Articles Posted in Bicycle Accidents and Defects

During the summer months, many drivers bring their bicycles with them on vacation. However, if drivers fail to properly secure their bikes, they place other motorists at risk of serious injury. If a bicycle detaches from a vehicle, other drivers or motorcyclists could crash into the bicycle at high speeds. A recent Indiana accident illustrates the complex web of injuries that can result from failing to properly secure a bicycle.

According to a recent news report, a fallen bike led to multiple vehicle crashes in Bartholomew County, Indiana. The accident occurred on I-65 when two vehicles struck a bicycle that fell from another vehicle driving south. A pack of motorcyclists then approached the bike, one person crashing into it. The driver of one of the two vehicles left his car to assist the motorcyclist. Sadly, another motorcyclist in the group struck the driver as he attempted to provide aid. The driver suffered serious injuries and was transported to the hospital by helicopter.

How Does Indiana Allocate Fault Among Multiple Parties?

Multi-vehicle accidents may involve more than one defendant, or the plaintiff may share some degree of fault. States follow three main approaches to allocate fault among multiple defendants. Indiana follows a system of pure several liability. Under this theory, a defendant can only be liable for damages proportionate to their degree of fault for the accident. For example, if the jury determines one defendant is 20% at fault, the defendant will not owe the plaintiff more than 20% of the total damages award. Pure several liability differs from joint-and-several liability, which places full responsibility on each defendant no matter their degree of fault.

Continue reading

Drivers and cyclists often occupy the same road. Consequently, distracted or reckless driving may end in a fatal accident. Both drivers and cyclists must act responsibly and stay vigilant on the road. However, the speed, size, and weight of a typical car will far exceed that of most bicycles, placing the cyclist at risk of severe injury or death when the two collide.

For example, when driving at night, it may be difficult for a driver to fully perceive their surroundings. As a result, someone who is speeding or driving recklessly may not see a cyclist or pedestrian on the road until it is too late. According to a recent news article, a cyclist was killed by a hit-and-run driver on the north side of Indianapolis on August 9. The victim, a 67-year-old woman, was riding north on Keystone Avenue at 32nd Street at night when she was struck by a car heading south. Rather than stopping to render assistance, the driver continued on, fleeing the accident. The victim was pronounced dead at the scene.

As the article reports, this hit-and-run is part of a string of deadly incidents on the streets of Indianapolis. In the first seven months of 2022, fatal accidents involving pedestrians and cyclists have approximated the total from all of 2021. Local police believe the uptick in accidents stems from speeding and reckless driving, which have increased since the COVID-19 pandemic.

The warmer months often bring an increasing use of bicycles. Although cycling is an important form of sustainable travel and can positively impact overall health, it also presents some unique dangers to road users. Cyclists, pedestrians, and motorcyclists are a vulnerable class of road users prone to serious injuries after an Indiana car accident.

A vulnerable road user refers to those who occupy space in an area dominated by larger vehicles, such as cars and trucks. As such, in an accident, these users are more likely to suffer fatal injuries because they are not enclosed inside a vehicle. For instance, a recent government agency reported a fatal accident between a biker and a sedan. The biker was peddling in a southbound lane around 10:00 p.m. when a sedan approached from the rear. The sedan and bicyclist attempted a lane change, and the front right of the sedan slammed into the biker, ejecting the biker into the opposite lane. The sedan driver then lost control of his vehicle and veered off the road and into a sign. The sedan driver then regained control but ultimately struck a tree. The bicyclist succumbed to his injuries at the hospital; the sedan driver did not suffer injuries in the incident.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) approximately 2 percent of motor vehicle fatalities involve bicyclists. A biker’s age, helmet use, speed of the car, and time of day are factors that influence the severity of an accident. While data indicates a decline in youth bicycle deaths, deaths among cyclists age 20 and older have tripled over 40 years. Moreover, the leading cause of bike-related deaths involves head injuries. Despite widespread knowledge regarding the importance of helmets, underutilization continues to be a problem.

