Learning to ride a bicycle is a monumental event in the lives of many children. It's a skill and hobby that many carry into adulthood. Some avid cyclists rely on their bicycles as their main mode of transportation, especially in large urban areas like Boston.
Cyclists have no protection when they get in an accident, often resulting in more severe injuries than other types of traffic accidents. If you or your child has sustained injuries in a Boston bicycle accident, Massachusetts law allows you to seek compensation for damages related to the accident and injuries.
The Boston bicycle accident attorneys at Dolman Law Group apply the law to your claim to help you get the compensation you need. Contact us today to discuss the details of your bicycle accident and injuries and learn how we can help you with your claim.
Dolman Law Group Advocates for Bicycle Accident Victims
The legal team at Dolman Law Group advocates for injured accident victims, including those who sustained injuries in a bicycle accident. The firm's dedication to justice, advocacy, and client service has led to the recovery of millions in damages for clients who prevailed in their personal injury claims. Settlements and jury awards vary in size based on a case's facts, so it's impossible to guarantee a particular outcome in a claim. Bicycle accident victims who win their cases could collect thousands, tens of thousands, or more.
A Boston personal injury attorney from Dolman Law Group can evaluate your bicycle accident and injuries and give you a better idea of the potential value of your claim. We have the knowledge, resources, and passion for aggressively pursuing the best outcome for your bicycle accident case.
Dangerous Roads for Cycling in Boston
In recent years the City of Boston has devoted resources to make it safer for cyclists in the city. Like others in the United States, the city has adopted a Vision Zero program to reduce traffic crashes in the city and create safer streets for pedestrians and bicyclists.
The city has a network of conventional bike lanes, but they have added more lanes with greater separation between bikes and cars. Even with additional safe spaces and safety measures, bicycle accidents still occur in Boston far too often, and some Boston roads are more dangerous than others.
Boston is also one of the most congested cities in America. The Northeastern corridor is packed with travelers, commuters, trains, and buses. As you travel through Boston, traffic is never too far behind, and bicyclists must be diligent while riding.
Many Boston bicycle accidents that result in injury occur on the busiest areas of the following streets:
- Commonwealth Avenue
- Massachusetts Avenue
- Cambridge Street
- State Street
- Washington Street
- Tremont Street
- Fresh Pond Parkway
- Route 27
- Route 9
- The Sagamore Bridge
- American Legion Highway
Boston Bicycle Accidents Causes Serious Injuries
The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates almost 1,000 cyclists die in bicycle accidents across the nation each year. The nature of riding a bicycle opens cyclists up to serious injuries when drivers strike them or when they fall from their bikes.
Some common bicycle accident injuries include:
Scrapes and Wounds
A few bumps, bruises, and scrapes are not usually serious injuries, and almost everyone who has ever ridden a bicycle has taken a tumble or two. However, bicycle accidents that occur at high speeds or those involving a collision with a motor vehicle can cause road rash, open wounds, and deep lacerations that leave permanent scars.
Scars on highly visible areas of the body can create humiliation and embarrassment for bicycle accident victims.
If a motorist strikes a cyclist, especially at high speed, joint dislocation can occur. Shoulder dislocations occur more frequently than hip dislocations. If someone falls from their bike, it's natural for them to try to break their fall with their arms. Depending on the impact of the fall, a bicycle accident victim could dislocate one or both shoulders.
Joint dislocations are among the most painful injuries and also often come with torn ligaments, pulled tendons, or other soft tissue injuries around the joint. Those who suffer a joint dislocation can fully recover from their injuries, but some suffer permanent nerve damage that leads to long-term pain.
In Massachusetts, all bicycle riders under age 16 must wear a helmet. Regardless of age, cyclists who chose not to wear a helmet can suffer severe, sometimes fatal, brain injuries. Bicycle accident victims who are fortunate enough to survive a severe accident often suffer permanent brain damage from the crash's impact or direct trauma to the head.
Permanent brain damage causes lifelong challenges with cognition, motor functions, emotions, behavior, and more. Wearing a bike helmet saves lives and reduces the likelihood of a brain injury, but even those who wear helmets can sustain a brain injury when a vehicle hits them.
Neck and Back Injuries
Cyclists face potential neck and back injuries when they get in a bicycle accident. Neck injuries include minor soft tissue injuries like sprains and strains and include more severe fractured neck vertebrae, bulged discs, nerve damage, and soft tissue tears. The same is true of back injuries.
