Can You Sue After a Bike Accident in Rhode Island?
Riding your bike across Rhode Island’s scenic streets can be an excellent way to stay fit and enjoy the fresh air. However, not every driver knows how to share the road safely with cyclists. According to the CDC, over 130,000 cyclists are injured annually in the United States. And when you and your bike have a run-in with a bigger vehicle, the results can be catastrophic. So, if you’ve recently had a bike accident, read on to learn what your rights and procedures are.
After a Rhode Island cycling accident, you may have legal rights and options to get compensation for your injuries. If you’re interested in learning more, RI car and bike accident attorneys are here to help.
Common bike accident injuries
Bike accident injuries can range from relatively mild to totally devastating. Some of the more common injuries include:
- Broken bones or fractures in body parts like the arms, legs, wrists, or collarbones.
- Head Injuries or traumatic brain injuries, especially if the cyclist isn’t wearing a helmet.
- Strains, sprains, bruises, lacerations, or road rash.
- Spinal injuries, like herniated discs or fractures.
- Internal organ injuries or internal bleeding
- Facial injuries, like broken noses, jaws, or teeth.
What’s more, around 2% of all motor vehicle crash deaths are bicyclists — despite the fact that they make up only 1% of all trips in the U.S.
Will insurance cover injuries from a bike accident?
Under Rhode Island law, bicycles are considered “vehicles,” meaning that many of the same laws that apply to other vehicle crashes may also apply to bike accidents.
Additionally, Rhode Island is an at-fault state. This means that after a car or bike accident, the person considered “at fault” is liable for damages or injuries that arise as a result of the crash. Usually, the at-fault person’s insurance company will pay for any damages or medical expenses.
I had a bike accident. What should I do immediately afterward?
If you’re hit by a car while on your bicycle, the next steps you take depend on how severe the accident was. But, in general, it’s similar to the steps you’d take following a car accident in Rhode Island.
- Move to a safe spot: If you’re able to, find a safe place to stand outside of the flow of traffic. If you’re injured or can’t move, try to stay still and wait for medical help to arrive.
- Call for help: Once you’re able to, call emergency services to report the accident and get medical care. Accept any medical treatment the first responders want to give you, even if you don’t feel injured. It could hurt a personal injury case if you refuse treatment at the scene.
- Exchange information: At this point, try to collect any information from the other people involved in the accident, including their names, insurance details, phone number, or other contact information.
- Document the scene: If you have your phone handy, try taking photos or videos of the accident scene, including your bike, any visible injuries you might have, and the surrounding scene. If there are witnesses around, you can ask them to give a statement of what they saw.
- Keep evidence: If you’re able to, try to keep any physical evidence of the crash site — like twisted handlebars or a crushed bike wheel. This physical evidence could help you demonstrate the extensiveness of the crash later on.
I wasn’t wearing a helmet. Does that affect my bike accident claim?
Unlike many states, Rhode Island doesn’t have mandatory helmet laws for cyclists over the age of 15. Experts strongly recommend wearing a helmet at all times to prevent bike accident head injuries. But under Rhode Island law, not wearing a helmet doesn’t leave you at risk of contributory negligence. In fact, a cyclist’s failure to wear a helmet can’t even be admitted as evidence in a civil case.
I got hit by a car while on my bike. Can I sue?
If the at-fault person doesn’t have insurance or doesn’t have adequate insurance to cover the expense of your medical bills, you may be able to file a personal injury lawsuit against them.
In Rhode Island, the statute of limitations for personal injury cases is three years after the incident. It’s best to contact a Providence personal injury lawyer as soon as possible to determine if your case is worth pursuing.
What can a personal injury lawyer do for you after a bike accident?
Beyond helping you file a lawsuit, a Providence personal injury lawyer may be able to help you in other ways after your bicycle accident. For example, if the insurance company doesn’t want to honor the full extent of their coverage, a lawyer can negotiate for a fair settlement on your behalf.
Other ways that a personal injury lawyer in Rhode Island may be able to help include:
- Building your case: Your lawyer can help you gather evidence, like accident reports, medical records, and witness statements, to build a strong legal case.
- Offering advice: A lawyer can help you understand the nuances of your specific case and help you understand the best path forward legally.
- Representing You in Court: If you can’t come to a fair settlement through negotiations, your RI car accident lawyer can represent you in the courtroom and help you pursue the compensation you need in front of a judge or jury.
A Rhode Island personal injury lawyer here for you
If you need help after a Rhode Island cycling accident, Petrarca Law is here to help.
As dedicated bike accident attorneys, we’re here to look out for Rhode Island’s most vulnerable road users. We can help you build your case, negotiate for a fair settlement with an insurance company, or fight aggressively for your rights in the courtroom. We’ll stand alongside you as you recover and stand up for your rights as both a cyclist and a human being.
Contact our office today for a free consultation.