In recent years, West Virginia has seen a sharp rise in the number of bicyclists on roadways. Whether driven by a green philosophy, rising gas prices, or simply a desire to enjoy the beautiful scenery of the Mountain State, more people than ever before are biking on streets, highways, and paths.
Unfortunately, cyclists are often at the mercy of drivers. When they are struck by a motor vehicle, they can be very severely or fatally injured. In this situation, injured cyclists may be able to file a personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault driver.
We at Johnstone & Gabhart, LLP, are prepared to bring more than five decades of combined motor vehicle injury experience to advocate for you if you or someone close has been injured as a cyclist. Our attorneys will work directly with you to build the strongest possible case for negotiation or litigation. Our experience is only eclipsed by our dedication. We encourage you to reach out. Please speak with us at 304-343-7100.
Bicyclists Are Vulnerable In Accidents
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), in 2019, 846 pedal cyclists were killed and an additional 49,000 were injured in motor vehicle traffic crashes. Pedal cyclist deaths accounted for 2.3 percent of all motor vehicle traffic fatalities and made up 1.8 percent of the people injured in traffic crashes during the year.
While bicycle trips account for just 1% of all trips in the U.S., bicyclists face a much higher risk of injury and death related to accidents than occupants of motor vehicles. The reason why is simple: bicyclists simply have less protection than drivers and passengers of cars, trucks, and SUVs. If a cyclist is struck by a vehicle that weighs thousands of pounds, the risk of serious or fatal injury is incredibly high.
These types of bike crashes can happen in any number of ways. Common types of bicycle accidents include:
- Right cross accidents, which occurs when a motor vehicle turns right out of a parking lot, driveway, or from a street and strikes a bicyclist;
- Left cross collisions, where a driver makes a left-hand turn and fails to see a bicyclist, hitting the biker;
- Right hook accidents, where a motor vehicle and bike are traveling in the same direction, and the driver turns right into the bicyclist’s path, striking them;
- Dooring, which happens when a driver or passenger in a motor vehicle opens their door in front of an oncoming biker, causing them to crash; and
- Rear ends, which occurs when a driver strikes a bicyclist from behind.
Even where a driver is clearly at fault for a bike accident, insurance companies often balk at paying injured bicyclists for their losses. If you or someone close to you has been injured as a cyclist, it is important to realize that you may face subtle and challenging issues. Insurance companies may try to take advantage of particular laws that do not favor cyclists or try to tell you that the accident was your fault.
A skilled bike crash lawyer can analyze the facts of your case and put together a strategy for dealing with these types of tactics. With a thorough understanding of West Virginia law – including those that apply to bicyclists – our law firm will advocate for your right to full compensation.
How an Attorney Can Help
The person responsible for a bike accident may be held financially responsible for any losses that a cyclist suffers. An injured cyclist may seek compensation by filing a personal injury lawsuit in West Virginia. If the driver of the motor vehicle – or another party – acted in a negligent way, then they may be required to pay monetary damages.
Negligence is a legal concept that essentially means that a person (or entity) failed to use the care that a reasonable person would use in a similar situation. In a bike crash case, a motorist who struck a cyclist may have been driving negligently. This can happen in a variety of ways, such as drunk driving, failing to yield to a bicyclist, distracted driving, speeding, or simply not paying attention.
In some situations, a person or party other than a driver may be held responsible for a bike accident. For example, if a bicyclist crashed after hitting a pothole that a town failed to repair, then the municipality may be held responsible for the cyclist’s injuries. A skilled West Virginia bike accident lawyer will fully analyze the facts of your case to determine who may be liable for your losses.
Through a personal injury claim, you may be able to recover financial compensation for your:
- Physical injuries;
- Damage to your bicycle and other property;
- Lost wages;
- Medical bills;
- Future medical expenses;
- Pain and suffering; and/or
- Loss of enjoyment of life.
In many cases, the insurance company will try to settle your claim for as little money as possible – or might even deny your claim entirely. They may even try to get you to give a statement where you admit fault or ask you to sign paperwork giving up important rights. A personal injury lawyer can protect you, and advocate for your right to maximum compensation.
What to Do After a Bike Crash
If you have been hit by a car while riding your bike, the first and most important thing that you should do is seek medical attention. Call 911 if you are able, or ask another person to call for you.
Even if you think that you aren’t badly hurt, it is important to be evaluated by a doctor. Many types of injuries aren’t apparent right away, or may even be disguised by the rush of adrenaline that comes with being in an accident. Getting checked out is critical to make sure that your injuries are not more serious than they appear.
If you are able to do so, gather information while waiting for help to arrive. After a bike-car accident, you should write down or record information about the incident, including the vehicle’s license plate and VIN number, the name and contact information for the driver, the driver’s insurance info, the year, make, and model of the car, and contact information for any witnesses. If you have your phone with you, you can also take photos and videos of the accident scene, your bike, and any injuries that you have suffered.
When talking to the driver, a first responder, or anyone else at the scene, do not admit fault. It is common to want to apologize, even if you did not actually cause the crash. Doing so can often harm your case, particularly if the insurance company tries to deny liability.
Finally, contact a West Virginia bike accident lawyer as soon as possible. Your attorney can advise you of your rights and will handle communications with the driver’s insurance company on your behalf. Do not try to negotiate a settlement with the insurer on your own – which can often lead to agreeing to a lowball offer that doesn’t cover your full losses.
Remember that the driver’s insurance company is not acting in your best interests. Their goal is not to make sure that you get the most possible money for your injuries. Instead, they are working to minimize the amount that you are paid in order to maximize their own profits.
The best way to ensure that you get the money that you deserve after a bike crash is by working with a West Virginia personal injury attorney. You’ll pay nothing upfront, and will only pay a fee if your lawyer recovers money for you.
Contact Us To Discuss Your Case With A Lawyer
After being hit by a motor vehicle while on your bike, you may not know where to turn for help. Being in this type of accident can be devastating, both physically and emotionally. Johnstone & Gabhart is here to help.
Based in Charleston, our law firm represents injury victims throughout West Virginia. We offer free initial consultations and handle all personal injury cases on a contingency fee basis. To learn more or to schedule an appointment with a Charleston bicycle crash attorney, give us a call at 304-343-7100 or email the firm.