Riding a bicycle can be a great way to get around Morgantown, WV. However, it can also be dangerous, especially when you have to share the road with careless drivers. A car-vs.-bicycle accident can instantly change your life, leaving you with debilitating injuries and expensive medical bills.
Were you injured by a careless driver? Recovering fair compensation from their insurer can be complicated. At Robinette Legal Group, PLLC, we want to make it easier for you. Our West Virginia personal injury attorneys understand the anxiety and stress you are likely feeling and want to alleviate it by handling every aspect of your case for you. That way, you can concentrate on yourself and your well-being.
What Causes Most Morgantown Bicycle Accidents?
Human error is the main cause of most accidents involving bicyclists, and careless motorists are frequently to blame. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), while falls are the most common cause of bicycle accidents, collisions with motor vehicles are more likely to be serious. The administration found that 938 bicyclists died in traffic crashes in a single recent year.
The following driving behaviors contribute to many West Virginia bicycle accidents:
- Distracted driving– Distracted driving is one of the leading causes of car-vs.-bicycle collisions. Bicycles are much smaller than passenger cars, making them easy for inattentive drivers to overlook. When drivers do not give the road their full attention, they increase their risk of hitting nearby cyclists. Some examples of dangerous driving behavior include texting, making phone calls, programming a GPS, eating, and grooming behind the wheel.
- Driving under the influence– Drugs and alcohol can impair judgment, blur vision, and slow motor function. Bicyclists caught in the path of an impaired driver often suffer catastrophic injuries and life-changing medical expenses.
- Speeding– Often, speeding drivers realize too late that they can’t slow down in time to prevent a significant accident. Force increases with speed, increasing the severity of a struck cyclist’s injuries.
- Failing to yield– Both drivers and bicyclists must follow the rules of the road. When a driver does not yield the right of way to a bicyclist and hits them, the cyclist’s relative lack of protection means they end up paying the price.
- Dooring– Dooring occurs when a careless vehicle occupant does not look for bicyclists before opening their door. Oncoming bicyclists can slam into a suddenly opened car door, knocking them to the ground and causing injury.
- Poor visibility– Bicyclists are harder to see than motor vehicles, especially at night. The NHTSA estimates over 60 percent of fatal bicycle accidents in West Virginia occur at night when it is harder for motorists to spot riders.
There are a few simple steps you can follow to keep yourself safe on Morgantown roadways. Wear bright colors or reflective materials when you ride, and put reflectors on the front and rear of your bicycle. Make it as easy as possible for drivers to see you. Ride with the flow of traffic rather than against it.
It is also vital that you wear a helmet, which can protect you from traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) and other significant wounds. West Virginia’s helmet law requires all motorcycle riders and passengers to wear helmets.
What to Do After a Morgantown Bicycle Accident
Being hit by a motorist can leave you in shock and unsure of what to do next. However, your actions in the aftermath of a crash can significantly impact your ability to recover full and fair compensation for your injuries. Protect yourself by following these helpful tips:
- Contact the authorities.
- Exchange information with the driver.
- Seek medical attention immediately.
- Collect evidence at the scene by taking photos, if possible.
- Follow all your doctor’s orders and keep follow-up appointments.
- Stay off social media, and don’t post about the accident.
- Keep all medical bills, property damage estimates, and receipts for out-of-pocket expenses.
- Consult with an experienced West Virginia bicycle accident attorney.
Insurance companies are looking out for their bottom line, not your health and well-being. They will look for anything they can use to deny your claim or reduce your payout. Before you discuss the accident with an insurance adjuster, talk to a skilled bicycle accident lawyer about your case.
Who Is Liable for Injuries from a Bike Accident?
Pointing the finger at an at-fault driver is easy. Establishing who is liable for a bicycle accident is not. Many different people can be at fault, and a careless driver may not be the only responsible party. Depending on the circumstances, you could be owed compensation from several different entities.
An attorney can help by reviewing the facts of the accident, gathering the evidence to prove liability, and pursuing compensation from those responsible parties, which may include any of the following:
- The driver
- Another road user
- The manufacturer of a defective part
- A commercial trucking company
- A cargo loading company
- A government entity or municipality
Discussing your situation with a knowledgeable attorney is the best way to understand your rights and seek compensation from all parties responsible for the crash.
How Do Bicycle Accident Claims Work?
Before engaging with the at-fault driver’s insurance company, you should seek the advice of an experienced bicycle accident attorney. An attorney can communicate with insurers on your behalf, protecting your rights and seeing that you are fairly treated.
Pursuing compensation will likely begin when you file a claim with the at-fault driver’s insurer. You will need to provide them with relevant information so they can process your claim. A skilled lawyer can gather crucial evidence establishing the at-fault party’s liability before it is lost or destroyed. They will also collect proof of the losses you have suffered, such as medical bills, lost wages from time missed at work, and pain and suffering. With evidence in hand, your attorney can draft a demand letter outlining your claim and send it to the insurer.
Once the insurer reviews your information, an adjuster may offer a settlement. It is likely not in your best interest to accept their initial offer. Instead, your lawyer should negotiate on your behalf for the full compensation you deserve. If the insurer is unwilling to negotiate in good faith, it may be time to file a personal injury lawsuit and take them to court.
Types of Compensation Available for a West Virginia Bicycle Accident
Bicycle crashes can cause catastrophic injuries that require extensive medical intervention. This medical care can exhaust your resources and leave you in financial trouble. If a careless driver is to blame for your injuries, they may also owe you compensation to cover your related expenses and less tangible losses.
In many cases, you may be able to seek compensation for the following:
- Medical expenses
- Lost income
- Loss of earning capacity
- Emotional distress
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Pain and suffering
- Property damage
The value of your compensation depends on several factors, such as the cause of the collision, the severity of your injuries, and the extent of available insurance coverage. An experienced West Virginia bicycle accident attorney can review the circumstances of your case and offer you a clearer picture of what to expect in the way of compensation for your injuries.
Statute of Limitations for Bicycle Accident Claims in West Virginia
A bicyclist injured by a motorist can likely negotiate a settlement with that driver’s insurer. Unfortunately, not all insurers negotiate with accident victims in good faith, leaving injured people struggling to recover the money they deserve. An alternative to accepting an unfair settlement offer is filing a personal injury claim against the at-fault driver or their insurer. However, you do not have unlimited time.
West Virginia gives bicycle accident victims two years from the date of the incident to file a personal injury lawsuit. If you miss this deadline, the court will likely dismiss your case as untimely and leave you unable to pursue your rights in court. If that happens, you may be left with little leverage against an insurer and may not recover the money you need. In other words, the statute of limitations affects your case even if you never file suit.
Contact an Experienced Bicycle Accident Attorney in Morgantown, WV Today
Have you been hit by a careless driver while riding your bicycle? Are you struggling with painful injuries and expensive losses? Focusing on your recovery is challenging when there are bills to pay. Give yourself time to heal by placing your claim in the skilled hands of an understanding Morgantown bicycle accident attorney with Robinette Legal Group, PLLC.
Our team can review your situation, outline your legal options, and advocate aggressively on your behalf. You deserve fair compensation for your injuries. Let us help you seek the money you need. Contact our office today for a free case review with a respected cycling lawyer.