One of the biggest perks of living in Washington DC is that residents can enjoy easy access to work, entertainment, and nightlife around the city. In recent years, many people bike to their destinations to avoid city traffic. In fact, WTOP News reports that by 2015, around 13,000 DC residents biked to work every day, making the District comparable to the extremely bike-friendly city, San Francisco.
DC officials worked to make the city safe for both bikes and motorists. One of the ways they did so was by creating Capital Bikeshare, Washington DC’s first bikeshare program. For a modest monthly fee, riders can rent a bike to get from one destination to another. The bike is returned to a bikeshare station after the ride. It is a great tool for a DC commuter who doesn’t want to store a bike in a small apartment. It is also very convenient for the tourist who wants to get to know the city.
Capital Bikeshare allows anyone to ride at any time and has been great for the residents of Washington DC. However, with an uptick in biking comes with an uptick in bike accidents. In 2014, Washington City Paper reported that there had been 95 crashes since Capital Bikeshare’s program began four years earlier. Since bicyclists don’t have the same protection as someone driving a motor vehicle, even a minor bike accident can cause devastating injuries to the bicyclist.
If you or your loved one were injured in a bikeshare accident in Washington DC, you have rights to compensation for your physical and emotional injuries. The expert bicycle accident lawyers at Regan Zambri Long have a history of securing millions for their clients. Call today for a free consultation with a DC bicycle accident attorney for legal advice on how to move forward in the claims process.
What is Capital Bikeshare?
Capital Bikeshare is a bike sharing service that opened in Washington DC in 2010. Today it serves seven jurisdictions in the DC Metro Area: Washington DC, Arlington, VA, Alexandria, VA, Montgomery County, MD, Prince George’s County, MD, Fairfax County, VA, and the City of Falls Church, VA.
Capital bikeshare has 4,500 bikes and over 500 stations. Lyft, the car rideshare program, now offers bikes through Capital Bikeshare too. Members can unlock a bike at any available station, ride to their destination, and then easily return the bike. There are both classic manual pedal bikes and pedal assist electric bikes available for use.
Understanding the Different Types of Bicycle Accidents
Many people are familiar with different types of car crashes: head-on collisions, rear-end accidents, side-impact crashes, etc. However, because cycling has just recently grown as a key source of transportation, it is important to understand the common types of bicycle crashes:
Intersection and Right of Way Accident
One of the most common causes of Washington DC bicycle accidents are negligence and ignorance when it comes to who has the right of way in intersections. The Washington DC right of way law states that the driver of a vehicle and a person on a bicycle have the same rights and duties when it comes to right of way. Therefore, if the bicycle rider has the right of way at the intersection, then the motorist is obligated to allow the bicycle to proceed first. However, if the motorist has the right of way, the cyclist is the one who has to yield.
Another problem with intersections is that drivers simply don’t see a bicyclist on the road. Since bikes have a lower profile than cars, if the driver is even slightly distracted, bikers are more easily missed at intersections than regular cars. When the driver doesn’t see the biker, it can lead to the car driving directly into the bicyclist at the intersection, causing serious injury to the rider.
A left-cross accident occurs when a motorist makes a left hand turn across oncoming traffic and hits a bicyclist traveling in the opposite direction. This type of accident happens when a driver is looking only for oncoming cars, and doesn’t see or pay attention to the bike lane in the distance.
A right-hook accident is when a motorist makes a right hand turn and hits a cyclist who is traveling in the same direction. This happens often at intersections, when right of way is questioned by the driver. It is also common when motorists leave parking lots or driveways. These accidents can be due to distracted driving or the driver simply not seeing the bicyclist.
These types of accidents happen when a car driver opens a parked car door suddenly and an oncoming biker is unable to swerve
out of the way or stop in time before hitting it. It is very hazardous in city areas like DC and can cause serious injuries to the biker, who can be thrown over the open door.
Sideswipe accidents are when motorists veer out of their lane and into the bike lane, sideswiping the rider. Sideswipes can also happen when motorists misjudge the amount of space between their car and the bike.
These accidents can happen when a motorist does not stop behind a cyclist at a traffic light or stop sign. Distracted driving plays a major role in these accidents, as well as motorists simply not seeing a cyclist in front of them. Rear-end collisions cause the vehicle to overtake the cyclist and can cause severe injuries to the rider, especially if he or she falls under the vehicle.
Causes of Bicycle Accidents
There are several factors that play into these types of accidents. Distracted driving is a major problem among motorists in Washington DC and across the country. Drivers can easily miss pedestrians and cyclists when they are not completely focused on the road. Distracted cycling is also becoming a problem in DC. Cyclists using headphones may not hear oncoming traffic, or beeping. If the cyclist is texting while biking, they will not be able to react in time to prevent an accident.
Aggressive driving also plays a role in bicycle accidents. Motorists who are impatient with city traffic will tailgate, swerve in and out of lanes, and speed. Finally, driving while impaired can be lethal to bicycle riders. In 2018, 32% of vehicle crashes in Washington DC were due to drunk driving.
The Regan Zambri Long bicycle accident lawyers have a deep understanding of the problems bikers face while sharing the road with motorists. They offer a no obligation consultation to accident victims who want to pursue legal action against the motorist who caused the accident.
