Bicycle Laws in New York
New York has several laws governing bicycle use to protect cyclists and others from harm. New York’s bicycle laws state that all cyclists must:
- Have at least one hand on the bicycle’s handlebars at all times
- Have no more passengers on the bicycle than the bicycle is designed to accommodate
- Wear a proper helmet if under the age of 14 years old
- Wear no more than one earphone while bicycling
- Have reflective gear on their bike while riding after dark
NY’s bicycle laws state that all motorists must:
- Not obstruct bike lanes, nor should they drive in a bike lane except temporarily when needed, such as to drive into a driveway or garage or to drive through an intersection
- Be careful when opening doors on the side of flowing traffic so as not to obstruct the ability of a bicyclist to move freely
- Pass a bicyclist, if necessary, only when they can safely do so
- Wear no more than one earphone while driving
Top Causes of Bicycle Accidents
Bike accidents are frequently caused by negligent motorists. Some of the most common causes of bicycle accidents are:
- Aggressive driving – Many motorists fail to realize that cyclists have the same right to use the road as they do. This often leads to people driving aggressively near cyclists, including following too closely, failing to leave enough space, speeding past a cyclist, or otherwise driving in an intimidating manner.
- Distracted driving – There are three primary forms of distraction: visual, manual, and cognitive. If a motorist falls victim to any of these types of distractions, they put themselves and others on the road at risk. A distracted motorist may fail to see a cyclist on the road, might not leave enough space between their vehicle and the bike, or might not be able to react to changing conditions in time to avoid a crash.
- Driver fatigue – When a driver is tired, their faculties will be impaired and their reaction time will slow. A fatigued driver could easily cause a severe or fatal injury accident if they are too tired to operate their vehicle safely around cyclists.
- Driving too close to bicyclists – Although many roads in New York have designated bike lanes, drivers can still be impatient and drive dangerously close to cyclists. Failure to leave enough distance between a vehicle and a bike could result in a severe injury crash.
- Driving while under the influence – It is well known that driving while intoxicated can considerably impair a driver’s ability to drive safely and react quickly. When an intoxicated driver shares the road with a bicyclist, the risk that the driver may cause severe and life-threatening injuries to a bicyclist is significantly increased.
- Improper lane changing – Impatient and reckless drivers can cause a bicycle accident if they fail to signal lane changes or make sudden moves without providing adequate notice to others on the road.
- Speeding – Speeding can lead to a serious collision with a bicyclist. Because of the increased exposure bicyclists have to the environment, colliding with a bicyclist at high speeds can kill the bicyclist.
- Violating traffic laws – Driving vehicles in designated bike lanes can be incredibly dangerous for bicyclists and lead to serious bicycle accidents.
An experienced bicycle accident attorney in Long Island can investigate your claim and gather evidence to establish the driver’s negligence.
Common Bicycle Accident Injuries
Cyclists are particularly prone to suffering severe and fatal injuries in the event of a crash since they are largely exposed and do not have the same safety features that motor vehicle occupants have. Some of the most common injuries cyclists suffer in accidents include:
- Back, neck, and spinal cord injuries
- Brain injuries, which could range from concussions to traumatic brain injuries (TBIs)
- Broken bones
- Head and face injuries
- Internal organ damage
- Lacerations and cuts
- Road rash
- Sprains, strains, and other soft tissue injuries
Additionally, bicycle accident victims can suffer injuries that are not readily apparent. The aftermath of being involved in a traumatic event such as a bicycle accident can also be emotionally and mentally debilitating. Bicycle accident victims might suffer from anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
The road to recovery from severe injuries can be long and challenging. For example, bicycle accident injuries may require the following types of medical treatments:
- Invasive surgery
- Skin grafting for severe road rash
- Facial reconstruction surgery for serious facial injuries
- Continued visits to medical specialists for treatment for years to come
- Rehabilitation services and physical therapy
Severe injuries (particularly those to the brain and spinal cord) might even leave a bicycle accident victim permanently disabled.
New York Bicycle Accident Statistics
The following are a few statistics for the most recent year for which data is available on bicycle accidents in New York City:
- In Brooklyn, 2,005 bicycle-motor vehicle accidents resulted in injuries and eight bicycle-motor vehicle accident fatalities.
- In Queens, 1,067 bicycle-motor vehicle accidents resulted in injuries and one bicycle-motor vehicle accident fatality.
- In Manhattan, 1,257 bicycle-motor vehicle accidents resulted in injuries and six bicycle-motor vehicle accident fatalities.
- Across all of New York City, 319 bicycle-motor vehicle accidents resulted in severe injuries or death.
What to Do After a Bicycle Accident in Long Island
After a bicycle accident, you should immediately seek medical attention.
If you are coherent after the accident, try to make as precise a statement as possible to law enforcement on the scene. Your statement about the accident will be included in an official police report. This police report will be used as evidence in your claim for compensation for your injuries.
Similarly, try to take photos and videos of the scene of the bicycle accident and obtain witness statements if you can. Law enforcement may also take photos, collect witness statements, and identify information that may be used as evidence in your bicycle accident claim.
In addition, collect and save any other documentation that can be used as evidence in your claim. This includes any medical bills you’ve received and treatment costs you’ve incurred. You should also collect any employment documentation showing your missed hours and/or days of work and corresponding income/wage loss.
You should continue with medical treatment for your injuries based on your doctor’s orders. You don’t want to forego continued medical treatment because insurance companies may use that as an excuse to deny your claim or reduce your compensation.
Refrain from making any posts on social media regarding the bicycle accident. Insurance companies can use anything you say or post online to poke holes in your claim.
If the other party’s insurance company contacts you, you are not obligated to answer their questions. In fact, it’s in your best interest not to speak to any insurance representatives without consulting a bicycle accident lawyer.
Finally, retain a bicycle accident attorney in New York. An experienced bicycle accident attorney can negotiate with insurance companies on your behalf and help you pursue compensation for your injuries.
Compensation Available in New York Bicycle Accident Claims
The person who caused the bicycle accident may owe you compensation for your physical and emotional injuries, as well as the financial costs you’ve had to bear as a result of your injuries. You might be eligible to receive compensation for:
- Pain and suffering (both physical and emotional)
- Medical treatment costs, including future medical treatment costs
- Loss of wages/income, including loss of future wages/income
- Decrease in quality of life
- Decrease in earning-capability
- Decrease in personal relationships (also known as loss of consortium)
- Emotional distress
- Property damage
Also, if your claim has to be litigated in court, you might be awarded punitive damages. This form of compensation is rare because it is reserved for cases where the at-fault party’s actions were particularly egregious or willful. Punitive damages are meant to punish the defendant and send a message to the public that the behavior the at-fault party displayed will not be tolerated.
New York’s contributory negligence laws state that even if you were partially to blame for the accident, you can still seek compensation. Any award would be reduced by a percentage based on the percentage of blame you are assigned for the crash.
Talk to Our Experienced Bicycle Accident Lawyers in Long Island Today
If you have been severely injured in a bicycle accident caused by someone else’s negligence in Long Island, contact Finz & Finz, P.C. right away. We have the skills, experience, and resources necessary to handle even the most complex bike accident cases. We’ll be ready to discuss your case when you call us, chat with us live, or fill out a contact form.