Safety and Health Reporter

Bike Crashes

Bike Crashes

Brien Roche

Bike crashes frequently involve severe injuries.  The local laws that apply to the use of bikes are not the same as what apply to cars.  Although some of the laws may be the same, some are not.  Any lawyer handling these types of cases needs to know both areas of the law.  For a free consult, call us or contact us.

What to do if you have a bike crash:

  • Secure the damaged bike and do not try to repair it.
  • Take pictures of it from all angles including the gear ratio setting as the gear setting may tell you the speed range of the bike. Likewise marks on the tires or rims may offer clues as to the impact.
  • Check any electronic devices on the bike as this may have a host of data.
  • Visit the scene for private and public cameras
  • Get photos of the scene promptly.  Otherwise it may change.  These photos may be key to your case.
  • Collect all the papers relating to your buying of the bike.  There may be a basis for a product defect claim.
  • Gather all the papers as to any service of the bike.  There may be a claim against the shop that serviced the bike.
  • Preserve the clothing you were wearing.
  • Write a statement giving all of the details of the crash.  If meant for your lawyer, then no one else can see it.
  • Record whether the area is a heavy bike usage area.

Call or contact us for a free consult.

Bike Crashes Result in Victims in DC Having Greater Protection

The City Council for D.C. has passed a law to promote safety for people on foot, people on bikes and other persons using non-motor means of movement.  The law comes in the form of changing the common law concept that the claim of an injured party is barred if there is fault on the part of that person.  With the new law, if the injured person’s fault is a cause of their injury and their fault is less than 50% then their claim is not barred.  Moreover this leaves intact the existing law that in all other realms fault on the part of the injured person is a bar to their claim.

However it is not clear if this new law applies to cases pending when the law was passed or only to cases arising after this law was passed.

In D.C. the law relating to bike accidents can be hard to put together.  Bikers in D.C. are allowed to ride on the roadway, bike lanes and in some cases, sidewalks.  In contrast they cannot ride on sidewalks in the central district.

In D.C. bikes are treated like cars.  Bikers have to follow the same laws as cars and trucks therefore a bike rider must stop at a stop sign and must stop at a red light.  In addition he must yield at a yield sign.  There are some special rules dealing with bikes and bike lanes.

All of these things must be known if you’re handling D.C. bike cases.

Bicycle Equipment

Bicycle accident cases sometimes rise or fall based on the type of bike in use.  Fixed-gear bikes are single speed bikes that do not have hand brakes.  If speed or ability to stop is an issue then the features of this bike must be known.  In addition helmet laws must be looked at.  Helmets may be required as to children and may also be required as to adults.

In addition common safety features on bikes include reflectors, tires that can resist puncture and also rear and front lights.

All of these must be looked at.

Bicycle Accident Prevention

A driver opening a door in the path of a bike rider is a biker’s worst nightmare.  The driver is at fault in this instance.  That however is little solace to the biker who has run into the door.  Both drivers and bikers need to be aware of this.

In addition there are a number of things drivers and bikers should adhere to:

  • Helmets are for the bike rider’s safety.  If you value your brain, you should wear one.
  • Drivers should always be aware of bikers to their right.  For instance when turning right.
  • Drivers should not expect a bike rider to hear a car horn.  The biker is out in the open air and therefore exposed to much more sound than is the driver.
  • In addition bike riders should not be listening to music or the radio while riding.
  • Bikers should stay away from the curb as there may be trash, pot holes or grates in that area.
  • Bikers must make sure that drivers see them.  Wearing gear that reflects or flashes is a good idea.
  • Bikers should signal their turns well in advance.  The more notice you give, the safer you are.
  • In some locales it is not legal to ride a bike on the sidewalk.
  • In some states bikes have equal rights and equal duties.

Other Preventive Measures

  • Avoid riding between lanes.
  • Wear clothing that not only covers the entire body but cushions the body.
  • Take extra precaution at intersections where most collisions occur.
  • Wear rubber soled shoes and not sandals or flat shoes.
  • Let others know when you are turning or changing lanes as many motorists simply do not see bike riders.
  • Be aware of the presence of electric cars which are nearly silent.  The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has found that pedestrian accidents are 37% more likely to occur with electric vehicles as opposed to other vehicles.

Call or contact us for a free consultation.

Bike Crashes – Contributory Negligence

In some states, fault may still be a bar to a biker rider’s claim.  Helmet laws may apply.  As a result failure to comply may be a bar to your claim.

Some states require drivers of autos to pass bike riders at a certain distance to the left of the biker.  The car is not to return to the right side until clear of the biker.  In addition in some cases this clearance may be as much as 30 feet in front of the bike.  The speed of the biker may also be a bar.  Sometimes people on foot give estimates as to bike speed.  It is tough to maintain a speed of over 15 to 20 mph even on flat ground.  Statements of speed in excess of that may not be worthy of belief.

Bike Crashes – Assumption of Risk

Another defense to bike claims is that the biker assumed the risk.  If the risk is known then that defense may apply.  A bike rider riding to the right of a right-turning vehicle may be guilty of this.  Riding at night may raise a defense of assumed risk.

Bicycle Accident Factors

In looking at bicycle accident cases, there are a number of factors to look at:

  • There are certain biases that exist against bikers.  They are seen by many as risk takers and rule breakers and therefore should not have equal rights.
  • Some states have passed heavy user laws.  That is, the heavier vehicle is required to yield.  Even if that is not the law in your state, that theory may be of value.
  • If the client has taken any safety courses, that must be known.  Any papers proving such should be gathered.

All of these factors must be looked at in terms of bike crashes.

See bicycles for a review of Virginia case law on this subject.


For more information on bicycle accidents see the pages on Wikipedia.

