Philadelphia Bicycle Accident Attorney
Some of the most catastrophic and traumatic accidents happen on bicycles. Bicyclists face more dangers than vehicle drivers are, because they don’t have a metal shell protecting them in an accident. In Philadelphia, there are a large number of bicyclists interacting with motor vehicles every day. The number of bicycle accidents we see every year is startling and few statistics cover the related damages.
Common Causes Of Bicycle Accidents In Philadelphia
During the most recent reporting year across the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, we can see that there were 766 total bicycle collisions reported, according to PENNDOT. This does represent an overall decrease year after year across the Commonwealth, but these incidents still led to 24 fatalities and 754 injuries. These numbers only represent the accidents actually reported to state authorities, and there are likely others that have not been properly reported.
Bicycle accidents occur for a variety of reasons, often due to the careless or negligent actions of a vehicle driver. Yes, there are times when incidents are caused by a bicyclist, but some of the most common causes of these incidents that we encounter involve a driver:
- Failing to yield the right of way
- Speeding or driving too fast for the conditions
- Following a bicyclist too closely
- Opening a door into a bicyclist’s path
- Operating while distracted by a phone or mobile device
- Operating while impaired by drugs or alcohol
- Road rage incidents
This is certainly not a complete list of how bicycle accidents occur in and around Philadelphia, and we encourage you or a loved one to reach out to us if you think you have a viable bicycle accident claim. We offer free consultations, and we are ready to help you today.
How To Prove Negligence In A Bicycle Accident Claim
Proving negligence after a bicycle accident can be challenging and typically revolves around gathering as much evidence as possible. There may be a significant amount of evidence individuals can gather and obtain at the scene of the incident, but only if the injuries are not too severe and only if the overall accident scene is safe. This type of evidence can include:
- Photographs taken of causes of the accident, injuries, property damage, debris, and more
- Video surveillance taken from my phone of the overall accident scene
- Video surveillance footage from cameras nearby, including ring doorbells or business surveillance cameras
- Statements taken from eyewitnesses or others involved in the incident
In the days and weeks following a bicycle accident in Philadelphia, there may be additional types of evidence. This can include more surveillance footage uncovered with the assistance of an attorney, the outcome of any citations issued at the scene of the incident, a driver’s past accident history, the results of any blood alcohol or drug tests, and more.
We strongly encourage you to reach out to a skilled bicycle accident lawyer in Philadelphia who has experience handling these complex claims. An attorney can handle the entire investigation on your behalf and then work on negotiating with the insurance carriers for a fair compensation amount.
The Four Elements of Negligence
After a bicycle accident occurs, securing compensation revolves around establishing the four elements of negligence. No matter how much evidence you may have to prove what happened, if these four elements are not in place, securing compensation will be nearly impossible:
- Duty. The first step is establishing that there was a duty of care owed by the defendant to the plaintiff. Any driver on the roadway automatically owes a duty of care to ensure the safety of those around them. This includes following basic traffic laws and watching out for other vehicles, pedestrians, and bicyclists.
- Breach. After establishing a duty of care, it must be shown that the defendant somehow breached their duty of care to the plaintiff. Drivers can breach their duty of care in many different ways, including operating while distracted or impaired, speeding, failing to yield the right of way, etc.
- Causation. If a breach of duty did indeed occur, it is important to show that the breach somehow led to the victim’s injuries, whether directly or indirectly.
- Damages. The last step in the process is showing that the injury victim sustained some sort of monetary loss as a result of the incident. This can include medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering damages.
What to Do if You’re Involved in a Bicycle Accident in Philadelphia
If you’ve been injured in a bicycle accident, don’t hesitate to contact a Philadelphia bicycle accident lawyer to learn what you should do moving forward. Whether your case was a hit-and-run or you’re in communication with the driver, we can help begin litigation and legal proceedings. Our firm works on a contingency basis, meaning that we don’t collect a dime unless we recover a monetary award for you.
