Did you know that bicycle accidents are on the rise in the US? A total of 948 cyclists were killed in 2020 compared to 966 in 2021, representing a 1.9% increase in just one year. In 2021 alone, cyclist fatalities accounted for 2.2% of all traffic-related fatalities nationwide. If you were involved in an accident while biking in Phoenix, contact a Phoenix bicycle accident attorney as soon as possible. Our personal injury lawyers have the skills and resources required to achieve justice and secure compensation on your behalf.
Why Choose a Specialized Phoenix Bicycle Accident Attorney?
- Establishing Fault: Determining who is at fault can be challenging, as bicycle accidents often involve multiple parties, such as motor vehicle drivers, pedestrians, and cyclists. Proving negligence or liability may require witness statements, video evidence, and accident reconstruction experts.
- Comparative Negligence: Some jurisdictions apply comparative negligence, which means both the cyclist and the other party may share some level of responsibility. This can complicate liability assessment.
- Identifying Sources of Compensation: Identifying the responsible party’s insurance coverage can be complex. It may involve the cyclist’s auto insurance, the motorist’s insurance, or other third-party sources. Some parties might also be uninsured or underinsured, which complicates matters further.
- No-Fault Laws: Some jurisdictions have no-fault insurance laws, which can affect the process of seeking compensation.
Evidence and Documentation
- Gathering Evidence: It’s essential to document the accident scene. Information you should gather includes witness statements, photos and videos, and medical records. The quality and availability of evidence can vary, making it essential to preserve it promptly.
- Expert Witnesses: In complex cases, expert witnesses may be required to establish liability, assess injuries, or evaluate the economic impact of the accident.
Multiple Parties Involved
- Multiple Defendants: Cases can involve multiple parties, such as the driver, the vehicle owner, the municipality responsible for road maintenance, or the manufacturer of a defective bicycle component. Coordinating legal action against multiple defendants can be intricate.
- Sovereign Immunity: In cases where government entities are involved (e.g., poorly maintained roads or inadequate traffic control), sovereign immunity laws may limit the ability to sue such entities.
The Importance of Understanding Local Laws
- Legal Compliance: Knowledge of local laws ensures that cyclists are aware of their legal responsibilities, such as obeying traffic rules, using appropriate hand signals, and respecting local ordinances. Failure to comply with these laws can result in citations or contributory negligence, potentially reducing compensation in case of an accident.
- Safety: Understanding local laws can make the road safer for cyclists and motorists. Complying with traffic laws helps prevent accidents and reduce the risk of injuries. Awareness of specific rules for cyclists, like wearing helmets or using lights at night, can make a significant difference in personal safety.
- Liability: Knowing the local laws can help determine liability in the event of an accident. Understanding who had the right of way or who violated a traffic rule can be essential for proving fault or defending against unwarranted claims in a legal case.
- Insurance Claims: Bicycle accidents often involve insurance claims. Being informed about local regulations can help ensure your insurance company provides fair compensation. It can also help you navigate the claims process more effectively.
- Legal Actions: In the event of a serious accident, knowledge of local laws can be invaluable when pursuing legal actions, such as personal injury claims. Understanding the statute of limitations and the legal framework for such cases is crucial to protecting your rights.
- Advocacy and Policy: Familiarity with local laws can empower cyclists to advocate for safer infrastructure and better policies. Cyclists can engage with local authorities and organizations to push for improvements in cycling conditions, such as bike lanes and awareness campaigns.
- Legal Protections: In some cases, local laws may provide additional legal protections for cyclists, such as the creation of safe passing distances or rules that prioritize cyclist safety. Understanding these legal provisions can be vital in advocating for cyclists’ rights and safety.
Common Types and Causes of Bicycle Accidents in Phoenix
- Vehicle Collisions: These accidents involve collisions between bicycles and motor vehicles, whether it be cars, trucks, or motorcycles.
- Intersection Accidents: Many bicycle accidents occur at intersections, where various road users converge. Cyclists may be hit by a vehicle that turns, runs a red light, or collides with another cyclist or pedestrian.
- Sidewalk and Pedestrian Accidents: Cyclists may collide with pedestrians on sidewalks or in crosswalks, particularly when cyclists are not adhering to local laws about where they can ride.
- Parking Lot Accidents: Cyclists can be struck by vehicles or hit stationary objects in parking lots, especially when cars are maneuvering or backing up.
