Pittsburgh Bicycle Accident Attorneys
When a person is hit by a car while riding a bike, the consequences can be severe. Injuries can be debilitating, life-threatening, catastrophic, and can affect the rider for the rest of his or her life.
The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation notes that in 2020, there were 22 people killed in bicycle crashes in the state, with 799 injured. Children ages 5 to 14 were some of the most vulnerable to bicycle injuries and fatalities, with over a fifth of the injuries suffered by this age group.
The National Safety Council (NSC) notes that between 2010 and 2019, the number of preventable deaths from bicycle accidents nationwide increased 37 percent, from 793 in 2010 to 1,089 in 2019. Bicycle-related deaths peak in the summer months, starting in June, and remain high through September.
According to advocacy group BikePGH, pedestrians and bicyclists are killed at a higher rate in Pittsburgh than vehicle drivers and account for a large share of all fatal crashes. Between 2011-2014, aggressive driving was noted as a factor in about 32 percent of bicyclist crashes.
The Pittsburgh bike accident attorneys at Chaffin Luhana represent individuals who are injured in bicycle accidents in West Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Ohio. If you were hit by a vehicle while riding on a sidewalk, bike trail, highway, bike lane, or while crossing a street, give our experienced Pittsburgh bicycle accident attorneys a call today to schedule a complimentary consultation at 1-888-480-1123.
Our Pittsburgh accident lawyers also represent bicyclists who are injured in accidents caused by defective bike parts such as defective tires and faulty chains.
Types of Bicycle Accidents in Pittsburgh
A bicyclist can be at fault for an accident, but in many cases, the motorist was negligent. Types of accidents with motorists include the following:
Considered the most common type of bicycle accident, this happens when a car pulls out from the right side of the street, parking lot, or driveway, and strikes a cyclist. Usually, the driver doesn’t notice or see the cyclist.
This type of accident occurs when a car and cyclist approach an intersection from opposite directions. The vehicle turns left and strikes the cyclist coming from the other way. Often this is because the driver failed to yield, or misjudged the cyclist’s speed.
Another common type of bike accident, a right hook occurs when a car passes a cyclist on the cyclist’s left side. Then the motorist makes a right turn either just in front of the cyclist or directly into them.
If a car is parked parallel along the street, the driver may open the door without checking first. A cyclist riding alongside the cars may strike the open door and be thrown into traffic or otherwise injured.
This occurs when a vehicle hits a bicycle from behind. A rider may be thrown from the bike or put in the center of oncoming traffic. In some cases, they may be pinned between two vehicles.
Red Light, Stop Sign, or Uncontrolled Intersection Collison
Stoplights and intersections are dangerous places for bicyclists, as these are the locations where mistakes are often made. In 2020, over 27 percent of bicyclist injuries occurred in crashes at stop signs, while 24 percent occurred at a traffic signal.
A bicyclist may have the green light or right-of-way at a stop sign but still be struck by a vehicle driver who doesn’t see or notice them. At uncontrolled intersections—where the right of way is granted to the vehicle arriving first—drivers don’t always consider bicyclists when determining when to drive through.
Drunk or Distracted Driving Collision
Drunk and distracted drivers pose dangers to other drivers, pedestrians, and bicyclists. They have reduced reaction times and are less likely to pay attention to bicyclists or may not see them because their attention has been diminished.
Common Causes of Bicycle Accidents in Pittsburgh
After falls, the most common and most serious causes of bicycle crashes are collisions with cars. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) states that when a crash occurs between a vehicle and a bike, it’s the cyclist who is most likely to be injured. According to data from 2019, bicyclist deaths occur most often in urban areas (78 percent) compared to rural areas (22 percent).
Several factors can play a role in a bike accident with a vehicle, including the following:
Bicycles are smaller and thinner than vehicles, and therefore are harder to see on the road. Particularly during instances of low visibility caused by weather or road design, accidents are more likely to occur.
The NHTSA reports that in 2019, distracted driving claimed 3,142 lives. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that every day, about eight people in the U.S. are killed in crashes involving a distracted driver. About one in five are not in vehicles—they were walking, riding their bikes, or otherwise outside of the vehicle.
Distractions can affect bicycle riders as well. In a 2018 study, researchers found that for bicyclists, the most common distractions were those related to the behavior of others on the road, weather conditions, physical elements of the road, and phone calls.
The NSC reports that speeding was a factor in 26 percent of all traffic fatalities in 2019, killing 9,478 people—an average of 25 people per day. A crash is considered speeding-related if the driver was charged with a speeding-related offense, or if they were driving too fast for the conditions.
High-speed accidents are more likely to cause severe, life-threatening, and deadly accidents with bicyclists.
The non-profit organization TRIP reported in 2018 that one-third of the nation’s roads and highways had become “increasingly challenging as drivers encounter potholes and pavement deterioration.” One-third of the nation’s major urban roadways were noted to be in poor condition and expected to deteriorate further without attention.
