Tucson Bicycle Accident Lawyers
Residents of Tucson, Arizona are increasingly choosing to ride their bicycles as a means of transportation to their jobs and schools. The warm desert climate allows people to enjoy bicycle riding year-round as they enjoy the scenery. Bicycling offers some important health benefits, and it is also better for the environment. However, bicyclists also face much higher risks of injuries and fatalities when they are involved in accidents with motor vehicles. Unlike people who are occupying motor vehicles, cyclists do not have the protection afforded by the metal frames of vehicular cabs. They are largely unprotected from the environment and absorb more of the physical forces that are released in collisions. As a result, cyclists are likelier to suffer catastrophic injuries when they are struck by cars. The Tucson bike accident lawyers at Lamber Goodnow regularly help injured bicyclists and the families of those who are killed to recover compensation for their losses.
Prevalence of bicycle accidents
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, bicycles account for just 1 percent of all of the trips that are taken in the U.S. However, people who are involved in bicycle accidents have a much greater risk of suffering serious injuries or fatalities than are people who are riding in cars. The CDC reports that more than 1,000 bicyclists were killed and nearly 467,000 were injured in 2015 alone. In Arizona in 2016, the Arizona Department of Transportation reports that 31 bicyclists were injured and 1,350 were injured in accidents. The CDC reports that children and adolescents account for 33 percent of all bicycle accident injuries while bicyclists who are ages 50 to 59 are the most likely to suffer fatalities.
Common bicycle accident scenarios
Multiple factors may contribute to bicycle accidents, including the weather, road conditions, visibility and negligence. Drivers may cause bicycle accidents by doing the following:
- Being inattentive
- Driving while distracted by cell phones, passengers, food or other things
- Failing to yield
- Unsafe lane changes
- Failing to signal
- Driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs
According to the Federal Highway Administration, there are three primary categories of bicycle accidents with six common scenarios. The three primary categories include parallel-path accidents, crossing-path accidents and specific-circumstances accidents. Within those categories, the FHWA divided the accidents according to the scenarios that they involved.
In parallel-path accidents in which the bicycles and cars were traveling in the same direction, 12.2 percent were caused by drivers turning across the path of the bicyclist or merging into the bicycle’s path, striking him or her. In other parallel-path accidents, 8.6 percent happened when drivers overtook the bicyclists, and 7.3 percent were caused by the bicyclists turning into the path of the motorists. Among the crossing-path accidents, 21.7 percent were caused by motorists who failed to yield to the bicyclists, and 16.8 percent were caused by cyclists who failed to yield to motorists at intersections. Finally, 11.8 percent of the accidents were caused by bicyclists who failed to yield to motorists at midblock areas.
In these accidents, the common thread is that they are all largely preventable. When bicycle accidents result from the negligent conduct of motorists, the victims or their families may be able to recover damages with the help of the Tucson bike accident law firm of Lamber Goodnow.
Types of injuries in bicycle accidents
When bicycle vs. motor vehicle collisions happen, they can cause catastrophic injuries. Bicyclists may suffer any of the following:
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Skull and facial fractures
- Serious lacerations
- Rib and thoracic fractures
- Spinal injuries
- Fractures to the pelvis
- Fractures of the legs, arms, hands or feet
- Damage to the internal organs
- Internal bleeding
In some cases, bicyclists may suffer injuries that cause permanently disabling conditions, or they may be killed.
Proving liability in bicycle accidents
Bicycle accident claims normally proceed under a theory of negligence. Both motorists and bicyclists have the responsibility to obey the traffic laws in the state. Motorists owe duties of care to operate their vehicles in a manner that a reasonably prudent person would do under similar circumstances. In order to prove negligence, plaintiffs must prove that the motorist owed a duty to them and that the motorist breached the duty. They must then prove that the breach by the motorist directly or proximately caused the accident in which they were injured. Finally, they must prove that they suffered financial harm as a result.
Common examples of negligent actions by motorists could include speeding, driving while distracted, following too closely behind the cyclists, abruptly cutting them off when passing, failing to see the cyclists when turning, aggressive driving and driving while intoxicated. Cyclists may also be negligent and contribute to the accident’s cause. Examples of bicyclist negligence might include riding against the flow of traffic, crossing streets at the midblock, failing to yield to motorists and disobeying traffic control devices. When both the cyclist and the motorist are at fault, the doctrine of comparative negligence will apply.
Understanding comparative negligence in Tucson bicycle accidents
In some bicycle accident cases, the defendants will claim that the bicyclists’ own negligence caused or contributed to the accident. Arizona follows the doctrine of comparative negligence under A.R.S. § 12-2505. Under this doctrine, juries and courts assess the percentage of fault that each party had in causing the accidents. Even if a bicyclist shares blame in causing an accident, he or she may still recover damages. After the percentages of fault are allocated between the parties, any award will be reduced by the percentages that are allocated to the plaintiffs. For example, if a jury returns a gross verdict of $1 million in favor of a plaintiff who is allocated 20 percent of the fault, the plaintiff will receive a net amount of $800,000.
Potential damages in Tucson bicycle accidents
In Arizona, damages are divided into two primary categories, including special damages and general damages. Special damages are the actual economic losses that the victims suffer because of the defendants’ negligence, including:
- Past and future expected medical bills
- Past and future income losses
- Reductions in the ability to earn an income
- Property losses
General damages are losses that are more intangible and include the following:
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Scarring and disfigurement
- Hedonic damages
- Losses of the ability to enjoy life
In bicycle accidents involving wrongful death, the families may also receive damages for their reasonable costs incurred when holding funerals and burials. The spouses may recover for losses of consortium, and the children may recover for the loss of their parents’ guidance.
Punitive damages, which are intended to punish the defendant beyond the losses that were suffered, are rare in bicycle accident cases. They are unlikely to be awarded except in very egregious cases such as when motorists intentionally run bicyclists down.
Why it’s important to get help from experienced Tucson bike accident lawyers
Proving liability in a bicycle accident claim can be complex. Insurance companies may employ a variety of tactics in order to try to reduce the amounts that they have to pay. The Tucson bike accident attorneys at Lamber Goodnow know the tactics that are used by defendants and insurance companies, and they understand how to counter them. In many cases, they are able to recover damages in much greater amounts than people might recover without help. Contact Lamber Goodnow today to schedule your free consultation and to learn more about your potential rights.