People ride bikes for a variety of reasons, including because of the fun and cost-effectiveness. However, most roads lack bike lanes, so cyclists are forced to ride on the edge of the road or on the sidewalk, both of which can prove dangerous, especially if riding at night. A narrow country road with a high speed limit is just as dangerous as a busy city street. Even if you make yourself visible by wearing bright colors and installing reflectors on your bike, speeding drivers may not see you until it’s too late to react and prevent an accident.
Because cyclists generally wear little safety protection while riding (other than helmets), accidents involving cyclists are often very serious and even deadly. When we accept a case, we look at our client’s medical records carefully and discuss any ongoing care or other costs related to the accident. If you sustained catastrophic, long-term, or permanent injuries, we will include these costs in the amount of compensation that we seek. Contact our Wauwatosa bicycle accident lawyers for a free consultation if you sustained an injury or lost a loved one in a bicycle accident.
Bicycle Accident Facts and Wisconsin Statistics
According to the Wisconsin Department of Transportation, 918 persons either sustained injuries or died in bicycle accidents in 2016. From 2011 through 2016, 5,982 people were involved in bicycle crashes, and of those individuals, 63 died. In most cases, bicycle accidents involve motor vehicles. Even if a rider is wearing some protective equipment, such as leather clothes, eye protection, and a helmet, injuries are often catastrophic.
While an increase in the use of safety equipment and the addition of bicycle lanes on many major city streets have decreased the overall numbers of injuries and deaths, it’s still very dangerous to ride a bicycle due to reckless drivers, distracted drivers, and those driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Many drivers also fail to leave adequate space between their motor vehicles and a bicyclist while passing, which also causes accidents and injuries.
Bicycle Accident Injuries
The types of bicycle accident injuries vary depending on the size of the vehicle involved, the size and age of the cyclist, and what safety equipment he or she was wearing. Speed also plays a major factor in the severity of any injuries. The most common types of bicycle accident injuries include:
- Muscle strains, tears, and sprains, as well as other soft tissue injuries
- Severe cuts and abrasions and minor cuts, including road rash
- Fractured ribs, perforated lungs, and other chest injuries
- Fractures, compound fractures, and dislocated joints
- Multiple fractures
- Skull fractures, traumatic brain injury, and other head injuries
- Damage to internal organs, including your spleen and kidneys
- Dental fractures, eye damage, and other facial injuries
Even if cyclists wear safety gear—including helmets—they may still suffer from the above-listed injuries, although the utilization of such gear may reduce the severity of any injuries. If you were hit by a motor vehicle while riding a bicycle, and you were not wearing a helmet, that alone does not preclude you from seeking compensation for the injuries that you sustained in the accident. Contact an experienced bicycle accident lawyer to determine your eligibility for compensation.
Wisconsin laws define bicycles as vehicles, thus cyclists are entitled to the same rights and privileges as motor vehicle drivers. Accordingly, bicyclists must also obey the same traffic rules, including signaling before making a turn and stopping at red lights and stop signs.
In some cases, following a bicycle accident, you may think the accident was your fault or partially your fault. Regardless, never admit fault. Even if you were partially responsible for the accident, the other driver may have contributed as well. In that case, you are likely still eligible to recover some compensation for your injuries.
If the driver was exhibiting negligent behavior—such as driving under the influence or looking at a cell phone while driving, and that distraction caused your accident, a court may even award you punitive damages, which include additional compensation that the at-fault driver must pay as a punishment for particularly reckless or negligent behavior.
Damages You May Recover
The types and amount of damages that you could potentially recover depend on the severity of your injuries and whether the driver of the motor vehicle was driving negligently. If the incident involved any reckless or negligent behavior by the driver, a court may award you the following damages:
- Current medical expenses for injuries related to the accident
- Future medical expenses, such as ongoing therapy and other treatments that are related to long-term or permanent disabilities
- Pain and suffering, including mental anguish that you suffer due to the accident
- Lost wages for time missed from work due to your injuries
- Future losses if you are unable to return to work or must change careers due to your injuries
- Loss of use of a limb
- Loss of the ability to live the life you once had
- Punitive damages, which are only available if the at-fault driver caused the accident because of negligent or reckless behavior
- Loss of consortium if you lost a loved one in a bicycle accident
- Loss of life if you lost a loved one in a bicycle accident
If you lost a loved one due to a bicycle accident caused by a reckless driver, contact an attorney to discuss your eligibility to file a wrongful death claim.
Contact Our Wauwatosa Bicycle Accident Attorneys
If you sustained an injury or lost a loved one in a bicycle crash, contact us—our legal team includes experienced personal injury lawyers who want to help. Call Groth Law Firm, S.C., at (414) 240-0707, or contact us online, to schedule your free consultation and to discuss the details of your case.