Bicycle Accidents with Motor Vehicles in RI and MA – Causes and Liability

Bicycle accidents can be fatal or lead to devastating injury especially when a bicycle crashes with a motor vehicle. In order for a Motor Vehicle operator to be held liable for a Bicycle Automobile mishap there must be negligence on behalf of the car driver.

If you were injured in a MA or RI Bicycle accident, please contact Rhode Island Personal Injury Attorney David Slepkow 401-437-1100

The motor vehicle driver’s negligence in RI and In MA usually results from the following: speeding,  drifting or crossing into the bike lane, running through a stop sign without stopping or running a red light. In many instances distracted driving such as texting and driving or cell phone usage while driving may be the cause of the accident. Other Truck, auto or motorcycle driver negligence may be caused by drunk driving, reckless driving or even emailing or web surfing and driving.

In metropolitan areas, such as Boston or Providence, many bicycles hit pedestrians. Thankfully these pedestrian accidents with bikes are usually less serious than motor vehicle mishaps with Bikes.

Victims of Bike accidents can range from children to the elderly.  Sadly many bicycle accidents involve a child. Even a US Supreme Court justice can be victim of serious bicycle accidents causing personal injury.

NPR reports that Supreme Court justice Breyer was involved in his third serious bicycle accident. “This makes the third time Breyer has sustained a major injury while riding his bicycle. In May 2011, the justice broke his collarbone riding near his home in Cambridge, Mass. In 1993, Boston.com reports, he suffered a punctured lung and broken ribs when a car hit him in Boston’s Harvard Square.” http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/2013/04/27/179480100/justice-breyer-fractures-shoulder-in-another-bike-accident Thankfully, Justice Breyer was released from the hospital and recovered.

Justice Breyer’s bike did not collide with a car or other motor vehicle. These types of bicycle accidents are not unusual.  www.nolo.com states “(Contrary to popular fears, the majority of bicycle accidents — 59% — involve only the cyclist, who loses control of the bike and crashes.)” http://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/bike-accidents-collisions-with-cars-29549.html

In some accidents, the auto and bike collision is caused in part or in whole by the lack of caution or failure to use proper care by the cyclist.

In Rhode Island, as in other states a cyclists also must use due care in operating the bicycle. RI is a pure comparative negligence state.  This means that a cyclist can recover against an automobile driver for injuries from the crash even if they are over 50 percent liable for the accident. The recovery would be reduced by the amount of the comparative negligence. For example, if the bicycle operator was 99 percent at fault for the accident then the injured cyclist would get 1 percent of their damages. See RI Law § 9-20-4  Comparative negligence.

Nolo.com  recommends the following for cyclists “In order to minimize the risk of intersection accidents with cars, cyclists need to maximize their visibility, understand the rules of the road, learn to recognize some of the most dangerous intersection hazards, and take safety precautions when approaching and riding through an intersection.” http://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/bike-accidents-collisions-with-cars-29549.html

Massachusetts, on the other hand, is not a pure comparative negligence state. MA is considered a “modified Comparative negligence” If a cyclist is more than 50 percent at fault for the bike/ auto collision in Mass, then the bicycle rider gets no recovery.  Pursuant to Mass. Law, if an injured person is more than 50 percent at fault for the accident then the injured party is not entitled to any recovery. This law also applies to the decedent’s estate in fatal wrongful death bicycle accident. Modified Comparative negligence in Mass is not exclusive to Bicycle crashes and also applies to motorcycle, truck, pedestrian, slip and fall and premises liability causes of action.

Bicycle accidents and Motorcycle accidents are one of the leading causes of traumatic brain injury  in the United States especially, when the cyclist is not wearing a helmet. Litigating a Bike Crash requires special expertise in the nuances of these cases.

The City of Boston recently published some very interesting and informative Bicycle accident Statistics in Boston.  http://www.cityofboston.gov/bikes/statistics.asp  72 % of cyclists in Boston wear helmets according to the study. ( Source: Boston Bikes Annual Counts, 2010) This is a sobering statistic, indeed, because it means that over one quarter of Bicycle riders are travelling the city streets without a helmet.

According to the University of Minnesota” approximately 1000 people die from injuries due to bicycle crashes…over 500,000 are treated in emergency departments. http://enhs.umn.edu/current/6120/bicycle/prevention.html

§ 9-20-4  Comparative negligence. – In all actions hereafter brought for personal injuries, or where personal injuries have resulted in death, or for injury to property, the fact that the person injured, or the owner of the property or person having control over the property, may not have been in the exercise of due care shall not bar a recovery, but damages shall be diminished by the finder of fact in proportion to the amount of negligence attributable to the person injured, or the owner of the property or the person having control over the property.

 

Wrongful death Accident News

“A woman representing a North Aurora bicyclist killed in a traffic crash last month in Batavia Township is suing the driver involved in the wreck.Richard White, 50, was riding a bicycle north on Nelson Lake Road in Batavia Township on June 27 when a northbound 2009 Nissan Rogue struck the rear tire of the bike just south of Main Street near the entrance to Dick Young Forest Preserve, according to a release from the Kane County Sheriff’s office.”   http://beaconnews.suntimes.com/news/crime/21357108-418/wrongful-death-suit-filed-over-fatal-batavia-township-crash.html

Fatal semi-cyclist accident shuts down Lakewood intersection“…an accident involving a semi truck and cyclist turned fatal Tuesday morning. The accident took place near the intersection of Garrison Street and 6th Avenue shortly after 8 a.m. Police said a cyclist was riding in the area and collided with a semi in the intersection.” http://kdvr.com/2013/07/23/fatal-semi-pedestrian-accident-shuts-down-lakewood-intersection/

Accident News:

The Franklin County Times reported “Officials urge safety in wake of Tuesday’s bicycle accident…18-year-old male bicyclist was traveling on the access road in front of Russellville Hospital when he failed to yield at the stop sign at the intersection…Officials said the bicyclist collided with a passenger car traveling west on Underwood Road that was attempting to cross the intersection. Reports indicate the bicyclist, who was not identified, sustained moderate injuries and was airlifted to a regional hospital where he was treated for broken bones.” http://www.franklincountytimes.com/2013/08/02/officials-urge-safety-in-wake-of-tuesdays-bicycle-accident/

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