If you bicycle in Washington, D.C., you appreciate the convenience and ease of being able to navigate the urban landscape. While bicycling offers many advantages, it can also be dangerous. Bicycle accidents are common and, by some estimates, on the rise. These accidents tend to be severe and can even be fatal. If someone else’s negligence is responsible for a Washington D.C. bicycle accident, the victim or family may have a legal claim. But who can you count on to fight for you?
Koonz McKenney Johnson & DePaolis LLP is a trusted advocate for Washington D.C. bicycle accident victims. Find out how our seasoned personal injury legal counsel can serve you today.
The Dangers Of Bicycling
Compared to automobiles, bicyclists lack the protection of steel frames, airbags, and other safety devices. While helmets, elbow pads, and knee pads help, the human body is largely uncovered and vulnerable to serious injury. Vehicles are simply much larger and faster. When speed, distracted driving, and other factors are added in, bicyclists face considerable hazards.
And these factors are common in Washington, D.C. The metropolitan area is well-known for its traffic congestion and irresponsible drivers. Even though bicyclists have the right to use the road, not all motorists know the law. Collisions aren’t the only way that bicyclists can be injured, either. A car may brush up against a bicyclist and cause that individual to lose control of the bike. There are also cases of road rage and physical assaults committed by angry and impatient motorists. The at-fault party may not even be a motorist.
These are some common physical injuries that bicyclists face when they get into an accident:
- Traumatic brain injury
- Spinal cord injury
- Bone fractures
- Road rash
- Internal organ damage
This is to say nothing of the mental and emotional toll that bicycle accident victims sometimes face. Fortunately, these may be recoverable damages in a later personal injury trial.
Understanding The Causes Of Bicycle Accidents
If you’ve been hurt in a bicycle accident because of a negligent driver or other party, careful planning is the key to effectively pursuing a personal injury lawsuit. And part of that planning requires laying out how exactly the driver or other party (as defendant) was negligent. There are generally four elements that have to be proven to win a bicycle accident claim in Washington, D.C.:
- Duty – that the defendant owed you a duty of reasonable care in how they conducted themselves
- Breach – that because of some negligent act or omission the defendant violated that duty
- Causation – this directly caused harm to you
- Damages – thereby causing you to suffer losses for which you may be compensated
Of these elements, breach is typically the most contested one. The defendant, his or her insurance company, and his or her attorney will likely deny responsibility by trying to disprove evidence of negligence. That means it’s up to the bicycle accident victim to show how the defendant breached the duty of care. Some examples of negligence are:
- Distracted driving due to cell phone use, the radio, disruptive passengers, and more
- Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol
- A driver not checking his or her blind spots
- Speeding, running red lights, and other traffic violations
- Defective traffic lights and signals
- Poor road conditions such as potholes and unmarked lines
- Mechanical problems and other defects with the bicycle itself
- Failure to allow bicyclists to share the road
- Road rage and other aggressive driving
Possible Defendants In A Washington D.C. Bicycle Accident Case
Since bicyclists come in contact with so many potential hazards, there are several different parties who could be named as defendants in an accident lawsuit. Some of those are:
- Bus drivers
- Train operators
- Other bicyclists
- Governmental entities
- Bicycle manufacturers
- Bicycle parts manufacturers
There could even be several different parties who may ultimately share liability. Your attorney should investigate the facts surrounding your case and explain who could potentially be brought in as a defendant.
Steps To Take After A Washington D.C. Bicycle Accident
If you were involved in a bicycle accident, get medical attention first by calling 911. This is critical not only for your health but to protect your legal right to compensation. Accident victims often believe their injuries are minor or non-existent, only to have them grow worse in subsequent days. By failing to obtain medical attention immediately after the accident, the victim may aggravate his or her injuries. This allows the defendant to try to shift blame to the victim and complicate efforts to recover damages. Even if you think you weren’t hurt, let a physician make the call.
When law enforcement arrives on scene, make a police report. Give as much information as you can about the accident to the officer. The police report contains valuable details about the bicycle accident, so get a copy of it as soon as you can.
Then, make your own notes about what happened. Start gathering the evidence you can like taking photos of the accident, speaking to witnesses, and getting copies of your medical records. The more information you have, the better. But it’s essential to take this step early on so you and witnesses don’t forget what happened.
Finally, talk to an aggressive personal injury lawyer. That’s where we come in.
Contact A Washington, D.C. Bicycle Accident Attorney
Bicyclists shouldn’t have to worry that someone else’s negligent behavior will put them at risk of serious injury. We’re a Washington, D.C. personal injury law firm that’s dedicated to the legal rights of victims. If you were in a bicycle accident, give Koonz McKenney Johnson & DePaolis LLP a call now.