• Who is liable for a bicyclist’s injuries in an accident?

    Who is liable for a bicyclist’s injuries in an accident?

    Riding your bike for fun or as part of your commute has many benefits, but it’s important to know that bicyclists are in particular danger when forced to share the roads with motor vehicles. The Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles reports that there were 651 bicycle accidents statewide in 2019, resulting in 615 injuries (128 of which were serious) and 13 deaths.

    Because bikes are much smaller than motor vehicles and offer much less protection for the rider, cyclists often bear the brunt of any injuries received in a bicycle vs. motor vehicle collision. In turn, these injuries can take a serious financial toll on accident victims, in the form of reduced income and expensive medical bills.

    A Fairfax bicycle accident lawyer from Leary Law can help if you’ve been hurt in a crash. Our team has more than 20 years of experience handling Virginia personal injury cases, and we’ve helped our clients recover significant compensation. Contact us today for a free initial consultation.

    Common injuries suffered by cyclists in Virginia

    Some of the most common injuries bicyclists suffer in accidents include:

    • Severe lacerations and bruises
    • Broken bones
    • Friction burns from impacting the road surface, aka “road rash”
    • Neck and back injuries
    • Spinal cord damage, including paralysis
    • Traumatic brain injuries

    These injuries often cause intense pain and may have long-lasting effects. A traumatic brain injury or damage to your spinal cord could leave you paralyzed or affect other bodily functions, while a broken bone that doesn’t set properly may leave you in lifelong pain while limiting your mobility. No matter how bad your injuries are after a bicycle accident, a personal injury lawyer can help you get the compensation you need to take care of yourself.

    Who might be responsible?

    Depending on the circumstances of the crash, there are several parties who could potentially be held liable for a bicycle accident, including:

    • Motorists — While bicycles are supposed to be treated like any other vehicle on Virginia roads, many drivers don’t exercise appropriate caution around cyclists. They may not give enough space when passing a bicyclist, or they may open their door into a bicyclist’s path without looking. If a driver fails to exercise reasonable caution and subsequently injures a bicyclist, that driver can be held liable for the cyclist’s injuries.
    • Vehicle manufacturers — Some automobile vs. bicycle accidents are the result of mechanical defects that are beyond the driver’s control. For example, if a vehicle’s brakes are faulty, then a driver may not be able to avoid hitting a bicyclist even if they were exercising reasonable caution. In bicycle accidents that result from a mechanical defect, a vehicle’s manufacturer may be held liable for the accident, depending on the unique circumstances of the incident.
    • Bicycle manufacturers — In some cases, a mechanical defect with a bike or other piece of equipment may lead to an accident. For instance, defective brakes on a bicycle could prevent someone from being able to stop safely and avoid an accident.
    • Property owners — All property owners have a legal duty to exercise reasonable caution when it comes to minimizing hazards that could affect visitors, customers, and passers-by. If a bicyclist is injured by a hazard on someone’s property—such as an uncovered manhole or debris in the road—then the property owner may be liable for the cyclist’s injuries.

    Compensation for bike accident injuries

    Through a personal injury claim, bicycle accident victims can potentially recover compensation for:

    • Medical bills
    • Lost wages and reduced future earning capacity
    • Damaged personal property
    • Physical and mental pain and suffering

    Obtaining compensation after a bicycle accident can be difficult because of Virginia’s strict negligence laws. Virginia is one of the few states that applies a pure contributory negligence standard in personal injury claims, which means you could be barred from collecting compensation if you contributed to an accident in any way. But a knowledgeable bicycle accident lawyer can show that you are not responsible for your injuries and in fact deserve compensation for them.

    How Leary Law could help

    If you’ve been hurt in a Virginia bicycle accident, the team at Leary Law wants to help you put your life back together. We can help identify who’s liable for your injuries, gather evidence to that effect, handle all the necessary settlement negotiations, and take your case to court if necessary. With our knowledge and experience, you have a much better chance of getting the money you need. Get a free initial consultation today to learn more about how we can help.

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