Chester County Bike Accident Attorney
The bicycle could well be one of the best inventions of all time; not only is it a good way to get much-needed exercise, it is also a way to get from one place to another—particularly in busy urban areas—without having to deal with stop and go traffic. Despite the many benefits afforded those who regularly ride a bicycle, there are also inherent dangers in doing so. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 30 percent of all Americans own a bicycle, and nearly 45 percent of those who own a bicycle ride it at least occasionally.
Among children, the numbers are much higher—about 70 percent of children between the ages of 5 and 14 ride a bicycle at least occasionally. In the city of Pittsburgh, between January 2006 and July 2012, there were 361 accidents involving bicyclists and drivers. The primary factors involved in those accidents included improper or careless turns, running red lights, running stop signs and performing improper driving actions. Only one out of ten bicycle/automobile collisions occurred when a bicyclist ran a red light or stop sign.
In 2012 alone, there were 1,369 bicycle collisions in the state of Pennsylvania; sixteen bicyclists died from those accidents and another 1,377 were significantly injured. The age group with the highest percentage of injuries are those from 20-34, while the age group with the highest number of bicycle accident deaths are those from 45-64. Head injuries account for 70 percent of all bicycle collision fatalities, and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention believe wearing a properly fitted helmet can reduce the risk of a head injury by 74-85 percent.
The Serious Nature of Bicycle Accidents
Anyone who regularly rides a bicycle is likely well-aware of the potential of being hit by an automobile. The bicyclist has none of the safety features afforded those inside an automobile, such as safety belts and airbags, nor is a bicycle surrounded by a metal and steel cage. When a bicyclist is struck by a 3,500 lb. vehicle, the chances the bicyclist won’t be severely injured or killed are slim. Traumatic head injuries are common for bicyclists hit by an automobile, as are broken bones, back injuries and even paralysis, internal injuries and other potentially life-threatening injuries. Even bicyclists who wear helmets and reflective clothing and abide by all the rules of the road, cannot control the actions of those driving automobiles.
Pennsylvania Law Protects Bicyclists
In 2012, the state of Pennsylvania, in an effort to protect bicyclists, enacted a bicycle law which requires motorists to allow at least four feet between their vehicle and those riding a bicycle when passing the bicyclist, and to refrain from forcing a bicyclist off the road. To this end, motorists are allowed to cross the center line (when there is no oncoming traffic), in order to stay away from vulnerable bicyclists. If the motorist cannot safely pass a bicyclist, while allowing them the four feet of “buffer” space, then the driver must wait to pass.
The new law also prohibits what bicyclists refer to as the “right hook.” This occurs when a vehicle makes a sudden right-hand turn, directly into the past of a bicyclist. The law requires that bicyclists use the right lane, or stay as close as possible to the right-hand curb or edge of the roadway. The state of Pennsylvania is the 19th state to enact these types of laws in an effort to protect bicyclists and lower the number of bicycle fatalities.
Driver Distraction Leads to Bicycle Accidents
In 2013, Public Health Reports published a study which analyzed pedestrian and bicycle fatalities. The number of bicyclists killed by a distracted driver has increase 30 percent in only five years, according to the study. While most of us have heard about the dangers of distracted driving, far too many people simply don’t take it seriously enough. We are a nation of multi-taskers, and those behaviors don’t stop when we get behind the wheel of our car. We send text messages, talk on our cell phone, fiddle with the radio, look at the GPS, turn around to scold the children, talk to our passengers, eat, put on makeup and even read when we should be paying attention to others on the roadways. While Pennsylvania, like most states, does have a ban on texting, however it is a difficult law to enforce. In the end, any level of distraction on the part of drivers can be deadly for the vulnerable bicyclist.
The Factors Involved in Bicycle Accidents
Most bicyclist deaths occur when a vehicle collides with the bicyclist, and head injuries comprise nearly three-quarters of the fatalities and half of the serious injuries for bicyclists. Other common injuries include spinal cord, back and neck injuries, broken bones and contusions, and severe internal injuries. When a motorist hits a bicyclist, it is most likely due to such behaviors as:
- Switching lanes improperly;
- Failing to obey the most basic rules of the road;
- Opening a car door into traffic without checking for bicyclists;
- Vehicles making illegal turns;
- “Right hook” accidents, when drivers make a right-hand turn without looking for bicyclists;
- Aggressive, reckless or distracted drivers;
- Failure on the part of drivers to allow bicyclists sufficient space when passing, and
- Drivers who back out of a parking space or driveway without looking for a bicyclist.
Are You Entitled to Compensation after Your Bicycle Accident?
If you were severely injured after being hit by an automobile, it could be very beneficial to speak to a Chester County bicycle attorney as soon as possible. Your injuries could mean you will have medical expenses which could continue for months, years, or even the remainder of your life. You may also be able to collect pain and suffering for damages for your accident. You may have been so severely injured you could not return to your regular job, in which case your Pennsylvania attorney will seek to recover compensation for lost wages.
If it appears you will never be able to return to work, you may be entitled to recover future lost wages. Obviously the driver will not be voluntarily admitting responsibility, therefore your Chester County bicycle attorney will work to prove negligence through collection of all pertinent evidence, then presenting that evidence on your behalf. In fact, the outcome of your Pennsylvania bicycle accident can turn on whether you have a strong legal advocate in your Chester County attorney.
Contact Our Chester County Bicycle Accident Lawyers
If you or someone you love has sustained a serious injury in a bicycle accident in Chester County, Philadelphia, Lancaster, or anywhere in the State of Pennsylvania, it is crucial you speak to an experienced West Chester accident attorney as soon as possible.
The Chester county bicycle accident attorneys of Ciccarelli Law Offices have successfully represented individuals throughout the state of Pennsylvania that have been injured in accidents. Our Chester County based law firm is based at 304 North High Street, West Chester PA 19380 and serves clients in Kennett Square, Downingtown, West Chester, Coatesville, Exton, Chester Springs, Chadds Ford, Landenberg, Honey Brook, Oxford, Malvern, Parkesburg, Phoenixville and Paoli. Contact us now at (610) 692-8700 or call toll free (877) 529-2422. Don’t wait—contact an attorney immediately.