According to national statistics, in the past five years, the number of Americans who cycle has grown from 51 million to 66 million. Many people are drawn to cycling because it not only offers physical benefits, but can also be a much more economical mode of travel, saving money on gas, vehicle maintenance, parking, and other costs that do not exist with cycling.
Tragically, this increase in the number of cyclists on the road has also led to an increase in bike accidents which has led to more injured and dead victims. On average, there are approximately 1,000 people killed each year in bike accidents, and another almost 500,000 victims injured. These are much higher rates than vehicle occupants face.
Children and teens are at a high risk, suffering about one-third of all bike accident injuries. The group with the highest number of bicycle accident death rates are adults who are in their fifties. Most fatal bike accidents occur in urban areas and almost 40 percent of fatal accidents are alcohol-related.
How can cyclists prevent and protect themselves from bike accident injuries?
Anyone riding a bike is completely vulnerable to serious injury if they are hit by a vehicle. Unlike occupants in a car, there is nothing that surrounds the cyclist that will take some of the impact should there be a collision. This usually means that in these accidents, it is usually the cyclist that suffers the most severe injuries.
Some of the steps that a cyclist can take which can help minimize these injuries include the following:
- Cyclists should always wear a helmet that has been properly fitted, no matter how old they are
- Cyclists should always wear reflective clothing when traveling during nighttime hours
- Cyclists should always wear fluorescent clothing when traveling during daytime hours
- Cyclists should make sure the bicycle they are riding is the correct size for their size
- Cyclists should add lights to their bicycle, such as a blinking red or white light
Despite all of these precautions, cyclists can still become victims of a negligent or reckless driver. Should this happen, the victim can pursue damages against the at-fault driver. Some of the damages they can pursue include:
- All medical expenses associated with the injuries
- Lost wages the victim is suffering from being unable to work while they recover
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Permanent disability
- Scarring or disfigurement
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Loss of future income (in cases where a permanent disability has been sustained)
- Loss of companionship
Although victims are not required to retain the services of a bicycle accident attorney, it is in the victim’s best interest to do so. A bicycle accident lawyer will ensure that the victim’s rights are protected and that the at-fault driver’s will not be able to manipulate the victim into settling for much less than they may be entitled to. In many cases, an attorney will work on a contingency fee, meaning they do not get paid unless they are able to secure a settlement or award for the victim.