Common Injury Causes in Bicycle Accidents
Every state in America has what is known as “side of the road” laws. These laws require bicycles to stay to the far right of the road or in a bike lane when they are not operating at the same speed as the rest of traffic. Law abiding citizens typically follow these laws to their best ability. However, “side of the road” laws are responsible for three of the most common bicycle accidents in Mobile. The accidents are hitting a car door as it’s opened, being grazed by a car, or being hit by a car turning right.
Laws To Protect Bicyclists
There are other laws set in place to protect bicyclists and help them safely share the road with motor vehicles. A bicyclist has as much right to the road as any automobile operator if his or her speed is equal to that of the surrounding vehicles. Unless explicitly stated by law, a cyclist may ride in the middle of a lane of traffic and has the same rights as an automobile. A bicyclist may need to remind their insurance adjuster about that a few times while undergoing claims negotiations.
Causes of Bicycle Injuries
An accident can occur at any time. Bicyclists have a higher chance of getting injured in bicycle accidents than motorists due to the general fragility of bicycles. A bicyclist’s ability to make a claim for damages will be largely influenced by the local laws of where the accident took place.
As previously stated, if a bicyclist is not going as fast as motor traffic, they are expected to follow the “side of the road” law and to move to the far right of the road. If the street is one way, they may instead opt to move to the far left. If a bicycling lane is provided, a bicyclist must use it.
Bicycle Riding Dangers
A cyclist may leave the far side of the road or bike lane if they begin moving at the speed of the rest of the traffic, if the lane becomes too narrow for them to safely share with nearby cars, when making a left turn, or to avoid hazards.
Bicyclists are required by law to operate near parked cars at times, and it is illegal to open a car door when it is unsafe to do so, so a damage claim involving a car door and a bike almost always find the door opener as negligent. There may be few exceptions, however. For example, if there were no other cars on the road, the would be no reason for a bicyclist to pass the car close enough to risk being hit by the door, proving the cyclist was at least somewhat responsible and negligent.
Bicyclists also operate near moving vehicles. This conflict has caused another law that acts in conjunction with the “side of the road” laws. This law requires drivers to give cyclists adequate amounts of space when passing. A safe space is often considered about three feet, however, in the event of an accident, it ‘s hard to be precise with the distance. This also creates problems for larger vehicles that may not be able to safely give a cyclist three feet of space. Because a cyclist has the same right to the road that automobiles do, it is the responsibility of the vehicle not to pass unless it is safe to do so. The vehicle operator may need to slow down or change lanes depending on the situation. The bicyclist is not required to stop or to get out of the way.
Common Types of Bicycle Accidents
A bicyclist who is hit by a car might be accused of being too far from to the side of the road. The cyclist should then respond with that it was the motorist’s duty to find safe passage and that hitting them is not an acceptable option.
One common type of bicycle accident occurs when a vehicle turns right and hits a cyclist. Because cyclists should stay on the right side of the road when not at traffic speed, cars turning right go directly through their segment of the road. These accidents can occur when a car passes a cyclist but then immediately slows for their turn and hits them during the turn, a car cuts in front of a cyclist and leaves them nowhere to turn, or a car operator does not watch carefully enough and simply turns into the bicyclist.
These cases leave the motorists liable for the damages. The “side of the road” laws allow for cyclists to travel straight through intersections without yielding to a vehicle that is turning right. Therefore, it is the car operator’s responsibility to wait and make their turn safely.