New York is one of the most dangerous places in the country for cyclists. Every year, tens of thousands of people are involved in bicycle-vehicle collisions throughout the state, and hundreds are injured or killed by careless and reckless motorists.
If you were injured or if someone you love was tragically killed in a bicycle accident, you deserve justice—and Salenger, Sack, Kimmel & Bavaro, LLP can help. Our New York bicycle accident attorneys have the experience and resources to effectively advocate for you, your rights, and the full recovery you are owed. We are not afraid to go up against powerful insurance companies, and we are willing to try cases whenever necessary.
Who Is Liable for a Bicycle Accident in New York?
New York is a no-fault state when it comes to auto insurance and accidents. This means that victims of motor vehicle-related collisions—including bicyclists—can typically recover compensation from their own insurance providers for certain accident-related damages.
Generally speaking, no-fault insurance covers the following losses:
- All “reasonable and necessary” medical expenses related to the accident
- Up to 80 percent of your lost wages, capped at a maximum of $2,000/month, for no more than three years
- Up to $25/day for “reasonable and necessary” out-of-pocket expenses, such as costs associated with in-home assistance, for no more than one year
- A lump-sum death benefit of $2,000, paid to the estate of anyone who dies as a result of a motor vehicle accident
Note that no-fault insurance does not cover non-economic damages, such as pain and suffering or emotional distress. Additionally, no-fault insurance coverage may be insufficient if you were severely injured in the accident, which is often the case for cyclists who are struck by large, heavy, or fast-moving vehicles.
Can I Get Compensation Outside My Insurance Policy?
If you do not have an auto insurance policy, or your policy limits are not sufficient to cover your damages, it may be necessary to file a third-party personal injury claim against the at-fault driver’s insurance company. You may also be entitled to sue the at-fault driver directly for damages. To go outside the no-fault system, however, you must prove that your injuries meet the state’s “serious injury” threshold.
Injuries that meet the New York “serious injury” threshold include:
- Bone fractures
- Significant disfigurement
- Significant limitations of bodily systems and/or functions
- Permanent impairments of bodily organs and/or members
- Injuries leading to substantial and full disability for at least 90 days
Because so many victims of bicycle accidents suffer catastrophic, life-altering injuries like brain and spinal cord injuries, many are entitled to bring third-party claims against liable parties. Our New York bicycle accident attorneys can review the details of your case and help you understand your rights.
Do Bicyclists Always Have the Right of Way in New York?
The short answer is no, cyclists in New York do not automatically have the right of way. In New York, bicyclists must obey all of the same traffic laws as drivers of motor vehicles. This includes yielding the right of way to pedestrians and motorists when appropriate, such as at red lights or stop signs.
Bicyclists are required to obey the following New York road rules:
- Ride in the street, not on the sidewalk (with a few exceptions)
- Ride with the flow of traffic, not against it
- Stop at all red lights and stop signs
- Obey pedestrian crosswalk signals, unless otherwise stated at the intersection
- Use designated bike paths/lanes whenever available
- Use appropriate safety gear such as a white headlamp and red taillight, as well as a bell/horn and reflectors
Common Causes of Bicycle Accidents
Negligent drivers, unfortunately, are a leading cause of bicycle accidents. There are several ways in which drivers can contribute to these accidents, including failing to yield to cyclists, driving while distracted or impaired, and speeding.
Cyclists have little protection in the event of an accident, meaning these types of incidents can often result in serious or fatal injuries. It is important for all motorists to be aware of their surroundings and actively share the road with cyclists in order to prevent these tragedies from occurring.
When they fail to do so, and a cyclist is injured or killed as a result, the negligent driver can and should be held accountable for any harm they cause.
Common Bicycle Accident Injuries
Head and Brain Injuries
Head and brain injuries are some of the most common and serious injuries suffered in bicycle accidents. These types of injuries can range from mild concussions to traumatic brain injuries, which can lead to long-term cognitive impairments or even death. It is important for cyclists to always wear a properly fitted helmet when riding, as helmets can help to reduce the severity of head and brain injuries.
Neck injuries are another type of injury that is commonly seen in bicycle accidents. These types of injuries can range from whiplash to spinal cord damage, which can result in paralysis or other permanent disabilities. Wearing a helmet when riding a bike can help to reduce the risk of neck injuries by providing additional support for the head and neck during an accident.
Broken bones are one of the most common types of injury suffered in bicycle accidents, especially among younger riders who may not be wearing protective gear such as helmets or elbow pads. Common broken bone injuries include fractures to the arms, legs, ribs, collarbone, and wrist. While these types of injuries typically heal over time with proper medical care, they can take several months to heal completely and may require surgery in some cases.
Soft Tissue Injuries
Soft tissue injuries are also common in bicycle accidents and include strains, sprains, bruises, scrapes, cuts, and contusions. These types of injury typically occur when a cyclist falls off their bike or is struck by another vehicle or object on the road. While soft tissue injuries may heal quickly with proper medical treatment, more severe soft tissue damage may require physical therapy or even surgery in order to fully recover from the injury.
What to Do After a New York Bike Accident?
The steps to take after a bicycle accident in New York depend on the specifics of the situation. In some cases, you may file a personal injury protection (PIP) claim with your no-fault insurance provider; in others, you may need to go outside the no-fault system and file a third-party claim or lawsuit against the liable party.
Seek Immediate Medical Attention
In any case, you should always seek medical attention if you were involved in a bicycle accident. If possible, get the name, contact information, and insurance information of the driver involved, as well as the names and contact information of any witnesses who saw what happened. Preserve any evidence you have, such as torn clothing or a damaged bike, and take pictures of the accident scene and your injuries, if possible.
Contact An Attorney As Soon As Possible
One of the most important things you can do after a bicycle accident is to contact an experienced personal injury attorney, like those at Salenger, Sack, Kimmel & Bavaro, LLP. We strongly recommend that you speak to a lawyer before providing a statement or signing anything the insurance company gives you.
Our New York bicycle accident lawyers can review the details of your case and help you seek the maximum compensation you are owed. We are not afraid to push back against the insurance company’s efforts to dispute or deny your claim, and we are even ready to take your case to trial, if necessary.
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