Indianapolis Bicycle Accidents
Indiana has more than 3,021 miles of trails and bikeways and 301 miles of rails-trails open for public use. While this is a wonderful opportunity for pedalcyclists to enjoy the outdoors and get some exercise, research statistics reveal that collisions between cars and bicycles happen most often around existing and proposed bicycle paths.
People of all ages love to ride bicycles. From a child’s first tricycle to a senior’s touring bike, these vehicles are a source of enjoyment, as well as an economical mode of transportation. Because the rider is relatively unprotected, however, a collision with a motor vehicle can result in debilitating injury or death much more easily than for those in accidents involving only cars or trucks. Like motorcycle riders, bike riders are on the road without the protection of seat belts, air bags and a shell of steel around them. They’re vulnerable to speeding cars, cars and trucks turning out of driveways or alleyways, backing vehicles, and even drivers who open their car door into the cyclist’s path.
In 2010, 1,045 Indiana bicyclists were involved in collisions with motor vehicles, according to a report from an Indiana University research team. Those injured, or the families of those killed, in bicycle accidents need the assistance of an Indiana bicycle accident lawyer to determine whether a negligent driver caused the accident and may be held accountable. Mike Stephenson, a partner with Stephenson Rife Thopy & Harrold, has been helping Indiana families since 1982. A trusted advisor and proven advocate, Mike will aggressively pursue compensation for the pain and suffering you have endured after an Indiana bicycle accident. Call 317-680-2501.
National Facts and Figures about Bicycle Accidents
- According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), bicyclists account for 2 percent of all motor vehicle traffic fatalities and 2 percent of traffic injuries.
- In 2011, 726 bicyclists died in traffic collisions and 48,000 were injured, per U.S. Department of Transportation statistics.
- Those aged 15 and younger are most at risk, accounting for 13 percent of fatalities and 23 percent of injuries in 2011.
- The majority of fatal bicycle accidents happen between 5 p.m. and 9 p.m., and the summer warm weather months have the highest accident rates.
- More “older” people are riding bicycles than they used to: The average age of a person fatally injured in a bicycle accident in 2011 was 43.
Bicycle Accidents in Indiana
Indiana has more than 3,021 miles of trails and bikeways and 301 miles of rails-trails open for public use, according to the Indiana Department of Transportation. This is a wonderful opportunity for pedalcyclists to enjoy the outdoors and get some exercise. However, Indiana University research statistics reveal that collisions between cars and bicycles happen most often around existing and proposed bicycle paths. In Indianapolis, the most dense areas of bicycle collisions are around the Indianapolis Cultural, Michigan Avenue, New York Street and White River Greenway trails in downtown. The vast majority (96 percent) of collisions involving bicycles in Indianapolis occurred within one mile of bicycle paths, according to IU.
Statewide, 1,045 bicyclists were involved in collisions in 2010. About 9 percent received serious or life-threatening injuries; 14 suffered a fatal injury; and 81 were incapacitated by their injuries.
LaGrange County, home of the third-largest Amish community in the country, has the highest rate of bicycle collisions, and other counties with large Amish populations (i.e., Elkhart, Daviess and Rush) also had high bicycle accident rates.
IF INSPECTORS AND COUNTY DID THEIR JOB, THIS CRASH WOULD NOT HAVE HAPPENED
D.H. was a competitive bicyclist who was riding in preparation for a cross-country fundraising ride. In the spring of 2010, D.H. was riding across an old steel-grated deck bridge in Shelby County when he hit a hole in the bridge and flipped over the handlebars of his bike. The impact to the bridge decking caused severe injuries to his face, teeth, tongue, and elbow.
Other attorneys had investigated this case and turned it down due to Indiana contributory negligence laws. D.H. retained attorneys Stephenson and Rife, who immediately started performing a detailed investigation into the background of the bridge. Through the investigation, they were able to learn that as early as 1998, the bridge inspection reports showed the bridge in question needed to be replaced within five years, or by 2003. Because of the poor condition of the bridge, inspectors recommended the county inspect the bridge every six months, rather than the statutory requirements of every two years. The county never authorized additional inspections. The county obtained $844,000 in funding for the replacement of the bridge in 2000, but the Historical Society and adjacent property owners wanted the bridge repaired rather than replaced.
Rather than battle the opponents head on, the county commissioners tabled the matter for months or years at a time, not making any decision on whether to repair the bridge or replace it.
A new bridge inspection company was hired by the county in 2006. Again, it recommended that the bridge be replaced no later than 2007, and that it be inspected twice a year. In 2008, the inspection company took several pictures of broken welds in the bridge and decking and said that the bridge had deteriorated, but did not recommend repairing the broken welds. The county obtained additional funding in 2008. No bridge inspection was done in 2009.
D.H. was not aware of any issues with the bridge. There were no warning signs for pedestrians or bicyclists. D.H. was bicycling across the bridge with his uncle when he hit a hole in the bridge, flipped over the handlebars, and was severely injured. Stephenson and Rife hired multiple experts who helped establish this bicycle crash could have been avoided if the inspectors and county had done their jobs. Shortly before trial, the bicycle accident case settled for $335,500.
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What causes bicycle accidents?
Bicycle accidents share many of the same causes as other accidents on the roads, including distracted drivers and drivers who are impaired by drugs or alcohol. But there are also factors unique to bicycle use:
- A bicycle rider hugging the right side of the road may be struck by a vehicle’s protruding mirror or may be crowded off the road entirely.
- Drivers of cars and trucks may not realize they need to yield the right of way to a bicyclist just as they would another motor vehicle.
- The driver exiting a parked car may open the door right into a passing bicyclist, knocking him or her into the path of another vehicle.
- Bicycles are not as visible to drivers as larger vehicles are.
- Bicycles are silent so, unlike motorcycles, they do not alert a motorist that they are nearby.
Bicycle Accident Injuries
According to the journal American Family Physician, most bicycle-related injuries occur to the upper or lower extremities. The head, face, abdomen, chest and neck are commonly injured.
Most people injured in bicycle accidents suffer abrasions (“road rash”), bruising and lacerations. Road rash is not always superficial; medical procedures may be required to remove embedded debris.
Strains, fractures and dislocations are also common. Head injuries occur in 22 to 47 percent of bicycle accident victims and cause over 60 percent of all bicycle-related deaths and the majority of long-term disabilities.
A bicycle rider who has been thrown to the ground may have facial injuries and fractures, as well as eye trauma from dust and debris.
Significant abdominal organ damage may result from blunt injury or penetration from the bicycle’s handlebars.
Victims of traumatic brain injuries (TBI) often must live with crippling disabilities. They may have difficulty walking, thinking, speaking and sustaining personal relationships. Their families will suffer as well, carrying the burden of a loved one’s physical and emotional needs, as well as the financial load.