Bicycles are a common mode of transportation in Philadelphia, PA and all over the state. For people in urban areas who do not want to get stuck in traffic but are looking for a faster means of traveling than walking, bicycling is an appealing option.
Unfortunately, as with all modes of transportation, serious accidents happen. Many bicycle accidents result in severe, if not permanent, injuries and consequences.
How Common Are Bicycle Accidents in Philadelphia, PA?
Data compiled by the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia shows that our city has the most bicycle commuters among the top 10 largest cities in the country.
Those same Bicycle Coalition statistics suggest that an estimated 2.1% of Philadelphia, PA residents travel around the city by bike. Bicycle use has been steadily climbing here in our city in the past few years. One of the downsides that has accompanied this growth is an increase in traffic fatality rates.
The most recent statistic from early in December 2021 showed that at least eight bike riders had been killed so far that year. At least 321 bike crashes, resulting in two fatalities occurred in 2019. Another 224 bicycle accidents that caused five deaths happened in 2020.
Have you suffered injuries or lost a loved one in a bike accident? Discuss what happened with a Philadelphia bicycle accident lawyer at Shrager & Sachs if so.
There are many legal options you can pursue after personal injury incidents like bike crashes. It can be helpful to learn what legal options are available to you to pursue in your bicycle accident case from competent counsel at our law firm.
Why Bicyclists End Up Getting Hit in Philadelphia, PA
There’s no one reason why bike riders end up becoming involved in motor vehicle accidents here in Philadelphia, PA. However, some of the more common reasons they do include:
- Motorists or bicyclists fail to adhere to traffic laws (many of which we detail below)
- Bicyclists don’t see the need to wear helmets (once they bypass the age at which they’re required to do so per state and local laws)
- Bike riders fail to wear bright clothing that will make them more easily identifiable in the daytime and more visible at night
- Motorists don’t slow down or look out for bike riders when navigating the streets
Intoxication from alcohol or drugs and not paying attention (distractions), whether among automobile operators or bike riders, often contribute to Philadelphia, PA bicycle accidents too.
Common Bicycle Accident Types
Most bicycle accidents happen when a Philadelphia, PA rider loses control of their bike and ends up on the sidewalk or pavement. However, there are plenty of instances where a vehicle strikes a bike rider.
Consequences are likely to be much more serious when an auto accident such as this occurs.
The following are the most common Philadelphia bicycle accident types that can occur:
Incidents whereby motorists strike bicyclists with their car doors are incredibly common in the city. The rate at which these occur is particularly high because of the traffic and the number of cars that park on the side of the street.
If drivers or passengers open their car doors without looking behind them, an unsuspecting bicyclist could run into the car door.
These types of crashes cause far more than property damage. In our legal team’s experience with bike accident cases like these, the rider goes over the door and winds up on the pavement.
Crashes at Sign or Signal-Controlled Intersections
Bicyclists, like motorists, are required to obey traffic signs. They have the same right-of-way rights, as well.
Negligent drivers do not always abide by stop signs and traffic lights. If a driver runs through a light or ignores a stop sign, they risk striking a bicycle and seriously injuring the rider.
Vehicle Overtaking Bicyclist
When a bicyclist is legally riding in a roadway and is hit from behind, bike accidents like these are referred to as overtaking ones. Fatalities commonly result when this type of Philadelphia bicycle accident occurs.
Many of these crashes occur at night because the driver could not see the cyclist until it was too late.
Someone else’s negligence is often to blame for these catastrophic bicycle accidents. They’re often caused by drunk, impaired, or distracted drivers.
Philadelphia bike accident lawyers like our Shrager & Sachs law firm ones often file wrongful death lawsuits in personal injury matters like these. The key in personal injury legal matters like these is being able to prove negligence or that the at-fault driver did something wrong.
A Philadelphia bike accident lawyer must show that the at fault party breached their duty of care, resulting in a bicyclist’s unexpected, premature death. This is what having a valid personal injury claim hinges on here in Pennsylvania.