The following can all increase the risk of a bicycle accident:
- Construction areas
- Poor road maintenance
- Unsafe design of roads and intersections
- Poor lighting
If your bicycle accident attorney discovers that a defective road design or condition was a factor in your accident, you may be able to hold certain area states, townships, or municipalities liable.
Failure to Yield
The NHTSA states that failure to yield the right of way is the third most common driver behavior in fatal crashes. Together with failing to stay in the proper lane, these behaviors were exhibited by about 14 percent of drivers in fatal crashes in 2019. If a motorist doesn’t yield when they’re supposed to, this can quickly cause an accident with a bicyclist.
Following Too Closely
Motorists who fail to allow an adequate buffer between their vehicle and a cyclist increase the risk of an accident. They’re more likely to hit cyclists and also leave themselves few options when trying to avoid a collision.
Unsafe Lane Changes
Drivers often switch lanes quickly, without signaling or warning others on the road of their intentions. This can cause accidents with other drivers but can be disastrous for bicyclists who can be sideswiped or nicked from the front or back.
The NHTSA estimates that in 2017, about 91,000 police-reported crashes involved drowsy drivers. These crashes led to an estimated 50,000 people being injured and nearly 800 killed. Sleepiness can cause crashes at any time, but drowsy-driving crashes occur most commonly between midnight and 6:00 a.m. or late in the afternoon.
Know What to Do After a Bicycle Accident In Pittsburgh
If you are unlucky enough to be in a bicycle accident in Pittsburgh, take the following steps:
- Get medical attention: If you or someone else is seriously hurt, call 911 for immediate medical attention.
- Call the police: Just as with any traffic accident, it’s important to contact the police after a bicycle accident with a motorist. The officer will create a police report which could be critical in the future if you need to file a bike accident claim with your insurance company or initiate a bike accident lawsuit.
- Exchange information with the driver: Try to get the name, phone number, driver’s license number, address, license plate number, make of car, and insurance policy number from the driver. Don’t worry about determining who’s fault the accident was. You can sort that out later.
- Never negotiate with the motorist: Even if the driver apologizes and accepts blame, it’s best not to negotiate any sort of agreement. You may not yet know the extent of your injuries or other damages, and the driver may change his or her mind later. Simply wait for the police officer to arrive.
- Gather witness information: If there were witnesses to the accident, try to gather contact information from them, including names and phone numbers.
- Document the accident: As soon you can write down what happened in the accident, recording all the details you can remember. Include details like time of day, incident location, which direction you were going, which direction the motorist was going, any dangerous road conditions, all of your injuries, etc.
- Preserve evidence: Keep any damaged clothing and don’t wash it—you may need it for evidence. Also, keep any damaged bike parts and don’t have the bike repaired until your claim is resolved. If you must get it repaired, take photos and get a written report of the damages from the bike repair shop. Take photos of your injuries as well, and of the accident location if you can.
- Contact your bike accident attorney: It’s best to contact a bike accident attorney before talking with the motorist’s insurance company. Whereas the insurance adjuster works for the insurance company, a bike accident attorney works for you and will watch out for your best interests. An attorney can also investigate the accident and negotiate with the insurance companies on your behalf, or even represent you in a lawsuit if necessary.
How to Select a Bicycle Attorney in Pittsburgh
When looking for the best bicycle attorney in Pittsburgh, look for the following qualifications:
Experience with Your Type of Case
The best lawyer for you will be someone with experience in bike accident cases, as well as someone who has additional experience in personal injury law. You may have devastating injuries or be dealing with a wrongful death issue and you’ll want someone who understands how to get you the compensation you need to try to put your life back together.
Ask the attorney whether they’ve handled cases like yours before, and if so, what the outcomes were. See if you can obtain references or testimonials to get an idea of the firm’s success rate. The right attorney will be happy to share their achievements and successes.
Capabilities in Court
Though most bicycle cases settle out of court, sometimes the parties can’t come to an agreement. If that happens, you need a lawyer who is experienced in the courtroom and can represent you well in a hearing. The reputation of a good lawyer can help speed up settlement negotiations in some cases, as the opposing party will be aware of their expertise.
Most bicycle lawyers offer a complimentary consultation before taking your case. This is a great opportunity for you to ask questions and find out whether the lawyer is the right one for you. In addition to asking questions about experience and track record, ask about how the attorney handles fees, and then see how comfortable you feel talking with them.
Finally, use this opportunity to ask for a preliminary evaluation of your claim, including the strengths and weaknesses of your case.
What Our Clients Have to Say About Chaffin Luhana
Below is a small sampling of the recent reviews we have received from our clients:
Find more testimonials and reviews here.
Dedication to Community
Law partners Eric Chaffin and Roopal Luhana, along with their families, established The Chaffin Luhana Foundation in 2010.
A not-for-profit organization, the Foundation encourages the development of human potential and supports community empowerment through the following activities:
- Scholarships: Chaffin Luhana Foundation awards an annual scholarship to a student who helps us in the fight against distracted driving by submitting an inspiring personal essay.
