Have You Been Hit Crossing the Street? You need The Strong Arm®
Traffic accidents involving a motor vehicle and someone using another mode of transport — such as a pedestrian, a skateboarder, or someone riding an electric scooter — are among the toughest cases to sort out in the legal arena. The injuries involved can be catastrophic, particularly for a pedestrian or unprotected rider, requiring extensive treatment and rehabilitation. The legal issues that arise in car-pedestrian, car-bike, or car-scooter collisions can be extensive, from questions of right of way and inattentive behavior to road conditions and faulty equipment.
If you have been involved in a pedestrian or non-licensed vehicle accident, don’t try to go it alone. You should consult a lawyer versed in the applicable state laws in order to protect your rights and get the compensation you deserve.
There’s no disputing that cars are being built better and are safer now than they were twenty years ago. But that only holds true if you’re inside the car. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 6,283 pedestrians died in traffic accidents in the U.S. in 2018 — about one every ninety minutes. The mortality rate of car-pedestrian accidents has been increasing steadily in recent years and now has reached the highest figure since 1990. More than 100,000 pedestrians are involved in crashes every year.
What’s causing these all-too-preventable encounters? Driver inattention, including increasing smartphone use is one factor. Speeding and running red lights are also cited as frequent causes. But there are also situations in which a pedestrian may be at least partially responsible for the accident — for example, by jaywalking, crossing against the light, or not allowing motorists sufficient time to react. Across the country, three -fourths of all pedestrian fatalities occur in poor lighting conditions.
The good news is that overall accidents involving bicycles are decreasing. The bad news is that fatalities are increasing. According to the Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center maintained by the University of North Carolina, 783 bicyclists were killed in crashes with motor vehicles in the U.S. in 2017. That number jumped to 857 in 2018.
Collectively, traffic fatalities involving bikes or pedestrians increased by nearly a third between 2008 and 2017 — a decade in which overall traffic fatalities actually decreased slightly. Why are fatalities among these most vulnerable populations on the rise? Bicycle advocate groups cite various reasons, from distracted driving by motorists to insufficient bike lanes, failure to yield or share the roadway, and drunk drivers (alcohol is involved in 30% of bike-car accidents). As in pedestrian accidents, lighting conditions play a major role, too; many serious bike accidents happen at night, away from intersections.
The influx of rentable electric scooters and other short-term mobility options have taken officials in many cities by surprise; rules governing their use vary widely. For example, California requires scooter riders to wear a helmet;Colorado does not. Some municipalities try to keep the rentals in bike lanes and off sidewalks; others are trying to ban them. In the meantime, their use raises many liability issues. If you read the fine print of the rental agreement, you’ll discover that the rider typically “assumes all responsibilities and risks for any injuries” that might result from using a scooter. What happens if you injure yourself or a pedestrian while scooting — or worse, end up in a collision with a much faster, much heavier automobile? The e-scooter company is going to tell you that’s your problem, not theirs.
Your personal auto insurance policy may not help you here, either — unless you have uninsured motorist coverage, which is required in Colorado unless you formally reject it in writing. If you’re operating an electric scooter and happen to have an encounter with a reckless auto driver, and that driver was uninsured, in most instances your own uninsured motorist coverage will provide some protection, just as it would if you were a motorist or a pedestrian.
Do I Need a Lawyer?
Accidents involving pedestrians and non -licensed vehicles, bicyclists, or non-licensed vehicles raise a wide spectrum of legal questions that may require the services of a knowledgeable accident attorney. Especially if serious injuries are involved, it’s best to have an expert who can address questions of right of way, liability, comparative fault, road conditions, adequate equipment, liability waivers and other considerations.
The Pedestrian and Bike Accident Lawyers at FDAzar
For more than thirty years the attorneys at Franklin D. Azar & Associates have helped thousands of injured people obtain complete and timely compensation for their losses.
Our proven track record and expertise have allowed us to grow into the largest personal-injury law firm in Colorado, with offices in Aurora, Denver, Thornton, Colorado Springs, and Pueblo, Fort Collins, Greeley, and Grand Junction.
Frequently Asked Questions About Car-Bike Accidents
Many Colorado cities are making significant strides toward becoming more “bike-friendly.” Denver, for example, has added 31 miles of protected lanes (lanes that feature a physical barrier between bicycles and adjoining car lanes) since 2018. But as bike use increases, so does the frequency of bike-car collisions — and bicyclists are far more likely to suffer serious injuries in such encounters than motorists. Here are some of the most common questions we receive about bike-car crashes and bike safety on the roads.
What rights do bicyclists have when riding in city traffic?
Generally speaking, bicyclists have the same rights and duties as drivers of other vehicles on the road. But they are also considered “vulnerable road users,” and other drivers who fail to exercise due care around bikes (or pedestrians or electric scooters) can incur stiff penalties for any injuries they cause. In the absence of a dedicated bike lane, bikes are expected to use the right-hand lane if moving slower than prevailing traffic but are not expected to ride through hazards or without a reasonable safety margin; auto drivers are required to provide at least a three-foot margin of safety when overtaking them.
Is a bicyclist required to wear a helmet?
In Colorado, adult cyclists are encouraged but not required to wear a helmet.
What is the Colorado Safety Stop?
Effective April 2022, Colorado now allows cyclists to perform a “Safety Stop” at intersections. Bikes and other “low speed conveyances” can ride slowly through stop signs without coming to a complete stop, as long as they yield when required to pedestrians and other road users who have the right of way. At red lights, bicyclists can proceed after coming to a stop, as long as there is no oncoming traffic.
What actions should I take after a bike accident?
Given the serious nature of many bike-car collisions, you should seek immediate medical attention. If you have a cell phone and are able, take pictures of your injuries, your bike, and the vehicle that hit you. File a police report, obtain contact information for the other driver and any witnesses, and avoid making any statements about who’s to blame for what happened.
What if the accident was caused by another party but they didn’t actually hit me? Do I still have a claim?
If another driver forced you out of your lane or was otherwise responsible or the crash, you may well have a claim against that party.
How should I deal with the insurance company after a bike accident?
You should report the crash to the insurance company, but it’s best to consult with an experienced bicycle accident attorney before speaking to an adjuster. Your attorney can communicate with the insurance company and make sure that your rights are protected and that your claim accurately reflects the extent of the injuries and losses that you have incurred.
Will my bike accident case go to trial?
The vast majority of personal injury cases, including car-bike collision cases, are settled out of court. But in cases involving disputes over liability or the extent of the injuries received, it may be necessary to put the matter before a jury to seek a just resolution of the case.