Many Americans have rediscovered the bicycle as a cheap, efficient, and environmentally friendly means of transportation. However, bicyclists do not have dedicated lanes everywhere. Thus, they must share the road with cars. As any Ohio bicycle accident lawyer knows, this is a risky situation, because bicyclists are completely vulnerable.
They have absolutely no protection when a car hits them. And, as a result, bicycle accident injuries tend to be severe or even catastrophic. However, on many occasions, the car driver will claim that the bicyclist was at fault for the accident. Thus, they should not have the right to seek damages. But is this even possible?
An experienced Ohio bicycle accident lawyer knows that it is perfectly possible. Bicyclists have to obey the rules of the road, just like everyone else. When they fail to do so and get injured, they may be found partly at fault for their bicycle accident. However, this does not mean that they do not deserve compensation for damages.
The Most Important Rules of the Road for Bicyclists in Ohio
Ohio does not have a state-wide helmet law for bicyclists. However, in various cities, bicycle riders under 18 must wear it. However, an Ohio bicycle accident lawyer would advise everyone to wear a well-fitting bicycle helmet, as it can prevent severe head and brain injuries by as much as 88%.
As for the rules for riding a bicycle on public roads, the most important ones are:
- Bicyclists must ride with the flow of traffic
- If there is no bike lane, bicycle riders should keep as close as possible to the right side of the road, but not too close to the curb or edge of a paved road
- Bicyclists must not weave in and out between parked cars
- Bicyclists must use their hands to signal left and right turns
- When riding a bike at night, it must be equipped with a white headlight and a red taillight.
These rules exist as much for the bicyclists’ safety as for the drivers’. Also, when you are riding in poor visibility (fog, rain, or night) it is recommended to wear high-visibility clothing (such as a reflective vest). While it is not a legal requirement, it is a good idea that may save your life.
A Car Driver Is Never Automatically at Fault for a Bicycle Accident
When a client arrives for their initial case review with an Ohio bicycle accident lawyer, they start by discussing compensation amounts. And they are surprised to hear that, first of all, the driver’s fault through negligence had to be proven.
Just because they are driving a vehicle a hundred times bigger and heavier than a bicycle does not make a car driver automatically responsible for a bicycle accident. Personal injury law is very clear on this matter. The person who files a claim bears the burden of proof.
This means that your Ohio bicycle accident lawyer must prove four things.
1. The Car Driver Owed You a Duty of Care
The concept of duty of care is defined as a moral and/or legal responsibility not to allow someone to be harmed. The duty of care is implicit for every user of public roads: car drivers, truck drivers, motorcyclists, and bicyclists.
Thus, just by the fact that they were driving on a public road, the car driver automatically owes a duty of care to all the other users, including you.
2. The Driver Breached Their Duty
Personal injury tort law is based on the concept of negligence. You do not have to prove malicious intent. It is enough to demonstrate that the bicycle accident was the result of:
- Distracted driving (texting and driving is the most common situation)
- Reckless driving
- Driving fatigued
- Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
3. You Were Injured in the Accident Caused by Their Breach of Duty
This is the most difficult part of the entire procedure of proving the other party’s fault in any kind of traffic accident. When an insurance adjuster starts investigating the crash, they will look for any mistake or loophole that would give them the right to deny your claim.
The evidence an Ohio bicycle accident lawyer will need to prove that you suffered the injuries in the respective accident are:
- The police report issued after the investigation of the accident
- Photos and videos from the accident scene, which you can take with your mobile phone
- Eyewitnesses’ statements
- Initial medical examination, bearing a date and time very close to the moment of the accident.
4. You Suffered Economic Damages as a Result of the Accident
Personal injury cases are based on the idea that you suffered economic damages. For this reason, you should save every bill and receipt related to the bicycle accident, such as:
- Ambulance ride cost
- Hospital bills
- Receipts for refilling prescriptions
- Paycheck stubs to justify lost wages.
Your Ohio bicycle accident attorney will include all the eligible expenses in your insurance claim, including costs with physical therapy (including chiropractic care) and ongoing medical care costs if you are left with a permanent disability.
You can also recover compensation for non-economic harm, such as pain and suffering.
What If You Are Partly at Fault for Your Bicycle Accident?
When bicycle riders fail to follow the rules of the road and get hit by a car, it is deemed that they contributed to their accident, as well. The truth is that it is very hard to find a case where the car driver was 100% at fault for a bicycle accident.
However, this does not mean that you will not collect compensation for your damages. Ohio uses a comparative negligence principle in personal injury cases. Thus, as long as you are 50% or less at fault for the accident, you have the legal right to seek damages.
But you will not be able to collect the full amount of your damages. It will be reduced by an amount representing your percentage of fault.
Let an Ohio Bicycle Accident Lawyer Win Your Settlement!
A bicycle accident can result in severe injuries, which translate into very high medical care bills. On top of that, you will stop collecting wages for a significant period of time. In some cases, bike accident victims cannot return to their job, or are unable to work at all as a result of severe disabilities.
In this dire situation, you need a dedicated and experienced Ohio bicycle accident lawyer to prepare and negotiate your insurance claim. Insurance adjusters have no compassion for your losses, pain, and suffering. They just want to pay as little as possible.
We offer every new client a free case review, so call us at 844-853-7373 to schedule an appointment as soon as possible after your bicycle accident!