Some cities encourage their residents to ride bikes and walk around instead of driving everywhere. Seattle is one of those cities. For years, the city has had a reputation as one of the best bike-friendly cities in the United States. Yet, some cyclists believe the city can do more to make biking safer overall.
How dangerous is it for cyclists in Seattle? What are some problem areas for cyclists?
If you or a loved one suffered an injury in a Seattle bicycle accident, it is best to immediately speak with an experienced bicycle accident attorney. Protecting the rights of yourself or your loved one is vital to your total recovery and financial future.
According to the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT), 115 traffic collisions involved bikes in a recent year. While the number significantly decreased over the last three years, the number of fatalities from accidents was still high. In the same year, 24 people lost their lives in traffic collisions. Of those 24 people, 14 were either walking or riding bikes.
These statistics indicate an issue that Seattle has had for quite some time. While the city’s infrastructure supports biking and walking, some areas in Seattle aren’t safe for cyclists.
Motorists have a legal responsibility to drive their vehicles safely. This responsibility is even more critical when they share the road with cyclists. Compared to a bike, cars are heavy and powerful. They have an outer layer and many safety features that protect motorists from crashes and outside elements.
A car or truck can cause severe damage to a cyclist who has their entire body exposed in a collision. To a cyclist, it can feel like the equivalent of being hit by a tank. People often suffer multiple traumatic injuries when a vehicle hits them on a bike.
The most ironic part about bike accidents is that bike riders regularly face the blame for their own injuries. Insurance companies, in particular, may try to insinuate that the bike rider was acting negligently. More often than not, the driver’s recklessness caused the accident, not the cyclist.
Some of the most common reasons bike accidents happen are because the driver is speeding or failing to yield the right of way. These actions often happen because the driver was either impatient or inattentive. They may not have wanted to drive behind a slower cyclist, trying to pass them illegally or failing to yield the right of way at a busy intersection. In either case, driver negligence can cause serious harm to cyclists.
Cyclists aren’t even safe in residential or low-speed areas. A driver often hits a cyclist while trying to exit their vehicle. This often happens in areas where the driver parks and opens their door into a traffic lane where a cyclist is approaching.
Drivers may also hit cyclists while exiting parking lots for the same reason. A driver might be focusing on making their turn and getting home from work or the store, so they fail to notice an oncoming cyclist they should yield to.
One risk factor that may contribute to a bike accident in Seattle is the time of day. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), most bike accidents occur between 6 and 9 pm. These are usually the hours when traffic reaches its peak. It’s also the time of day when nighttime begins, and it’s harder to see. This is no excuse for drivers to fail to pay adequate attention to potential cyclists on the road.
Your bike accident may result in several serious injuries. Some severe injuries cyclists might suffer are spinal cord injuries, brain injuries, and broken bones. Every cyclist should seek immediate medical attention for their injuries. Never let the cost of treatment stop you from getting the diagnosis and care you need.
After your accident may cost you in other areas of your life. You may have to take time off from work and lose income. You may even have to consider searching for different types of employment if you can’t continue to perform your job duties. These are the types of sacrifices that you should receive compensation for after suffering an injury in a bicycle accident.
Just like any other accident, bike accidents can become deadly. Some cyclists lose their lives immediately following a collision. If this happens, surviving family members can seek compensation for wrongful death.
You can request compensation for your bike accident from the insurance company of the negligent driver. The insurance company will not make it easy, however, and adjusters will offer pennies on the dollar as initial settlement offers. You must know the full value of your damages before you start the process by discussing your claim with a bike accident lawyer. Otherwise, you risk accepting far less than you deserve and paying out of pocket for the rest of your losses.
Some of the damages you may have include lost earnings, medical expenses, pain and suffering, and property damage.
Lost earnings include the income you missed out on while recovering from your accident. You can request compensation for the days you must take off from work or future lost earnings if you cannot
You can also seek compensation for all the medical treatment and procedures you had to pay for because of your accident. As long as it is related to your accident, you can include it as one of your damages.
You can seek compensation for the physical and mental pain caused by your accident. This may include any mental disorders like anxiety, depression, and PTSD.
If your bike sustained serious damage in the accident, you can include that as property damage. You may also include the costs of purchasing another bike.
There are different legal routes you can take to obtain your compensation. Specifically, you can seek financial recovery through an insurance claim or by filing a personal injury lawsuit in civil court.
If your bike accident happened with another driver, you can file a claim with that person’s insurance company. This is similar to the steps you take when another driver hits your car.
Insurance companies provide coverage for these situations, but they are also companies that want to minimize payouts. It can be challenging to obtain the full amount your deserve, and you need a skilled professional handling all of your negotiations and communications with adjusters.
If the insurer offers a fair settlement, you can accept it, sign an agreement, receive the funds, and end your claim. However, you should never accept anything without first speaking to a bike accident attorney. Insurance adjusters regularly convince claimants to accept far less than they deserve, and you cannot seek more at a later date once your claim closes.
Insurers know they cannot use the same tactics when you have legal representation, and your attorney can advise whether each settlement offer is sufficient or not. The best way to get leverage against insurance companies is to hire a bicycle accident attorney as soon as possible. A lawyer should handle every communication with adjusters to ensure you do not accidentally say the wrong thing.
Sometimes, an insurance company will never admit what you deserve, and every settlement offer will be inadequate. When you have a skilled bike accident attorney, they can file a lawsuit against the negligent driver to escalate the matter. While the driver will be the defendant, their insurance company will defend against the lawsuit on their behalf.
Your attorney will handle the complex litigation process. Each side exchanges evidence, and settlement negotiations can be ongoing during litigation. Often, cases will settle out of court before a trial date, as the insurance company might not want to go to trial.
If your case does go to trial, you need an experienced litigator representing you and your rights before the judge or jury.
You should hire an attorney to help you with each of these options for seeking compensation.
Many people believe they can handle an insurance claim alone. However, they do not realize the insurer will use anything they say to minimize the claim. Even a brief conversation with an adjuster without legal guidance can put your claim in jeopardy.
Once you hire a lawyer, all the communications will go through the law firm. You do not need to speak with adjusters at all during the claim process. Your lawyer will present evidence, evaluate offers, and determine when the insurance process has come to a halt.
If your claim requires litigation in civil court, there are strict deadlines and procedures to adhere to. An experienced attorney will know how to handle every stop of the lawsuit process, including filing motions, engaging in discovery, and negotiating a potential settlement. Some claimants might participate in mediation before a trial date, and your lawyer can represent you during that process, as well.
Overall, seeking compensation for bike crash injuries is often much more challenging than accident victims expect. You should put 100 percent of your energy into your medical treatment and physical recovery. Allow a legal professional to protect your rights and seek compensation on your behalf.
Never pay out of your pocket for any expenses due to a bicycle accident that a driver caused. Seek a no-cost, no-obligation consultation with a personal injury lawyer as soon as possible.
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