Back and neck injuries are often painful and leave bicycle accident victims with residual headaches, pain, and discomfort for an extended time. The most severe injuries often require one or more surgeries and aggressive pain management strategies.
Spinal Cord Injuries
The National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center (NSCISC) states that most spinal cord injuries occur in traffic accidents, including those involving bicycle accidents. The most common spinal cord injury is tetraplegia, which is full-body paralysis. Most spinal cord damage is permanent because spinal cord cells do not regenerate. Temporary functional loss from a spinal cord injury typically occurs from a lodged bone fragment from broken vertebrae or trauma that leads to swelling.
After the removal of a bone fragment and reduction in swelling, sometimes accident victims make a full recovery and regain all lost function. Those who suffer permanent damage need continued treatment and ongoing care, making spinal cord injuries more costly than many other bicycle accident injuries.
When bicycle accidents involve a motor vehicle, cyclists risk getting their arms or legs pinned under a vehicle. If the accident crushes a cyclist's limb, blood quits flowing to the affected area. Eventually, infection sets in and begins to spread through the rest of the body, ultimately leading to death. Emergency response teams make every effort to restore blood flow to crushed arms or legs. However, sometimes it's too late.
To save an accident victim's life, doctors have to amputate the limb to prevent the infection from spreading. Amputees need months for their stumps to heal and face the psychological trauma of losing a limb. The often frustrating task of learning to use an artificial limb also creates special challenges for bicycle accident victims who suffer an amputation.
Bicycle accidents, especially those at high speeds, can mangle a cyclist's body and cause a great amount of internal damage. For example, broken ribs can puncture the chest wall, lungs, and other organs, leading to life-threatening internal bleeding and damage. Organ damage often leads to death when left untreated. If a bicycle accident causes damage to vital organs, victims could need lifelong ongoing medical treatment to keep them alive.
Boston Bicycle Accidents Have Multiple Causes
Bicycle accidents occur in and around Boston for many reasons. Negligent motorists cause many bike accidents, but others can cause them too. Some common situations that cause preventable bike accidents include:
Driving while distracted is one of the most common behaviors that lead to crashes between bicycles and motor vehicles. In recent years, cell phones have been the most common driving distraction to lead to accidents. Fortunately, new laws requiring hands-free cell phone use in Massachusetts and across the nation have helped deter this dangerous driving behavior. Cell phones are not the only distractions that pose a risk to cyclists.
Other driving distractions that interfere with drivers' ability to keep their eyes on the road, hands on the wheel, and mind on driving include:
- Eating food and snacks and drinking beverages
- Adjusting the heat, seats, radio, or another vehicle feature
- Entering information into a GPS
- Tending to passengers in the back seat, prevalent when small children are in the back
- Reaching for items on the floor
- Combing hair, putting on makeup, and other personal grooming habits
- Focusing on events outside the vehicle
- Road rage situations
Driving Under the Influence
Safely operating a motor vehicle requires drivers to process large amounts of information, especially on busy city streets. Stopping, slowing down, and sharing the road with cyclists means drivers need to be fully equipped to process signs, lights, and other traffic.
Alcohol impairs a driver's ability to process information, making it difficult to appropriately respond to others on the road, including cyclists. Even when a drunk or drugged driver sees someone on a bike, the impaired judgment makes it difficult to avoid a dangerous bicycle accident.
Drivers, who do not get the rest they need, are impaired and unable to react much like drunk or drugged drivers. According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), drivers who have gone without sleep for 18 hours suffer the same level of impairment as someone who has a 0.08 breath or blood alcohol concentration, the legal limit for alcohol for drivers in Massachusetts. Drowsy drivers also risk falling asleep at the wheel and colliding with a cyclist on the side of the road.
Some drivers have no regard for public safety or the rules of the road. They drive carelessly and recklessly, ignoring stop signs and traffic signals and disobeying speed limits. Aggressive drivers who weave in and out of traffic do not yield cyclists—let alone anyone else on the road. Aggressive and reckless drivers pose a major risk to cyclists because they do not safely share the road, and they do not actively look for cyclists.
Their erratic maneuvers can lead to dangerous accidents and life-threatening injuries.
