Bicycling is nowadays an everyday activity in San Diego and the broader U.S. Some enthusiasts cycle to exercise, protect the environment, and others cycle for fun or when commuting to school or work. As of 2017, the number of cyclists rose to 47.5 million from 43 million in 2014 in the U.S. The number is predicted to be higher in 2019.
Given the ever-increasing number of bicyclists in the United States, expect accidents to occur. Causes of bicycle accidents include speeding, weather, recklessness, and many more. According to The New York Times, an average of two cyclists died in road accidents in 2018.
Studies by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) confirms that in 2018, 857 bicyclists died from bicycle accidents. And, 30% of these fatalities happen when cars hit the bicyclists. Common injuries resulting from bicycle accidents are bone fractures, head and spinal cord injury, and neurological damage.
Accidents are unpredictable. It’s best if you contact the San Diego Personal Injury Law Firm if you or your family member gets involved in a bicycle accident. The law firm will see if you qualify for compensation for the injuries incurred. After a bicycle accident in San Diego, get in touch with our lawyers to help you get compensation for financial losses, emotional pain, and physical harm.
Common Injuries Following Your Bicycle Accident
When bicycles and cars collide, the aftermath is fatal. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirms that, for instance, in 2015 alone, around 467,000 bicyclists suffered various bicycle accident injuries.
If you are lucky enough to survive a bicycle accident, you may incur permanent and/ or painful injuries. Many cyclists who survive road crashes seek treatment for head injuries, bone fractures, spinal cord injuries, and flesh injuries.
Head injuries are the most common injuries sustained in bicycle accidents. A report from the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) shows that following a road crash, about 22% to 47% of bicyclists incur head injuries. Head injuries also constitute approximately 60% of bicycle accident fatalities. Cyclists who survive live with permanent disabilities.
When the face land on the ground first during a bicycle accident, several injuries might occur on various parts of the face. Some injuries include perforated eyes, broken cheekbones, broken nose, or fractured skull.
Severe bicycle accidents cause loss of limbs, toes, or fingers. This occurs when your limb is completely damaged after a crash, and corrective surgery is not possible. Other instances are where during the collision, sharp objects like metal cut off your limp, toe, or finger.
Injuries in the Internal Organs
Bicycles accidents can cause trauma of the internal organs, for example, in the abdomen and chest areas. Damage of the internal organs occurs when a blunt projectile object hits the cyclist in the event of a road crash or when the cyclist lands on a hard and blunt edge. Common internal injuries recorded following bicycle accidents are ruptured liver, pancreas, kidneys, and lungs. Fatalities are often recorded if the internal injuries lead to severe internal bleeding.
Unlike vehicles, bicycles have no protection around them. In the unfortunate event of a road crash, you are likely to sustain a bone fracture. Reports from hospitals show that the most common bone fractures sustained in road crashes include arms, legs, hands, clavicles, and wrists. The Center for Neuro Skills reveals that most fractures sustained by bicycle accident victims are on the legs. The bone fractures occur when one is attempting to break their fall when falling on the ground. Some fractures heal fast while others need lots of time, and others need corrections through surgery.
Traumatic brain injuries (TBI) are not uncommon in bicycle accidents. While helmets help prevent head injuries by 29% to 35%, bicyclists can sustain severe injuries due to the impact of falling on the tarmac. If the force of the road crash is huge, there is the likelihood of sustaining a brain injury. Many cyclists need lifetime medical attention and rehabilitation if they sustain traumatic brain injuries.
The most prevalent TBIs are concussions. The U.S. Department of Transportation reports that helmets go a long way to protect fracturing of the skulls, but concussions are possible following a road crash. Concussions happen when your brain rams on the inner skull surface. Concussions cause mild effects, and they calm down after proper medication attention. Examples of the effects of concussions are coordination and balance difficulties, memory impairment, concentration issues, and constant headaches.