At Ciccarelli Law Offices, we’ve seen too many bicycle accidents to count in the Philadelphia area. We are knowledgeable and experienced with the laws surrounding bicycles on the roadways, and we know how best to represent you in a bicycle accident lawsuit. Our lawyers can help support you in your time of need, provide sympathetic counsel, and get the medical and other compensations you deserve. Call us at (215) 228-0100 to schedule your free consultation with one of our attorneys. You can also tell us about your case by filling out a contact form online.
Why Choose Our Philadelphia Bicycle Accident Lawyers?
The Ciccarelli Law Offices are ready to get to work on your behalf today. This law firm was founded by Lee Ciccarelli because he wanted a practice that was devoted to the clients it serves. That means that every client, regardless of their financial status and what kind of case they have, gets treated with respect.
- Ciccarelli Law Offices is going to bring decades of legal experience to your case. For bicycle accident cases, experience goes a long way towards securing the compensation you need.
- Lee Ciccarelli’s experience in personal injury trials serves as the foundation of the firm, so you can be sure that each case will be handled properly and be ready for trial if necessary.
- This is a client-centered firm, so you can count on having access to your attorney so you can ask any questions and concerns about your case.
- You will get a free evaluation of your case so we can discuss the strength of your case and possible strategies moving forward.
One client said, “Mr. Ciccarelli’s professionalism and client stewardship are phenomenal and exceeded all of my expectations.”
How Much Does a Philadelphia Bicycle Accident Attorney Charge?
- If you need to seek legal assistance for your bicycle accident case, you will want to know what it will cost you. After all, you are seeking compensation for your losses. You need to get money, not spend it. Attorney fees are the costs of legal representation and are assessed in various ways. These fees will be set by contract before your attorney begins work on your case.
- At the Ciccarelli Law Offices, we work to take our personal injury cases on a contingency fee basis. This means that we do not get paid for our services until the client gets paid through a settlement or a win in the trial. In these cases, our earnings will come as a part of the percentage of the settlement. How much this percentage ends up being will be a part of the original contract negotiated between the attorney and their client.
- When you have been injured in a bicycle crash, we do not want you to worry about legal fees or out-of-pocket costs for the case. On a contingency case plan, you can trust that you will not face fees unless we are successful in your case.
What Are The Common Types of Bicycling Accident Injuries In Philadelphia?
Every bicyclist deserves to feel safe on the roads, whether on the sidewalk or riding in bike lanes among cars. Unfortunately, a large number of drivers don’t pay enough attention at crosswalks or while making turns, placing the lives of bicyclists in danger. As distracted driving increases in our area, so does the number of car accidents – unfortunately, many of which involve pedestrians and bicyclists.
Simply wearing a helmet isn’t enough to protect bicyclists from devastating injury, even death. Spinal cord injuries, as well as severe internal bleeding, often happen when cars hit bicyclists, as do the more-common injuries of bruising, broken bones, and concussions. The imbalance of power involved in car-bicycle crashes always places the bicyclist in the most danger, even though these accidents are rarely their fault.
The most common injuries we see surrounding bicycle accidents include:
- Soft tissue injury (abrasions and lacerations)
- Skull fracture
- Facial and dental fractures
- Dislocations and strains
- Bone fractures
- Lung injury
- Abdomen injury
Due to the potential for being run over by a car, bicyclists are also at risk of being crushed underneath a vehicle, usually resulting in death. Head and neck injuries can also lead to paralysis or permanent disability.
What Compensation Can I Receive for My Bicycle Accident Case?
One of the most important things you need to know is how much compensation is available for a Pennsylvania bicycle accident case. There is no one sure answer for this because each case is different. When considering the injuries discussed above, no two people will have the same expenses.
When we look at bicycle accidents, we need to look at both economic as well as non-economic damages. Economic damages can include things like:
- Your current medical bills due to the injury
- Current lost income and benefits if you cannot work
- Physical or occupational therapy
Also included in economic damages are things that could be harder to calculate such as future medical bills due to the bicycle crash as well as a loss of future earnings. In many cases, bicycle accidents leave victims temporarily or permanently disabled.
