Pittsburgh Bicycle Accident Lawyers
If you’ve been involved in a bicycle accident, you’re likely scared, in physical pain, and unsure of what to do. Our Pittsburgh bicycle accident lawyers can help protect your rights and fight for the compensation you deserve.
Bicycle accidents are traumatic and painful events. Many victims suffer severe injuries with long-lasting pain and spend months recovering. After an accident, victims also have new-found financial stresses from mounting medical bills and lost wages.
Our Pittsburgh bicycle accident lawyers can help. A qualified lawyer acts as your advocate, aggressively fighting on your behalf to protect your rights and get you rightful compensation.
Your lawyer manages the entire legal process, filing claims on your behalf and leading negotiations with insurers. If you’ve been involved in an accident, we want to help. Call today for a free case evaluation and to learn more about how we can protect your rights.
Should I Hire a Pittsburgh Bicycle Accident Lawyer?
Bicycle accidents have numerous consequences for victims. Those involved may be seriously injured, suffering from physical pain, and unable to return to work for many weeks or months. In addition to recovery and pain, victims also face financial, emotional, and legal pressures.
In the weeks after an accident, your primary goal should be getting healthy – not fighting with insurers and filing claims.
When you hire a qualified lawyer, all of these pressures are taken off your shoulders. Your attorney manages all legal aspects of your case and fights to help you quickly receive the maximum compensation for your injuries. There are many tasks a lawyer helps with including:
- Filing claims and legal paperwork
- Investigating your accident and its causes
- Determining the at-fault party in your accident
- Collecting evidence and contacting witnesses
- Recreating the scene of your accident
- Meeting with lawyers of the at-fault party
- Negotiating with insurance companies
- Filing disability and insurance claims on your behalf
The legal process following a bicycle accident is overwhelming. You’re likely unsure of who you can trust. By hiring a lawyer, you protect yourself against insurance companies and attorneys who don’t have your best interests in mind.
Common Causes of Bicycle Accidents
Motorists have a responsibility to share the road, and when they fail to adhere to bicycle safety laws, they put people’s lives in danger. Unsafe, careless, and reckless driving are some of the top causes of bicycle-vehicle accidents. A few of the most common causes include:
- Unsafe or careless lane changes
- Opening car doors into bike lanes
- Impaired driving
- Reckless or distracted driving
- Excessive speed
- Following too closely
When another party is at fault, that driver may be liable for criminal or civil charges. After a hiring a lawyer, your attorney will work diligently to determine who is at fault in your case, and collect evidence and witness statements to build that case. Once this has been determined, your lawyer can begin to fight for compensation from the at-fault party.
Types of Compensation Available for Victims
Victims of accidents may be entitled to financial compensation, especially when negligence caused the accident. Compensation can be used for present and future medical expenses, property damage, emotional distress, and lost wages.
There are two types of compensation you may be able to pursue: Compensatory and punitive damages.
Compensatory. Compensatory damages cover any costs directly related to your accident, present, or future. Compensatory damages, for example, can pay for medical bills, as well as compensate you for lost wages or lost future earnings. Compensatory damages can help cover:
- Medical bills, treatment and rehabilitation costs
- Medical equipment
- Lost wages and lost earning capacity
- Long-term disability or disfigurement
- Pain and suffering
- Property damage
- Emotional distress
- Loss of natural life
Punitive. Punitive damages refer to damages awarded in cases that involve gross negligence or malice. This type of damage is used as a financial punishment for the negligent party. Punitive damages are awarded by a jury, and therefore are available if your case goes to trial.
What to Do If You’ve Been Involved in an Accident
A bicycle accident is a terrifying experience, and in the immediate aftermath, you may not know what to do or who to turn to. There are steps victims can take to protect their rights and safety. If you’ve been involved in an accident, here are steps you can take:
- Seek Medical Help – Call 911 and receive medical attention for your injuries. Your safety should be your first concern. If you’re in on-coming traffic, move to a place near the scene of the accident out of harm’s way. If you’re unable to call police, this is a responsibility of witnesses or the driver.
- Record Injuries and Damages – If you’re able to, make note of your injuries. Note and document with photos any places where you feel or see:
- Visual injuries
- Torn clothing
- Where you were struck by the vehicle
- Call Police – If you are uninjured and did not call 911, be sure to contact law enforcement. Police investigators will want to know what led up to your accident. Provide as many details as you can remember, but do not admit fault.
- Do Not Admit Fault – Bicycle laws are complex in Pittsburgh. You might not understand the nuances of the law, and therefore might inaccurately implicate yourself as the at-fault party. If police, witnesses, or a motorist ask you about fault, do not discuss it. Contact an attorney who can help protect your rights.
