Unfortunately, bicyclists are often viewed as second-class citizens by the legal system, insurance companies, and the public at large, which can make it difficult for them to receive justice and compensation when they have been severely injured as the result of another party’s negligence. Luckily, the attorneys at Perry Charnoff are here to help.
We are able to coordinate with police, medical professionals, and accident reconstruction experts to determine the exact events that led to your injury and determine duty of care, negligence, and fault. From there, we represent you with judicious aggression. We refuse to let insurance companies bully our clients into accepting unfavorable settlements, and we are fully prepared to take your case to trial if we determine that your case is strong and that it would in your best interests to do so.
The Potential for Catastrophe
Due to the inherent vulnerability of bicyclists as well as confusion about the laws pertaining to their rightful place on the roadways, bicycle accidents often result in major injuries or even death. In 2014, 720 bicyclists were killed in accidents involving motor vehicles in the United States. This figure represents a 4% decrease from the previous year but is still an alarming number, one that could be significantly lowered with increased safety education for both motorists and cyclists as well as greater awareness about sharing the road.
Aside from fatalities, severe bicycle accidents can cause numerous catastrophic injuries that could significantly alter your lifestyle. For instance, traumatic brain injuries (TBIs), spinal fractures, and punctured or lacerated organs are all common results of catastrophic bicycle accidents and can prevent individuals from working in the same capacity as they had before the accident or lead to complications requiring lifelong medical assistance, or both.
Sharing the Road
According to the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT), every bicyclist is subject to the same laws as motor vehicles and possesses the same rights and duties of motorists unless clearly stated otherwise.
For instance, all bicyclists must obey all traffic signals and lights. This means that they must come to a complete stop at red lights and stop signs, and they can only proceed once the light has turned green at a traffic signal or once they have inherited the right-of-way at a stop sign. Bicyclists must also ride with the flow of traffic in the right lane and are prohibited from riding between two traffic lanes flowing in the same direction unless said lane is clearly marked as a mandatory or separate turn lane.
It is legal to make a pass on the left- or right-hand side of a vehicle if that vehicle is stopped or if the bicyclist determines that it is safe to do so, but bear in mind that passing on the right could be extremely dangerous if the vehicle ahead of the bicyclist is attempting to make a right-hand turn. It is unlawful to ride a bicycle on a freeway unless there is a lane marked specifically for them that is barricaded from the flow of motor vehicle traffic. Lastly, whenever stopping or turning, bicyclists must use the proper signal to indicate their intention.
Sharing Sidewalks and Bike Paths
When riding on a sidewalk, path, or crosswalk, bicyclists have the same rights and duties as all other pedestrians. Bicyclists may ride on sidewalks unless there is a local ordinance stating otherwise but must always allow pedestrians the right-of-way and audibly signal whenever they are attempting to pass them. Additionally, whenever a bicyclist is turning onto a sidewalk, they must yield the right-of-way to any pedestrians who are already occupying the sidewalk.
Statistics show that helmets drastically decrease the amount and severity of serious injuries or fatalities from bicycle accidents involving a motor vehicle. It’s estimated that helmet use could prevent up to 50% of head injuries sustained in a bicycle accident and while the ordinances above are intended only for bicyclists and their passengers that are 14 or younger, 86% of bicycle fatalities involve individuals age 20 and over.
While there is no state-wide law requiring bicyclists to wear helmets in Virginia, 23 jurisdictions do require helmet usage for anyone under the age of 14 who is riding or being carried on a bicycle. These jurisdictions include:
- City of Alexandria
- Amherst County
- Arlington County
- City of Charlottesville
- Clarke County
- City of Falls Church
- Fairfax County
- Floyd County
- City of Hampton
- City of Harrisonburg
- James City County
- Town of Leesburg
- Town of Luray
- City of Manassas
- City of Manassas Park
- City of Norfolk
- Orange County
- City of Petersburg
- Prince William County
- Stafford County
- Town of Vienna
- Town of Wise
- York County
Perry Charnoff PLLC
If you or a loved one has been involved in a serious bicycle accident resulting in catastrophic, life-changing injuries due to someone else’s negligence, the legal team at Perry Charnoff is here to fight for justice on your behalf. We offer free consultations to discuss the events before, during, and after your accident in order to determine the circumstances of your claim and provide initial advice about your legal options.
In addition, our contingent fee policy ensures that you will not pay any attorney’s fees unless we are able to secure a financial recovery in your case. Statutes of limitations do apply, so please contact us today by calling (703) 291-6650 or completing this brief form so that we can begin working on your case as soon as possible.