Common Questions About Bike Accident Cases in Tennessee
In our FAQ, the bike accident attorneys with the Nashville law firm of GriffithLaw provide answers to some of the most common questions cyclists have after getting hurt. If you are unable to find your question here, or if you need immediate assistance, you can also contact our Nashville law office at 877-959-8847 for answers about your potential injury claim.
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Do I need an attorney if a driver hit me while I was riding my bike?
Bicyclists are far more exposed in a collision than the drivers of passenger vehicles, and are much more likely to be injured in a collision. That said, bike riders do not always need a lawyer to get payment after a crash. If the incident was minor and did not cause any lasting damage, the biker may be able to get proper compensation from his insurance company without the aid of an attorney. However, if your injuries were severe enough that you took an ambulance to the hospital, underwent extensive treatment, or were unable to return to work for at least a week, you should seek the assistance of an attorney as soon as you are able.
Reasons to Hire a Lawyer After You Are Hurt in a Bicycle Accident
For many victims, the question isn’t whether to hire an attorney, but at what point they should seek an attorney’s advice. Some may wait and see if the insurer will make an offer that will cover their costs, while others are simply too injured and overwhelmed by the aftermath of a crash to take on the additional burden of finding a legal representative. Unfortunately, it is often beneficial to hire a lawyer sooner rather than later—and those who hire a lawyer too late may risk their right to injury compensation.
Hiring an injury attorney early offers many benefits to your case, including:
- Collecting viable evidence. Evidence in an accident case can be lost or destroyed in the days and weeks following the crash. The longer the delay in conducting an investigation, the greater the chance that vital evidence will be lost. Your attorney can track down witnesses, find any accident footage, get a copy of the police report, and take photos of the scene to corroborate your story.
- Proving negligence. Even if you were the only one hurt in a crash, you will still need to prove negligence in an injury case to get compensation. Many victims who are coping with broken bones or traumatic brain injuries do not have the time, energy, or legal knowledge to build an effective case. An injury attorney knows what must be done to prove negligence, and can hire accident reconstructionists or expert witnesses to testify on your behalf.
- Preventing mistakes that can hurt your case. Victims often make mistakes early in the process that can prevent them from collecting payment. An attorney can stop victims from giving a recorded statement to an insurer or signing documents or medical records authorizations that can give the other party an unfair advantage.
- A strong negotiating position. Insurance adjusters have years of training in devaluing claims and getting victims to agree to low settlements. Victims who attempt to “go it alone” may share too much with the adjuster, accept a settlement before the injury has fully healed, or fail to calculate the full amount of their losses. An attorney who has bicycle accident experience will be able to make an accurate estimate of your losses and can take an offer to an insurer without succumbing to the company’s manipulative tactics.
- Expediting your case. There are many deadlines that must be met throughout an injury claim, including notifying your insurance company of a crash, filing documents, and bringing a case before the statute of limitations expires. Your attorney will not only ensure that deadlines are met, but will also address any delays (such as getting copies of your injury records from medical facilities and completing court paperwork) to get you the compensation you deserve as quickly as possible.
At GriffithLaw, we handle the details of your case while you focus on your recovery. Our legal team can begin an immediate investigation of the facts surrounding your accident and advise you on your next steps—and we do not collect any payment from you until your case is won.
Whether we are able to secure you a settlement or your case proceeds to trial, our bicycle accident attorneys will fight to get you the maximum amount of compensation you deserve. Simply fill out the short contact form on this page or request a free copy of our book, The 10 Worst Mistakes You Can Make With Your Tennessee Injury Case.
What laws do Tennessee bicycle riders have to follow?
Bicycles are not just for childhood recreation—they are a form of exercise and even a commuter vehicle for fit and environmentally friendly riders. In Tennessee, bicycles are legally classified as road vehicles, and that status allows riders the same rights and protections as drivers of passenger cars. However, just like driving, bike riding must be done according to state laws—and failure to follow safe riding laws can increase your accident risk and affect your recovery in a bicycle crash case.
