Clearwater Bicyclists Should Be Aware of “Right-Hook” Accident Risks

April 19, 2023 | Attorney, Matthew Dolman
Clearwater Bicyclists Should Be Aware of “Right-Hook” Accident Risks

Right-hook bicycle accidents occur when a motor vehicle making a right-hand turn cuts off a bicycle traveling in an adjacent lane or on the road shoulder, causing the bicycle to crash or run off the road. Here’s why bicyclists need to be aware of right-hook accident risks, and how an experienced Clearwater bicycle accident injury lawyer can handle the process of obtaining compensation for a cyclist who gets hurt in a right-hook crash.

Right-Hook Accident Scenarios

Clearwater Bicyclists Should Be Aware of “Right-Hook” Accident Risks

Bicyclists commonly ride on the right side of a traffic lane, in a dedicated bike lane to the right of a motor vehicle lane, or on a right-hand road shoulder. This puts them at risk of right-hook accidents, which happen when a car or truck on their left executes a right-hand turn directly in front of them, resulting in a collision or forcing them off the road.

Numerous common bicycling scenarios pose a risk of a right-hook accident.

They include:

  • On an open road with another road entering from the right, a car accelerates past a moving bike and tries to make the turn ahead of the bike
  • At a four-way intersection where a truck and bike are stopped side-by-side, the truck turns right and crowds the bike off the road
  • On a city street with a dedicated bike lane, a car speeds up to make a right at a light before it turns red, cutting off a cyclist the process

These are just a few examples. Anywhere bicycles and motor vehicles share the road, right-hook accidents pose a danger for vulnerable riders.

Driver Negligence as a Cause of Right-Hook Accidents

Right-hook accidents can occur anytime motorists fail to heed the presence of cyclists on their right. And that’s almost always the motorist’s fault.

Bicyclists enjoy the same rights to use most roads as car and truck drivers do. Sharing the road safely with a bicycle requires motorists to exercise constant situational awareness and to take special care not to endanger vulnerable road users like cyclists and pedestrians. Safe drivers may need to slow down or move to the left when they encounter bicyclists riding on the right side of a road, for example. And they may need to monitor their blind spots to ensure that a bicyclist isn’t sitting there.

Motorists’ lapses in attention or judgment frequently lead to right-hook crashes.

A car or truck driver may endanger a cyclist by making a right-hand turn due to, for example:

Simply put, right-hook accidents should not happen. And while bicyclists, too, have a responsibility for staying safe on the road, more often than it’s the right-turning motorist who bears the blame for a crash. Indeed, the latest data suggests that roughly 85 percent of fatal bicycle accidents in Florida result from driver error, and there’s no reason to think national statistics are any different.

Potential Right-Hook Accident Injuries

Right-hook accidents hold the potential to inflict severe or fatal trauma to bicyclists. A recent study pegged the annual costs of U.S. bicycle accidents at nearly $800 million and rising.

A cyclist typically wears nothing but a helmet to protect against the impact of a crash. And while there’s overwhelming agreement that bicycle helmets save lives, they can’t eliminate the risk of a potentially catastrophic injury.

Bicyclists who fall victim to right-hook accidents frequently suffer severe trauma.

They commonly suffer:

  • Traumatic brain injury (TBI) ranging from concussions to brain death
  • Spinal cord injury (SCI) resulting in paralysis
  • Facial injuries that cause scarring, disfigurement, or loss of eyesight
  • Crushed limbs and appendages from being run over or pinned by a vehicle
  • Internal injuries resulting in organ failure, life-threatening bleeding, or nerve damage
  • Road rash, a traumatic friction burn that causes infection and scarring
  • Broken bones and orthopedic trauma

Most of the injuries above can be severe enough to cause death. Even when a cyclist survives the trauma of a right-hook accident, the physical, emotional, and financial harm can last a lifetime.

Compensation for Right-Hook Accidents

Bicyclists who suffer injuries in right-hook accidents, and families of cyclists who died in them, often have legal rights to receive significant compensation from at-fault parties and insurance companies. An experienced bicycle accident injury lawyer can handle the process of obtaining payment for the losses caused by a right-hook accident.

Right-Hook Accident Liability

Anyone whose dangerous decisions, actions, or inaction cause a right-hook accident may owe monetary damages to an injured victim or grieving family. As discussed, motorists frequently bear the brunt of the blame for a right-hook accident, because they owe a special duty not to endanger cyclists and other vulnerable road users. Consequently, they and their auto liability insurance carriers commonly owe compensation for the victim’s losses.

But car and truck drivers aren’t the only parties who may face liability for a right-hook accident. Other individuals, businesses, or entities could share that liability or bear it entirely.

They could include, for example:

  • The employer of a driver who hit a cyclist with a commercial or work vehicle
  • A bar, restaurant, or social host who served alcohol to an underage drunk driver who caused a right-hook accident
  • A government agency or contractor at-fault for unreasonably hazardous road conditions that contributed to a right-hook crash
  • Manufacturers of defective automotive or bicycling equipment that played a role in causing the crash
  • A second motorist whose dangerous driving led to a chain of event that ended in a another driver getting into a right-hook crash with a bicyclist

Any of the parties above could also carry insurance that covers a crash victim’s losses. Experienced bicycle accident injury lawyers examine the evidence of a right-hook accident for indications that multiple parties may bear liability for it and serve as a source for payment of compensation to the victim.

Right-Hook Accident Damages

Victims of right-hook accidents commonly have the right to receive payment for the full scope of harm they’ve suffered.