Just like the skin, the brain can sustain bruises in a bicycle accident. UCLA Health states that brain contusions are scattered patterns of bruises on the brain surface that often cause bleeding. Brain bruises occur when your brain rams against a fold on the skull or outer covering of the brain (dura mater). The effects of contusions are often similar to those of concussions.
When the brain collides with the skull, tissues between them get damaged, causing blood clotting. Blood clots not only occur between the skull and brain but also in the brain. These blood clots block the sufficient circulation of oxygen and blood in the brain, thus, causing a stroke.
After you hit your head after a bicycle accident, you might seem okay; a period called the lucid interval. However, pressure builds in the brain, and various symptoms show the possibility of a hematoma. These symptoms include slurred speech, confusion, dizziness, and unequal pupil sizes.
Knocking your head on a hard or blunt object can cause bleeding inside the skull. This internal bleeding is called intracranial hemorrhage. Hemorrhage is a life-threatening situation. This condition deprives the brain of sufficient flow of oxygen, causing damage to the brain cells.
Dental and Jaw Fractures
Many bicycle helmets are created to protect you from head injuries leaving the jaw and dental area exposed to injury risks. Since there is little or no protection on the lower section of the face, the force at which your face hits the pavement following a crash causes severe jaw fractures and broken teeth. Dental and jaw injuries can lead to facial disfigurement or long-term pain.
Road Rash/ Soft Tissue Injuries
During a road crash, the bicyclist falls off the bicycle on to the ground as bicycles don’t safeguard the cyclists in an encasement, unlike cars. In places where protective cycling gear is not necessary, your skin is exposed to injury risks.
Road rash occurs when a cyclist falls off the bike and drags down the pavement or tarmac. You can sustain mild to severe skin abrasions when you make contact with the pavement.
Physicians term road rash as a first degree if only the skin surface is red. When the skin surface is broken, but the layers are intact, that’s second-degree road rash. Finally, the third-degree road rash is severe and needs immediate treatment. Here, the surface of the ground you fall on completely breaks and removes the skin, and the inner tissues and fats are visible.
Sensory nerves connect the brain to other parts of your body. You can sustain severe nerve damage after a bicycle accident. Following the nerve damage, you can experience difficulties in controlling your legs, arms, fingers, and other body parts. Common signs showing nerve damage are energy loss, tingling sensations on your body parts, paralysis, difficulties with speech, sensitivity, and pain.
Spinal Cord Injuries
Many cyclists sustain spinal cord injuries when they get rear-ended. The force of the car hitting the cyclist from behind or even the impact at which the cyclist lands on the tarmac or pavement causes damage to the spinal cord and vertebral fractures. Most spinal cord injuries are permanent or will need cyclists to seek a lifetime medical treatment.
In a road crash, if you are cycling at high speed, you can get hit on the neck or hurled from your bicycle to the ground. If you land on your neck region, you can sustain severe injuries even when wearing a helmet. Common neck injuries that cyclists sustain are fractured discs, pinched nerves, herniated or displaced discs, and neck muscle and tendon damage.
Joint dislocations are not uncommon when cyclists get involved in a collision. Imagine the force at which a speeding vehicle strikes a bicyclist. Owing to the huge impact, a cyclist can suffer dislocations in various parts of the body like hips, fingers, jaws, knees, elbows, or shoulders. Bicyclists can sustain other dislocations or fractures on the collar bone, wrist, or teeth.
Lacerations and Contusions
Deep cuts are sustained, especially when the cyclist lands on a sharp-edged metal. Also known as lacerations, these deep cuts break your skin and expose the layer of body tissue. If the injuries are not given immediate medical attention, they cause disfigurement.
Contusions, also known as bruises, occur when body tissues, muscle, or bone are damaged, causing bleeding under the skin. Often, injuries are painful and affect how you move your body parts.
Extensive emotional trauma affects many cyclists after they get involved in a road crash. Some cycling enthusiasts are afraid to cycle after the ordeal. Post-traumatic stress condition and psychological disorder stem and need extensive therapy sessions to cure. Some of the effects of emotional trauma include mental anguish, nightmares, anxiety, insomnia, depression, and emotional distress.