- Seek Legal Advice – As soon as possible, contact a qualified Pittsburgh bicycle accident lawyer. Your lawyer can help you file claims with your insurance company immediately. The sooner you contact a lawyer, the stronger the case he or she will be able to build.
Filing Insurance Claims After an Accident
If you’ve been involved in a bicycle accident, you can file a claim with your auto insurance – if you have a current policy. Car insurance companies provide protection for their customers, even if the “vehicle” they were driving was a bicycle. Contacting your insurance early in the process can help you file post-accident claims more quickly.
We recommend contacting a lawyer prior to reaching out to your insurer. Insurance companies are businesses and they are concerned with the bottom line. Even as a customer, your insurer may not have your best interests in mind. They may make it difficult for you to file a claim or receive compensation.
Additionally, the insurer of the at-fault party may bully you or use aggressive tactics to force you to accept an unfair or undervalued settlement.
A qualified lawyer protects you against aggressive behavior and leads all negotiations with insurance companies. After an accident, your focus should be on your recovery – not fighting with insurers. We help you file claims, defend you against unfair settlements, and fight insurers who refuse or delay payments.
Common Types of Bicycle Accidents
If you are like most cyclists who are injured by vehicles, you are probably not even sure what happened. One minute you were on your way to work, and the next you were on the ground. Most bicycle crashes caused by drivers fall into one of the following categories:
- Dooring. A dooring accident occurs when a driver parked along a road opens his door into the path of an oncoming bicyclist. These accidents happen even in designated bike lanes. It is the responsibility of the driver to check his mirror for cyclists before opening his door. These crashes can cause serious injuries as the biker collides with the door, is thrown over the door, or is thrown into moving traffic.
- Turning in front. Failing to see a cyclist, motorists often turn directly into the path of a bike. Whether making a right-hand turn across a bike lane or a left-hand turn through an intersection, drivers must be alert to the bicycles they share the road with.
- Rear-ending. When a driver is distracted or is simply not alert to bikes sharing his lane, he can run into the back of a bicycle. Whether the cyclist is in a bike lane or sharing a vehicle lane, he cannot travel at the same speed as a car and motorists need to be aware of their presence and allow them a safe cushion.
- Running off the road. Similar to a rear-end crash, when cars don’t allow a cyclist sufficient space on the side of the road, the driver can force the bike off the road completely. A cyclist can hit a mailbox, tree, parked car, or other obstacle.
A cyclist should make every effort to be visible and to protect himself from injury, but it is the responsibility of the driver to obey the rules of the road to protect cyclists.
Frequently Asked Bicycle Accident Questions
What Should I Do After I’m Hurt in a Bike Accident?
There are some differences between a car accident and an accident involving a bike rider. First of all, a bike doesn’t have all of the protections that a car offers its occupants, so a bicycle rider involved in an accident tends to suffer more serious and severe injuries. Also, there is a prejudice out there that the bicycle rider must somehow be to blame. Even in a city like Pittsburgh, where bike riding has become so prevalent and where the city is going out of its way to try to make bicycle riding safer, there’s this misunderstanding that bicycle riders don’t have the same rights to the road that a car driver does. For this reason, it’s important that, if you’re injured in a bicycle accident, you find a lawyer who understands those differences and who knows how to represent a bicycle rider who’s been injured. That lawyer will know how to gather the evidence and how to assist you in your claim so that you make the best recovery possible.
How long do I have to file a bicycle accident lawsuit in Pennsylvania?
Bicycle accidents account for just 1 percent of total traffic crashes reported in Pennsylvania. Yet according to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, they still caused nearly 1,130 injuries and more than 20 deaths in 2017 alone.
These accidents can be horrific for victims, resulting in extensive injuries, unexpected medical debt, and other losses. Pennsylvania tort law allows people injured in bicycle accidents caused by another person or entity’s negligence to seek compensation by filing a personal
Sadly, severe injuries and the resulting range of necessary lifestyle modifications can make it difficult for victims to focus on exploring their legal rights and options.
Waiting too long to take legal action after a Pennsylvania bike crash can have serious consequences. The state’s statute of limitations laws dictate how long potential plaintiffs have to file a lawsuit which, for personal injury victims, is just two years from the date of the accident. Once those two years are up and the statute of limitations expires, victims cannot bring a lawsuit against the at-fault party.
Even when injured cyclists file their lawsuit within the designated two-year period, waiting to file can be detrimental to a case. For example, evidence may be misplaced, contaminated, or destroyed, or witnesses may change their contact information, forget what they’ve seen, move, or die. Any of these scenarios could deal a blow to a bicycle accident personal injury case, which is why it’s best to consult an attorney about situation as soon as possible.
How much does it cost to hire a bicycle accident lawyer?