One of the unexpected effects of the Covid-19 pandemic has been an increase in the number of cyclists taking to the road for transportation, recreation, and exercise. Cycling presents a healthy alternative to attending crowded (or closed) gyms, and is one of many individual activities that have become more popular in the age of social distancing. Along with the increase in cyclists on Indiana roads, traffic accidents involving bicycles and other vehicles have also increased, often with fatal consequences.

A recently published news report discusses the increase in cycling-related accidents and fatalities, and advocates for more legal protections for cyclists on the road. According to the report, the Covid-19 pandemic has resulted in a significant increase in the number of cyclists on the road nationwide. An increase in auto-bicycle accidents has also been noticed since the beginning of the pandemic. Drivers have a legal duty to yield the right of way to a bicyclist traveling on a public road or highway. If the driver of a motorized vehicle is unable to safely pass a cyclist, the driver must stay behind the cyclist until it is safe to do so. The vague nature of many laws that give cyclists the right of way can lead drivers to make dangerous decisions when encountering cyclists on the road.

Most states have specific laws known as “safe passing” laws that require drivers to maintain a safe distance while passing a cyclist, and also permit drivers to cross over a double yellow line to safely overtake a biker. Indiana is one of only six states without laws that specifically address passing a bicyclist. Although there is no safe passing law on the books in Indiana, drivers are still required to yield the right of way to a bicyclist traveling on a public roadway in the direction of traffic. If a bicyclist is struck by a driver and injured or killed, the driver may be responsible in civil or criminal court for the damages related to the accident.

As the country is still reeling from the pandemic, many employers continue to shift their expectations for employees. These changes have drastically impacted traffic patterns and commuting methods. Many Indiana commuters are finding alternative ways to commute to work and their daily activities. While biking continues to be a popular mode of transportation, it has also led to the steady increase of Indiana bicycling accidents.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that bike accidents comprise approximately two percent of all traffic fatalities in the country. Historically the majority of the fatalities involve young children; however, the rise in bike commuters has impacted the affected demographic. The NHTSA reports that around 700 individuals die every year in bike accidents, and nearly 48,000 suffer serious injuries. The average age of fatal bike accident victims is between 55 and 59 years old. Statistics also indicate that a disproportionate number of accident victims are males riding their bikes in urban settings. The majority of fatal bike accidents occur along major roadways. Further, historically, the evening rush hour is the most dangerous time of day for bikers. This may be because of the large numbers of commuters traveling home tired after a long workday. Finally, the most recent accident reports show that nearly 25 percent of fatal bike accident victims had a blood alcohol content of 0.01 or higher.

Not surprisingly, collisions between cyclists and large trucks typically result in the most catastrophic outcomes. For example, local news reports described a harrowing accident between an Indiana cyclist and a dump truck. Law enforcement received reports of the bicycle accident around 12:45 p.m. When they arrived, they discovered that a dump truck rear-ended the 67-year-old bicyclist. The woman suffered several broken bones and a head injury. She was life-flighted to a hospital; however, she later died from her injuries. Police do not believe that alcohol or drugs were involved in the accident; however, the case is still under investigation.

The League of American Bicyclists (LAB) ranks Indiana as the 24th most bicycle-friendly state in the U.S. When bikers and motorists are on the road together, both parties should take extra steps to ensure each other’s safety. However, cars have inherently more control over their vehicles and must take extra precautions to avoid a collision.

In addition to traffic regulations, Indiana maintains laws that apply directly to bicyclists. Specifically, Title 9, Article 21, Chapter 11 of the state’s code explains the rights and duties of bicyclists in Indiana. Most importantly, all road users should understand that bicyclists have a right to share the road with motorists. In the same vein, bicyclists must abide by the statute as well. For instance, bicyclists may not ride on anything besides the permanent and regular seat attached to their bike.

Further, bikers may not use whistles or sirens while on their cycles. Additionally, cyclists must ensure that their bikes have a working brake that will allow the cycle to stop on dry and level pavement. While most lawmakers understand the importance of bike safety, the law does not require bikers to wear helmets. Although the law does not require cyclists or passengers to wear helmets, bikers should err on the side of caution and wear a helmet.

