When a bicyclist is out on the road with other vehicles, they are exposed to severe harm if a driver fails to uphold their legal duty of care. Even when wearing a helmet, a bicyclist could suffer catastrophic injuries if a negligent motorist hits them.
A Montgomery County bicycle accident lawyer could help you seek compensation for your losses if you were involved in a roadway collision. If someone’s carelessness is responsible for the harm you have suffered, a dedicated injury attorney could help you hold the at-fault party accountable.
Bike Laws in Montgomery County
Just like drivers of motor vehicles on the roadway, bicyclists are required to follow certain rules when sharing the road with other motorists. For example, when a biker is riding on a two-lane road, they must keep to the right. A bicyclist can migrate over to another lane if they are trying to pass a car, provided that the vehicle is traveling in the same direction. When multiple bicyclists are riding on the road, a maximum of two cyclists are permitted to ride alongside one another, save for areas of the road dedicated for bicycle use only.
Cyclists who are younger than 12 must always wear a helmet when riding their bike, although it is highly advisable for all riders to wear head protection. Bicyclists are required to yield to pedestrians and use hand signals when passing someone on foot. A bicyclist may park on the sidewalk, provided that doing so does not interrupt the ability of passersby to move freely on the sidewalk.
Drivers on the roadway are to afford the same courtesy and care to a bicyclist as they would to operators of other motor vehicles. For example, if a driver is trying to pass a bicyclist on the roadway, they must give at least four feet of space and drive cautiously to avoid causing an accident. Furthermore, drivers should be careful when opening their car doors to ensure that doing so will not interrupt bike traffic or cause a roadway hazard. Montgomery County motorists who cause wrecks through negligent actions could be held liable in court by a lawyer representing an injured biker.
Common Causes of Bicycle Crashes
Bicycle crashes can happen for a variety of reasons, but driver negligence remains one of the leading causes of these collisions. A driver who is speeding, intoxicated, inattentive when opening doors, under the influence of drugs, or following a cyclist too closely could cause a serious bicycle crash.
Texting while driving, failing to halt at a stoplight or sign, and tailgating are also common offenses in these types of collisions. When a bicyclist is hit and injured by a negligent driver, they should contact a local accident attorney about filing a claim for civil damages.
Proving Liability for a Bicycle Crash
Under state law, it is the burden of the injured cyclist to prove another party is responsible for their harm under the theory of legal negligence. In order for someone to be considered “negligent,” all four elements of legal negligence must be present: duty, breach, causation, and damages.
The first element is generally easy to prove, as all licensed drivers in the State of Pennsylvania owe an implicit duty of care to everyone else on the road with them, including those on bicycles. In some cases, proving a breach of this duty is straightforward as well. For example, if a police officer tickets a driver for running a red light immediately after that driver hits a bicyclist, the biker would likely have a strong negligence claim.
In other situations, though, prospective plaintiffs may need to gather extensive physical, documentary, and testimonial evidence in order to prove that someone else violated a traffic law or otherwise acted irresponsibly, and that their breach of duty was the direct cause of their compensable damages. Relevant evidence that a Montgomery County bicycle accident attorney could help an injured individual find may include traffic camera footage, photos and videos from the accident scene, testimony from eyewitnesses, and even input from accident reconstruction experts.
What Damages Can an Injured Biker Recover?
A hardworking lawyer in Montgomery County could help an injured cyclist pursue several kinds of compensation, including their economic and non-economic losses. Economic losses refer to quantifiable costs such as medical bills, therapy costs, and lost wages, while non-economic losses include damages such as pain, suffering, psychological anguish, and future wage loss.
What are Potential Barriers to Recovery in a Bike Wreck Claim?
Importantly, drivers are not the only parties who could potentially be at fault for a bicycle crash. One of the biggest barriers to recovery in many bike crash claims is the issue of comparative negligence. In other words, allegations by the defendant that the plaintiff is partially or even primarily to blame for their own injuries could limit their total recovery.
Under 42 Pennsylvania Statutes §7102, any bicyclist deemed to be somewhat at fault for a bicycle wreck, such as by disobeying traffic signs or not signaling before turning, could see a reduction in their final damage award proportionate to their percentage of fault. Furthermore, any bicyclist found more than 50 percent at fault for their wreck is ineligible to seek any compensation whatsoever. It should be noted, as per 75 P.S. §3510(c), an injured bicyclist’s failure to wear a safety helmet does not constitute negligence in the context of civil litigation.
Time Limits on Civil Litigation
In accordance with 42 P.S. §5524, a filing deadline of two years applies to any civil claim seeking damages for personal injury. In other words, someone who gets hurt in a bike crash has a maximum of two years from the date their injury occurs—or the date on which they discovered their injuries—to start the civil litigation process. Failure to do so could result in their claim being time-barred, making them ineligible to seek compensation for that particular incident.
Notably, there are a few rare exceptions to this deadline that may apply in specific situations. For instance, a child who gets hurt in a bicycle accident may have the filing deadline for an ensuing civil claim “tolled” until their 18th birthday, meaning that the two-year deadline would not start until the child is legally considered an adult. A bike wreck lawyer in the area could clarify on a case-by-case what deadlines may or may not apply.
Talk with a Montgomery County Bicycle Accident Attorney
A Montgomery County bicycle accident lawyer could provide skilled legal assistance if a negligent driver has injured you. Partner Jonathan Marx is an avid cyclist who has firsthand knowledge of what dangers bike riders face. Our experienced attorneys have recovered millions of dollars for cyclists who have been injured in bicycle accidents throughout Montgomery County Pennsylvania.
If you are hurt in a bike collision time is of the essence in consulting with an injury lawyer. Investigating a bicycle wreck quickly can be the difference in preserving crucial evidence of fault and recovering compensation for your injuries. Do not wait to contact our team of seasoned civil lawyers. Set up your initial case evaluation today.