- Financial gifts: The Foundation awards periodic financial gifts to institutions of higher learning to support scientific research and funds educational scholarships to students.
- Stephanie Victor Legacy Award: The Chaffin Luhana Foundation awards an annual financial gift to one deserving individual who overcame significant challenges and achieved great milestones in his or her life or career.
- Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation: Chaffin Luhana has partnered with this organization to benefit those living with spinal cord injuries and paralysis.
- Najee Harris Partnership: We have partnered with Pittsburgh Running Back, Najee Harris, and his Da’ Bigger Picture Foundation to support those in need in the Greater Pittsburgh area.
The founding partners of Chaffin Luhana have extensive experience in fighting for plaintiffs’ rights:
- Founder Eric Chaffin: Mr. Chaffin has handled a wide array of cases against various types of manufacturers, with dozens of multimillion-dollar recoveries.
- Founder Roopal Luhana: Ms. Luhana manages the firm’s mass torts division. Throughout her career, she has served on committees in MDLs involving over-the-counter consumer products and defective pharmaceuticals and medical devices.
- Partner Patrick Booth: Mr. Booth enjoys using his knowledge and experience to help his clients obtain the best results possible in their personal injury cases.
Chaffin Luhana lawyers have also been named to the prestigious “Super Lawyers” list several years in a row.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
As noted above, contact the police, get medical attention if you need to, gather all the evidence you can, and contact your bicycle accident attorney for more guidance.
If you get into an accident with an uninsured driver, your own auto insurance will be likely to cover the damage even though you were riding a bike at the time. As long as you have uninsured motorist (UM) coverage on your policy and the crash was the driver’s fault, you can make a claim with your own insurance company.
Keep in mind that your policy will likely have limits as to the amount they will pay. If your medical treatments go beyond these limits, talk to your bike accident attorney about other options you may have for recovering damages.
The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation strongly recommends that all bicyclists wear helmets whenever they ride and requires them on anyone under the age of 12. Those over the age of 12, however, are not required by law to wear a helmet.
Wearing a helmet, of course, can significantly reduce your chances of being seriously injured in a biking accident. According to the NSC, more than half of cyclists killed in crashes in 2016 were not wearing one. But in Pennsylvania, not wearing a helmet should not affect your ability to recover damages.
Pennsylvania is a comparative negligence state. This means that you can collect damages even if you were partially responsible for the accident as long as you are no more than 50 percent at fault. Your damages may be reduced by your level of fault, however.
If it is determined that you were 51 percent or more at fault, your claim will likely be denied. You can always dispute the insurance company’s findings. If they say you were more than 50 percent at fault and you don’t agree, talk to your bicycle accident attorney about your options.
The value of each Pittsburgh bicycle accident claim will vary according to many factors, including the following:
- The extent of your injuries
- How long you’ll need medical treatment
- The damage to your bicycle
- Your ability to return to work (or not)
- Who was at fault (or how much of the fault you may share)
- Your pain and suffering
To determine your economic damages, your bicycle accident attorney will help you add up your medical bills, lost wages, and property damages. Other damages like pain and suffering may be more difficult to determine, but your attorney can guide you. Typically, these are calculated by adding up your economic damages and multiplying them by a variable between 1.5 and 5. More serious injury cases will use higher variables.
Pennsylvania law gives you two years from the date of your accident to file a legal claim. There may be exceptions:
- The injured party was a minor: In this case, the two-year period will begin with the injured party turns 18.
- The identity of the driver is unknown: if you’re injured by a hit-and-run driver whose identity is not known, the two-year period would begin when you discover that person’s identity.
Every case is unique, and dependent on many factors such as the driver’s insurance company, the extent of your injuries, and the evidence you have available. If you suffered from severe injuries, for example, you should wait for recovery before filing your claim. You don’t want to settle too early, then find out that your injury was worse than you thought and you didn’t get all the money you needed.
Some insurance companies are fair and will pay the damages without a lot of hassle, which can also save time. Others, however, are not, and will fight to reduce your settlement.
If your case has to go to court, it may take between one and two years to settle. But in most cases, your bicycle accident attorney can negotiate with the insurance company to get your settlement before that.
If your injuries are very minor, you may be able to file a claim with the insurance company yourself without a problem. If your injuries are more serious, however, or if there is a dispute as to who was at fault, it is in your best interests to hire a bicycle accident attorney.
If any of these apply to you, hiring an attorney may be best:
- Your injuries are serious or extensive. These may include a concussion, broken bones, back or spinal injuries, head injuries, or anything that affects your ability to return to work or go about your day-to-day activities.
- Your insurance company is trying to reduce your compensation. Insurance companies want to protect their bottom lines and may be looking for ways to give you less than you deserve.
- Your claim is denied. The insurance company may deny your claim and give you a reason that you do not agree with.
- The fault is unclear. If you don’t agree with the insurance company’s assessment of fault, or you need help determining fault.
- You have questions regarding your claim.