Pennsylvania Bicycle Accident Attorneys
If You’ve Been Injured in a Bicycle Accident in Philadelphia or the Surrounding Counties, Let Us Help You Seek Justice.
Many people ride bicycles for recreation, fitness, or to commute to work. In fact, nationally, in 2020 over 52.7 million people over the age of 6 rode bicycles.1 With fuel prices rising, unreliable mass transit, inexpensive bike sharing programs in cities, and increased traffic congestion due to automobiles, more people are biking to work or to get from one part of a city to another. While seemingly very safe, statistics show that riding a bicycle can be quite dangerous:
- Preventable deaths from bicycle crashes increased by 44% from 2011 through 2020, from 873 in 2011 to 1,260.2
- Preventable nonfatal injuries declined 39% from 2011 through 2020; they increased 5% from 2019 to 2020.3 There were well over 40,000 injuries in 2020.4
- In 2020 in Pennsylvania there were 819 bicycle crashes resulting in 22 fatalities and 799 injuries.5
- One-third of Pennsylvania’s bicycle accidents involved motor vehicles.6
- From 2016 to 2020, in Pennsylvania, injuries went down over 30%, but fatalities increased 27%.7
Causes of Bicycle Accidents.
There are basically two types of bicycling injuries: those that involve a motor vehicle and those that do not. There are many reasons for bicycle accidents and related injuries, including, but not limited to:
- Failing to wear a helmet;
- Distracted riding (e.g., talking on phone, texting, etc.);
- Bad weather;
- Poor road conditions;
- Racing motor vehicles or other bicyclists;
- Riding while under the influence of drugs or alcohol;
- Losing control of the bicycle;
- Poor bicycle maintenance;
- Failing to obey bicycle traffic rules; and
- Bicycling in unfamiliar areas.
1 Source: Statista.
2,3 Source: National Safety Council.
4 Source: NHTSA.
5,6,7 Source: PennDOT.
The causes of motor vehicle versus bicycle accidents are similar to those of any motor vehicle related crash (e.g., opening a car door without looking, speeding, bad weather, distracted driving, intoxication, etc.). Injuries in motor vehicle versus bike crashes can be significantly worse than accidents without a motor vehicle because of the combined speeds involved and the moving mass of the motor vehicle.
Help to Prevent Accidents.
Due to the number of potential factors that can cause bicycle accidents, it is of the utmost importance that riders are as careful as possible so as to minimize (potential) contributory negligence which can serve to reduce potential damage awards. Bicyclists should maintain their bicycles with the same care as their motor vehicles and follow the laws established by the Commonwealth while riding.8 Moreover, there are proactive measures that can be utilized by riders to decrease the chances of being involved in an accident and reduce their level of potential negligence if they are:9
- Ride with both hands on the handlebars;
- Wearing reflective or fluorescent clothes;
- Activate lights on the bicycle; and
- Never riding while intoxicated.
Injuries can be severe.
Because of their vulnerability, our experience has shown that bicyclists tend to be careful riders. However, when they do occur, the bicyclist tends to be hurt worse. Bicycle accidents, whether occurring with or without a motor vehicle, usually involve motion. Since riders rarely have protection other than helmets, injuries in bicycle accidents can be minor like cuts, scrapes, and “road rash.” However, far more significant damage can and often does occur (e.g., broken bones, internal injuries, concussions) to almost any part of the body including arms, legs, head, spine, abdomen, eyes, genitals, and soft tissue.
8 Source: PennDOT.
975 Pa. C.S. §3501-3514. See also NHTSA.
Steps to Take After a Bicycle Accident.
What you do following a bicycle accident may help or hurt your chances of receiving the compensation for your injuries that you deserve:
- CALL 911. Do not leave the scene and wait for the police to arrive. You want a police report to document what happened and who was involved. This is also your opportunity to give your side of the story and indicate any injuries you may have.
- OBTAIN DRIVER AND WITNESS CONTACT INFORMATION. Treat this incident as you would any car accident and make sure you get the name of the automobile driver or other party, their address, telephone number, driver’s license number, vehicle license plate number, and insurance information. Also, try to get contact information and names of anyone that may have witnessed the accident.
- DOCUMENT WHAT HAPPENED. If you are able, take photos of the scene, your bicycle, the other vehicle, the street, and basically anything that will document what occurred. If you don’t have a phone with you, make mental notes and write them down as soon as possible.
- SEEK MEDICAL ATTENTION. If your injuries are serious, call 911. Even if you believe you are not injured or suffered only minor injuries, seek medical attention. Symptoms of some injuries may not appear for several days, so you need to be aware of any physical issues. Keep a record of any costs incurred.
- PRESERVE ANY POSSIBLE EVIDENCE. Do not fix your bike or make any repairs, do not wash or get rid of the clothes that you were wearing, and do not dispose of any equipment or your helmet that you may have been wearing at the time of the accident.
- CONTACT A LAWYER. A bicycle lawyer can investigate your case and negotiate a settlement for compensation for your injuries or, if necessary, prepare your case for a trial.
One of the questions that bicyclists injured in a collision with a car ask is who pays for the injuries? Interestingly, in the Commonwealth bicycle accidents are covered by the rider’s automobile insurance, but the no-fault laws do not apply. Injuries sustained in bicycle accidents are covered by the at-fault driver. If it is determined that no one is at fault, the rider’s injuries will be covered by their own car insurance.
Injured bicyclists with limited tort automobile insurance may think that they are only able to be compensated for their medical bills and lost wage, but this is incorrect. Injuries sustained in bicycle accidents are one of the exceptions to limited tort insurance. Bicyclists are considered pedestrians – an exception to the limited tort policy — since they are not operating or a passenger in a motor vehicle.
Proving a Negligence Claim as a Bicyclist.
As with other actions for negligence claims, bicyclists must show that the driver owed them a duty, the driver of the motor vehicle breached that duty, and the bicyclist suffered damages due to the motor vehicle driver breaching that duty.
Due to Pennsylvania’s comparative negligence law, a rider cannot recover compensation if their conduct caused over 51% of the accident. If they are 50% or less at fault, it reduces the amount of your recovery. This means that the person the bicyclist is claiming is responsible for their injuries will try to argue that the bicyclist is more than 51% responsible by asserting, among other things, that the rider was distracted, intoxicated, or in violation of bicycle laws.
Hire an Experienced and Knowledgeable Law Firm.
If you or a loved one has been injured or worse in a motorcycle accident in the Philadelphia area, you need the experienced, knowledgeable assistance of the legal team at Petrillo & Goldberg Law. We welcome the special challenge of bicycle cases and will work diligently to recover all available damages on your behalf. We are here to help bicycle injury victims obtain the compensation they deserve. We are available for a free consultation by telephone at 215-486-1LAW (215-486-1529) or at either our Philadelphia, Pennsylvania or Pennsauken or Woodbury, New Jersey offices.