When you ride your bike in a protected lane, you generally assume that you do not have to worry about aggressive or absent-minded drivers who cut off cyclists at the slightest opportunity. The unfortunate truth, however, is that even protected bike lanes cannot protect you from careless drivers who believe that they always have the right of way – no matter where they are.
Last month, a cyclist was injured by a driver on the Second Avenue protected lane. Statistically speaking, it is one of the thousands of crashes involving cyclists and motorists that take place every year in NYC. On closer observation, this case shows why cyclists need to be on their guard – even when they are riding their bike in places which are specifically designated for them.
The Accident Spot
Despite the fact that it is a protected lane, the Second Avenue bike lane was considered a dangerous route for cyclists for a long time due to the infamous Second Avenue gap – also referred to as the ‘degeneration gap’. Many people believed that the lack of protective infrastructure in the Second Avenue gap increased the risk of bike crashes significantly.
Thankfully, the gap was closed by the Department of Transportation last year as part of their overall efforts to make the city’s roadways safer for cyclists. Still, the lane is too narrow to accommodate the large number of cyclists who use the route on a daily basis. As a result, it is not uncommon to see cyclists gathering on the cement island and waiting for their turn to enter the lane, where they are required to ride in single file.
How the Accident Took Place
On the 10th of December, the cyclist in question was riding his bike in the painted bike lane. A car was parked (illegally – it should be noted, since it is not a designated parking space) adjacent to the bike lane.
Another car (a white Tesla) – which was trying to turn into the parking garage near the lane – made a left turn and crashed into the cyclist. The impact of the crash caused the cyclist to flip over the car’s hood and land on the road.
One of the onlookers called 911 immediately and the EMTs arrived at the scene within a few minutes. Thankfully, the cyclist did not seem to have sustained serious injuries. He was conscious and was able to move all his limbs without any difficulty. Still, he stated that he felt immense pain in his lungs and back. He was loaded into the ambulance and taken to the nearest medical facility.
Two things should be noted here.
First, there can be no doubt about the fact that the illegally parked car made it difficult for the driver in question to see the cyclist. It goes to show that even something as inconsequential as illegal parking can contribute to serious accidents.
Secondly, and more importantly, the driver in question should have been more careful while turning into the parking garage. When questioned by the officers who were at the accident scene, the driver merely claimed that she did not see the cyclist.
While it might be true, the driver did fail to exercise due care and yield to the cyclist, which makes her the party primarily responsible for the accident. Surely it is not unreasonable to expect drivers to slow down and look for cyclists before making a turn right into a bike lane?
The Aftermath of the Accident
The saddest part of the story is that the officers at the scene of the bicycle accident let the at-fault driver go without even issuing a ticket. At the very least, the driver should have been issued a ticket for failing to yield the right-of-way to the cyclist. While it is not much of a punishment, it would have added three points to the driver’s license, which might have served as a reminder for the driver to take the rules of the road a bit more seriously.
Unfortunately, it did not happen, which means the driver is probably under the assumption that she did nothing wrong. This is not an isolated incident, as there have been many cases in the past where the at-fault driver was not issued a ticket by the authorities. The reason given by the authorities in such cases is that they have the right to issue – or not issue – a ticket – based on whether they believe the driver deserves to be ticketed or not.
Why Bike Accidents Should Be Taken Seriously
Cyclists are among the most vulnerable groups of road users – second only to pedestrians – due to the fact they are unprotected for the most part – except for the helmet they wear.
In the event of a crash involving a motor vehicle, there is no telling what kind of injuries a cyclist might suffer. In the aforementioned case, the driver was not speeding or driving recklessly. She had slowed down considerably, as she was trying to make a turn. Yet the force of the impact caused the driver to flip over the car’s hood and land right on his head.
The most common types of injuries resulting from a crash between a bicycle and a motor vehicle include:
- Ruptured discs
- Bone fractures
- Neurological damage
- Crush injuries
- Spine injuries
- Brain injuries
Consequences of Bicycle Accidents
The consequences of a bicycle accident are three-fold.
- Your health insurance plan might not be sufficient to pay for your treatment – especially if you have suffered serious injuries. As a result, your family might be forced to pay the difference, which might not be easy – considering the fact that the cost of medical care in New York can be astronomically high.
- It might take you several days, weeks, or even months to recover completely from your injuries. The prolonged absence from work and the resulting loss of income can make it extremely difficult for your family to meet their day-to-day expenses – particularly if you happen to be the breadwinner.
- Depending on the nature and severity of your injuries, you might be left with a physical and/or mental disability, which might affect your ability to work again. In some cases, you might not be able to work for the rest of your life. Also, you might require lifelong care – the cost of which can be quite significant.
How a New York Personal Injury Attorney Can Help You
According to Article 51 of the Insurance Law, a person who suffers a serious injury has the right to sue the person who caused their injuries and seek an appropriate amount of compensation.
The term ‘serious injury’ refers to any kind of injury that results in:
- Significant disfigurement
- Bone fractures
- Loss of a fetus
- Significant limitation of use of a body organ, member, function, or system
- Permanent loss of use of a body organ, member, function, or system
Apart from this, any injury that renders you unable to perform your day-to-day activities for a period of 90 days or longer also qualifies as a serious injury under New York law.
An experienced New York personal injury attorney can bring a claim against the at-fault party (the person who caused your injuries) and recover compensatory damages for the tangible and intangible losses you suffered as a result of your injuries.
RMFW Law Firm – Experienced Personal Injury Attorneys in New York
In this particular case, the victim contacted our law firm quickly after the accident, which allowed us to gather all the information and evidence we needed to build a case against the at-fault driver.
While the at-fault driver was not issued a ticket by the authorities, it does not have any bearing on the personal injury lawsuit, as it is a civil case and the driver’s culpability does not have to be proven beyond reasonable doubt.
In order to recover damages, the following things need to be established.
- The driver was required to exercise due care (which she failed to do)
- The driver was required to yield the right-of-way to the cyclist (which she failed to do)
- The driver’s failure to exercise due care resulted in the accident (easily proven by the available evidence)
- The cyclist sustained injuries directly as a result of the accident (again, easily proven by the available evidence)
While the cyclist in this case did the right thing by contacting us right after the accident, many injury victims fail to do so. The longer you wait to contact us, the more difficult it might be for us to gather the incriminating evidence we need. So, if you are injured, contact us right away – even if you believe your injuries are not severe enough to warrant a personal injury lawsuit.
The trial attorneys at Rosenberg, Minc, Falkoff & Wolff, LLP have decades of experience in handling personal injury cases – from bicycle accidents to commercial vehicle accidents. Since 1922, we have recovered over a billion dollars in verdicts and settlements for injury victims in New York.
We can gather the evidence and the testimonials needed to establish the at-fault party’s negligence, accurately calculate the value of the losses you suffered, and recover the compensation you deserve – through negotiated settlement or litigation.
Call us today at 212-344-1000 or contact us online for a free review of your case. We work on a contingency basis. So, you do not have to pay us a cent unless we win your case and recover compensation.