When ranked for bicycle accident safety and rideability, North Carolina ranks at number 23 on a list compiled by
the League of American Bicyclists. While the state is not at the top of the list, legislators have taken measures to promote bicycle safety in metropolitan areas like Charlotte. The openness of a bicycle puts the operator at an increased risk of injury when navigating streets beside cars and trucks. Traumatic brain injuries and broken bones are among the many injuries that are common among bicycle accident victims.
How Can I Minimize My Chance of Being in a Bicycle Accident?
When riding your bicycle on North Carolina streets, follow these roadway tips to maintain your safety:
- Ride at a safe speed to promote control of your bike and the ability to react quickly;
- Take off the headphones. Music and conversations can take your attention away from the roadway and traffic;
- Use correct hand signals;
- Look both ways before entering an intersection;
- Ride with the direction of traffic in a single file line;
- Use designated bike lanes when available; and
- Wear reflective clothing and use headlights after dark.
What Are Common Causes of Bicycle Accidents?
The impact of a bicycle with a vehicle can prove violent, especially when one or both are moving at a high rate of speed. Some of the most common scenarios include:
- Cars pulling out from side streets and parking lots in front of you, leaving you no way to avoid a collision;
- Vehicles turning directly into your path. This often happens at stoplights, when you are stopped beside a vehicle and the light turns green;
- Vehicles turning into your path while you are crossing an intersection, causing you to hit the vehicle or be thrown from your bike in an attempt to make a sudden stop;
- Being rear-ended by a vehicle following too closely behind you; or
- Parked cars opening their driver side doors in your path.
Under North Carolina law, injured bicyclists can seek financial compensation from the at-fault driver’s insurance company. Damage awards may cover such expenses medical bills, lost wages, future medical expenses and emotional suffering.
Under some circumstances, North Carolina allows injured bicyclists to seek punitive damages. This type of award is granted to punish and deter the at-fault driver. The state statute allows this type of award when bicyclists are involved in accidents with drunk drivers or reckless drivers.
If you are involved in a bicycle accident, take the following steps towards collecting compensation:
- Call 911;
- Seek medical attention as soon as possible following the incident;
- If able, gather information about your accident;
- Get contact and insurance information for the other parties;
- Get contact information for any witnesses;
- Create a medical file to gather documentation of all medical expenses;
- Speak with law enforcement, but refrain from claiming any fault; and
- If you plan to seek compensation, do not grant the insurance company an interview without the assistance of your attorney.