Bicycling is a great form of exercise and a cheap and environmentally friendly way to commute. You can follow the rules of the road or trail and wear a helmet to stay safe when you are behind the handlebars.
As with any other vehicle type, bike accidents are sometimes inevitable. Careless drivers, unexpected bumps, and poor weather can lead to collisions, falls, and injuries.
A bicycle accident lawyer can help you receive just compensation for your injuries, especially if another party is at fault for the accident.
In Fishers, like everywhere else in the country, vehicles must make reasonable bicycle accommodations. However, you need to understand bicycle laws in Indiana to ensure you get a fair settlement after an incident. A bicycle accident attorney will help navigate the process.
Here is a closer look at bike accidents in Fishers and wider Hamilton County.
Bicycle Accident Trends and Statistics
Serious bicycle accidents are more common than you might think. According to data published by the National Safety Council, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reported that 932 bicyclists died in motor vehicle crashes in 2020, an 8.9% increase from 2019, which saw a total of 856 fatalities.
Overall, 2% of all motor vehicle accident deaths involve cyclists, meaning there are significant dangers for bikers sharing the road with cars and trucks.
The NSC counted 1,260 deaths over the same period, with 454 involving non-traffic accidents and the remainder caused by car-bike crashes.
A majority of these deaths were preventable. For example, helmets prevent up to 60% of head injury deaths, but only 29% of adults wear helmets consistently. Many bike crashes, whether they include a car or not, can be severe, even if they are not deadly. Overall, bike wrecks lead to an average of 580,000 hospital visits every year.
Many of these incidents occur during the summer. The NSC counted an above-average number of fatal accidents between May and October, with August being the deadliest month for cyclists.
What about local statistics from Indiana? Over the past decade, Indianapolis has seen between one and five bike-related fatalities annually. However, the figure rose to seven in 2021. It is far more dangerous to be a pedestrian, with 20 to 30 deaths due to walker-car accidents yearly.
Advocates are calling for better bike and pedestrian infrastructure to help lower these numbers further.
Common Causes of Bicycle Accidents in Indiana
Sometimes, it can be challenging to assign the blame for an accident. If a driver and cyclist both claim negligence by the other party, it can make it difficult to get a just settlement. A bicycle accident attorney can help you sort out the details and assign fault to support your case.
Two of the most common opinions are that cyclists are always to blame because they do not belong on the road, or cars are always at fault because they are larger and have a duty of care to cyclists and pedestrians.
Actually, both of these are incorrect. Fault depends on the circumstances surrounding the accident.
Here are the four possible causes of most bicycle accidents in Indiana.
Reckless Driver – Reckless driver accidents involve a motor vehicle hitting a cyclist. Drivers have a duty of care towards all parties that share the road, including other cars, pedestrians, and cyclists. Distracted driving, speeding, not following traffic signs, or leaving the road are all examples of reckless driving.
Finally, operating a vehicle while under the influence of drugs or alcohol is considered reckless driving. One-third of all car-bike accident fatalities involve DUIs.
Reckless Cyclist – Accidents also occur because some cyclists put themselves in danger by weaving in and out of traffic, ignoring traffic signs and signals, and not paying attention. In addition to swerving in front of a car or going through a red light, reckless cyclists can also be liable for accidents involving pedestrians, pets, or property damage.
Poor Road Conditions – Poor road conditions are sometimes to blame for accidents. Issues such as cracked concrete, potholes, and poor lighting can cause falls or crashes. Weather issues, such as rain or snow, can also play a role in accidents, especially if the precipitation is unexpected.
Even if road conditions are a problem, both cyclists and drivers are responsible for adjusting their riding and driving to account for the poor conditions when they become aware of them.
Defective Bicycle – Defective bicycle accidents are rare, but they can occur if brakes, handlebars, chains, or other components are faulty. You should understand that accidents caused by defective bikes are not the same as incidents due to poor bicycle upkeep.
Worn brakes, loose chains, and other maintenance issues are typically signs of negligence by the owner or their mechanic, not the manufacturer.
How Can a Bicycle Lawyer Help Me if I’ve Been in an Accident?
An Indiana accident lawyer can help you file a claim and pursue compensation if you are the victim. Like any other legal case, a bike claim or civil lawsuit involves filing the correct paperwork, compiling evidence, and presenting your case in court if necessary.
In addition to advising you on each step of the process, a bicycle accident attorney can inform you about the laws and regulations related to your case and ensure you pursue the right level of compensation.
Here is a closer look at the three areas a bike crash lawyer focuses on when working for you.
- Compiling evidence – In an accident case, you will need to prove that the other party behaved negligently or recklessly and that this behavior caused the accident. This proof involves collecting evidence and presenting it. In bike cases, evidence could include police reports, medical statements, witness records, and traffic camera footage. A bicycle lawyer can help you compile all this material and present it convincingly.
- Administrative work – Legal cases involve a lot of paperwork. In addition to compiling evidence, you need to file documents with the court, notify the other parties of the case, and present proof to insurance companies. A bicycle attorney can handle these administrative tasks so that you do not miss any deadlines or delay the case because of paperwork issues.
