Protecting The Rights Of Bicycle Accident Victims In British Columbia
Riding a bicycle is quickly becoming one of the most popular forms of transportation throughout the Vancouver area. With improved bicycle lanes on many roads and discussion of launching a bike share program, city officials encourage thousands of individuals to ride bicycles everyday either for recreation, exercise, or simply for transportation. Despite the surge in bicycling and encouragement from the city, bicycling unfortunately still comes with the high risk of accidents and injuries.
According to a report1 published by Metro Vancouver, drivers are at fault in 93 percent of collisions between bicycles and motor vehicles. When bicyclists are struck by vehicles, the injuries that victims sustain can be extensive and have the potential to leave them with significant long-term medical complications. In some cases, victims may even develop disabilities that may prevent them from working or living independently. For this reason, anyone that has been hurt in a bicycle accident should make sure their rights are protected by retaining a qualified personal injury lawyer as soon as possible.
Beware of Rear-End Bicycle Accidents
When a car hits the back of another car, the damage and injuries caused are generally minor. This is largely because cars have seat belts, airbags, bumpers, hoods, and crumple zones1 that protect drivers and passengers. Bicyclists, on the other hand, have none of these protections when they are involved in a collision. Though the BC Motor Vehicle Act requires bicyclists of all ages to wear helmets2 (unless an exemption applies), helmets only protect riders from head trauma—and sometimes they are not even effective in completely eliminating head injuries.
Combined with the lack of protection, the physics of a rear-end bicycle accident also lead to particularly severe injuries. When a car hits a bicycle from behind, even at a slow speed, the back wheel generally comes up and sends the bicyclist face-first into the pavement. Even if a cyclist can get their hands up in time, it often does not soften the impact. For these reasons, bicyclists involved in rear-end collisions are at risk for severe injuries.
Common Injuries Sustained in Rear-End Bicycle Accidents
The following are only some examples of injuries that bicyclists often sustain when they are hit from behind:
- Facial fractures
- Broken jawbone
- Severe damage to teeth
- Broken hands, wrists, and arms
- Various orthopedic injuries
- Broken ribs
- Head trauma
- Traumatic brain injury
- Spinal cord injury
- Internal organ damage
Other Bicycle Accident Injuries
Often, bicyclists have little more than a helmet to protect their bodies from impact with a motor vehicle, object, or the pavement. For this reason, bicycle collisions can result in these kinds of injuries:
- Broken or shattered bones
- Fractured skull
- Internal bleeding
- Orthopedic injuries
- Road rash and other burns
- Severe contusions or lacerations
These injuries often require extensive medical treatment including emergency care, surgeries, hospitalization, therapy, rehabilitation, and home health care. Some bicycle injuries leave victims permanently disabled who can never return to their regular lives.
Holding Negligent Parties Liable In Bicycle Accident Cases
Bicycle accidents are often caused by the negligence of one or more party including:
- Other drivers (for dangerous and unlawful driving behaviors)
- Bicycle manufacturers (for selling defective bikes or bike parts)
- The government (for allowing dangerous hazards to exist on the roads)
Whether your bicycle accident injuries are relatively minor or catastrophic, you have the right to hold negligent parties who caused your accident liable for your injuries, bicycle damage and other related losses.
Types of Negligence That Can Cause Vancouver Bicycle Accidents
Under BC law,2 individuals who are injured by the negligence of another person can usually obtain compensation for the losses they have sustained as a result of the accident. Generally speaking, negligence occurs when a person fails to use the degree of care that would ordinarily be exercised by a reasonable person in the same or similar circumstances. Some examples of the kinds of driver negligence that often leads to bicycle accidents include the following:
- Distracted driving
- Failure to yield the right of way
- Following too closely
- Improper vehicle maintenance
- Failure to signal turns
- Failure to signal lane changes
- Improper or illegal turns
- Driving while excessively fatigued
- Impaired driving
What to Do Immediately After Your Accident
While a bicycle accident can leave victims shaken and confused, it is important for people who are injured in these kinds of incidents to take steps to ensure that they protect their right to recover. Some of the steps that bicycle accident victims should take immediately after an accident include the following:
- Call 911
- If possible, collect information, such as the driver’s name and contact information from anyone who may have witnessed the accident
- Undergo a thorough medical evaluation
- Call a lawyer
How We Can Help You
At the law firm of McLarty Wolf, we have extensive experience handling cases involving serious injuries and are committed to providing individual attention to each of our clients. We will work closely with you to ensure you receive the compensation you deserve, so please call us at 604-688-9542 or fill out our online form for a free, no-obligation consultation today.