Types of Injuries from Bicycle Accidents
Bike riders are in more danger than regular motorists because they do not have the protection of a motor vehicle around them. Therefore, even going at moderate speeds, cyclists can sustain serious and even permanently debilitating injuries when they collide with a motorist. The most common type of injuries victims of bike accidents sustain are:
Traumatic Brain Injury: Traumatic brain injuries or TBIs are when a major injury affects how the brain works. Symptoms can range from minor cognitive delays all the way to seizures and coma. Traumatic brain injuries can be permanently debilitating, leaving the victim unable to work. They can occur with or without the use of helmets, though it is always safer to wear one while cycling. A DC bicycle crash lawyer will work to collect compensation for a TBI and ensure that the insurance company will not try to reduce your settlement in the event that a helmet was not worn.
Spinal Cord Injury: Spinal cord injuries can be life-threatening. They occur when the impact of colliding with a vehicle causes damage to the neck and spinal cords. Results from spinal cord injuries could be permanent paralysis.
Bone Fractures: Because the cyclist is not protected by a car’s structure, it is more likely they will suffer broken bones or fractures in a bike accident. Broken bones can result in extremely high medical expenses, including surgeries and physical therapy. Depending on the severity of the break, it can also cause the victim to lose time at work due to extensive healing times. If can even cause permanent disability.
Nerve, Muscle, and Tissue Damage: The impact of the accident could result in extensive lacerations and degloving injuries. Degloving injuries are when large pieces of skin are either partially or completely ripped away from the body. Oftentimes, these types of injuries are very serious and can cause long-term effects to the victim.
Wrongful Death: Unfortunately, there are many cases where injuries from a bike accident can be so significant that the accident causes wrongful death. This is especially true with higher speed crashes.
Any of these injuries can create financial stress on the victim and the family. Medical bills could include ambulance rides, ER visits, hospital stays, rehabilitation, physical and occupational therapy, lost wages, and loss of future income. There will also be sudden expenses to repair or replace the bike, especially if that was the main mode of transportation. The Regan Zambri Long personal injury law firm will guide you through the claims process and work to ensure you receive maximum compensation to help offset medical bills and property damages.
Preventing a DC Bicycle Accident
Not every bicycle accident can be prevented. However, when bikers follow basic safety measures, stay aware of their surroundings, and adhere to Washington DC laws, then if an accident does occur, there is a better chance that the injuries will be minimal or even prevented altogether.
While riding in Washington DC, bikers should always:
- Wear a properly fitted bicycle helmet.
- Use hand signals when turning or switching lanes.
- Use the designated bike lanes.
- Obey all traffic laws.
- Wear bright and reflective clothing.
- At night, use a bike light and reflectors.
- Ride with traffic, not against traffic.
- Use rear-view mirrors on your bike.
Motorists play a role in making the roads safe for everyone, as well. While driving in Washington DC, motorists should:
- Yield to pedestrians and cyclists in the crosswalk when turning on red.
- Check for cyclists first before turning right across a bike lane. Carefully merge into the bike lane and then make the right-hand turn.
- When turning left or right, check for pedestrians and bicyclists.
- Do not park or drive in designated bike lanes.
- Know that outside the DC Central Business District, cyclists are allowed on all streets and sidewalks, so take proper precautions.
Help you need after a bike crash in Washington DC
The Regan Zambri Long bicycle accident lawyers will take the burden of the claims process off your plate so you can focus on recovering. The attorneys will work to determine the at fault party and prove negligence by investigating the accident scene. They will speak to witnesses, research laws and insurance policies, and discover relevant information in order to recover damages from the bicycle accident. Regan Zambri Long attorneys do not work on a retainer, so you will not pay until you receive a settlement or verdict in your favor.
Insurance companies are notorious for offering very low settlements to their clients after a bicycle accident. The Regan Zambri Long bicycle accident attorneys have a deep knowledge and understanding of various insurance policies and DC Metro Area laws.They will help you recover damages for medical bills, lost wages, mental anguish and suffering, wrongful death, and noneconomic damages. Contact Regan Zambri Long today for a free consultation regarding your case.
Bike Accidents FAQs
What are Washington DC bike laws?
A: The DC Department of Transportation offers a helpful pocket guide to various bike laws in the DC Metro Area, including the laws on sidewalk biking, cell phone use on a bike, and registering your bike in the District. A general rule for cyclists to follow is to be aware of their surroundings, ride with traffic not against, and always wear a properly fitted safety helmet.
Where can I bike safely Washington DC?
A: Since the uptick in biking in the DC Metro Area, there are several bike trails within the city. They are marked “easy” to “hard” and are the safest place for bikers to ride. The DC Department of Transportation also offers a bike map guide for bicyclists.
Where can I ride a bike in the Capital Bikeshare program?
A: Capital Bikeshare has over 4,000 bikes available across 500 bike stations in Washington DC, Virginia, and Maryland. Riders are able to ride the bikeshare bikes across the serviced areas in the Metro area. Each ride is only 30 minutes, so it’s a good idea to stay close to a station in order to avoid being charged an extra fee.
What is Contributory Negligence and will it affect my claim?
A: Contributory Negligence is a law practiced in Washington DC that states if the victim of the bicycle accident is at all responsible for the accident – even a percentage – then he or she cannot recover compensation. Contributory negligence is also practiced in Virginia and Maryland and will have an effect on bicycle accident cases there, as well. Be sure to speak with a Regan Zambri Long bicycle accident lawyer before you file a personal injury lawsuit so they can help determine that the other party was at fault.
How quickly should I file a bicycle accident lawsuit?
A: Legal claims after a bicycle accident should be filed right away since injuries can worsen or change over time. The quicker a suit is filed, the quicker you can recover compensation for medical expenses and property damage. The Washington DC statute of limitations on personal injury suits is 3 years. Speak to a Regan Zambri Long bicycle accident lawyer today to start the claims process right away.