What Types of Bicycle Accidents Lead to Injuries?
Many bicycle accidents are a result of a car driver’s inattentiveness or the deliberate striking of the cyclists.
An analysis prepared by the Insurance Institute for Highways Safety (IIHS) in 2015, reveals that 9% of road collisions and 45% of fatal injuries from 2008 to 2012 were caused by automobiles knocking bicyclists from the sides or behind. Also, in 2016, the NHTSA reported that 78% of fatal bicycle accidents resulted from the bicyclists getting knocked down by automobiles.
Below are the significant types of bicycle accidents occurring in the U.S.A:
The Right Hook Bicycle Accident
Often, this type of bicycle accident can happen in two ways.
- The first scenario occurs at the cross street when a cyclist is in front. Here, when making a right turn, an automobile driver can hardly see you
- The second and a major scenario is when an automobile overtakes your bicycle and you are cut off when the driver makes a right turn
What Laws Does the Driver Violate?
Every state in the U.S. has defined codes and statutes that govern how vehicles should pass bicycles on the roads. In the scenario, the driver violates California Vehicle Code section 21760 (Cal. Veh. Code §21760), also known as the Three Feet for Safety Act. This code prohibits drivers driving on the highways from overtaking bicyclists who proceed in similar directions at a distance of below three feet between the bicyclist and the automobile.
Drivers are required by law to pass bicyclists at safe distances without disruption of the bicycles’ safe operations. Also, the driver should take into account when passing a bicyclist, the weather conditions, speed and size of the bicycle and automobile, and the highway’s width.
Door Prize/ Dooring Bicycle Accident
This type of accident happens when the door of a parked car is opened while a bicycle is in motion and directly behind the car. In this scenario, the cyclist cannot come to a stop or swerve out of the way fast, causing them to crash on the opened car door.
What Laws Does the Driver Violate?
Car drivers and bicyclists have similar rights. Here, the driver fails to keep watch of cyclists riding directly from behind, thus, violating the cyclist’s right of way. A bicycle in motion damaged when another person opens the door of a vehicle parked on a traffic lane has a negligence claim.
Rear End Bicycle Accident
Rear-end collisions are not uncommon scenarios on U.S. highways. In this scenario, the bicycle in front is hit by a vehicle coming from behind. Commonly, rear-end crashes are a result of:
- Distracted drivers - These drivers can drift over to the bike lanes, which are on the shoulders of highways
- Lack of bike lanes - When cyclists and motorists share roads, bicyclists can get rear-ended
- Left-hand turns - These are the major causes of rear-end bicycle accidents. The accident also occurs when a cyclist needs to shift to the left lane and turn, and the vehicle behind doesn’t slow
What Laws Does the Driver Violate?
Drivers in the United States should keep a safe distance when passing a bicycle. When a driver rear-ends a bicycle, the driver breaks negligence laws and right of way of the cyclist. Negligence laws required drivers to be on the lookout and attentive while driving.
Left Cross Bicycle Accident
The left-cross happens when an automobile makes a swift left turn in front of an oncoming bicycle. Here, the bicyclist either gets knocked from their right side or crashes on the right side of the automobile.
What Laws Does the Driver Violate?
The driver flouts traffic laws by disobeying the traffic signals. The driver doesn’t observe negligence laws nor acknowledge the right of way for the bicyclist.
See, motorists and bicyclists alike have equal rights and are governed by similar laws. Car drivers should respect every road user regardless of the size of a bicycle.
Bicycle Accidents at Uncontrolled Intersections
When a bicycle and a car are moving in the same direction approaching an intersection, and no traffic lights or signs present, the driver or rider who reaches the junction first has the right of way.
Some drivers look down upon cyclists and refuse to slow down to allow cyclists to pass. The cyclists get knocked down and incur injuries should the driver not stop.
