With the arrival of spring, more and more Albertans will be getting outside to enjoy the warmer weather. Given that we are still under COVID-19 travel bans and restrictions, an outdoor activity, such as cycling, is the perfect way to enjoy the outdoors, exercise and travel. Fortunately, the city of Calgary offers more than 550km of pathways and 260km of on-street bikeways.
The legal team at Cuming & Gillespie LLP are encouraging all drivers to use extra caution while sharing the roadway this spring with cyclists and remember that bicyclists have most of the same rights and responsibilities as other motorists.
MOST COMMON CAUSES OF BICYCLE ACCIDENTS
Determining the cause of a bicycle accident is the first step in holding another party responsible for causing the accident and causing your damages. The following are the most common causes of bicycle accidents:
Distracted driving is the leading cause for all roadway accidents, including those between motor vehicles and bicycles. Both drivers and cyclists are to blame for being distracted by talking on their phone, texting, and some cyclists even talk to other cyclists while travelling. Paying attention to anything other than the road, vehicles and current surroundings is significantly more likely to cause dangerous collisions.
Speed is a factor in many roadway accidents, including those involving bicycles. Drivers who are speeding have less time to react and this can lead to catastrophic consequences for cyclists.
Sudden Lane Shifting
When car drivers weave through traffic, cyclists may go unnoticed resulting in a major accident. Cyclists in these situations are less likely to be able to make evasive maneuvers to avoid collisions. Drivers that tend to weave through traffic often drift outside of traffic lanes and into bike lanes and shoulders.
In some cases, cyclists driving recklessly and shifting lanes suddenly without looking carefully and not maintaining a safe distance from other motor vehicles can be the ones to cause an accident.
Violation of Traffic Rules
The violation of traffic rules is one of the major causes of intersection collisions. Some car drivers and cyclists violate the rules of the road and this can cause serious accidents. It is reasonable to expect that motorists will follow the traffic rules and yield the right of way, however, cyclists should never assume that a driver will do so.
Dooring accidents occur when a cyclist runs into a car door which has been opened into his/her path. This commonly takes place on busy streets with heavier traffic that forces cyclists to ride closer to parked vehicles. It is the responsibility of drivers to make sure that they check their surroundings prior to exiting their vehicles.
Drugs and Alcohol
On average, 4 Canadians are killed and 175 are injured every day due to impaired driving. When it comes to impaired driving, bicyclists are at an even greater risk of dire consequences due to the limited protection they have.
Bad weather, such as torrential downpours, sleet, ice or snow, can be the cause of a motor vehicle accident. Bicyclists who are travelling in these adverse weather conditions should be sure to wear reflective clothing or have a headlight to make their presence known to other roadway users.
These type of accidents occur when a motor vehicle hits a bike rider from behind. It is essential for cyclists to have a red rear light and to wear reflective clothing when riding at night to ensure they are visible in dim conditions. It is also essential that drivers pay attention to the road in front of them and watch out for cyclists, especially when going around curves.
Right Hook Crashes
When a driver attempts to make a right hand turn, but does not check for an oncoming cyclist, a right hook crash can occur. This type of situation gives a cyclist little to no time to respond and often results in a serious accident.
BICYCLE ACCIDENTS AND SECTION B INSURANCE BENEFITS
Cyclists, like pedestrians, are vulnerable roadway users and the injuries that they suffer following a collision with a motor vehicle can be very serious, and even fatal. The physical and psychological injuries of a motor vehicle versus bicycle accident are life-altering.
The following are common injuries that can ensue following an accident between a car and a bicycle:
- Facial injuries;
- Cuts and bruises;
- Neck injuries;
- Spinal cord injuries;
- Concussions and head injuries;
- Internal injuries;
- Psychological injuries;
- Broken bones and other orthopaedic injuries;
- Amputations; or
In Alberta, motor vehicle insurance policies contain “no fault” accident benefits referred to as “Section B Benefits”, meaning that your right to claim them does not depend upon whether or not you were at fault for the accident that caused your injuries. These benefits cover certain expenses related to medical treatments, disability and death.
As long as the driver of the motor vehicle had valid Alberta driver’s insurance at the time of the accident, an injured cyclist is entitled to have a portion of his/her medical treatments paid for under Section B Benefits. An injured cyclist may also be entitled to a maximum weekly disability benefit of $400 after seven days of disability for up to 104 weeks if he/she is “wholly and continuously disabled” and “such injury prevents you from performing any and every duty pertaining to your occupation or employment”.
Each bicycle accident is unique and the consequences of the accident can drastically impact the injured cyclist physically, psychologically and financially. An experienced personal injury lawyer can help provide options to file a personal injury claim.
If you or a loved one have been injured while riding your bicycle as a result of another party’s negligence, do not hesitate to contact the experienced and award winning personal injury lawyers at Cuming & Gillespie LLP. Please contact our office for a free case evaluation online or by calling 403-571-0555. We look forward to helping you obtain the compensation that you deserve.