Steps To Take In A Car-Bike Accident

March 24, 2024

By Promoting Justice

Even the most conscientious and diligent driver or biker can become involved in a car-bike accident. While these accidents take only a few seconds to unfold, the moments that follow the accident are critically important. By following certain steps, you can maximize the amount of compensation you receive for your injuries and losses. At Shillen Mackall Seldon & Spicer, we provide legal advocacy for victims of vehicle accidents of all types, and support our clients in fighting for full and fair compensation for damages following an accident injury. If you have been injured in a car-bike accident, the stakes are high – do not leave your physical, mental, and financial well-being in the hands of insurance companies. To learn more, or to schedule your free case evaluation with our experienced personal injury team, contact our office by calling (802) 457-4848 today.

How Common Are Car-Bike Accidents?

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) indicates that over 38,000 individuals are injured in accidents involving pedal-powered wheeled vehicles each year. Although the NHTSA uses a single category to encompass bicycles, unicycles, and other non-motorized pedal-powered wheeled vehicles, bicycles make up the overwhelming majority of “pedalcycles” on the roads in most states. The majority of traffic accidents involving bicycles occur in urban areas, and many of them also involve passenger vehicles or light trucks, including SUVs and pickup trucks. Cyclist fatalities were the highest in Florida, but Vermont and New Hampshire also experienced a high level of incidents as well. The cumulative cost of these accidents is significant, with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimating that bicycle accidents alone cost cyclists in the United States more than $23 billion in the United States annually. 

Causes of Car-Bike Accidents

Many accidents between motorists and cyclists are caused by a lack of awareness of road rules. Some drivers are tempted to assume that since motor vehicles are larger and less maneuverable than bicycles, traffic laws will prioritize motorists on the roadways, but this assumption is not necessarily accurate in all cases. As the League of American Bicyclists explains, bicycles are generally driven like, and entitled to the same right-of-way as, any other vehicle –– regardless of its source of power. Cyclists and motorists alike may be unaware of the rules that apply in a specific jurisdiction, however, and accidents may occur as a result.  

What Happens if You Accidentally Hit Someone on a Bike With Your Car?

For a person involved in a car-bike accident, understanding the next steps they can take to protect their rights in the aftermath of the collision may make an important difference in their outcomes. Regardless of whether the collision was accidental or not, insurance companies must determine the distribution of fault. If you were at fault for the accident, you may be held accountable for any injuries and losses resulting from the accident. The same is true of the other party involved – if they were at fault for the accident, you may be entitled to compensation for: 

  • Medical bills 
  • Lost income 
  • Reduced earning capacity
  • Property damage
  • Pain and suffering

How Is Fault Determined After an Accident?

Determining fault in a car-bike accident can be difficult, and every state uses a different system to determine negligence. Insurance companies are incentivized to minimize claimants’ injuries and losses, which can make it difficult to secure full and fair compensation. Ensure that you are aware of your state’s laws, and consider seeking assistance when filing an insurance claim or personal injury lawsuit. 

Vermont, New Hampshire, and Florida all use a comparative negligence system for determining fault after an accident. Florida (Fla. Stat. § 768.81) uses a pure comparative negligence system, meaning a victim can claim damages if the other party was even partly at fault. The amount of compensation the injured party can collect will depend on the assigned fault as determined in court, unless the claimant reaches a settlement with the at-fault driver or cyclist and their insurance provider, if any. Vermont (12 V.S.A. § 1036) and New Hampshire (N.H. Rev. Stat. § 507:7-d) both utilize a modified system, which allows victims to recover financial compensation if their level of fault is less than that of the other party. 

What Should You Do After a Bicycle Accident?

If you have been involved in a car-bike accident, it is normal to feel stressed, overwhelmed, and unsure of how to proceed. Individuals injured in car-bike accidents frequently have numerous questions regarding how to secure compensation to cover the costs of expensive medical bills and supplement income lost while taking off from work to recover. Taking action promptly can help victims to ensure they receive the financial support they need in a timely manner.

Consider seeking assistance from an experienced attorney who can review your situation and may be able to develop a legal strategy to help safeguard your rights. The personal injury lawyers with Shillen Mackall Seldon & Spicer regularly work with victims of bike accidents and vehicle collisions to investigate the cause of the accident, compile all relevant evidence, and assist the victim in determining their best path forward.

What Steps Should Be Taken Immediately in Case of an Accident?

After an accident, health and safety are the main concerns. The following steps should be taken immediately in case of an accident: 

  1. Perform an injury assessment and call 911 (or ask someone else to do so). 
  2. If possible, move to safety at the side of the road or on a sidewalk. If all vehicles can be safely moved, consider pulling them over to the side of the road, out of the flow of traffic. 
  3. After establishing that all drivers, passengers, and cyclists are safe and uninjured, exchange contact and insurance information with the other party (driver or cyclist) involved in the accident. 
  4. Document the accident by taking pictures and talking to witnesses. Once law enforcement officers have had an opportunity to assess the scene, request a copy of the final police report, and confirm the requirements in your jurisdiction for reporting the accident to the Department of Motor Vehicles. 

Speak With an Experienced Personal Injury Lawyer Today

If you have been injured in a collision between a car and a bicycle, you may wish to speak with an experienced personal injury lawyer. These accidents often involve complex legal issues, and a dedicated attorney can be an advocate for your interests at every step of the process. The bike accident attorneys with Shillen Mackall Seldon & Spicer have decades of experience and a long track record of success in obtaining favorable results for victims of a wide variety of vehicle accidents. Consider scheduling a free consultation to discuss your car-bike accident with a member of our personal injury team by calling (802) 457-4848 today.