Washington Dc’s estimated population is 5,322,000 people. The US capital is located between Maryland and Virginia on the north bank of the Potomac River. Washington DC has invested in bike-share and has invested in bike lanes and trail system. DC has the second-highest number of bike commuters in the nations. To top it all off, Washington DC has the status of one of the top bike-friendly places nationwide.
With such a high number of people using bikes to commute and for recreation, the chances of experiencing a cycling accident rise. Fortunately, there is adequate infrastructure to keep the bikes in designated bike lanes in DC, which can help prevent accidents and injuries.
Bicycle Accident Information
Cyclists tend to use less gear and have less protection than other commuters (expect the pedestrians). Lack of protective gear places cyclists at a higher risk for injury if they are involved in an impact with a car, a truck, a bus, or any other moving motor vehicle.
An article in The DiamondBack reports that cyclists’ increase is an excellent sign since cities nationwide are trying to lower carbon emissions. Simultaneously, the article states that pedestrians and cyclists are still at significant risk of being injured. Traffic fatalities appear to be on the increase, with 2018 being a very bad year for cyclists. The DC Police Metropolitan Department reported 36 deaths in 2018 and 27 in 2019.
Cyclist accidents and injuries are on the rise. Thankfully they are not always resulting in a fatality. However, cycling injuries can be severe, leaving the cyclist with a pile of medical bills and often with long-term health issues.
Types of Bicycle Accidents
There are several ways a bicycle accident can happen in Washington DC. The following include some of the most common ways:
- Car door impact – We automatically think that moving cars pose the most significant danger. However, parked vehicles are also hazardous. In many instances, a driver can park their car in a hurry and open the door to exit the car without checking. Although door-accidents are not as frequent as other accidents, they can cause serious injuries, paralysis, and even fatalities.
- Intersection accidents – Although people generally want to believe they are paying attention, the daily grind places drivers in a stressful routine. Unbeknownst to them, they are not paying appropriate attention to their surroundings. They might keep an eye out for other moving vehicles, but cyclists and pedestrians are not usually on their radar. A car turning right or left in an intersection can quickly run into a cyclist.
- Against traffic cycling – Many cyclists feel safer riding against the traffic because they can see cars around them easier. This, however, is very dangerous. It is estimated that 25% of all incidents are caused because cyclists are riding against traffic.
- Stoplights & Stop signs – In many cases, cars do not notice cyclists at stop signs and stoplights. This can result in the vehicle overtaking the cyclist and causing severe injuries. This type of incident is quite common when visibility is low.
- Sideswipe accidents – Sideswiping is one of the most common ways to injure yourself in a cycling accident. Drivers veer in and out of lanes, and sometimes into the bike lane, without checking. In other instances, although they do check, blind spots prevent them from seeing the cyclist.
Common Causes of Bicycle Accidents in Washington DC
Some of the most common causes of bicycle accidents include:
- Distracted drivers
- Cellphone usage while driving
- Failure to keep adequate distance between car and bicycle
- Left turns into cyclists
- Failure to yield
- Driving under the influence
- Aggressive driving
Suggestions to Avoid a Cycling Accident in Washington DC
We can’t always avoid accidents, but with a little extra care and attention, we might be able to minimize cycling accidents. If you are the person driving a bicycle, the following measures are suggested:
- Use a hamlet every time you use your bicycle
- Use your hands to indicate to motor drivers whether you are turning
- When given a choice, always use a designated bike lane
- When riding at night, choose bright or reflective clothing
- Obey road laws
- Ride along with the traffic and not against it
- Place and use a mirror on your bike to check your surrounding environment
Action Steps to Take in the Event of a Cycling Accident in Washington DC
If you ever find yourself in a cycling accident following these steps:
- Contact 911 – If you are unable to do so, have someone else do it for you. It is critical to have the police arrive at the scene as soon as possible.
- Call for medical attention – cycling injuries can be severe and sometimes can also be life-threatening. Seeking and attaining medical help as soon as possible can make a massive difference to the lasting effect of the injury. Even if you appear fine right after the impact, it is best to seek medical attention and have a professional physician examine you.
- Collect evidence – If you can, take pictures of the schene, any visible injuries, and document any details you can. If you are unable to do so, ask someone else to help you out. Collect the names of everyone involved and get the contact information of eye-witnesses in the event you need help supporting your case.
- Contact your legal team – cycling accidents sometimes are complicated to sort through, and in many unfortunate cases, injuries can be quite severe. Having the right legal team by your side will allow you to negotiate higher compensation.
Other Important Information to Keep in Mind
- In Washington DC, people injured in cycling accidents have three years from the day of the accident to file a claim and seek compensation.
- Using professional legal help is the best way to ensure that you will receive compensation. Remember that insurance companies will try to minimize the situation’s severity to avoid paying out the right compensation.
- DC Bike Laws prohibit cars from parking in bike lanes.
- Cyclists have to obey all traffic laws applicable to all drivers.
- There is no law stating that cyclists have to always ride on the right side of the lane.
- There is no law in DC stating that a cyclist is obligated to ride their bicycle in the bike lane.
- In the event of a dooring accident, the law states that the person opening the door holds the responsibility.
Getting the Right Legal Help
Our experienced team at TorkLaw understands how painful and devastating cycling accidents can be. We also know that treatment and recovery can result in staggering medical bills. Our professional attorneys at TorkLaw can help you seek compensation for:
- Medical Expenses
- Long-term care when needed
- Future medical care
- Lost wages
- Loss of future earnings due to the accident
- Rehabilitation care
- Pain and suffering