When we discuss non-economic damages, we have to look at things like a bicycle crash victim’s:
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Loss of consortium for a spouse
Non-economic damages can be tougher to calculate, and your attorney will often use expert medical and economic witnesses to testify on the extent of your losses.
Why Are Bicycle Accidents In Philadelphia So Common?
Although bicyclists and drivers are supposed to follow the same rules on the road, many drivers resent bicyclists’ presence on roads. Most people get frustrated if they’re stuck behind one or a group of bicyclists on the road and often drive too closely to them or rush past them to express their irritation. Other drivers honk at bicyclists or shout at them to get out of their way, startling the rider and creating a potential hazard should they fall off of the bike.
Bicyclists in Philadelphia are in constant danger from distracted drivers, negligent drivers, and reckless drivers. Our city strives to increase the street department budget to engineer better intersections, red light safety cameras, and on-street bikeway networks. While our efforts to protect bicyclists are noble, they still fall far behind our neighboring cities.
The vast majority of bicycle accidents occur at intersections, due to vehicles turning without stopping for pedestrian crosswalks. Drivers see a green light and turn without properly scanning the intersection for crossing bikers, resulting in a high number of crashes annually. Be extra cautious while crossing intersections on a bike, even if you have the right-of-way or the “Walk” sign is lit up.
If you were the driver in this situation, please reach out to our Philadelphia car accident attorneys.
What If My Bike Was Defective and Caused Me to Crash?
When most people think of bicycle accidents, they think of a bicyclist getting struck by a negligent or careless driver. However, there are times when a bicyclist is injured because the bicycle or bike part was defective.
A defective bike could break, causing the bicyclist to be unable to stop or otherwise lose control. This can cause a crash into other objects, people, the ground, or other vehicles. Bicycles and bike parts are often found to be defective due to:
- Design defects that are not detected during the testing phases.
- Manufacturing defects that alter the bicycle or bike part from their original design.
- Failure to warn of defects that do not notify consumers of particular risks associated with the product.
In order for an injury victim to recover damages for a product liability claim in these cases, the following will need to be proven:
- The negligent party (the defendant) designed, manufactured, sold or distributed the defective bike or part.
- The bike or part was defective when it left the defendant’s possession.
- The injured party (the plaintiff) used the bike or part in a reasonably foreseeable manner.
- The plaintiff’s injuries were a result of the defective bike or bike part.
These product liability cases can become incredibly complex because they will involve many parties, including the manufacturer or company, their legal teams, the insurance companies, and possibly the insurance company’s legal teams. It is important that you secure an attorney who not only specializes in personal injury cases but also in product liability cases.
Time Limit for Filing a Bicycle Accident Claim
It is imperative for bicycle accident victims to file their claims as soon as possible. Typically, these cases involve insurance carriers, and these insurance carriers will have fairly strict reporting deadlines. The insurance carriers must know about the incident in order to process the claim, and failing to report the incident promptly could result in a claim delay or denial.
Overall, there is a personal injury statute of limitations in Pennsylvania of two years. This means that bicycle accident victims have a two-year window with which to file their lawsuit against the alleged negligent party, or they will lose the ability to recover compensation for their losses.
Important Pennsylvania Bicycle Laws
Did you know that Pennsylvania law essentially defines bicycles as vehicles? This matters because bicyclists have the same rights and responsibilities on the roadway as any other driver. Bicyclists have a right to be there and a right to be respected by other drivers. However, bicyclists must also obey all of the same traffic laws that vehicle drivers do. Bicyclists are also required to use the appropriate hand signals when turning or stopping.
- In the Commonwealth, bicyclists traveling at a speed less than the speed of traffic are responsible for riding in the right-hand lane or as close as practicable to the right-hand curb or side of the roadway.
- We also want to point out that Pennsylvania requires that motor vehicle drivers wishing to overtake a bicycle on the roadway are responsible for passing to the left of the bicycle and remaining at least four feet away from the bicyclist. They must pass the bicyclist at a careful speed. The “four feet passing law” is required in all situations where a vehicle wishes to pass a bicyclist, and the Commonwealth takes this rule very seriously.