It depends on a variety of factors. Being involved in a serious bike accident can be a confusing, frustrating and painful experience.
In addition to being physically injured, many people are unable to work temporarily—but sometimes permanently. They may also be burdened by an astronomical amount of unexpected medical debt.
These and other factors often create emotional distress as well.
Victims injured in bicycle accidents caused by someone else’s negligence may be entitled to compensation for medical bills, property damages, lost wages, loss of earning capacity (if applicable), pain and suffering, and other damages. Bicycle accident victims can pursue compensation through insurance claims or personal injury lawsuits.
Regardless of which route they take, there are benefits to seeking legal representation of a knowledgeable and experienced personal injury attorney. This is especially true when he or she has a track record of successfully resolving bicycle accident cases.
With everything else going on, people often worry they can’t afford the cost of hiring legal counsel. Most Pittsburgh bicycle accident lawyers understand that financial concerns can be overwhelming, especially after an accident. However, this should never prevent someone from pursuing well-deserved justice and compensation.
Many personal injury law firms—including ours—often free initial case consultations and work on a contingency fee basis. This means that bike crash victims can discuss their cases with an attorney for free before retaining them. They’ll only pay for legal services if the case is resolved in their favor and they receive a settlement. The attorney would then receive a portion of that settlement, rather than requiring payment upfront. Sometimes, additional fees may apply, which is why it’s a good idea for victims to discuss payment terms with an attorney during their initial consultation.
How Do I Get the Right Attorney?
A difficult decision for someone injured in a bike accident is choosing the right lawyer. The first thing that you want to do is make sure that the lawyer that you’re talking with has experience in bicycle accidents. Although many lawyers have represented people or claim to have represented people in personal injury cases, a bicycle accident has some unique factors, so it’s important to have a lawyer who understands that. It’s also important that the lawyer has trial experience. A trial lawyer knows how to build a case believing that they may someday have to prove your case at trial. They should be ready and willing to try your case. Finally, I think it’s also important when hiring a lawyer to establish a rapport with them. You want someone that you think is going to listen to you, is going to be in your corner, and is going to be ready to fight for you in trial.
What Mistakes Should I Avoid Making?
I think that people injured in bike accidents sometimes make mistakes. First, they think that they are to blame or partially to blame for the accident. I think they also minimize their injuries or don’t follow up and get the medical care that they need. If you’re injured in a bike accident, there are two things that you need to do. One, you need to seek medical care, follow up with the doctor, and do everything you can to recover from your injuries. Two, it’s also important that you contact an experienced trial lawyer who knows how to investigate your case and who would be willing to try your case if necessary.
If I violated a traffic regulation and was partially at fault for my bicycle accident, can I still recover damages?
Pennsylvania law requires bicycles and motor vehicles to share the road safely. Unfortunately, that isn’t always the reality. In 2017 alone, bicycle accidents resulted in 1,127 injuries and 21 bicyclist fatalities, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation.
It’s no secret that, in accidents involving bicycles and motor vehicles, it’s the bicyclist who often bears the brunt of the injuries. Individuals fortunate enough to survive the collision may be seriously injured and require significant medical care.
Although that care may be covered by the bicyclist’s own auto or health insurance policies, these policies usually don’t address other losses incurred in an accident. These additional losses may include:
- Wages the bicyclist lost while out of work healing
- Physical pain and suffering
- Mental and emotional anguish
- Loss of earning potential if injuries permanently prevent future employment
Bicycle accident victims often pursue personal injury lawsuits in an effort to recover damages from the driver who caused the crash. However, this process becomes more complicated in cases where the victim was partially responsible for the accident and their injuries. Still, it’s important to note that violating a traffic regulation doesn’t necessarily prevent victims from collecting damages.
Pennsylvania is a comparative negligence state, which means that personal injury victims can usually recover damages—even if they were partially responsible for the accident—as long as they aren’t more at fault than the other party.
Should I Cooperate with the Other Insurance Company?
If you’re injured in a bicycle crash, the insurance company for the car driver will likely reach out to you. I caution you in those conversations to keep a couple things in mind. Number one, that person is working against you. No matter how friendly they may seem, their job is to find reasons to deny your claim, and when they can’t deny the claim, to minimize your claim and minimize your recovery. I think the best course you can take is to contact an experienced trial lawyer. When you get that call from the insurance adjuster, refer the call to your lawyer and let your lawyer answer any questions and provide information on your behalf.
What If a Pothole Caused My Accident?
A bicycle rider who’s injured not because of a collision with a vehicle, but because of some dangerous condition of the roadway, may also have a claim. In those cases, it’s important to contact a lawyer who understands those liability claims, and knows how to investigate the potential defect of the road or other condition that caused your accident.