Left and right turns pose equal dangers for bicyclists.
When other vehicles are turning left, drivers are less likely to see a person on a bicycle, potentially causing a Philadelphia bike accident.
When motorists turn right, bicyclists can be in a motorist’s blind spot, thus resulting in a motor vehicle accident.
Exiting From a Private Driveway
These bicycle accidents are most likely to occur in residential areas in the early morning and at night. They most commonly occur when bikes or other vehicles enter the roadway from a private driveway, alley, side street, parking lot, or sidewalk.
What To Know About Ejections
Many of the bike accidents described above can result in ejections.
Ejections can send a bicyclist’s body flying in the air, leading it to crash back down to the ground with significant force.
Bike riders fortunate to survive these crashes are often left with significantly debilitating or disabling injuries, such as traumatic brain injuries or severed spinal cords, resulting in paralysis.
Whether you find yourself in one of the bicycle crashes above or had a different type of auto-involved personal injury incident, any experienced attorney with our Philadelphia law firm here at Shrager & Sachs can help you get the justice you deserve.
Contributing Factors to Philadelphia Bicycle Accidents
Bike accidents often happen for many of the same reasons that another motor vehicle accident occurs—a motorist’s reckless operation of a vehicle.
This catch-all category encompasses driving behaviors such as:
- Failing to yield to another’s right of way
- Texting and driving
- Driving under the influence of alcohol
While factors such as a motorist’s failure to look for bicyclists in their blind spots or mirrors before committing to a turn can undoubtedly cause a crash as outlined above, factors independent of other automobiles can also pose risks to bicyclists.
One factor that endangers the safety of bicyclists is poorly maintained roads.
Uneven pavement, speed bumps, and potholes are just some of the many different road hazards that can cause a bicyclist to fall off their bike. Riders often suffer catastrophic injuries in these instances and run the risk of being run over by a vehicle.
Injuries That Commonly Result From Philadelphia Bicycle Accidents
Many bike crashes result in far more catastrophic injuries if they involve an automobile than an accident between two passenger cars would cause. The reason why that’s the case is that much like motorcyclists, bicyclists also lack any exterior protection to buffer the impact of the collision when a wreck occurs.
The initial impact of a crash can cause a bike rider to suffer a whole host of injuries by itself. Some examples of injuries that commonly result from a bicycle accident include:
Bicyclists are particularly vulnerable to breaking facial bones and hips. Fractures among limbs or extremities such as fingers, arms, hands, and legs in a bicycle accident are also quite common.
Bike riders who suffer fractures like these may need to undergo a surgical procedure to reset or have a pin installed to stabilize their bones to ensure optimal recovery.
Traumatic Brain Injuries
Pennsylvania’s helmet law only requires bicyclists younger than 12, including passengers, to wear a helmet when riding their bikes.
The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (DOT) strongly recommends that bicyclists of all ages wear helmets, though. The DOT does so because one of the leading injuries among bike riders who don’t wear helmets and become involved in collisions is head injuries.
Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) are a type of head injury. Concussion symptoms, including dizziness and blurred vision, may have a sudden onset and dissipate soon after a crash.
More significant TBIs such as penetrating injuries or swelling on the brain stemming from a skull fracture can have an apparent delayed onset. Emergency neurosurgery may be necessary to address this.
Bicyclists who suffer more profound brain injuries such as these may be left with a lifetime of impairments stemming from their condition.
Spinal Cord Injuries
The lack of outside protection surrounding a bicyclist and their bodies leaves their spines vulnerable to suffering damage.
The sudden crash impact caused by an automobile, for example, can cause a bicyclist to suffer a herniated disc, ligament, tendon, or nerve damage, and vertebrae fractures. The combination of these can give way to a spinal cord injury and residual paralysis, much like any penetrating injury can.
