, and face injuries
- Head injuries
- Internal bleeding
- Neck, back, and spine injuries
- Organ damage
- Road rash (“friction burns”)
- Soft tissue injuries, such as torn ligaments
These injuries often require immediate medical attention and may necessitate ongoing treatment and care. Victims are often unable to return to work or their daily lives for weeks, months, or even years. When injuries are very severe, victims are likely to sustain permanent disabilities, impairments, or limitations, affecting their ability to return to their once-normal lives at all.