“I was injured in a bicycle accident. I was riding on the right side of the road, just to the side of the outer lane line. I was going around a bend at about 18 miles per hour when I got hit from behind. A work van took the bend too sharp and hit me on the inside, sending me flying off of my bike. Apparently the driver stopped and called 911, but all I can vaguely remember is riding to the ambulance in the hospital.”
“It’s been a few days and I am still recovering in the hospital. I don’t know how much my medical bills are going to be, but I don’t have good health insurance, so I’m sure that I’m going to end up with bills I can’t afford to pay. My doctor says it will be six months until I’m riding again. I can’t work—I can’t really do anything—and I’m worried about the future.”
“What should I do?”
Unfortunately, we get calls like this all the time. While Arizona has great cycling weather and some incredible places to ride, riding on the state’s roads can also be dangerous. Each year, there are well over 1,000 reported bicycle accidents in Arizona—and, not surprisingly, nearly all of these accidents leave the rider injured. Many riders suffer serious injuries, and situations like the one described above are not uncommon.
In this situation, seeking help is important. The rider has already taken one key step by seeking medical attention (although it appears that she may not have been aware initially). While it is good to collect information at the scene of your accident if you can, for many cyclists this simply isn’t possible. In our scenario, the rider is lucky that the van driver stopped and called 911. This means that there should be a police report we can use to identify the driver.
Along with seeking medical attention, the other key aspect of seeking help after a bicycle accident is to talk to a lawyer. As our rider is anticipating, the costs of getting treatment and recovering after a bicycle accident can be substantial. But, these costs can also just represent a small fraction of a rider’s losses after suffering serious injuries. This makes seeking just compensation extremely important, and this starts with determining who is liable for the accident.
“I said it was a work van, and I’m pretty sure it was. Just about a minute before the accident, I passed an intersection where a white van was waiting to turn right. I hadn’t seen any other cars behind me for a while, so I’m assuming it was the van driver who caught up and hit me.”
“I’m also pretty sure I remember seeing a white van briefly after the accident while I was on the side of the road. Although, I guess that could have been the ambulance—I really can’t remember. Is that important? I wish I could tell you more, but my memory is fuzzy.”
Our rider doesn’t need to feel apologetic. She was laying on the side of the road with a concussion and multiple broken bones—there was no way she could have possibly done anything (nor should she have done anything) other than wait for the ambulance to arrive. She did the right thing by seeking help as soon as she could, and now it’s her lawyers’ job—our job—to figure out who is responsible.
The key to determining who is liable for a bicycle accident—or, rather, one of the keys—is to investigate as soon as possible. If this hypothetical scenario was real, we would send an investigator to the site where the accident happened right away. At the accident site, our investigator would look for evidence such as:
While our investigator was at the scene, we would also be working on obtaining a copy of the police report (which should identify the van driver). This type of scenario is usually indicative of driver negligence—which means that the driver should be liable. But, as we’ll get to below, there are a variety of other possibilities as well.
“I’ve ridden that road a hundred times; and, to be honest, that bend has always made me a little nervous. It’s sharp and on a downhill, and it gets slippery after it rains. Drivers always take the bend way too fast—the speed limit’s 45 mph, but it seems like they need to make it more like 20 mph. That’s as fast as I would go around on my bike.”
These are all great details for our injured rider to share. After a serious bicycle accident in Arizona, it is important to explore all of the possibilities for filing a successful claim. While driver negligence is a common factor in bicycle accidents, it isn’t unusual for other factors to also play a role. Multiple parties can share liability for a bicycle accident in Arizona, and injured riders will be able to file multiple claims in many cases.
Given what we know about our rider’s bicycle accident in Arizona so far, the types of claims we would further investigate include:
Why is it important to know if you have multiple claims? Simply put, negligent drivers’ auto insurance policies often won’t fully cover the costs of serious bicycle accident-related injuries. Companies and government agencies are more likely to have coverage that riders need to collect just compensation for all of their accident-related losses.
“I’m curious—I guess I’m lucky that the van driver stopped, but what if he didn’t? I had a friend who got hit a few years ago, and the driver fled the scene. She assumed her situation was hopeless and never asked a lawyer for help. Is there something she could have done to avoid going into debt from her medical bills (which she’s still trying to pay off today)?”
This, sadly, is also an all-too-common scenario. While some drivers do the right thing after making a mistake, others do not. While they may claim that they didn’t know they hit a cyclist once they get caught, very rarely is this actually true.
Drivers flee the scene of bicycle accidents for various reasons. Sometimes, they are worried about facing criminal consequences. Other times, they are worried about facing financial liability because they are uninsured. According to the Insurance Information Institute (III), nearly 12 percent of Arizona drivers don’t have insurance—even though auto insurance is required under state law.
Regardless of why a driver flees the scene of a bicycle accident in Arizona, this, unfortunately, presents additional challenges for the injured rider. In this scenario, the rider’s three primary options are:
Ultimately, when it comes to determining who is liable for a bicycle accident in Arizona, the answer depends on the specific facts and circumstances involved. As we said above, engaging a law firm to investigate the accident as soon as possible is the best way to protect your legal rights. We have decades of experience helping injured cyclists recover at Phoenix Accident and Injury Law Firm. If you’ve been injured in an accident, we strongly encourage you to contact us for more information.
Do you need to file a liability claim after a bicycle accident in Arizona? If so, we want to help you recover the financial compensation you deserve. To start the process today, call 480-634-7480 or request a free consultation online now.