More Arizonans are riding bicycles for recreation, exercise and transportation. It is a national trend. It is fortunate that bicycle or “pedalcycle” crashes make up a very small percentage of traffic accidents, but those cyclists hit by motor vehicles are likely to suffer serious injuries. Bicyclists involved in a crash, similar to motorcyclists, have only helmets and other personal protective gear to minimize impacts with vehicles, structures and the road.
The Arizona Department of Public Safety’s Arizona Crash Facts indicates that 2,039 pedalcycle crashes occurred in the state in 2013, of which 30 (1.4 percent) were fatal to the cyclist, and 1,669 (82 percent) resulted in injuries. (The term “pedalcycle” includes two-wheel, non-motorized vehicles, tricycles and unicycles powered solely by pedals.) Cyclists injured in a bike crash may seek compensation for their medical expenses, lost wages, pain, suffering, and other losses. If you were injured in a bicycle accident in the Sun City area, contact Mushkatel, Robbins & Becker, PLLC to discuss your legal rights. The Firm represents bicyclists who have been injured in traffic collisions by providing aggressive, skilled, and experienced legal counsel. Schedule a free initial consultation with an Arizona traffic accident lawyer today for assistance in assessing your legal rights.
Bicyclists’ Rights and Responsibilities on Arizona Roads
Under Arizona law, bicycles are considered vehicles, and bicyclists must obey the same rules as motorists. Along with possessing the same responsibilities as motorists, bicyclists benefit from the same rights as motorists. Motorists and bicyclists have a legal obligation to share the road safely. Bicyclists must obey all traffic signs, signals, and lane markings, and signal their intentions to others (i.e., turns, lane changes, slowing down, stopping). They must yield to pedestrians at crosswalks and on sidewalks. Bicyclists, as slower traffic, should be in the right-hand lane, or “as close as practicable” to the right edge of the road. Nonetheless, they are allowed to ride far enough from the edge of the road to stay clear of surface debris, potholes, rough pavement, drain grates, and pavement joints, as well as to avoid pedestrians, dogs, parked vehicles, and other objects. Bicyclists may occupy any part of a lane when their safety warrants it. The Arizona Governor’s Office of Highway Safety (GOHS) cautions bicyclists to never compromise their safety for the convenience of motorists behind them.
Motorists’ Duty of Safety Toward Arizona Bicyclists
While bicyclists have a responsibility for their own actions and safety on public roads, motorists also have safety responsibilities, and must recognize that their negligence can cause serious harm to cyclists. Most crashes between motorists and cyclists occur at intersections and driveways, according to the GOHS. When a motorist is at fault, it is often because he or she failed to yield the right-of-way to the cyclist. Usually, a motorist turns left in front of a cyclist, or pulls out from a stop sign or driveway into a cyclist’s path. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) advises that, in addition to yielding to cyclists at intersections and as directed by signs and signals, motorists should allow at least three feet of clearance when passing a bicyclist on the road, as well look for cyclists before opening a car door or pulling out from a parking space. Drivers of motor vehicles should be especially watchful for cyclists when making turns, according to the NHTSA. Collisions between cars and bicycles are also more likely when drivers engage in such careless driving as:
- Running stop signs or stoplights
- Speeding (causing a failure to stop in time)
- Turning or passing illegally
- Drunk or drugged driving
- Distracted driving, including texting while driving
Most bicycle accident deaths, according to the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety (IIHS), involve serious injuries to the head, i.e., traumatic brain injury or TBI. Wearing a bicycle helmet has been estimated to reduce the risk of head injury in a bike accident by 85 percent, the IIHS says. A bicyclist hit by a car may also suffer broken bones, particularly fractured arms, legs and/or ribs; spinal cord injuries, which may cause paralysis; and other catastrophic injuries.
Compensation for an Arizona Bike Accident Injury
A bicyclist injured in a collision caused by a motorist may seek compensation for medical expenses, damage to his or her bicycle (which may have been quite expensive), lost income during recovery, and pain and suffering. Families of bicyclists killed in a cycling accident caused by another driver may be eligible for similar compensation in a wrongful death claim. Occasionally, obtaining appropriate compensation through the at-fault driver’s liability insurance requires a personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit against the driver. In other cases, a bicyclist or their family might need to pursue a legal claim against their own uninsured or underinsured motorist (UM/UIM) or personal injury protection (PIP) insurer. Obtaining full and fair compensation after a serious bike crash will require experienced legal assistance, even for a claim filed with “your” insurance company. Adjusters for profit-minded insurance companies work to pay out as little as possible on claims. An appropriate settlement accounts for all of your past, current and future medical expenses. This may include the cost of emergency medical treatment, hospitalization, surgery, and a lengthy recovery involving physical rehabilitation therapy or personal assistance. Your claim should also see repayment for past and future income losses due to our injury, full and fair property damage restitution, and compensation for your pain and suffering. Sometimes personal injury cases go to trial when an insurance carrier refuses to make a fair offer of settlement. Our lawyers always prepare cases for trial, and aggressively and effectively try jury cases when necessary.