Nevada’s warm, sunny, and dry climate encourages bicycle riding for many months of the year. Many people in Reno ride bicycles for recreation and exercise, and it is also popular as a method of commuting to work. Over 50 miles of bicycle lanes and 500 curb ramps have been added to the Reno-Sparks area since 2011, reflecting governmental support for the sustainability and quality-of-life benefits of bicycling. In the Lake Tahoe region in particular, biking is a popular recreational activity.
Unfortunately, bicyclists are very vulnerable in the event of a traffic accident. In the United States overall, roughly 1,000 people each year die in bicycle accidents, while 467,000 are injured, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Nevada ranks twenty-sixth among all states in the number of bicycle accident-related deaths, with an average of four people killed every year.
Cars and trucks are, of course, much larger and heavier than bicycles, so the impact of a crash is often extremely injurious to the bicyclist, at times even throwing them from the bike into the street. Motorcycles are also much heavier than a bicycle and thus also pose a danger. Nevada law does not require the wearing of bicycle helmets; however, a bicyclist not wearing a helmet runs the risk of catastrophic injuries in the event of a collision.
If you or a loved one have been injured in a bicycle accident, get in touch with an experienced Reno Bicycle Accident Lawyer at Benson & Bingham Accident Injury Lawyers today. We can advise you of your rights and advocate vigilantly for the justice you deserve.
How Bicycle Accidents Occur
In general, drivers of other vehicles should recognize bicycles as vehicles, granting them the right of way and yielding when appropriate.
But all too often, drivers of cars and other vehicles don’t view bicycles in the same way that they view larger vehicles. A car driver might not be conscious of seeing a bicycle waiting to pull out and make a left turn, for example. When the bicyclist does pull out, the car may not stop or slow in time to avoid a collision.
Bicyclists are subject to many types of accidents due to this unique tendency of drivers to overlook bikes. Bicycles that ride alongside parked cars, for example, run the risk of being involved in a dooring accident, where an occupant in a parked car opens the door right in front of the bicyclist. All too many occupants don’t even think to look for an approaching bicycle, or they overlook them if they do.
Many children and teenagers ride bicycles to school and around their neighborhoods. Children between the ages of five and 14 and adolescents between 15 and 19 are the most frequently injured bicyclists. Drivers in residential areas and near schools should slow down and make sure they are driving safely when they see a bicyclist, but all too frequently, they forget. Going over the speed limit or too fast for conditions is a leading cause of bicycle accidents.
Alcohol is involved in about 37 percent of bicycle accidents, either on the part of the driver or of the cyclist, or both, according to the CDC.
Furthermore, bicycle accidents are more frequent in urban spaces and outside of marked intersections. They also occur more frequently at night and during inclement weather.
Who Is Responsible If I’m Hurt in an Accident?
Responsibility in a bicycle accident is determined in the same way as in all other vehicle accidents. All drivers, of any vehicle, owe the public a duty of care. That duty of care includes obeying all traffic laws and safely and sensibly operating their vehicles.
Drivers who cause an accident, because they have either violated the law or are not following safe and sensible principles while driving, are said to have breached their duty of care. Such a breach is negligent behavior, and it means that a court may find the driver liable for damages caused in the accident.
Laws regarding bicycles, which are covered in the Nevada Statutes, are not necessarily the same as those in other states. Furthermore, some of the laws apply to motorists of other vehicles. Safe passing, for example, is the responsibility of the motorist, not of the bicyclist. A driver should move into a lane to the left and allow a minimum clearance of 3 feet between the vehicle and the bicycle.
All drivers of motor vehicles should yield to cyclists at intersections. Motor vehicle drivers should not drive in bike lanes unless they are turning (or there is an emergency necessitating it). Drivers also need to take special care if they are around inexperienced bicyclists, like children.
Other Nevada statues specifically concern bicyclists. Bicyclists need to follow all rules of the road. They should signal turns and stops with hands or arms. It is against the law to ride more than two abreast unless the bike is on a bike path, a bike lane, or another area specifically designated for bicycles. In a law designed to prevent dooring accidents, bicyclists are required to ride with a minimum distance of three feet between themselves and parked cars.
Other rules apply to bike safety. A bicyclist is required to have a light on the front that can be seen at least 500 away from the front. The light must be white and visible. Bicyclists are prohibited from carrying any packages or objects that result in either hand being off the handlebars.
What Injuries Can Occur in a Bicycle Accident?
Because of the risks of bicyclists being hit with a much larger and heavier vehicle or being thrown from the vehicle, injuries in such an accident can be extensive. Potential injuries include:
Fractured bones, which may require surgery
Amputation or loss of use of a limb
Scarring and disfigurement
Injuries to the head and brain, including skull fractures, concussions, and other traumatic brain injuries (TBIs)
Internal bleeding and organ damage
Injuries to the neck and back injuries, ranging from strains to herniated discs
Spinal cord injuries, which may cause loss of movement or sensation in the lower extremities
Soft tissue injuries, such as stretched or torn muscles, ligaments, and tendons
If you’ve been injured in a bicycle accident, Nevada law allows you to seek damages from the party responsible for the accident. In many cases, that means negotiating with a driver’s insurance company. A personal injury lawsuit is also possible as a remedy.
You can seek damages both for economic losses, such as doctors’ and other medical bills, and for wages lost from work. If the injuries are likely to require further medical care or rehabilitative care, you can seek compensation for that as well. If injuries have rendered you unable to work, you can also seek damages for loss of earnings capacity.
You can also seek damages for non-economic loss, such as pain and suffering, loss of consortium, mental anguish, and emotional distress.
How a Reno Bicycle Accident Lawyer Can Help
When you or a loved one are harmed in a bicycle accident in the Reno area, let us help. We also serve clients in Lake Tahoe, Sparks, and Carson City. We have the resources and experience to advise you, conduct an investigation if necessary, negotiate with insurance companies, and fight to see that justice is done. The first consultation is always free.
Contact Benson & Bingham Accident Injury Lawyers online or by calling (775) 600-6000.
“I recently flew home to Reno to visit my family and while at Costco I noticed a sign being installed for Benson & Bingham. I’m happy to see this as the firm helped me with my bicycle accident in Las Vegas 5 years ago (April 2014) when I was struck while riding home from work. Joe Benson helped me with my accident – I was referred to him since my older brother went to school with him at Wooster. Great to know they have a presence in Reno in case anyone I know is injured in accident.”
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