Philadelphia, PA bicyclists may also be left with internal organ damage, abrasions, stemming from road rash, and burns, resulting in disfigurement or scarring after becoming involved in crashes.
A bike rider’s wrongful death is also a real concern, depending on the circumstances under which the accident occurs.
Your focus needs to be on your recovery after a bike accident, not on dealing with stressful insurance adjuster calls. Let an accident lawyer from our personal injury law firm handle building your case while you focus on getting better.
A meeting with a Philadelphia bike accident lawyer from our office is the first step toward us representing you in your personal injury case.
How Are Bicycle Wrecks Investigated?
When a driver in a motor vehicle injures a cyclist, a thorough investigation needs to take place to determine what happened. It’s also necessary to determine why it happened, and whether the incident could have been prevented.
If the accident happens in the city, it’s possible that a trained bike patrol officer could provide an informed perspective on the factors related to the event. A Philadelphia bike accident lawyer can help you launch this investigation and secure any expert witness testimony.
The first thing to look at is the position of the motor vehicles and the bicycle before the Philadelphia bike accident. Where the car was when it hit the bicycle can be a big indicator as to whether they were breaking Pennsylvania law.
Determining how fast a motorist was traveling is also key in proving whether driver negligence occurred.
The bicycle and motor vehicle must be examined for damages after a serious accident. The bicycle will undoubtedly sustain more damage in the crash than the car, so noting where the impact is on the vehicle can help show how the Philadelphia bike accident happened.
Investigators will also make note of the road surface. They’ll also research the weather conditions at the time of the crash.
The above-referenced factors can contribute to crashes, especially if there are potholes in the road or it was raining when the collision occurred.
After the scene is properly documented, the bicyclist’s injuries can be considered. Depending on where the injuries are can also tell why and how the personal injury incident happened.
The police and insurance company will likely conduct separate investigations in personal injury matters like these. This is why getting the police officer’s name while still at the personal injury accident scene is important.
You should also note the insurance company adjuster’s name for easy reference each time they reach out to you.
Your Philadelphia bicycle accident lawyer will use the above information to launch their own investigation into your bike crash to ensure that nothing is missed and all crucial evidence is accounted for. The accident lawyer at our law firm that handles your case will use this information to prove liability so you can recoup your losses.
How Philadelphia Bicycle Accident Lawyers Prove Negligence
Pennsylvania has a modified comparative negligence rule in place. This rule may allow a bicyclist to secure compensation from the motorist involved in a crash with them at a rate that’s equal to their percentage of fault for the collision.
For example, if it’s determined that you, as the bicyclist, were 25% liable for the crash and a passenger car operator was 75% responsible, you would be able to demand three-quarters of any accident-related costs incurred.
There is one stipulation included in Pennsylvania’s modified comparative negligence rule. Anyone deemed to be at least 51% or more at fault for a crash isn’t eligible to recover compensation in their personal injury accident case.
Liability determinations carry a lot of weight. This is why meeting with a Philadelphia bicycle accident lawyer for a free consultation soon after your personal injury incident is important. Our law firm is committed to preserving your right to compensation.
Defendants We Pursue Personal Injury Lawsuits Against
Most individuals envision holding another motorist, such as a passenger car driver, motorcyclist, or trucker, liable for a personal injury accident. However, motorists aren’t always responsible for crashes.
A fleet company or warehouse may not have properly secured a load. It may get loose and strike a bicyclist, leaving them injured.
An unrepaired pothole or poor road design may be to blame for a bike rider flipping over their handlebars and suffering a head injury.
Bicyclists may be able to hold the City of Philadelphia liable for their injuries stemming from poor road maintenance or the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation for the roadway’s dangerous design.
Situations in which a product was defectively designed, manufactured, or advertised may warrant the filing of a personal injury claim or lawsuit if it results in a bike crash.