Aggressive driving goes past simply weaving through traffic to actions directed at bicyclists. Remember, a bicyclist is not out of danger when a driver passes them. Some drivers cut off bicyclists, causing accidents. Still, more motorists will ride too close to bicyclists, effectively pushing them off the road. These issues can escalate to road rage in such a way that the bicyclist is targeted by another motorist.
Additionally, bicyclists can be harmed by reckless activity involving pedestrians. It is easy for a pedestrian to knock over a bicyclist or push them into traffic. At times, other bicyclists cause these problems, riding recklessly with the belief that they have the right of way and another bicyclist will not mind.
Poor Street Maintenance
Government entities, including the City of Boston and the State of Massachusetts, are responsible for maintaining Boston's streets. So, bicyclists and other users do not sustain injuries related to poor street or bike lane maintenance. Poorly maintained roads can lead to bicycle accidents when cyclists hit depressions, potholes, or other dangers that cause them to lose control of the bike.
Children on bicycles are especially at risk for accidents because they do not have much experience riding a bicycle. Missing utility hole covers, malfunctioning traffic signals, and missing traffic signs can also lead to a dangerous bike accident.
Poor lighting also plays a part in drivers having the ability to see a bicyclist who is riding a much smaller vehicle. While bicyclists should beware when they are riding on dark streets, motorists should also remember that there could be bicyclists around the corner that are difficult to see.
Insurance Carriers do Not Like to Pay Bicycle Accident Claims
If you have suffered injuries in a Boston bicycle accident, the law permits you to seek compensation for damages related to the accident and your injuries. In many cases, an insurance company will be involved in the claim. Insurance companies protect their bottom line by avoiding financial responsibility for their policyholders whenever they can.
Some tactics insurance carriers rely on to avoid paying claims include:
- Shifting some or all the blame for the bicycle accident to the cyclist
- Shifting some or all the blame to a third party, such as the City of Boston or another driver
- Denying a cyclist's claim because of an administrative error or technicality
- Downplaying the cyclist's injuries or claiming the cyclist had preexisting conditions
Bicycle accident lawyers understand and anticipate the questionable tactics that insurance companies use to avoid liability and know how to protect your rights.
Clients are advised never to speak to the insurance company on record. File insurance claims and seek treatment. However, insurance companies could try to record calls, seeking information that could lead to an invalidation of the bicyclists' insurance claim.
Moreover, insurance companies often require specific information regarding the claim that is either difficult to produce or is not readily available. Working with an attorney ensures that the victim can file claims properly and avoid the ire of an insurance carrier that has little to no desire to pay the claim.
Boston Bicycle Accident FAQ
After you, your child, or another family member, has suffered bicycle accident injuries, you might feel uncertain about what you should do and how your future will look. Don't hesitate to speak with an attorney. Massachusetts law allows you to seek compensation for damages when a driver or another party caused your bicycle accident injuries.
An experienced Boston bicycle accident attorney can advise you on your legal options and guide you through this challenging time. Until you have the opportunity to meet with a lawyer, the following answers to frequently asked questions provide some preliminary information about bicycle accidents in Boston and the process of recovering compensation for injuries.
Does My Mandatory Pip Coverage Extend to My Bicycle When I Get Injured?
No. In Massachusetts, personal injury protection (PIP) coverage follows the vehicle, not the driver. If you suffered injuries because a driver hit you on your bicycle, the driver's PIP insurance would cover medical expenses and lost wages up to the policy limit.
Once your medical expenses have reached $2,000, you can step outside the no-fault insurance system and file a claim under the driver's bodily injury liability (BIL) policy to seek additional compensation for damages related to their injuries and a Boston bicycle accident lawsuit, if necessary.
How Much Time do I Have to Take Legal Action After a Boston Bicycle Accident?
Bicycle accident victims in Massachusetts have three years to bring a lawsuit for injuries resulting from negligence. This time limit, which is referred to as the statute of limitations, means you have three years from the date of injury to file the suit. If you sue the city of Boston, different time limits apply.
You must file a claim with the city within 30 days if your accident resulted from a road or sidewalk defect. Other situations that might make the City of Boston liable for your bike accident injuries require you to file a claim with the city within two years of the date of injury.
Massachusetts courts are bound by the law, so if you bring a suit after the statute of limitations runs out, it's likely a court will not hear your case. The law allows for some exceptions, but they are rare. Regardless of how much time has passed, it's in your best interest to speak with a lawyer as soon as possible. An experienced bicycle accident attorney can evaluate the facts of your case and ensure you meet all the required deadlines.