Bicycle Accidents at Stoplights
If a driver is at a stoplight and you have a green light and the driver crosses before the light on the side turns green, they will hit you. Here, the driver disobeys the traffic lights and are liable to cater for compensation should you incur injuries following a crash.
Collisions at Intersections with Stop Signs
Many road crashes that happen at intersections are due to uninformed individuals or negligence of who has the right of way.
Common Causes of Bicycle Accidents
Bicycle accidents like any other accidents are avoidable if drivers became more attentive on the roads. The death statistics resulting from bicycle crashes are worrisome. The U.S. Federal Highway Administration reports state that 4,000 bicyclists died following bicycle accidents between 2013 and 2017.
So, what causes these accidents? The NHTSA reported that in 2017, out of 782 deaths resulting from bicycle accidents, around 289 of the accidents involved alcohol. This is about 37% of the deaths. 195 of the cyclists who died in the road crash were impaired. Also, this constitutes 25 percent of the entire death reports. Also, 55 drivers were found to be impaired account for 7% of the cause of death.
Technology advancements are making road users multitask when driving. Hence, increasing the odds of crashing. Causes of bicycle accidents can also include:
Driving Under the Influence of Drugs
Intoxicated driving causes one out of four bicycle accidents. Approximately 37 percent of bicyclists’ deaths in 2017 were caused by drivers who took the wheel while intoxicated. Injuries caused are severe since cyclists have limited protection, unlike motorists. Drivers who take the wheel while drunk, are liable to face charges should they cause road crashes with bicyclists.
Flouting Traffic Rules
Drivers who violate traffic laws put everyone around them at risk of road accidents. As a bicyclist, you would expect that drivers yield the right of way. But you find that the motorists fail to obey road signs like not stopping at a stop sign.
Since time immemorial, high speed has led to fatal road accidents counting those involving bicycles. There is less time to react when driving at high speeds; thus, knocking down unwary cyclists.
Following the advancement in technology like smartphones and infotainment car systems, a driver or rider will easily get distracted while on the wheel. Some riders wear earphones in both ears. Thus, they cannot hear what is happening around them. Also, some drivers are infamous for texting while driving, thus diverting their attention from the road to their phones.
Harsh Weather Conditions
While many bicyclists avoid taking their bicycles out in bad weather conditions, the weather is known to cause many bicycle accidents. For example, during rush hours (3:00 PM to 5:00 PM), the sun often blinds motorists. Hence, having poor visibility of the road and its surroundings.
Bicyclists riding in stormy weather are hardly visible. You might have gone out for riding in fine weather, and then you get caught in a storm.
Bicycling does not mean that you have exclusive rights than other road users. If you move into the lane of automobiles carelessly, you are bound to get involved in a fatal accident. Other cyclists overlook wearing reflective jackets, hence making it harder for motorists to see them.
Poor Road Conditions
Authorities in cities are liable for road maintenance and repair. The NHTSA reports that 14% of injuries caused following bicycle accidents, dangerous road conditions are to blame.
Cycling at Night
Close to half of bicycle accidents in the U.S. occur at night. If you don’t have reflective gear on when cycling in the dark, drivers might not notice you in good time. However, some drivers, despite you wearing recommended cycling attire at night, will knock you down.
Find a San Diego Personal Injury Lawyer Specializing Bicycle Accidents Near Me
Several losses are incurred following a bicycle accident. If you are injured in a road crash while cycling, you can seek legal help to pursue compensation for losses suffered like momentary loss, hefty medical bills, missed work, damage to property, and emotional distress.
Seeking help from a San Diego Personal Injury Law Firm ensures that you rest while the attorneys pursue the case on your behalf. If you are injured, chances are you have little energy to follow the defendants and attending court proceedings.
You should rest assured that our personal injury lawyers will follow your case until compensation is offered. With many years’ experience and a proven track record, our aggressive teams are ready around-the-clock to provide quality services to our San Diego clients.
Allow us to get the settlement you lawfully deserve by calling our San Diego Personal Injury Law Firm at 619-478-4059 today.