For over 20 years the rate of bicycle accidents continuously declined. Recently, however, a report put out by the National Highway Transportation Association (NHTSA) states that the number of bicycle related injuries and deaths has increased. Deaths from bicycle accidents have risen over 9% and over 50,000 cyclists are injured every year.
Almost half of all accidents that involve a cyclist occur when a car approaches too closely and leaves the cyclist vulnerable to a collision. If a driver does not remain aware of the space between his/her vehicle and the cyclist, he/she is not treating that person like any other motorist. This lack of care for the safety of every person on the road can lead to serious and life-threatening collisions.
Some of the more common causes of bike accidents are:
- The motor vehicle may sideswipe the bicyclist
- The bicyclist might overreact to avoid the car, and crash into guardrails, fall off the roadway, hit parked vehicles or other obstacles, or inadvertently drive into the car
- The motor vehicle may harass or frighten the bicyclist by traveling too close
- The motor vehicle may crash into the back of the bicyclist
In response to the increase in bicycle collisions around the country, safety measures have been implemented to try to ensure that there is adequate passing room for bicyclists. These laws set a minimum distance that cars and trucks must maintain from cyclists as they pass them. Twenty-two states including New Hampshire have since passed this law after its enactment.New Hampshire’s Safe Passing Laws
New Hampshire’s safe passing laws, set out in RSA 265:143-a, provide that “[e]very driver of a vehicle, when approaching a bicyclist, shall insure the safety and protection of the bicyclist and shall exercise due care by leaving a reasonable and prudent distance between the vehicle and the bicycle. The distance shall be presumed to be reasonable and prudent if it is at least 3 feet when the vehicle is traveling at 30 miles per hour or less, with one additional foot of clearance required for every 10 miles per hour above 30 miles per hour.”When a Driver’s Violation of the Safe Passing Laws Leads to the Bicyclist’s Injury
When a motorist fails to maintain a safe distance from a bicyclist and causes an accident, he/she may be held liable for injuries sustained by the bicyclist. Damages that can be claimed as compensation by the injured party include but are not limited to: medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and future disability.
In most cases when motorist hits a bicyclist when passing, there is no issue who is at fault. However, in several cases we handled in recent years the motorist claimed that he/she was maintaining a safe distance and that our client swerved out into the road. In all of those cases, our clients disputed that they swerved. Resolving this type of dispute requires obtaining statements from any witnesses to the accident, photos of the accident scene and any problems with the road that may have caused our clients to swerve (e.g., a pothole, manhole cover, drainage grate, etc.), and measurements of any skid marks left in the road. In one of our more recent cases, by the time our client contacted our firm, the physical evidence at the accident scene was gone. In addition, no photographs had been taken immediately after the accident and our client had moved further off the road before the investigating officer and EMT arrived. As part of our investigation, we spoke to the EMT and the investigating officer to see if they could recall anything to help us locate where in the road the collision occurred. Due to the amount of time that had passed, the investigating officer could not provide any helpful information. However, the EMT recalled seeing blood on the white side line along the road where our client initially landed after being hit. Although our client had been moved out of the road by the time the ambulance arrived, that piece of evidence turned out to be crucial in successfully resolving the case.Peter Thompson & Associates: Zealous Advocacy for Injured Bikers
If you or a loved one has been injured in biking related accident, contact Peter Thompson & Associates for a free consultation on your case. Our seasoned attorneys can help you seek the justice you need and the compensation you deserve. Call us today at 800.804.2004 to schedule a free initial consultation or contact us online.