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Contact Us For A Free Consultation

Bike Crashes

Bike Crashes

Brien Roche

Bike crashes frequently involve severe injuries.  The local laws that apply to the use of bikes are not the same as what apply to cars.  Although some of the laws may be the same, some are not.  Any lawyer handling these types of cases needs to know both areas of the law.  For a free consult, call us or contact us.

What to do if you have a bike crash:

  • Secure the damaged bike and do not try to repair it.
  • Take pictures of it from all angles including the gear ratio setting as the gear setting may tell you the speed range of the bike. Likewise marks on the tires or rims may offer clues as to the impact.
  • Check any electronic devices on the bike as this may have a host of data.
  • Visit the scene for private and public cameras
  • Get photos of the scene promptly.  Otherwise it may change.  These photos may be key to your case.
  • Collect all the papers relating to your buying of the bike.  There may be a basis for a product defect claim.
  • Gather all the papers as to any service of the bike.  There may be a claim against the shop that serviced the bike.
  • Preserve the clothing you were wearing.
  • Write a statement giving all of the details of the crash.  If meant for your lawyer, then no one else can see it.
  • Record whether the area is a heavy bike usage area.

Call or contact us for a free consult.

Bike Crashes Result in Victims in DC Having Greater Protection

The City Council for D.C. has passed a law to promote safety for people on foot, people on bikes and other persons using non-motor means of movement.  The law comes in the form of changing the common law concept that the claim of an injured party is barred if there is fault on the part of that person.  With the new law, if the injured person’s fault is a cause of their injury and their fault is less than 50% then their claim is not barred.  Moreover this leaves intact the existing law that in all other realms fault on the part of the injured person is a bar to their claim.

However it is not clear if this new law applies to cases pending when the law was passed or only to cases arising after this law was passed.

In D.C. the law relating to bike accidents can be hard to put together.  Bikers in D.C. are allowed to ride on the roadway, bike lanes and in some cases, sidewalks.  In contrast they cannot ride on sidewalks in the central district.

In D.C. bikes are treated like cars.  Bikers have to follow the same laws as cars and trucks therefore a bike rider must stop at a stop sign and must stop at a red light.  In addition he must yield at a yield sign.  There are some special rules dealing with bikes and bike lanes.

All of these things must be known if you’re handling D.C. bike cases.

Bicycle Equipment

Bicycle accident cases sometimes rise or fall based on the type of bike in use.  Fixed-gear bikes are single speed bikes that do not have hand brakes.  If speed or ability to stop is an issue then the features of this bike must be known.  In addition helmet laws must be looked at.  Helmets may be required as to children and may also be required as to adults.

In addition common safety features on bikes include reflectors, tires that can resist puncture and also rear and front lights.

All of these must be looked at.

Bicycle Accident Prevention

A driver opening a door in the path of a bike rider is a biker’s worst nightmare.  The driver is at fault in this instance.  That however is little solace to the biker who has run into the door.  Both drivers and bikers need to be aware of this.

In addition there are a number of things drivers and bikers should adhere to:

  • Helmets are for the bike rider’s safety.  If you value your brain, you should wear one.
  • Drivers should always be aware of bikers to their right.  For instance when turning right.
  • Drivers should not expect a bike rider to hear a car horn.  The biker is out in the open air and therefore exposed to much more sound than is the driver.
  • In addition bike riders should not be listening to music or the radio while riding.
  • Bikers should stay away from the curb as there may be trash, pot holes or grates in that area.
  • Bikers must make sure that drivers see them.  Wearing gear that reflects or flashes is a good idea.
  • Bikers should signal their turns well in advance.  The more notice you give, the safer you are.
  • In some locales it is not legal to ride a bike on the sidewalk.
  • In some states bikes have equal rights and equal duties.

Other Preventive Measures

  • Avoid riding between lanes.
  • Wear clothing that not only covers the entire body but cushions the body.
  • Take extra precaution at intersections where most collisions occur.
  • Wear rubber soled shoes and not sandals or flat shoes.
  • Let others know when you are turning or changing lanes as many motorists simply do not see bike riders.
  • Be aware of the presence of electric cars which are nearly silent.  The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has found that pedestrian accidents are 37% more likely to occur with electric vehicles as opposed to other vehicles.

Call or contact us for a free consultation.

Bike Crashes – Contributory Negligence

In some states, fault may still be a bar to a biker rider’s claim.  Helmet laws may apply.  As a result failure to comply may be a bar to your claim.

Some states require drivers of autos to pass bike riders at a certain distance to the left of the biker.  The car is not to return to the right side until clear of the biker.  In addition in some cases this clearance may be as much as 30 feet in front of the bike.  The speed of the biker may also be a bar.  Sometimes people on foot give estimates as to bike speed.  It is tough to maintain a speed of over 15 to 20 mph even on flat ground.  Statements of speed in excess of that may not be worthy of belief.

Bike Crashes – Assumption of Risk

Another defense to bike claims is that the biker assumed the risk.  If the risk is known then that defense may apply.  A bike rider riding to the right of a right-turning vehicle may be guilty of this.  Riding at night may raise a defense of assumed risk.

Bicycle Accident Factors

In looking at bicycle accident cases, there are a number of factors to look at:

  • There are certain biases that exist against bikers.  They are seen by many as risk takers and rule breakers and therefore should not have equal rights.
  • Some states have passed heavy user laws.  That is, the heavier vehicle is required to yield.  Even if that is not the law in your state, that theory may be of value.
  • If the client has taken any safety courses, that must be known.  Any papers proving such should be gathered.

All of these factors must be looked at in terms of bike crashes.

See bicycles for a review of Virginia case law on this subject.


For more information on bicycle accidents see the pages on Wikipedia.

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