How Much Compensation Could I Receive for My Boston Bicycle Accident Injuries?
Your attorney and the insurance carrier involved with your bicycle accident claim will place different values on your claim. A negotiated settlement typically falls somewhere between these two numbers, making it impossible to guarantee an outcome for your case. Insurance companies want to pay out as little as possible and have no concern for the injured person and the medical treatment they need. Your lawyer wants to secure every dime possible for damages related to your injuries.
The value of your claim is made up of economic loss and non-economic loss.
- Economic losses include medical bills, lost income, lost benefits, and other types of quantifiable financial loss.
- Non-economic loss is the portion of your claim that includes compensation for your physical pain and the emotional trauma of the injury. For some bicycle accident victims, the emotional stress outweighs the physical pain and suffering. Lawyers and insurance companies rely on medical experts to help them place a value on this portion of the claim.
What Should I Do If an Uninsured Driver Hits Me On My Bicycle in Boston?
Massachusetts law requires motorists who register a vehicle to carry a minimum of $20,000 per person and $40,000 per accident in uninsured motorist (UM) coverage. If the driver who struck you does not have insurance and you have UM coverage, you can file a claim under your own auto insurance policy to recover losses related to your accident and injuries up to your policy limit.
If you do not have UM coverage, you must absorb your losses unless you contact an experienced Boston bicycle accident attorney who can help you sue the driver. A direct lawsuit against the at-fault driver gives you the best chances of recouping your losses if the driver has no auto insurance.
What Should I Do If a Hit-and-run Driver Hits Me While Riding My Bicycle in Boston?
Mandatory Massachusetts uninsured motorist coverage also applies during a bicycle accident when a driver causes a crash and leaves the accident scene. If you have not complied with Massachusetts mandatory insurance requirements or do not own a vehicle, you must absorb the losses related to your bicycle accident unless you can identify the hit-and-run driver.
If you have not done so already, you must file a police report and provide them with as many details about the driver and the car as possible. Boston is heavily populated, making it difficult for drivers to leave the accident scene and get away with it. If you are lucky, a bystander witnessed the accident and can also help give police details to track the driver.
Can I Sue the City of Boston If a Road Defect Led to My Bicycle Accident?
You can sue the City of Boston if you sustained injuries in a bicycle accident because they failed to maintain roads properly; however, taking legal action against the city comes with strict filing requirements. You must file a Notice of Claim with the City Clerk within 30 days. The law department will review your claim and pay compensation if they are liable.
If the City of Boston denies your injury claim, you have the right to bring a lawsuit against the city. It's best to speak with an attorney as soon as possible after a bicycle accident to ensure you have someone on your side, advocating for you to get the compensation you deserve for your bicycle accident injuries.
What Losses Can I Recoup from My Boston Bicycle Accident?
If you reach a settlement agreement with an insurance company for your bicycle accident or a court rules in your favor if you go to trial, you could receive compensation for the following losses related to bicycle accident injuries:
- Medical treatment costs, including ambulance services, emergency room treatment, doctor visits, surgery, diagnostics, medication, and travel expenses to and from the doctor
- Estimated future treatment costs when bicycle accident injuries cause permanent conditions or injuries that require continued treatment and care, sometimes in a long-term nursing care facility
- Lost wages due to missing work from an accident, injuries, hospitalization, and recovery
- Estimated future lost wages when a catastrophic bicycle accident injury prevents a victim from returning to their job or working in the future
- Physical pain and suffering is a calculation of the physical pain you suffer from the accident. Generally, your attorney must demonstrate that this physical pain diminishes your quality of life.
- Emotional pain and suffering is a calculation of the psychological symptoms you suffer that impact your quality of life.
- Loss of consortium with a spouse
- Diminished quality of life
- Scarring and disfigurement
- Punitive damages in the event bicycle accident injuries are a result of willful harm or gross negligence
Can I Take Legal Action If My Child Died from Fatal Bicycle Accident Injuries in Boston?
Massachusetts law permits parents to bring a wrongful death lawsuit against the allegedly at-fault party if they lose a child from fatal bicycle accident injuries. Technically, the executor or administrator of the estate of the deceased must file the wrongful death suit. If the estate prevails in the wrongful death suit, the court will award damages to the estate.