- Cyclist-Cyclist Collisions: Multiple cyclists on the same path can collide with each other due to miscommunication or erratic maneuvers.
- Hit-and-Run Accidents: In some cases, a vehicle may hit a cyclist and then flee the scene, making it challenging to identify the responsible party.
- Road Rage Incidents: Aggressive or irate motorists may intentionally target cyclists, leading to confrontations and accidents.
- Weather-Related Accidents: Inclement weather conditions—like rain, ice, or snow—reduce visibility and road traction, making accidents more likely to occur.
While bicycle accidents can occur for various reasons, these are the most common causes.
- Distracted driving
- Aggressive or reckless driving
- Impaired driving
- Poor road conditions
- Failure to yield the right of way
- Poor lighting
- Inadequate signage
Understanding Your Rights as a Cyclist in Phoenix
The Rights of Cyclists
Cyclists in Phoenix, Arizona, have certain rights on the road, which are generally protected under state and local traffic laws. Understanding these rights is essential for both cyclists and motorists to ensure safe and lawful interactions on the road. Here are some key points regarding cyclists’ rights in Phoenix:
- The Right to Use the Road: Cyclists have the legal right to use the roadways just like motor vehicles. This means they can ride in regular traffic lanes, and drivers must respect their presence. Phoenix law generally regards bicycles as vehicles.
- Bike Lanes and Shoulders: When bike lanes or shoulders are available, cyclists are encouraged to use them, but they are not obligated to do so. If a cyclist chooses to use the road instead, they have the right to do so.
- Respect for the Three-Foot Rule: Arizona law requires that when passing a cyclist, drivers must provide at least three feet of clearance between their vehicle and the cyclist. If it’s not safe to provide three feet of clearance, drivers should wait until it’s safe to pass.
The Legal Responsibilities of Cyclists and Motorists
In Phoenix, Arizona, cyclists and motorists have specific legal responsibilities outlined by state and local traffic laws. Understanding and adhering to these responsibilities is crucial for safety and the orderly flow of traffic. Here are the legal responsibilities of cyclists and motorists in Phoenix:
Legal Responsibilities of Cyclists
- Obey Traffic Laws: Cyclists must obey the same traffic laws that apply to motorists. This includes coming to a full stop at stop signs and red lights, yielding the right of way when required, and obeying traffic signals.
- Travel With Traffic: Cyclists must ride with traffic when using the roadway. Riding against traffic is not only illegal but also dangerous.
- Use Hand Signals: Cyclists should use their hands to let motorists know when they plan to stop or turn. Doing so gives motorists enough time to slow down and maintain a safe distance.
- Lighting and Visibility: When riding between sunset and sunrise or in low-light conditions, cyclists must have a white headlight on the front of their bicycle and a red reflector on the rear. Wearing reflective clothing or accessories is recommended to enhance visibility.
- Wear a Helmet: While not required for adults, cyclists are strongly encouraged to wear helmets for their safety. All cyclists under 18 years old are legally required to wear a helmet.
- Stay to the Right: Cyclists should stay as close to the right side of the roadway as practicable, but there are exceptions. When passing another vehicle, preparing for a left turn, or avoiding hazards, cyclists can move away from the right edge.
Legal Responsibilities of Motorists
- Respect Cyclists: Motorists must respect the rights of cyclists on the road and provide at least three feet of clearance when passing a cyclist. If it’s not safe to pass with three feet of clearance, drivers should wait until it is safe to do so.
- Obey Traffic Laws: Motorists must follow all traffic laws and signals. This includes but is not limited to stopping at red lights and stop signs, adhering to speed limits, and yielding the right of way to cyclists and pedestrians.
- Don’t Drive Aggressively or Harass Cyclists: Harassment or aggressive behavior directed at cyclists, such as crowding or honking, is not permitted and can result in legal consequences.
- Be Cautious When Opening Doors: Motorists should be cautious when opening car doors to avoid hitting cyclists who may be passing by. Opening a car door when a cyclist is approaching is illegal.
- Be Aware of Blind Spots: Motorists should be vigilant for cyclists, especially when turning or changing lanes. Cyclists can be more challenging to spot in blind spots.
- Adhere to Speed Limits: Motorists should carefully observe posted speed limits, especially when cyclist or pedestrian traffic is heavy.
Understanding and adhering to these legal responsibilities is vital for the safety of all road users in Phoenix. Both cyclists and motorists should exercise caution, respect one another’s rights, and follow the law to ensure safe and harmonious travel on the roadways.
