When a person is injured in a bicycle accident, it is typically due to a collision with a motor vehicle. The law in Arizona is very specific when it comes to responsibility in a car-bike collision. The careless driver of a motor vehicle is legally responsible for any damages—physical, emotional, and economic—caused to the bike rider.
The lawyers and staff at Lazzara Law Firm have the financial resources and experience to help you pursue the maximum compensation available for your injuries or loss in a bicycle accident.
In order to file a claim for damages resulting from an accident, you must prove that the driver of the other vehicle was negligent. This may seem cut-and-dried, but the reality is that it’s anything but. It’s likely that the other party’s insurer will attempt to place at least partial blame on the bicyclist. Because Arizona is a comparative fault state, if they can prove that you were, say, 30% at fault for the accident, the compensation you receive will be reduced by that 30%. This is why it pays greatly to have an attorney who is experienced with bicycle accidents on your side. The attorneys at Lazzara Law Firm have dealt with many cases involving injuries caused by an accident on a bicycle, and we are prepared to do whatever it takes to make sure you receive the compensation that you deserve for your injuries.
Bicycles are subject to the same traffic rules as motor vehicles. However, there is an additional responsibility for drivers of motor vehicles to be extra careful when there is a bicycle rider in the area. If there is any doubt whether a car is going to collide with a bike, the car driver should honk their horn to make the bicyclist aware that there is a vehicle close.
Under Arizona law, drivers of motor vehicles have a duty to be aware of children in the area, especially in residential areas, near schools, or in other areas where children might dart out into traffic. When bike riders are in the area, the driver of the car must be extremely careful and slow down to avoid accidents. Arizona law even provides that a jury must be told of this responsibility when a child on a bike is struck and injured by a car.
Many bicyclists are hit because the driver of car did not keep far enough away from the bicycle when passing them. When a car is about to pass someone on a bike, the driver must move far enough away so there is no danger of striking the bicyclist. If there is any danger that a bicycle and car are going to collide, the driver of the car is in a much better position to slow down or stop to avoid the bike. If the two vehicles collide, it is the bicyclist who is going to be hurt, not the person in the car.
Bike accident injuries are generally of a severe nature, since the riders don’t have the protection of a motor vehicle surrounding them.
While Arizona doesn’t have any statewide bicycle helmet laws, many municipalities and counties do require the use of a helmet, and for good reason! Head trauma is one of the most common injuries that bicyclists suffer in an accident, and a helmet can help prevent or lessen the injuries that occur. In addition to head trauma, broken bones (especially hands, wrists, and arms), neck injuries such as whiplash, spinal cord injuries, broken facial bones, as well as severe abrasions or “road rash”, and lacerations.
Your lawyer will need to carefully assess your bike injury case to determine what insurance coverage is available and how you can recover damages such as medical expenses and lost wages. If a family member of the victim has medical payments cover, the victim may cover economic damages, including medical bills and lost wages. In certain circumstances, the insurance company of the at-fault driver will be responsible for paying those expenses in advance of any settlement or jury verdict.
In Arizona, as in most states, bicyclists have the same rights to the roads as motorized vehicles do. They are also responsible for the same attention to traffic safety, if not more so than other vehicles. The majority of traffic accidents involving bicycles are actually caused by negligent drivers of motorized vehicles. Often, the accidents occur because a car or truck refuses to yield the right-of-way to a bicyclist, or decides to ignore the bicyclist’s rights to the road.
Many drivers are not aware that bicyclists have the same rights as they do when driving. They are negligent because they are uneducated about how to turn when a bicyclist is on the road with them, or they do something such as change lanes without checking for a bicyclist. Many traffic accidents happen at intersections because drivers simply don’t know what the proper procedures are when it comes to bicycles when in fact, the right-of-way rules are the same as for any motorized vehicle. If a motorist comes to a two-way stop, and a bicyclist is approaching on an adjacent road, the motorist must stop, but the cyclist does not have to, just as if it were two cars coming to the intersection.
Similarly, right- and left-hand turns are confusing to motorists because they either don’t see the bicyclist or don’t understand that the bicyclist making a turn is waiting for their turn, just like the cars are. So the motorist may turn in front of the bicyclist, or simply not give them enough space in which to make their turn.
Roadways also cause several issues, especially when there are no shoulders for the bicyclists to ride on. When narrow roads and speeding, impatient drivers mix, the results aren’t good. Bicyclists ride with traffic, to the right when at all possible. When a car passes a bicyclist, they are required by law to leave a minimum of three feet between their vehicle and the cyclist they are passing. When this isn’t possible, the vehicle shouldn’t pass, but they often attempt to anyway, and end up in a car-bicycle collision.
Hazardous road conditions, such as roads that haven’t been properly maintained, can also cause accidents due to potholes or overgrown vegetation on the shoulder of the roadways. And of course, as with any type of accidents, distracted drivers are a huge problem. With everyone carrying and using devices and cellphones, even cellphone use laws aren’t able to stop all the accidents that distracted driving causes. And when the cellphones are put away, there are many other distractions, such as applying makeup, eating, or changing the radio station and heating and air conditioning settings.
Arizona is an extremely popular place for bicyclists to practice their sport. With our hundreds of thousands of miles of roadways through some of the most gorgeous scenery in the country, it’s no wonder bicyclists would choose Arizona as their favorite place to ride. Unfortunately, with the ever-increasing number of cyclists comes an increasing number of accidents as well.
Bicycle accidents in the United States are a significant and growing problem. In fact, the United States Department of Transportation reports that fatalities resulting from bicycle accidents in 2015 increased over 12% since 1995 to a whopping 818 fatalities. Of those killed in traffic accidents, 37 were under the age of 15, and 27% of cyclist adults killed had been drinking. There were over 45,000 bicyclists injured in traffic in 2015, which was down 10% from 2014. Five thousand of those injured were under the age of 15. Males accounted for 87% of those killed and 83% of those injured.
Our beautiful state of Arizona is no stranger to these accidents as well, with 1,434 bicycle traffic crashes in 2015. Twenty-nine fatalities occurred in Arizona that year (the last year that statistics are available), as well as 1,276 injuries to bicyclists. These statistics are alarming at best. So, why do these accidents occur, and what can we do about it?
If you’ve suffered injuries in an accident due to the negligence of another person, there are damages that you’re entitled to. These damages can include but aren’t limited to medical expenses, physical therapy expenses, lost wages (both current and future), job retraining if you’re unable to return to the job you had before the accident, pain and suffering, as well as many others. The only way you’ll know exactly how the strength of your case is to come in for a free and confidential consultation. Let the team at Lazzara Law Firm help you get your life back so that you can get back on your bicycle again. Call us at (480) 456-3080, or use our online contact page.