Damages that are often included in Massachusetts wrongful death lawsuits include:
- The amount of income the deceased could have earned if he or she survived
- Loss of companionship and comfort provided to parents
- Funeral costs and burial expenses
If you have tragically lost a child from a bicycle accident, one of our empathetic bicycle accident lawyers can answer questions you have about a wrongful death claim and advise you on the best path forward for you and your family during this difficult time.
Can I Bring a Lawsuit for a Bicycle Accident If I Was Not Wearing a Helmet?
Yes, you can still seek compensation for damages if you were not wearing a helmet. Massachusetts law only requires cyclists under age 16 to wear a helmet, so you are not breaking the law, which sometimes negatively impacts damages. However, if you suffered head trauma or brain injuries, you can expect the insurance company to argue that your injuries are worse because you did not wear a helmet. This does not disqualify you from receiving compensation, but it could reduce the amount.
Let a Boston bicycle accident lawyer evaluate the viability of your case and let you know what you can expect for your situation.
Should I Agree to an Early Settlement With an Insurance Company After a Boston Bicycle Accident?
You should never accept a settlement from an insurance company without at least consulting with an attorney. Insurance adjusters are not your friend, and insurance companies are only worried about their bottom line. Early settlement offers are typically predatory and far less than what accident victims deserve for their injuries. Insurance companies often make these offers when they know their policyholder is at fault for an accident.
By dangling a little cash in front of a victim, they hope to avoid a large payout later. Once accident victims accept a settlement offer, they must also waive their right to seek more compensation in the future. This is especially problematic for those who do not yet know the full scope of their injuries when they accept a settlement. They could incur more losses and have no way to seek more compensation.
Clients are advised never to speak to third parties while a case is pending. When letters, phone calls, or emails come through, forward them to our office. This way, we can speak to anyone interested in the case. You should be focused on your recovery, and you should not be made to make any statements without an attorney present.
How Long Will It Take to Resolve My Boston Bicycle Accident Claim?
Each claim is different, so it's impossible to predict how long you will have to wait to resolve your claim. If your claim has to go to trial, preparing for litigation takes at least a year. Additionally, your attorney needs to coordinate schedules for you and other witnesses, which sometimes poses challenges. You might not see a resolution for two years or longer.
If liability for your bicycle accident injuries is clear and you know your long-term prognosis, you have a good chance of settling in less than a year. Your personal injury lawyer can review the facts of your case, identify any challenges or obstacles, and give you an idea of what you can expect in terms of a timeline for your case.
Going to trial takes more time than settling the case. However, every case is different. You may feel going to trial is the only way to recover the compensation you are due. While we will advise you of your legal rights, we will never tell you what to do. The choice is ultimately yours.
Do I Have to Go to Court for My Boston Bicycle Accident Claim?
Historically, Boston bicycle accident claims resulting from traffic collisions, including bicycle accidents, settle before going to trial. You might have to be deposed or give a statement, but you will not have to go to court in these situations. Ultimately, both sides have an incentive to avoid costly litigation. Sometimes negotiations fail, and litigation is necessary. Although it's unlikely you will have to go to court for your bicycle accident claim, you should be prepared for the possibility.
Can I Afford to Hire a Boston Bicycle Accident Lawyer?
Some accident victims choose to go it alone when they file an insurance claim or try to seek damages after suffering injuries. They don't do their research about Boston bicycle accident claims and assume they cannot afford a lawyer. You cannot only afford a lawyer, but you are likely to get a better outcome for your case when you have an experienced attorney in your corner.
The first step to hiring a bicycle accident lawyer is to have an initial meeting. These meetings are free and give your potential lawyer the chance to review the details of your accident and determine the viability of your claim. If you have a viable claim, and you choose to hire the attorney, you will enter into a contingency fee agreement.
A contingent fee agreement states that you do not have to pay an upfront retainer for legal counsel. Instead, the firm will deduct attorney fees from any settlement or jury award they secure for your bicycle accident injuries.
Get the Legal Help You Need After a Boston Bicycle Accident
Suffering severe injuries from a bicycle accident can leave victims and their families in difficult financial situations, adding more emotional stress to the pain from the injury and healing. The skilled bicycle accident attorneys at Dolman Law Group understand the challenges our clients face in the wake of a severe injury and are committed to helping.
Contact us today online or by phone for a free consultation to discuss the details of your bicycle accident and injuries.
Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA
76 Canal Street, Suite 302
Boston, MA 02114