As our society pushes toward finding “green” or “eco-friendly” solutions to energy consumption and industrial pollution, bicycles have become increasingly popular as a mode of transportation to and from work. At the same time, more and more American cities are beginning to create bicycle lanes and implement bike-sharing programs, such as Baltimore’s Charm City Bikeshare Project.
Taken together, these factors add up to one equation: more and more bikes are sharing the road with cars, which unfortunately means that more and more cyclists risk being injured in car accidents. If you were hit by a car while riding your bike in Baltimore or elsewhere in Maryland, or if someone you love suffered a traumatic brain injury after using a defective bicycle helmet, you may be able to recover compensation for your pain, suffering, and financial losses.
If you’re thinking about filing a claim, don’t go it alone: get dedicated legal assistance from the bicycle accident lawyers of Whitney, LLP. Our knowledgeable attorneys have years of experience representing clients throughout Maryland, including but not limited to Anne Arundel County, Carroll County, Howard County, Harford County, Montgomery County and Prince George’s County. We take an aggressive approach to every claim we handle, and have obtained favorable outcomes for numerous injured cyclists. To set up a free and private consultation, call our law offices at (410) 583-8000 today.
Cyclist Deaths, Injuries, and Defective Helmets
When a driver gets into a car accident, he or she is protected by numerous safety features, such as a seat belt, an air bag, and the structural strength of the surrounding vehicle itself. Cyclists do not enjoy any of these crucial safety features, and are protected from injuries only by a helmet.
This brings up a common factor in many bike accidents: serious head injuries and traumatic brain injuries (TBI) resulting from defective helmets. Bicycle helmets are subject to various safety standards, among which the most well-known is probably the CPSC standard imposed by the Consumer Product Safety Commission. While compliance is voluntary, the safety standards imposed by the Snell Memorial Foundation are even more stringent than CPSC standards. Look for Snell certification when shopping for bicycle helmets.
Helmet manufacturers can potentially be held liable for manufacturing defects which result in injury or death to consumers. Common problems with defective helmets include:
- Flimsy clips or buckles which break with minimal wear-and-tear.
- Faulty adhesive which causes helmet components to come apart (e.g. straps falling off).
- Weak or brittle materials which crack or shatter on impact.
- Straps which unfasten or slide off.
Yet even in cases where the cyclist’s helmet functions perfectly, the rest of the body still remains completely vulnerable to catastrophic injury. Injuries can result from direct impact with another vehicle (such as an oncoming car, truck, or motorcycle), and/or from contact with the road when the cyclist is ejected from the bicycle. Common cyclist injuries include, but are not limited to:
- Hand and Wrist Injuries
- Scarring and Disfigurement
- Chest Injuries
- Spinal Cord Injuries (SCI)
- Organ Damage/Internal Bleeding
- Head Injuries
- Neck Injuries
- Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBI)
- Broken Bones/Bone Fractures:
- Oblique Fractures
- Greenstick Fractures
- Transverse Fractures
- Simple Fractures
- Compound Fractures
- Comminuted Fractures
Contributing Factors: How Do Bicycle Accidents Happen?
With any luck, you will never find yourself involved in a serious bicycle accident. Unfortunately, there are many contributing factors which can lead to the occurrence of preventable accidents. As more and more of the U.S. workforce begins to commute by bike instead of car, accident rates are anticipated to rise. Some common factors which cause accidents to occur include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Poor visibility. Bicyclists are considerably smaller than cars and trucks. In many instances, drivers fail to see or even look for cyclists whom they should have noticed in their side-view or rear-view mirrors. (This problem also contributes to numerous motorcycle accidents.)
- Driver negligence and aggressive driving. You may have noticed “Share The Road” signs encouraging drivers to be courteous to cyclists. These signs exist for a reason. Due to their lack of protection, bicyclists are exceptionally vulnerable to aggressive driving, such as drivers forcing cyclists into shoulders or off the road. The road does not belong exclusively to motorists. Drivers have a duty to exercise reasonable care toward pedestrians, cyclists, and other motorists, which means refraining from reckless, aggressive, distracted, or intoxicated driving.
- Physical limitations. When a driver notices an oncoming vehicle or road obstruction, he or she can press the gas pedal to rapidly accelerate out of harm’s way. Because they are human-powered, bicycles do not have this option. Even if a cyclist sees an emergency developing, he or she may be unable to swerve or accelerate rapidly enough to avoid a crisis.
If you were injured while riding your bicycle in Maryland, or if one of your loved ones was a victim of wrongful death, the experienced personal injury lawyers of Whitney, LLP may be able to help you get compensated. Don’t worry about having too many questions – we will listen to your concerns and help you understand your legal rights and responsibilities.
To set up your free, confidential case evaluation, call our law offices right away at (410) 583-8000. Our phone lines are always open for your call, and you will not be charged any fees for your consultation.