Tennessee Laws All Bicyclists Have to Follow
Tennessee classifies a bicycle as any human-powered pedal vehicle with two tandem wheels that is designed to carry one or more people. Some pedal vehicles may be legally considered bicycles if they have more than two wheels, but only if they are used for transport on highways, streets, or other public rights-of-way.
Tennessee traffic laws require all bicycle operators to:
- Ride with the flow of traffic. Bikers are required to ride on the right-hand side of the road in the same direction as traffic. Bikers are required to follow the same laws as cars when riding in traffic, obeying all traffic signs and signals.
- Use lights and signals. Bikers must use hand signals to communicate their intentions and are required to equip their bicycles with a front-mounted white light and a red rear reflector or lamp that are both visible from at least 500 feet away.
- Adhere to child safety laws. While riders over age 16 may choose to ride without a helmet, all bicycle riders under the age of 16 are required to wear a bicycle helmet on all rides. In addition, any child passengers (those under 40 pounds or shorter than 40 inches) must be in a bicycle trailer or restrained in a child safety seat attached to the frame.
- Ride as the bicycle designer intended. Riders on a bicycle should be seated on or astride the bicycle’s attached seat and carry no more passengers than the number for which the bicycle is equipped. Violation of these laws may be charged as a Class C misdemeanor.
- Never cling on to vehicles. Riders on bicycles, roller skates, sleds, or other rolling devices are forbidden from grabbing or holding onto motorized vehicles in motion at any time. Violators of this regulation may be charged with a Class C misdemeanor.
- Keep at least one hand on the handlebars. Bicycles are often used as delivery vehicles for newspapers, food orders, and other small items. However, it is a Class C misdemeanor to carry any package, bundle, or article that prevents the bike rider from keeping at least one hand on the handlebars at all times.
- Equip their bicycles with regulation brakes. All riders have a duty to equip their bicycles with one or two brakes that enable the bicycle to stop within twenty five feet from a speed of ten miles per hour on a dry, level surface.
- Stop at intersections with vehicle detection devices. Many traffic control signals use vehicle detection devices to keep traffic flowing smoothly. However, smaller vehicles such as bicycles may not be detected by these devices, rendering the traffic lights inoperative when only the biker is present in the lane. At these inoperative signals, riders are required to come to a complete stop at the intersection and only proceed after ensuring that the direction of travel is clear.
If you have been injured in a bicycle accident, it may take months or years for you to fully recover from your injuries, all while you are unable to earn a living. You should not have to suffer due to someone else’s negligence. Our attorneys can listen to your story and explain to you how much your claim may be worth. Contact GriffithLaw today for a free evaluation of your case, or order a free copy of our book, The 10 Worst Mistakes You Can Make With Your Tennessee Injury Case.
Who can be held liable in a bicycle accident?
While the majority of bicycle accidents are caused by drivers of passenger vehicles, there can be many parties who played a role in causing the crash. The individual who can be held liable for the crash—and therefore, the costs of any injuries or property damage associated with the crash—is the person who's found to be guilty of negligence.
Parties That May Be Held Liable After a Bicycle Accident
Since bicycles don't offer any of the same safety features that cars have to protect individuals from injury, the costs of a crash can be significant. As a result, bikers have to carefully examine the circumstances of the accident in order to determine which entity is liable for the full cost of the damages.
The most common types of negligence in bicycle accident cases include:
- Driver negligence. Driver negligence can be anything from a motorist swerving into a bike lane to leaving the scene after a bicycle hit and run crash. Common negligent actions include driving too close to a biker; opening a car door into a biker’s path; turning in front of a biker; or running a biker off of the road. Motor vehicles are required to maintain a safe space while riding next to or passing bicyclists, obey right of way laws, and to share the road responsibly with all types of vehicles. If your accident involved a car, truck, or other passenger vehicle, it's likely the driver (or the driver’s insurer) will be named in your claim.
- Cyclist negligence. If the biker was performing an unsafe action, he or she may be partly liable for the accident and recover less in damages as a result. Under Tennessee’s comparative negligence laws, a victim who's found to be mostly liable (51 percent or more) for causing the crash isn't entitled to recover any damages. If the percentage of fault isn't as high, and damages are still awarded, they're reduced based on the victim’s portion of blame for the crash. For example, a bicyclist who was riding against the flow of traffic; riding in the road instead of in a dedicated bike lane; or who makes an illegal maneuver may have a hard time collecting full payment from another at-fault party.
