Bicycle Accident Lawyer in Harrisonburg
Bicycle riding is a popular form of transportation and recreation that allows riders to enjoy the scenery of the Shenandoah Valley. But even the most experienced cyclists are at risk of injuries when sharing Harrisonburg roads with cars and trucks. While bicycle helmets and reflective clothing can help keep cyclists safe, bikes offer little protection if a cyclist is hit by a negligent motorist.
The Harrisonburg bicycle accident lawyers at Kendall Law Firm are ready to help if you’ve been hurt by someone else’s recklessness or carelessness. Our firm has more than 30 years of combined legal experience, including founding attorney David Kendall’s service as a military lawyer in the U.S. Marine Corps. Kendall Law Firm has received professional recognition and positive reviews, including a 4.9-star rating on Google and an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau.
We’ve helped our clients secure millions of dollars for their injuries caused by the carelessness or negligence of others. If you or your loved one has been injured in a Harrisonburg bicycle accident caused by a driver, let us help you evaluate your legal options. Call our Harrisonburg office or visit our contact page for a free initial consultation.
Common Causes of Bicycle Accidents in Harrisonburg
Bike accidents are a serious issue in Harrisonburg and across the state of Virginia. There were nine bicycle accidents involving reportable injuries in Harrisonburg in 2019. Every serious bicycle accident takes a significant toll on the victim and their families.
Bicycle accidents can occur for a wide range of reasons. Some of the most common causes of bicycle accidents include:
- Drivers going above the speed limit or too fast for road conditions, preventing them from seeing or avoiding a crash with a cyclist.
- Drivers failing to watch out for cyclists on the road. In particular, many drivers don’t properly check their mirrors and blind spots before merging or changing lanes, causing them to collide with a nearby cyclist.
- Drivers failing to yield to cyclists when the cyclist has the right of way.
- Drivers going too quickly through school zones or other areas where children might be riding their bikes.
- Drivers failing to give cyclists enough space when passing, even though state law requires that they give the cyclist at least three feet of space.
- Drivers following too closely behind cyclists.
- Drivers failing to use their turn signals when making a turn in front of a cyclist.
- Drivers and passengers opening their doors without checking to see if a cyclist is approaching.
- Drivers distracted while making a phone call, sending or reading a text message, or adjusting the music in their car.
- Drivers being impaired by alcohol or drugs.
Bicycle Accident Injuries
Even though bicycle accidents are much less common than car accidents, bicycle accidents often result in greater injuries to cyclists.
Automobiles are much bigger and heavier than bikes. Even a small sedan weighs around 3,000 pounds. This weight disparity between and a car and a bicycle means that the cyclist is likely to sustain the brunt of the injuries in a collision with a motor vehicle. Large SUVs can weigh about 5,000 to 6,000 pounds, meaning they strike with even greater force.
Another reason that bicycle accidents often result in more severe injuries is that bikes offer little protection to riders. When two cars collide, everyone inside both vehicles is protected by the frame of the vehicle as well as safety devices such as seatbelts and airbags.
A cyclist who is hit by a car has no metal frame to provide protection. Instead, the cyclist will absorb the full force of the impact directly. Being struck by a car is likely to cause a cyclist to be thrown from the bike onto the road or roadside, which can lead to further injuries.
Some of the most common injuries that result from bicycle accidents include:
Bike Safety in Harrisonburg
It’s important for both drivers and cyclists to take precautions to prevent crashes. While Virginia does not have a state law requiring cyclists to wear helmets, cities and counties are allowed to set their own rules. Some require anyone 14 and under to wear a bicycle helmet while riding. According to the Virginia Department of Transportation, Harrisonburg is among those cities that require cyclists age 14 and under to wear helmets.
Bicyclists in Virginia are required to follow certain rules and regulations. They include:
- Bicyclists have the same rights and responsibilities as any motor vehicle on the roads.
- Bicyclists must use proper hand signals indicating when they’re making a turn or stopping.
- Bicyclists are not allowed to wear earphones in both ears while riding.
- A front headlamp is required when riding a bicycle between sunset and sunrise, and it must be visible from at least 500 feet away. A red rear reflector is also required, and it must be visible from at least 600 feet away.
- If you’re riding your bike on a road with a speed limit of 35 mph or higher, you must also have a red taillight that’s visible from at least 500 feet away.
- Bicyclists are allowed to ride their bikes on certain highways, as long as they stay in the rightmost lane of traffic. Cyclists are not allowed to ride on interstate highways, though.
- Bicyclists on shared-used paths must come to a complete stop at marked crosswalks before entering the crosswalk.
- On shared-use paths that cross highways and don’t have marked crosswalks or other traffic controls, bicyclists do not have to come to a full stop, but they must not impede oncoming traffic when entering the road.
- Two bicyclists can share a lane of traffic, as long as doing so does not impede the flow of traffic. More than two cyclists cannot share a lane.
- Bicyclists can ride on sidewalks, as long as doing so is not prohibited by any local laws. But they must yield the right-of-way to pedestrians and give an audible signal when passing pedestrians.
In addition to following these rules, here are a few more general safety tips for cyclists:
- Wear a helmet! A helmet may save your life in the event of an accident, and it can prevent traumatic brain injuries. As these injuries generally cannot be reversed, prevention is your best course of action.
- Consider wearing reflective clothing while riding, especially at night. A lack of visibility is one of the most common causes of bicycle accidents. It’s generally a good idea to do anything you can to make yourself more visible to nearby drivers.
- You can register your bike with your local police department or sheriff’s office. Doing so can make it easier for first responders to identify you and your bike in the event of an emergency if you can’t talk or otherwise communicate.
- Make sure you check your bike before you ride. Pay particular attention to your brakes and tires.
Your Rights After a Bicycle Accident
If you’ve been hurt in a bicycle accident, you have the right to pursue compensation for your injuries. If necessary, you can file a lawsuit to protect your rights and collect compensation for your injuries from the driver who hit you.
This compensation includes money for things like:
- Your past and future medical bills
- Any missed wages while you were recovering from your injuries
- Your reduced capacity to work and earn a living, depending on the extent of your injuries
- Any property that was damaged or destroyed in the accident
- Your physical pain and suffering
- Any mental anguish you’ve suffered as a result of the accident
You will have a better chance of recovering compensation for your injuries if you are represented by a bicycle accident lawyer. This is because Virginia uses a doctrine known as pure contributory negligence in personal injury lawsuits. Essentially, this doctrine states that someone cannot recover any compensation for their injuries if they were in any way responsible for causing the accident in which they were injured.
If the driver who hit you can demonstrate that you were partly responsible for causing the crash, you will be denied your chance to recover compensation. However, an experienced bicycle injury lawyer at Kendall Law Firm knows how to counter attempts to shift the blame to the cyclist. Our attorneys will stand up for your rights and present evidence to show who was to blame for your injuries.
Contact a Harrisonburg Bike Accident Attorney
At Kendall Law Firm, a compassionate, dedicated bicycle accident lawyer is standing by to help you get the money you deserve for your injuries. Learn more about how we can help by calling our office or visiting our contact page.