Jill Kolodner | November 30, 2020 | Bicycle Accidents
Hitting a bicyclist is a traumatic event for a driver and the bicyclist. Bicycle accidents often result in traumatic injuries for the bicyclist. A driver may be tempted to leave the accident scene to avoid being charged with the collision.
However, leaving the scene of an accident is against the law in Maryland. According to the Maryland Transportation Code, drivers involved in accidents resulting in bodily injury must immediately stop as close as possible to the accident scene. Therefore, your first step after a bicycle accident begins with stopping at the accident scene.
What Should You Do Immediately After Hitting a Bicyclist?
If you accidentally hit a bicyclist, stop and stay at the accident scene until the police arrive. Check on the bicyclist to see if they need immediate aid. Call 911 to report the accident and request emergency medical assistance, if necessary.
Be careful what you say at the accident scene. Your concern about the bicyclist’s condition might prompt you to say you are sorry or apologize for the accident. Your statements could be misinterpreted as admitting fault for causing the bicycle accident.
Avoid discussing the accident and keep your conversation to a minimum. When you talk to the police, focus on stating the facts about how the accident occurred
While you are waiting for the police officers to arrive, it can help protect your legal rights to document the accident scene. Make a video of the scene with your cell phone and take some pictures. If there are other bystanders, ask them for their names and telephone numbers.
You may not be focused on your injuries because you are in shock. Hitting a bike rider with your vehicle is a traumatic event. The shock of the accident could mask some injury symptoms.
It is a good idea to be checked by a doctor as soon as possible after the accident. You need to document your injuries and protect your health too.
Because you could be financially responsible for the bicyclist’s injuries and damages, you might want to speak with a personal injury lawyer. Seeking advice and learning about your legal rights from a lawyer is one of the best ways to protect yourself.
Common Causes of Bicycle Accidents in Maryland
Thousands of bicyclists are killed or injured each year in bicycle accidents involving motor vehicles in the United States. Bicycle accidents occur for many reasons. Poor driving choices and errors in judgment by bicyclists are common factors in the cause of bicycle accidents.
Mistakes and errors that bicyclists and motorists make that could lead to a bicycle accident include:
- Distracted driving and distracted bicycling
- Being under the influence of alcohol or drugs
- Operating the vehicle while fatigued or drowsy
- Failing to obey traffic laws, signs, and signals
- Failing to keep a safe distance from bicycles and motor vehicles
Speeding and reckless driving can also contribute to the cause of a bicycle accident. Drivers and bicyclists have a duty to operate the vehicle safely to avoid causing an accident. They must also follow all traffic laws.
You Might Not Be Solely Responsible for the Cause of the Bicycle Accident
If you are responsible for causing the bicycle accident, you could be financially liable for the rider’s damages. Your liability car insurance coverage should compensate the cyclist for damages. The bicyclist could file a personal injury lawsuit seeking compensation from you if your insurance company refuses to pay the claim or your insurance does not cover the rider’s damages in full.
However, you might not be required to compensate the bicyclist if the rider was partially responsible for causing the accident.
Under Maryland’s strict pure contributory negligence laws, a party who contributed to the cause of the accident cannot recover any money for damages from the other parties involved in the accident. Any degree of fault means the person is barred from recovering compensation.
Therefore, it is important to consult with a lawyer if you receive a demand for payment or you are served with a personal injury lawsuit. You could have a valid legal defense to the personal injury lawsuit. A person has up to three years from the date of the injury to file a lawsuit.
Bicycle Accidents Can Cause Traumatic Injuries for Riders
Riders hit by a motor vehicle can sustain catastrophic injuries. Bicyclists do not have any protection from the force of the impact with a vehicle. Common bicycle accident injuries include:
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Internal organ damage
- Broken bones
- Chest injuries
- Facial injuries
- Lacerations and abrasions
- Ankle, knee, and elbow injuries
- Neck and back injuries
Because bicyclists are at high risk for injuries in an accident, most riders wear bicycle helmets and other protective gear. They also make themselves more visible to motorists by adding lights and reflective material to their bicycles and their riding outfits.
Drivers have a duty of care to avoid accidents, including hitting a rider with their car. Remaining focused on the road and practicing good driving behaviors can reduce the risk of causing a bicycle accident.