Proving Fault in a Bicycle Accident
Challenges in Proving Fault
In many cases, the cyclist’s and motorist’s versions of events may differ, making it challenging to establish a clear and unbiased account of the accident.
Lack of Witnesses
Not having any or enough credible witnesses to attest to the events leading up to the accident can make it difficult to verify what happened.
Gathering evidence—like skid marks, photographs, and video footage—is critical but may not always be available or conclusive.
Arizona has modified comparative negligence laws in place. Under these laws, the plaintiff can seek compensation for their losses even if they’re as much as 99% at fault for the accident. Their compensation is simply reduced by their percentage of fault. For example, if a judge awards $100,000 in damages and the plaintiff contributed 10% of the fault, they’ll still collect $90,000.
Insurance companies may argue over who is responsible for causing the accident to minimize your payout. Their investigations can lead to prolonged negotiations or legal battles.
What to Do After a Bicycle Accident
- Check for Injuries: Your safety is the top priority. Check to see if you have any visible injuries. If you do and they’re serious, call 911 for emergency assistance.
- Contact Law Enforcement: Call the police to report the accident. Officers might arrive at the scene to assess the situation and file a police report. If officers don’t respond, file an accident report through the local DMV.
- Exchange Information: Exchange contact and insurance information with the other driver(s) involved. You should also note the driver’s vehicle information. Your insurance company and lawyer will need this information down the line.
- Gather Evidence: Get plenty of photo and video evidence of the crash scene. This will help strengthen your claim.
- Seek Medical Attention: Even if you don’t think you sustained any injuries, pay a visit to the doctor. It’s better to be safe than sorry.
- Consult a Phoenix Bicycle Accident Attorney: If you plan to file a claim and seek financial compensation, you need a skilled Phoenix bicycle accident attorney on your side. This legal expert will help you navigate the complexities of filing a claim and help secure the compensation you deserve.
- Notify Your Insurance Company: Let your insurance provider know about the accident. Besides the fact that most insurance companies require policyholders to report accidents within a certain time frame, this step is necessary to initiate the claims process.
Hear From Satisfied Clients
“I spoke with Esquire Law about an accident I had that the police placed me at fault. I wasn’t really expecting it to go anywhere, but they took my case, and in no time they had a settlement offer for me. The settlement was way more than I expected. They were friendly and actually cared about me. I am grateful for the work they did and will recommend them to everyone.”
“Esquire Law’s Salt Lake office did EVERYTHING for me from the first phone call. Hassle-free, easy, and empathic. Everything was straight to the point and they recovered a great settlement. Would definitely recommend!”
“So thankful for all of the help I received throughout my case from Alan Beal at Esquire Law! Alan was tremendous in always communicating with me at every step of the case after my accident. He was able to get me compensated fairly and handled everything from start to finish, making it a stress-free process for me. Alan is outstanding at what he does and was a pleasure to work with. I highly recommend his firm!”
Compensation and Claims
Types of Compensation
You can seek compensation for both economic and non-economic losses.
Economic losses are tangible losses that have a dollar amount tied to them. They include things like:
- Medical bills
- Property damage
- Loss of income
Non-economic losses are intangible losses that can’t be assigned a dollar value. They include things like:
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Loss of enjoyment of life
The Claims Process
- Assess and Investigate: Your Phoenix bicycle accident attorney will assess the strength of your case and investigate liability and damages.
- Negotiate: Your attorney will try to negotiate a fair settlement with the at-fault party’s insurance company. This process involves a series of offers and counteroffers.
- File a Lawsuit: If negotiations prove unsuccessful, your attorney will file a lawsuit against the at-fault party to initiate legal proceedings. The statute of limitations for personal injury claims in Arizona is two years, meaning you have two years from the date of the accident to file.
- Litigation: If no settlement is reached, your lawyer will take the case to court where a judge or a jury will determine liability and damages.
- Verdict and Appeals: The judge will issue a verdict at the end of the trial stating who is at fault and what compensation will be provided. Either party has the option to appeal the decision if they believe it’s unjust.
Expert Bicycle Accident Attorney in Phoenix, AZ
Don’t wait to get the compensation you need to cover your accident-related expenses. Contact Esquire Law today for a free case evaluation. Your Phoenix bicycle accident attorney will review your case, explain your rights and legal options, and create a winning legal strategy to achieve the results you want. We’re ready to fight for your rights every step of the way.