- Pedestrian negligence. There are many instances when pedestrians can cause bicycle accidents, some of which may result in severe injuries. Bicyclists are required to stop for pedestrians just as cars do, and if a pedestrian steps off of the curb into the path if a cyclist, the cyclist may not have time to slow down or avoid a collision. In these cases, bikers must still prove that the pedestrian's negligence was the main contributing factor in causing the accident.
- Hazardous road conditions. Bikers have just as much right to safe riding paths as cars have to hazard-free roads. In fact, bikers are owed a greater duty of care, since they are much more likely to be injured if a riding surface is defective. Fallen rocks, spilled gravel, potholes, construction, debris, leaf piles, and sudden changes in the road surface are all potential hazards that municipalities should address before they cause an accident. In cases where an obstacle cannot be avoided (such as a curve in the road, sewer grate, or railroad tracks), municipalities are required to post clear signs warning of the dangers.
- Defective or unsafe bicycle equipment. While it may be tempting to think that some accidents just “happen,” the truth is there is always a reason that crashes occur. Defective bicycle frames, brakes, chains, and tires all increase the risk of a crash, while defective helmets and safety gear can make injuries sustained in a crash much more severe. If your bike didn't perform properly in an accident, you should have the bicycle examined for poor frame welding, lax safety standards, poor design, and other defects.
If you or someone you love has suffered a bicycle accident injury, our Tennessee attorneys can help you get the compensation you deserve. Fill out our online contact form today to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation with our legal team.
What should I do if I am a victim of a hit-and-run accident while riding my bicycle?
Bicycling should be a relaxing, healthy, and above all safe activity that you and your family can enjoy together. Unfortunately, safety takes a back seat when bicycling near traffic. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 2% of traffic accidents are bicycle-related, accounting for 743 bicyclist deaths and 48,000 injuries.
Sadly, some of these types of accidents are made even more painful when the perpetrator fails to acknowledge the accident and leaves the victim alone, in pain, and with nowhere to turn.
What to Do After a Hit and Run
As a bicycle victim of a hit and run, you can and must take certain steps to secure your recovery and legal options. Even though the person responsible for your injuries may not be identifiable, you can still receive compensation as long as you follow the correct procedures. To secure your claim following a bicycle accident injury, make sure you:
- Report the accident immediately to the police. You need to begin a paper trail and record of the incident as soon as possible to show your insurance company. This record will show the time of the incident, why the guilty party’s insurance isn’t involved, and the general facts of the accident. Furthermore, if possible, you can tell the officer about the make of the car that hit you as well as any distinguishing features to help the police track the driver down.
- Obtain witness statements. If possible, take down witness statements and information (name, address, and telephone number) of anyone who may have seen the accident or may be able to identify the driver. This information can be critical evidence for your claim as well as prosecution for the hit and run driver.
- Seek medical attention. Depending on the severity of your injuries, getting appropriate treatment should be your number one priority. If your injuries are severe or life-threatening, do not wait to give a police report or waste time getting witness statements. Your immediate welfare is more important than a potential claim.
- Call your personal injury attorney. A hit and run case can be extremely tough to prove when the police fail to identify the driver. However, an experienced personal injury lawyer can help you build a strong claim, gather important evidence and documentation, and illustrate the point that your injuries were not your fault. Since you’re a victim of someone else’s negligence and criminal acts, he can argue that you shouldn’t be held personally responsible for the financial consequences of that person’s actions. Furthermore, an attorney knows the intricacies of insurance coverage and how uninsured motorist coverage may be able to cover the expenses caused by the hit and run driver.
- Call your auto and health insurance companies. Your own uninsured motorist coverage may help cover your expenses for injuries and property damage even though you were not driving. However, since the coverage terminology is up to interpretation, you’ll need an experienced attorney to argue your case.
Contact our bike accident attorney John Griffith today for a FREE consultation and allow him to explain your coverage rights and claim options. Call us today at (615) 807-7900 to get the support and guidance you need.