This week, in our ongoing personal injury blog series, we review injuries that can occur in cycling accidents involving motor vehicles and what you should do if you’re involved in such an incident.
Cycling in the City
Over the past decade, Calgary has become a more cycling-friendly city. City council has passed by-laws and changed infrastructure to allow for more people to bike in our downtown core and throughout the city. This includes giving cyclists a designated lane and the right of way in certain circumstances.
Despite these efforts, there are still accidents involving cyclists and motor vehicles that occur most often where motorists and cyclists are required to share the road. These occur for a variety of reasons, including inattention by either cyclists or drivers (or both), road rage, bad weather, or similar. Pedestrian-cyclist accidents also occur, but these are less frequent.
Types of Injuries Suffered in Cycling Accidents Involving Motor Vehicles
Depending on the severity of the accident, including how fast the vehicle was going and what type of vehicle (car, bus, truck, etc.) it was, injuries suffered by victims of motor vehicle-cycling accidents will vary.
Common injuries include:
- Facial injuries,
- Cuts and bruises;
- Dislocated shoulders;
- Broken collarbones;
- Other broken bones;
- Neck injuries;
- Brain injuries (including traumatic brain injuries)
- Internal injuries; and
The most serious accidents can lead to loss of life.
Cycling Safety Measures
Even though motor vehicles operators are required to give cyclists the right of way in certain areas of downtown (such as when a cyclist is going straight in a cycling lane and a motor vehicle is turning left or right), cyclists should be very careful and aware of what is around them. Like any other user of the road, cyclists must take measures to keep themselves safe.
Some common safety measures to keep in mind include:
- Always wearing a helmet that fits properly;
- Wearing appropriate footwear while cycling;
- Wearing reflective clothing, especially at night;
- Avoiding distractions like talking on the phone (even though a headset) or listening to music;
- Ensuring your bike is well-maintained;
- Avoiding cycling in poor visibility (such as in foggy weather or when its snowing heavily);
- Always being aware of your surroundings;
- Following road rules carefully; and
- Never trying to beat a speeding vehicle or a changing light.
What Should You Do if You Get into an Accident?
First and foremost, make sure you are okay. Get yourself off the road and out of the way of oncoming traffic. Speak to police either at the scene or report the accident. In Alberta, it is not mandatory to report every accident involving a motor vehicle. A police report must be filed in the following circumstances and have the police attend the scene if:
- Any vehicle involved is not drivable
- Any of the drivers involved failed to produce proof of insurance or driver’s license;
- There are signs of intoxication in a driver.
If the accident does not involve one of those three situations, a report should be filed at a police station if there are any injuries (even if they are minor) or there appears to be $2,000 or more in damage to the vehicle.
Once you are safe, and all necessary steps like reporting to police or exchanging information with the parties involved, are taken. Exchanging information (such as names and insurance) is useful for determining who you are going to sue if you choose to pursue a claim. Make sure you also are seen by a medical professional either immediately or soon after the incident. Even if you are tended to by paramedics at the scene, it is always good to follow up with your family doctor. Sometimes in personal injury claims, insurers argue that the injury was caused by something else, either after or before the accident. If you have a record of what injuries you sustained because of the accident, it serves as evidence to support your claim.
Filing a Personal Injury Claim
Sometimes incidents occur where the injuries are the result of a careless motorist or one who deliberately tries to harm or put a cyclist in harm’s way. There are motorists who do not like that cyclists are on the road and sometimes purposely impede cyclists, which sometimes result in injuries.
There are criminal offences for driving (such as fleeing the scene, dangerous driving, criminal negligence)and if the police are called, they will start investigating. Even if no criminal charges arise out of the police investigation, or the police do not get involved, you can still pursue a personal injury claim if the driver was somehow negligent.
There are situations where there is “no-fault.” This is an insurance term that means that those who are injured in an accident will still receive compensation from their own insurance company regardless of who is at fault. In Alberta, there is no “no-fault” insurance. Insurance companies will determine through their investigation, who is at fault if it is not clear from the start.
A personal injury lawyer can help you recoup the losses you have sustained due to your injury. Since injuries are very common in cycling accidents, people often do experience some kind of financial loss. This includes loss of income, loss of potential income (depending on the seriousness of the injuries), cost of care, and pain and suffering damages. In the event that there is a fatality, the family of the deceased individual may sue for wrongful death.
There are also property losses that one can sue for. Bicycles can easily be damaged by vehicles and are often expensive to repair or replace. Motor vehicles are required by law to be insured, but the same is not true for bicycles. This means that those whose bicycles have been damaged in an accident will have to pay for the repairs or for a replacement.
If you have been in a cycling accident involving a motor vehicle, contact HMC Lawyers today. We have the skills and experience to help you through this difficult time and recover financial damages for your injuries. Contact us online or call 1-800-480-3534 to make an appointment. With offices in Calgary, we represent professionals in Calgary, throughout Alberta, and across Western Canada.