If I wasn’t wearing a helmet when injured in a bicycle accident, can I still recover damages?
Bicycle helmets may have a reputation for being hot, cumbersome, and uncomfortable, but wearing one dramatically reduces a cyclist’s odds of head injuries or death in the event of an accident.
Statisticians from the University of New South Wales in Australia conducted a major study of worldwide bicycle helmet use. The results concluded that wearing a helmet reduces a cyclist’s risk of serious head injuries by nearly 70 percent, and fatal head injuries by 65 percent.
Some states have universal helmet laws which require all bicyclists and passengers to wear a helmet, regardless of age. However, despite their proven ability to prevent head injuries and save lives, not all states mandate helmet use. For example, in Pennsylvania, the law only requires cyclists and passengers under the age of 12 to wear a helmet.
If you’re over age 12 and hurt in a bicycle accident in the Keystone State, you probably weren’t wearing a helmet at the time of the accident and may be wondering how your lack of helmet use might affect a personal injury insurance claim or lawsuit.
Fortunately, it shouldn’t affect your claim at all. Not only is bicycle helmet use not mandated for cyclists and passengers 12 and older, but Pennsylvania Pa. Cons. Stat. § 3510(b) specifically prohibits helmet use from being used as evidence of contributory negligence in a personal injury case. This means bicyclists can still recover damages, even if they weren’t wearing helmets.
Do I need an attorney if a driver hit me while riding my bike?
While it’s tempting to try to save money and settle the claim on your own, hiring an attorney has more to do with the severity of your injuries and the resulting need for compensation. If you were injured in a bike accident caused by a negligent driver, you could have suffered serious injuries even if the vehicle was traveling at a slow speed. Some of these injuries may not present in full form until days or even weeks later.
If this happens, your health and financial stability could be compromised.
How to Decide When You Need an Attorney in Your Bicycle Accident Case
In limited circumstances, you may be able to handle settlement of the claim on your own. If the accident caused only damage to your bike or you suffered a cut or stitches, and the insurance company agrees to pay for your costs, you can probably complete your settlement without an attorney.
However, in other cases, you would be at a serious disadvantage if you don’t retain an experienced bicycle accident attorney. Here’s why you may need professional help:
- Your injuries were serious enough that EMT arrived on the scene and transported you by ambulance to the hospital.
- You were off work because of your injuries for one week or more.
- You have injuries that are limiting your activities or ability to work.
- Your injuries are serious enough to require follow-up medical treatment or surgery.
- You were knocked unconscious and are exhibiting symptoms of a concussion or traumatic brain injury.
- Someone died in the accident.
- The insurance company denied your claim, or is offering less than what you believe is rightful compensation.
Benefits of Hiring a Bike Accident Attorney
Even if you were clearly the victim in a bicycle accident, you must prove the driver’s negligence and your right to compensation. It takes someone with legal experience to handle this process effectively. Benefits of retaining an attorney include:
- Free consultation. Many bicycle accident attorneys offer a free, no-obligation consultation that allows you to get an understanding of your legal options and how the firm can help you.
- Claim evaluation. An attorney can investigate your bike accident to prove the driver’s negligence and obtain documentation regarding your injuries. Once he has this information, he can evaluate the value of your claim based on his experience successfully handling other cases like yours and the strengths and weaknesses of your claim.
- Settlement negotiation. The insurance adjuster for the negligent driver won’t be looking out for your interests and may try to deny or reduce your claim, even if its insured’s fault is obvious. An experienced attorney will be able to negotiate a settlement for what you deserve, or file a lawsuit if the insurance company will not be reasonable.
- Few require up-front payment. Most attorneys take these cases on a contingency basis, which means you pay for the majority of services through a percentage of your settlement only if he or she is able to settle the claim or win the case at trial.
How Long Will This Case Go On?
One thing clients often want to know is how long it will take to resolve their bicycle injury claim. There’s no set answer that I can give to that because each case is different. One of the most important things that a lawyer has to take into consideration in trying to resolve the case is the client’s recovery from their injuries. We have to understand your injuries, and we have to understand the affect that your injuries will have on the case before we can begin to consider settling the case. I understand that clients want to get back to their life and they want their case resolved, and we try our best to expedite the process, but at the same time, we have to be cautious and make sure that we properly handle your case. You only get one opportunity to settle or try a bicycle accident case. Taking that into consideration, we need to thoroughly evaluate and investigate the claim before we can think about resolving it.
Call Our Bicycle Accident Attorneys When You Are Injured
Do not waste time wondering if you have an accident claim following a bike crash. Get the medical help you need and contact the bicycle accident attorneys at Accident & Injury Law Group. We will take it from there.