If a scenario like the ones above has happened to you, then reach out to a Shrager & Sachs Philadelphia bike accident lawyer. Our law firm may be able to help you file a bike accident lawsuit to pursue compensation for your personal injury losses, such as medical expenses and lost wages, if one of these factors left you injured.
How Quickly Must You File a Bicycle Accident Claim in Philadelphia?
Statutes of limitations, which refers to how long a plaintiff has to file a lawsuit in a civil matter such as personal injury cases, apply when bike accidents occur. Pennsylvania law 42 P.S. §5524 gives bicycle accident and other personal injury victims up to two years after an incident or wrongful death to file a claim to recover maximum compensation for their losses.
Plaintiffs generally lose their ability to request compensation for their personal injury event once this two-year statute of limitations has elapsed, except under very limited circumstances, including:
- A statute of limitations may not begin tolling until after a personal injury discovery.
- Pennsylvania’s personal injury statute of limitations generally doesn’t begin tolling until after the minor turns 18. This means that plaintiffs would have two years from their 18th birthday to take legal action to recover compensation in their Philadelphia bike accident or another personal injury case.
- Should a rider initially survive a Philadelphia bike accident, but die from injuries sustained in it sometime down the road, the statute of limitations only begins tolling from the date of the death, not when the crash occurred.
Special notification requirements and statutes of limitations may apply in bike accident cases where the defendant is a government agency.
Damages You Can Recover in a Philadelphia Bike Accident Case
Most personal injury attorneys like ours here at Shrager & Sachs take on bike crash, car accident, and truck collision cases on a contingency basis. This means that you don’t pay for our legal services unless we secure a financial recovery for you.
Costs associated with personal injury events like a bicycle accident can quickly add up.
Filing a bike accident lawsuit may help you secure the compensation necessary to cover these bills and make up for lost income. Your Philadelphia bike accident lawyer may advise you that paying off some expenses will have to wait until you settle your personal injury case, though.
Losses you may have suffered that you attribute to your personal injury incident may include:
Expenses that quickly mount in bicycle accident cases that the plaintiffs at our law firm seek to recover include economic damages. These are actual, verifiable expenses and may cover:
Ambulance fees, emergency room, surgery, hospitalization fees, rehabilitative care, such as occupational or physical therapy, dedicated in-home care, and medication are just some of the many health care-related costs you may incur following a bicycle accident.
You may additionally require mental health treatment to help cope with the trauma of your accident, causing you to incur additional medical expenses.
Lost Wages and Diminished Earning Capacity Claims
Many individuals involved in bicycle accidents cannot return to work for some time as they recover from their injuries. It’s common for lost wage claims to mount during this time. Fortunately, these are generally recoverable via the filing of a bicycle accident claim.
While some bicyclists can never return to their jobs, others can do so provided accommodations are made.
There are situations in which injury victims may have to take on an alternate role in the same industry or have to seek employment in a completely different industry.
In any of these situations, bike injury victims may find that their earning capacity diminishes.
Diminished earning claims are often filed in Philadelphia bicycle accident cases in which victims experience what appears to be a long-term lost income situation. An executor or administrator is responsible for filing diminished earnings claims on behalf of decedents’ estates.
Sometimes it’s critical to hire a forensic accountant to determine how much an individual would have made had it not been for their involvement in the bike accident.
Any expenditures for non-tangible accident-related costs are non-monetary or non-economic damages. Some examples of these damages include:
Emotional Distress or Mental Anguish
Many Philadelphia bicycle accident victims experience bouts of depression, insomnia, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms following their injury incident.
You can generally recover compensation for such losses. However, it may be necessary to share mental health records documenting how these suffered injuries have affected you when requesting such damages.
Pain and Suffering
Suffering the actual impact of a crash, enduring and recovering from surgery, convalescing at home, and participating in occupational rehab or physical therapy are all bound to cause you to experience unnecessary physical pain and discomfort.
While no amount of money will take away how you feel, it can, at the very least, compensate you for what you’ve had to endure.
