Whether you’re riding your bicycle to get to a destination or for recreational purposes, this mode of transportation has health benefits, is efficient, and is environmentally friendly. There are unique dangers associated with bicycles, however. When drivers aren’t aware of the dangers or intentionally choose to ignore them, serious accidents are possible. Injured cyclists deserve quality legal representation, which is why our Charleston bicycle accident lawyers are ready to take on your case today.
The first step to acting on your rights as a bicycle accident victim is to understand the laws that will apply to your claim.
Bicycle Laws in West Virginia
Bicyclists and drivers alike should understand bicycle laws. Understanding when a cyclist has the right-of-way and how vehicles are supposed to respond when a bike is nearby is crucial to preventing devastating accidents. States establish their own bicycle laws. According to Chapter 17C, Article 11 of the West Virginia Code, the following laws apply to the operation of bicycles and play vehicles:
- All bicyclists are granted and subjected to the same duties as a driver.
- Bicyclists must use a permanent and regular attached seat.
- A bicycle can only carry the number of people it is designed and equipped to carry.
- No rider is allowed to attach themselves to a vehicle on a roadway.
- Bicyclists must travel in a lane marked specifically for bicycle use or as close as possible to the right-hand curb or edge of the road unless they are passing another bicycle, preparing for a left turn, or trying to avoid a hazard like an animal, person, vehicle, or uneven road surface.
- Packages cannot be carried if they prevent the cyclist from keeping at least one hand on the handlebars.
- If operating a bike at night, the cyclist must have a lamp attached to the front that emits white light for at least five hundred feet and a red reflector on the rear.
Child Bicycle Safety Act
In order to protect children from head trauma, brain injuries, and death as a result of bicycle accidents, all children 14 and younger are required to wear a helmet while riding a bike. If a child is found without a helmet, police will hold the parents responsible. Anyone 15 or older, however, can legally ride a bicycle without a helmet. The state does not allow the lack of helmet to be used as evidence against someone in a personal injury case.
What Are the Common Causes of Bicycle Accidents?
The majority of bicycle accidents are entirely preventable when drivers are aware of their surroundings and acting responsibly. Speeding is one of the main factors in many crashes. Drivers have less time to react to their surroundings. This can be especially catastrophic for a bicyclist when either vehicle is turning. Drugs and alcohol also play a role in a number of wrecks. Bicyclists are already at a greater risk for injury because of the limited protection they have. When a drunk driver is completely unaware of a cyclist, the injuries can be fatal.
In addition to human error, weather and road conditions can cause bicycle accidents. Heavy rain, snow, sleet, or ice can make it impossible for a bicyclist to travel safely. Poor roadways with potholes or uneven pavements can also cause a cyclist to lose their balance.
Determining Who Is Liable for a Bicycle Accident in Charleston
Negligent drivers are quick to assume an errant bicyclist was the cause of an accident. Our West Virginia bicycle accident lawyers understand that’s not always the case. More often than not, it’s reckless drivers who are responsible for a bicycle wreck. Unfortunately, it can be difficult to prove fault without the right evidence. When you hire an attorney, however, they’ll work to investigate your accident and gather the information needed to prove you’re owed compensation.
Because bicycle crashes often result in serious injuries for the cyclist, a police report should be made. When the police arrive at the scene, they’ll speak to the driver, the bicyclist, if possible, and any witnesses. Evidence from the scene will also be collected. Surveillance videos from nearby businesses or traffic cams are useful.
West Virginia operates under comparative negligence. This means that even if you were partly at fault for the accident, you can still receive a reduced settlement. This is typically contingent upon your percentage of fault.
No matter what the circumstances, your lawyer will be able to evaluate your claim, conduct their own investigation, and build a case that proves a negligent driver wronged you.
Get Help from an Experienced Lawyer
At DiPiero Simmons McGinley & Bastress, PLLC, we understand it can be intimidating to take legal action after you’ve been wrongfully injured. It’s important to remember that you don’t have to go at it alone. With the help of an attorney, you can seek the compensation you need to cover all accident-related expenses.
Hiring an attorney is wise for a number of reasons. For one, they understand the legal process. Bicycle accident claims can be complex, and your lawyer will understand the laws and deadlines that apply to your case. They will also be able to accurately calculate how much your claim is worth. Insurance companies will try to offer you the lowest settlement possible, but your lawyers will make sure that doesn’t happen. Finally, in the unlikely event your case goes to trial, your lawyer will represent you and present a strong case on your behalf.
Hiring a Charleston bicycle accident lawyer is often in your best interest if you’re looking to recover fully from a wreck that wasn’t your fault. To learn more about how to proceed, get in touch with our attorneys today. We’ll provide you with a free case evaluation to get you started.