There are a lot of accidents that take place on the roads every day. Cars, trucks, motorcycles, and bicycles all share the same space, and sometimes there is inevitable contact. If you are driving a car and hit a bicyclist, what are the consequences? What if you are on a bike and get hit by a car? Can you get an auto accident lawyer for this type of accident? In this article, we will explore these questions and more.
Can I Get an Auto Accident Lawyer for a Bike Accident?
While there are bike accident-specific attorneys, you can also opt for an auto accident lawyer should you be hit by a car while on your bike. This is because a bike is legally considered a “vehicle,” as it must adhere to the rules of the road in the same way that a car would. Bicycles must abide by stop signs, turning lanes, red lights, turn signals, and more—so why should they be exempt from the same kind of legal protection available for motorized vehicles?
Common Causes of Bike vs. Car Accidents
About 2% of all motor vehicle collision fatalities are cyclists, and car versus bike accidents account for up to 1.2 million doctor visits in the United States each year. While sometimes bike versus car collisions occur as a result of unsafe biking behavior, failure to signal, or failure to stop for traffic, sometimes these accidents simply cannot be avoided. Here are some of the most common causes of bike versus car collisions:
· Left hand turns
· Unexpected backing vehicle
· Open vehicle door collision
· Lane changing
· Unsafe passing practices
Keep in mind there are many other circumstances that can cause a bike versus car collision. As is to be expected with a shared roadway, accidents vary and can strike at any time.
What Are My Options If I Hit a Cyclist?
It may seem counterintuitive given how exposed cyclists are as opposed to motor vehicles, but your best bet should you be in a vehicle versus bicycle collision is to treat it like any other car accident. Of course, your first priority should be your well-being and the well-being of the cyclist—so call 911 immediately following the accident. Take pictures of the damage and exchange insurance information. Even if you don’t believe you are injured, it is prudent to seek medical care following an accident.
If you hit a cyclist, your next steps are dependent on who is determined to be at fault. Keep in mind that while many law enforcement officers will initially mark the bicycle at fault due to the fact they may only be privy to the vehicle driver’s side of the story while the cyclist receives medical aid, this can all shake out differently should the cyclist try to take you to court and offer their perspective. You will either be determined to be at fault, partially at fault, or not at fault—though it is possible for both parties to be deemed at fault, or for a third party to be deemed at fault, as in the case of a manufacturer’s defect. (Want to learn more about who is considered “at fault” for an accident? Check out our recent post on the topic!)
Regardless of who you think was at fault, it is generally a good idea to contact an auto accident lawyer immediately following a collision. Be sure to keep receipts and invoices, medical bills and prescriptions, police reports, and any other form of documentation that may be relevant to your case. Consult a qualified attorney with extensive traffic accident law experience, even—and perhaps especially if—you think you may be considered at fault.
What If the Other Party Is Underinsured?
In some cases, avid bike commuters may not even pay for car insurance. So what if the biker is at fault and cannot pay for damages to your car? Conversely, if the vehicle is at fault and causes $200,000 worth of damage with an insurance plan that only covers $75,000, what happens? In both cases, the party in question is considered underinsured, a particularly common scenario in bike versus car accidents.
This is a good time to check your insurance policy to make sure you have “underinsured motorist coverage,” so you are able to receive compensation after the accident regardless of the other party’s ability to pay for it. This means you will receive reimbursements from your insurance company thanks to your monthly or annual premium.
Is Getting an Auto Accident Lawyer Worth It?
Car accidents, especially bike versus car accidents, can be emotionally and physically taxing. A bicycle has little protection against a vehicle (even if they wear a helmet), which adds an extra dimension to this kind of case.
Even if you think you are not at fault, it is beneficial to protect yourself with an auto accident lawyer in the event that the other party decides to take you to court. Even if you don’t plan on utilizing the full extent of your lawyer’s services, you may opt for hourly or one-time legal counsel to help you better understand your options for seeking damages or protecting yourself. Keep in mind many lawyers will only take their earnings after they’ve won the case for you; this helps many Americans pay for legal representation every year.
Looking for a qualified auto accident lawyer to answer your questions and inform you of your rights? Call Welsh Law Firm today!