Bicycle Accident Attorneys in Birmingham, Alabama
You’re committed to your health and well-being, and you show that by riding your bike—for fun, for transportation, or for exercise. However, drivers aren’t always quite as careful as bicyclists. Despite the fact that bicyclists have established rights under state law, many drivers are more concerned with their arrival time than with the safety of others on the road. Because of this, bicycle accidents are a serious issue in Alabama.
If you or someone you love has been injured in a bike accident, it’s important to discuss your accident with an experienced personal injury attorney. Call Mann & Potter, P.C. at 205-627-3186 to schedule a consultation now.
Bike Accident Statistics
Despite public safety initiatives, increased punishments for those who harm bicyclists while driving, and other efforts to keep bicyclists safe, bicycle accidents have increased in recent years in Alabama. There were nearly 300 crashes in 2017, representing a significant increase from 2015 and 2016. Across 299 crashes, there were 212 injuries and six fatalities.
The majority of those injured are between the ages of 41 and 60, although there are also many injuries in the 16-25 age range. Just 10% of crashes occur on rural roads, and a shocking 90% take place on urban streets. While drivers’ behavior is undoubtedly a major factor in many bicycle accidents, half of all 2017 bicycle crashes were caused by cyclists.
Do You Need an Attorney for a Bike Accident?
If you have never been involved in an accident before, you likely wonder if you need an attorney. You may have already been contacted by the driver’s insurance company, and perhaps they have even offered a settlement. Be wary and do not accept anything until you talk to a personal injury attorney.
When an insurance adjuster reaches out to you after an accident, they likely already know that their client is at fault. However, they are hoping that you don’t yet know the extent of your injuries or the financial damage you’ll sustain because of their client’s actions. They may offer a number that sounds like a lot. In exchange for accepting their settlement, you waive your right to sue.
What happens when, a few days later, you realize that the pain in your neck is increasing, not decreasing? Or when you find out that you will have to spend at least two weeks out of work without pay? It’s too late. You can’t go back to the company and ask for more money, and because of the agreement you signed, you can’t take legal action against them.
If you’d waited and discussed your case with an attorney, you’d have more leverage. Instead of jumping at the first settlement offer, you would have passed communication onto your attorney. Rather than dodging calls and trying to figure out if an offer was fair, you would have been able to focus on healing while your lawyer negotiated on your behalf.
A lot is at stake when you are injured because of someone else’s actions. Don’t try to handle this yourself. Make sure you get what you deserve by contacting a personal injury attorney as soon as possible.
What To Do After the Accident
Notify the Police
Your first move is to call the police. You will need a police report to seek compensation. The driver may discourage this and say that it’s unnecessary, but you have to protect yourself. In many cases, bicyclists have listened to drivers and gone through insurance, only to have the driver claim that the accident never happened. This makes it much more difficult to get your injuries and property damage covered.
Wait to Talk to the Driver
On that note, don’t talk to the driver until the police are present. You want to avoid saying anything that downplays your injuries or makes it seem like you are liable for the accident. When it comes down to it, you don’t need to talk to the driver at all. All communication regarding your injuries and claim will be between your attorney and their insurance company.
Give Your Side of the Story
Make sure that the police officer listens to your retelling of events and that they include it in the police report. Some cyclists have reported that police officers only include the drivers’ side of events, ignoring the cyclists’ side entirely.
Get Contact and Insurance Information
Before you leave, make sure you exchange contact and insurance information with the driver. If they are angry or difficult to talk to, you can do this with the help of the police officer at the scene of the accident.
Go to the Doctor
Getting checked out is easily one of the most important steps on this entire list. Every person responds to an accident differently, so you may have minor aches and pains, or you may not feel anything at all. This doesn’t mean that you don’t have any serious injuries.
What to Expect
After you have retained a personal injury attorney, you may be curious about what comes next. Much depends on the specific circumstances of your accident and injuries, as well as the insurance adjuster handling your claim.
Once your attorney meets with you and learns more about your accident, they will start gathering evidence and figuring out exactly what happened. They will also consider your injuries, the likely cost of treating them, and any work restrictions you currently have and may have in the future.
Upon finishing their investigation, your attorney will draft a demand letter and send it to the insurance company. It’s unlikely that the insurance company will capitulate and pay out the requested amount; it’s simply a starting point for negotiations. Ideally, negotiations will go back and forth, leading to an agreed-upon settlement amount. After your attorney’s fees are paid and any other claims on the money are handled, you receive the remaining funds.
Some cases go a bit differently. If you and the other side cannot agree on a settlement amount, you must start preparing for court. Your attorney will file a case against the other party and start building their case. If it goes to court, your case will be heard, and a jury will decide if you receive compensation and how much you receive. At any point during this process, you can still agree to a settlement.
Common Causes of Bike Accidents
Many accidents are caused by distracted drivers. It only takes a second for a distracted driver to drift out of their lane, miss a bicyclist in their blind spot, or not notice a bicyclist in front of them. Other common causes of accidents include speeding, a failure to yield, and misunderstandings about right-of-way.
These actions lead to several different types of bicycling accidents, including:
- Rear-end crashes. When a driver doesn’t stop in time, they can rear-end motorcyclists and throw them from the bike, causing serious injuries and substantial property damage. There is typically minimal damage to the car.
- When a vehicle is parked on the side of the road, the onus is on the driver to make sure that the road is clear before they open their door. When they don’t, they can obstruct the bicyclist, causing them to lose control of their bike or even get thrown from their bike.
- Side-swipe accidents. Drivers know to check their blind spots before changing lanes, but they often don’t look for bicyclists. Bicyclists can suffer serious injuries when a driver shifts into their lane.
- Left-turn impacts. Underestimating a bicyclist’s speed is a common cause of left-turn accidents. When a driver turns left in front of a bicyclist, they may strike the bicyclist or cause the bicyclist to strike the side of the car.
Call Us After Your Bike Accident
Regardless of the circumstances of your bicycle accident, it is important to protect your rights and fight for the compensation you deserve. That’s why we’re here. Schedule your consultation now by calling Mann & Potter, P.C. at 205-627-3186 or reach out online to get started.