- Negotiation – Many bicycle accident claims get settled out of court. A bike crash lawyer often presents the evidence to the other party’s attorneys or the insurance company. If your case is compelling, they may agree to pay a settlement instead of going to a costly civil trial. Your attorney will negotiate to ensure fair compensation.
Determining Fault in a Bicycle Injury Claim
A bicycle injury claim has two components. First, you must establish liability. Second, you need to prove that your injuries were a result of the actions for which the other party is responsible.
Someone is liable if they are negligent, so your bicycle injury attorney will focus on proving negligence using these four steps.
- The defendant owed you a duty of care,
- The defendant breached this duty of care,
- The breach directly caused your injuries,
- Your injuries resulted in significant pain and expenses.
A duty of care is the requirement to act responsibly in a way that does not harm anyone else.
Some cases may be this straightforward. However, Indiana uses a comparative fault system. If you have an accident in Fishers or elsewhere in Hamilton County, you may have to weigh all the factors of the incident to determine culpability. Compensation is usually proportional to the other party’s level of fault.
Indiana Code 34-51-2-6 explains the limits of the comparative fault system. It prohibits personal injury claimants from recovering any compensation if they bear 51% or more of the responsibility for their injury. What factors could affect your case as a bicycle accident victim?
- A cyclist could be partially or fully at fault if they fail to follow traffic rules, such as stopping at red lights or yielding when required.
- Fault could also involve riding the wrong way (against traffic) on the street or crossing during a stop light.
- Distractions could also derail your claim. If you were on the phone, for example, you would not be paying attention to the road.
- Cycling under the influence of alcohol or drugs will often put your level of culpability over the 51% threshold.
Indiana Bicycle Laws
Indiana bicycle laws explain what cyclists can and cannot do while sharing the road with vehicles or the sidewalk with pedestrians. Here are some of the more important rules of the road for pedal-powered two-wheelers.
- When they are on the road, bicyclists generally have the same rights and responsibilities as motor vehicle drivers.
- Bicyclists can ride on sidewalks and paths. They may use bicycle lanes on the roads, but they are not required to do so. However, cyclists should always stay to the right of the street if they are moving at a slower pace than vehicle traffic.
- Bicyclists must obey traffic signals and signs and signal turns before making them.
- At night, bikes must have proper lighting. They need a front white light and a rear red lamp or red reflector visible from 500 feet away.
- Bicycles can use a bell, but whistles or sirens are illegal.
- Bikes must have functioning brakes and a seat.
- Bicyclists must follow Indiana’s DUI laws. Rules and limits for riding under the influence are the same for cyclists as they are for drivers.
Failure to follow these rules can result in partial or full liability for an accident. The other party’s attorneys or insurer may attempt to prove that you did not adhere to specific laws before the accident to establish partial liability on your part.
What Types of Compensation Can I Expect After a Bicycle Accident in Indiana?
Victims of bicycle injuries in Indiana may be entitled to compensation for their losses and pain after a bicycle accident. Here are the expenses you can pursue with the help of your attorney.
- You can recover the medical costs for treatments related to injuries sustained during the accident.
- You may also receive compensation for lost wages if the bike accident causes you to miss work.
- You receive compensation for personal property damaged during the bike accident. The items could include the bike and any other broken possessions, such as a phone, glasses, clothing, or a backpack.
- You can also qualify for damages for pain and suffering if the accident left you with lingering psychological issues or caused anxiety, post-traumatic stress, or other problems. These issues may be directly caused by the accident or could be because of an indirect result. For example, stress from being unable to work or provide care for your family could qualify as pain and suffering.
- If the negligent party acted maliciously in causing the accident and your resulting injuries, you might have access to punitive damages through the civil lawsuit. However, punitive damages are capped at $50,000 in Indiana.
You may be able to pursue compensation for other reasons as long as you can prove the damage and show that the accident for which you were not at fault led to these unwanted effects.
Bicycle Accident Law Firm
Bicycle accident law firms need to represent clients against drivers and other parties, but they also need to be able to negotiate with and argue against insurance companies.
At SLG Accident Attorneys, we have extensive experience with personal injury cases involving the negligence of another party. This knowledge makes us the perfect choice for bike accident victims in Fishers, Indiana, and the wider Hamilton County area.
We live and work in this area, so we know that traffic has gotten worse in the past few years, and we understand the type of situations cyclists encounter on the road.
We have a stellar record when it comes to negotiations and civil trials, and we use a transparent fee structure to ensure you clearly understand the arrangement before we take your case.
You can check our reviews online to see how we compare to other bike accident lawyers in the Fishers area. Or you can contact us right away to see how we can help you pursue just compensation for your bicycle accident.
Some of the locations around Fishers which our bicycle lawyers serves include: Hamilton County, Indianapolis, Carmel, Noblesville, Lawrence, Westfield, Zionsville, Beech Grove, Speedway, Greenfield, Anderson, Brownsburg, Elwood, Greenwood, Lebanon, Plainfield, Fall Creek and Delaware Townships, and more.