Some ways to document pain and suffering is by producing medical notes from your doctors or physical therapist documenting pain levels when assessments are performed. Also, any documentation from a pain management clinic or prescriptions a doctor has written may also send a message about how painful your recovery has been.
Exemplary or punitive damages are those which may be assessed when it’s shown that a defendant has engaged in gross negligence. Defendants most commonly assessed for exemplary damages are larger corporations, such as hospitals or product manufacturers.
You can count on every Philadelphia bicycle accident lawyer on our legal team to investigate your case so you can secure maximum compensation.
Bicycle Laws That Apply in Philadelphia, PA
Aside from Pennsylvania’s helmet law, other laws apply to Pennsylvania bicyclists. Some of them include:
- Bikers cannot ride their bikes on interstates.
- All bicyclists must ensure their bike brakes can help them come to a full stop within 15 feet when traveling at 15 mph.
- Bicyclists 15 or over are prohibited from riding on sidewalks within city centers and when bike lanes are present.
- Bike riders (nor motorists) can wear headphones in their ears.
State law also describes how bicyclists can travel two abreast when riding in the roadway. However, these same laws state how riders should remain in the rightmost lane and travel in the same direction as other traffic when doing so.
There are a few exceptions to this rule, including when a bicyclist is making a left turn, passing a motorist, or navigating around an obstruction in the rightmost lane.
State law also spells out how bicyclists must equip their bikes with the following equipment for their safety:
- Rear reflectors
- A front headlamp
- Side reflectors
The reflectors and headlamp must both have a visibility of 500 feet to ensure bicyclist visibility during dusk, nighttime, and dawn.
Motorists must exercise a duty of care every time they get behind the wheel of their automobiles here in Pennsylvania. This means they must obey traffic rules, including remaining focused on the task at hand and keeping a four-foot distance from bike riders as per state law.
Drivers must also maintain a watchful eye for bicyclists to minimize the chances of colliding with them when making turns or opening their doors after parking per Pennsylvania law.
Proving negligence in bike accident crashes requires riders to show that motorists or other defendants breached their duty to exercise reasonable care, resulting in the crash and respective injuries. Our Shrager & Sachs bike accident attorneys can help you do that.
Recovering Compensation for Your Losses
As with any crash, the bike accident victim must deal with medical bills, lost wages, property damage costs, pain and suffering like emotional distress, and more.
Injuries can stem from any collision. However, cases like a bike crash are some of the more serious accidents that can lead you to request maximum compensation in your accident case.
Many bicycle accident victims aren’t able to remain gainfully employed. When injuries completely upend a person’s way of life, the monetary losses are only the beginning. Our Philadelphia bike accident lawyers are here for you to help you secure a financial recovery in your accident case.
If it’s determined the driver is responsible for your accident, auto insurance typically covers the bills in Pennsylvania.
Insurance companies, however, often try to offer accident victims the lowest possible settlement to maintain or improve their bottom line. Our Philadelphia bicycle accident attorneys will work for you to ensure you receive a full and fair settlement that helps you recover as completely as possible.
Bicycle riders aren’t always given the respect they deserve on the road, by insurance companies, or in the courtroom.
In many bicycle accident cases, drivers claim that bike riders were at fault for the collision. However, our Philadelphia bike accident lawyers recognize that bike accident liability isn’t cut and dried.
Drivers need to be aware of their surroundings and obey local laws regarding sharing the road with all modes of transportation.
Our entire team of Philadelphia bicycle accident attorneys has years of experience representing personal injury victims. If you’re looking for a way to hold the at-fault driver accountable, recover from your bike accident, and gain peace of mind, contact our law firm to schedule your free initial consultation with one of our Philadelphia bicycle accident lawyers.
You can expect your Philadelphia bicycle accident attorney to evaluate your personal injury claim during your free consultation. Our law firm’s legal counsel will help you determine how best to proceed in your bicycle accident case.