- Interestingly, Pennsylvania does allow bicycles to be operated near highways, but the law states that the bicyclist should operate on the shoulder of the highway and in the same direction as the flow of traffic. Any turn made on the highway by the bicyclist must be done in accordance with regular traffic laws.
- Bicyclists in Pennsylvania should not ride more than two abreast except on bike paths or areas of the roadway set aside solely for bicycle usage.
- It is important for bicycles to be visible, particularly during the evening, nighttime, and early morning hours. Under Pennsylvania law, every bicyclist riding between sunset and sunrise is responsible for having a front white light that is visible from a distance of at least 500 feet from the front of the bicycle. They must also have a red reflector light on the rear of the bicycle that is visible from at least 500 feet away from the rear. Finally, Pennsylvania law requires that there be amber reflectors placed on both sides of the bicycle.
Aside from these legal requirements for a bicycle, it is strongly recommended by the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation that everybody cyclist wear visible clothing when they are operating on the roadways of the Commonwealth.
What To Do in the Immediate Aftermath of a Bicycle Crash
There are some steps you can take in the immediate aftermath of a crash that could help your case.
- Seek medical attention immediately. Never waive your right to medical care after a crash. If you are injured, make sure EMS comes to the scene. If your injuries are serious, you need to go to the hospital. Even if you do not feel any pain, please know that the signs and symptoms of many bike crash injuries do not appear for hours or even days after the crash happens. Let a doctor diagnose your injuries. This will help establish a link between the crash and your injuries.
- Gather evidence at the scene. If you can, begin to gather as much evidence as possible. This can include taking photographs of everything – the cause of the crash, any damages and injuries, traffic and weather conditions, and more.
- Get witness contact information. If there are eyewitnesses, talk to them about what they saw. Gather their names and contact information. They could be valuable resources in the aftermath of a crash when it comes to proving the other side’s negligence.
- Obtain your medical records. You need to make sure you go to all follow-up doctor visits and continue any treatment recommended by your doctor. Obtain and keep all of your medical records related to all treatments.
- Handling insurance companies. Aside from reporting the crash, you do not have to speak with the insurance company until you have spoken to an attorney. Anything you say to the insurance company or the adjusters can be used against you. Remember, the insurance companies are not your friend. They do not want to make a large payment in a settlement.
- Call a Philadelphia bicycle accident attorney. You should begin to consider seeking legal assistance. Your attorney can handle all communications between you and the other parties involved. They will also work to gather and analyze every piece of evidence in your case.
Tips For Safe Riding In Philadelphia
Riding a bicycle safely around the Philadelphia area can be tricky, but there are steps that bicyclists can take to help improve their chances of getting from point A to point B safely. It is critical for bicyclists to take into account the fact that vehicle drivers often disregard their safety. Bicycling certainly calls for “defensive driving,” but in the sense that the bicyclist becomes the defensive driver at all times.
- Regularly practice riding. This may sound obvious, but individuals should ride their bike regularly, even if just to stay in practice. The more individuals ride, the safer they will be on the roadway. This helps give a person comfortable control over the bicycle.
- Make sure to be seen. Bicyclists need to be seen, and they also need to see everything around them. A good rule of thumb is that if a bicyclist does not make direct eye contact with a driver, then the driver probably doesn’t see them.
- Avoid riding at night. Riding a bicycle at night is incredibly dangerous due to decreased visibility. If at all possible, bicyclists should avoid operating at night, and if they do operate at night, they should be in areas with less vehicle traffic.
- Wear brighter clothing. During the day or night time, it is not a bad idea for bicyclists to wear brighter clothing. This can include whites, yellows, neons, etcetera, and can also include adding reflectors to clothing or shoes.
- Avoid distractions. It is not uncommon for bicyclists to wear earbuds when riding, but this can create a distraction. Bicyclists need to be able to hear oncoming hazards, which they may not be able to do with earbuds in.
Contact A Philadelphia Bicycle Accident Lawyer Today
If you were injured in a bicycle accident in Philadelphia, contact one of our experienced Philadelphia personal injury attorneys. We can help you recover the compensation you deserve for your injuries.