Jurors in Pennsylvania awarded $5.4 million to a man who suffered a severe traumatic brain injury after a bicycle accident caused by a purported road defect.

That damages award, according to The Legal Intelligencer, included $2.5 million for medical expenses and lost wages, as well as $2 million for pain and suffering and $1 million in damages to the plaintiff’s wife for loss of consortium. State law caps damages for civil litigation against government agencies at $250,000, but the total damages collected will be $500,000, since the plaintiff and his wife each will receive the maximum amount for their individual claims.

According to court records of the incident, the plaintiff was riding his bicycle on the road when he hit a patch of road that was reportedly uneven. This, his attorneys would later argue, constituted a dangerous defect in the road, causing him to be ejected from his bicycle and land on his head. In addition to a broken vertebra and broken ribs, the plaintiff suffered brain damage leading to post-traumatic seizure disorder. This was despite the fact he was wearing a bicycle helmet. Since his initial treatment, he’s been hospitalized again numerous times due to seizure-related injuries.

Continue reading

An Indiana bicycle accident claim will go no further after the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled the trial court was wrong to deny summary judgment favoring the defendant city.

According to court records in the case, the plaintiff, a mountain biker, suffered injuries to his kidney and spleen after falling from his bicycle on a portion of the Town Run Trail Park that runs through Indianapolis. The city contracts with a local mountain biking association to maintain the trails, which are rated based on difficulty and skill level required. In early 2011, an Eagle Scout designed and constructed a technical feature on the trail. The feature is best described as a berm. It created a banked wooden turn. Approaching riders would have three options:  avoid it by staying on the dirt path, enter and ride on the low grade, or negotiate the turn and take the more challenging higher grade.

That summer, the plaintiff and his girlfriend went to the trail to ride for the first time since this new feature was constructed. He had about five years of experience riding, and he’d been on this trail before. However, he had not encountered this new feature. He noted in his deposition that he would usually try to get an idea of a trail’s technical requirements before riding, particularly if he was concerned about a potential danger.

Continue reading

Many states have bicycle helmet laws, although many of those pertain solely to children under the age of 18. Indiana is not one of those states. 

However, in the wake of an increasing number of bicycle accidents across the country, questions are being raised about whether bicycle helmets should be mandatory for all riders. It’s a controversial topic.

We know that people on bicycles are far more likely to suffer head injuries and traumatic brain injuries than people in cars. Cyclists are inherently more vulnerable than other road users, and the lack of a helmet leaves them without protection – and at greater risk of a serious injury – when they strike their heads on vehicles, pavement, or other objects. However, there are some who argue mandatory bicycle helmet laws only serve to drive down the number of people who choose to bicycle. Others say wearing a helmet makes cyclists more confident, more likely to take risks they wouldn’t otherwise.

Continue reading

Attorneys for a severely injured cyclist have succeeded in securing a $38 million verdict against the valet service that employed a driver who reportedly took a shortcut and brazenly sailed illegally across two lanes of traffic. As a result of the crash, the 51-year-old cyclist suffered severe injuries, including traumatic brain injury, a shattered hip, broken ribs, and internal bleeding. 

The bike accident occurred four years ago in downtown Seattle, but the circumstances could easily apply to any similar service in any city here in Indiana, where an increasing number of bicyclists occupy the roads. A recent report by Smart Growth America and the National Complete Streets Coalition, Dangerous by Design 2016, indicated that of the top 105 largest metro areas in the country, Indiana’s Indianapolis-Carmel-Anderson area ranked 50th. Comparing state-to-state rankings, Indiana ranked 22nd in the country for pedestrian danger index (PDI), which looks at the number of people who bike and walk to work relative to the number of injuries and fatalities of those travelers. Our rate was 46.3 in 2016, just beneath the national average of 52.5.

But of course, there is no safe state. Consider that Washington, where this devastating bicycle accident happened, ranked 36th on the state comparison list.

Continue reading

Contact Information