For example, a skilled bike crash attorney can frequently obtain payment for an injured cyclist’s:

  • Medical expenses for treating crash-related injuries
  • Cost of repairing or replacing a damaged bike or other personal property
  • Other expenses related to living with or recovering from an injury
  • Lost earnings and job benefits, including paid-time-off used, from missing work while healing
  • Lost future income opportunities due to temporary or permanent disabilities
  • Physical pain from injuries or medical treatments
  • Emotional struggles due to the trauma of the accident
  • Loss of quality of life or independence
  • Scarring and disfigurement

If a bicycle accident kills a cyclist, the victim’s surviving spouse or family members may seek compensation through a wrongful death lawsuit. In some states, like Florida, the personal representative of the estate must file the claim for the family.

Damages recoverable in such a claim may include:

  • Loss of the victim’s earnings, financial support, inheritance, or services
  • Loss of the victim’s companionship, guidance, or consortium
  • The victim’s pain and suffering before death (in some states)
  • A surviving spouse or family member’s emotional distress (in some states)
  • The victim’s accident-related expenses and financial losses before death
  • Funeral and burial costs

In addition, a skilled bicycle accident injury lawyer can sometimes secure a court award of punitive damages, if the at-fault party engaged in extreme or intentional misconduct.

Speaking with an attorney today is the most reliable way to learn about the types and amounts of damages potentially available for the harm you suffered due to a right-hook accident.

What a Lawyer Can Do for Right-Hook Accident Victims

An experienced bicycle accident lawyer can handle every aspect of the process of obtaining compensation for losses you suffered because of a right-hook accident. A lawyer’s goal is to get you as much money as possible, so that you can pay your expenses and rebound from your trauma.

The right lawyer for your right-hook bike accident case is one who possesses the skill, knowledge, and resources to handle any challenge thrown their way.

Talented lawyers can, for example:

  • Analyze the accident to identify its causes and the parties responsible
  • Gather evidence to support a claim against those parties and their insurers
  • Answer your questions and advise you about your rights
  • Handle all interactions with insurance companies on your behalf
  • Determine whether insurance policies cover your losses
  • File insurance claims and lawsuits in your name
  • Negotiate settlements of your claims when possible
  • Recommend whether you should accept or reject settlement offers
  • Appear in court on your behalf to prove your case to a judge and jury
  • Make sure you receive all money owed to you

Attorneys who represent right-hook bicycle accident victims generally do so on a contingent fee basis. They don’t charge upfront fees for their services, nor do they bill by the hour. Instead, they work in exchange for a portion of any money they recover on the victim’s behalf. They only get paid, in other words, if their clients get paid. So, look for a lawyer to handle your case who has a demonstrated track record of results in cases like yours.

Protect Yourself After a Right-Hook Accident

Bicyclists Should Be Aware of “Right-Hook” Accident Risks

The most important step you can take to protect your rights after getting hurt in a right-hook accident is to connect with a knowledgeable lawyer immediately. The sooner you have a lawyer working for you, the better your chances of obtaining full, fair payment for your losses, and the lower the risk that you’ll miss a critical deadline for taking legal action.

In addition, you can also safeguard your interests by taking common sense steps like the ones below.

Take Care of Yourself

Go to the doctor immediately after getting into any sort of right-hook accident, even if you feel ok. The shock of getting into an accident can mask the pain you might otherwise feel. And some severe injuries don’t necessarily show immediate symptoms. Only trust a trained medical professional to tell you if you’ve sustained trauma.

If a doctor does identify injuries, make sure you follow all medical advice for how to heal. Take medications, go to follow up appointments, do physical therapy, avoid activities as recommended, and otherwise follow your doctor’s orders.

Taking these steps puts you on the path to physical and emotional recovery. It also protects your legal rights. Medical records created during your treatment can serve as powerful evidence in a claim for damages. And by taking care of yourself, you position yourself to receive the maximum compensation available.

Don’t Settle Without a Lawyer’s Advice

Never accept an on-the-spot payment from the driver who hit you. Doing so could sacrifice your legal rights for a fraction of what you deserve to receive. It could also violate the law if the driver does it to avoid reporting the crash to the authorities.

By the same token, beware of any offer from the driver’s auto liability insurance company to settle with you. Insurance companies sometimes contact bicycle crash victims directly to offer them quick cash settlements of their claims. It’s a tactic insurers use to try to escape financial liability for less than what they truly owe. An offer made to you directly will almost certainly fall far short of what a skilled lawyer could extract from an insurance company by negotiating on your behalf.

So, do not agree to or sign anything an insurance company sends your way. Instead, refer the insurer to your lawyer, who can handle all dealings with insurance companies for you.

Contact a Skilled Bicycle Accident Lawyer Today

Right-hook bicycle accidents pose a severe risk of harm to cyclists. A skilled lawyer can hold careless drivers and anyone else at-fault for a right-hook accountable for the rider’s losses.

If a right-hook bicycle accident injured you or someone close to you, don’t wait to connect with an experienced legal professional. You may not have much time to act before your rights expire. Contact a skilled bicycle accident lawyer in your area today for a free case evaluation.

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Matthew Dolman

Personal Injury Lawyer

This article was written and reviewed by Matthew Dolman. Matt has been a practicing civil trial, personal injury, products liability, and mass tort lawyer since 2004. He has successfully fought for more than 11,000 injured clients and acted as lead counsel in more than 1,000 lawsuits. Always on the cutting edge of personal injury law, Matt is actively engaged in complex legal matters, including Suboxone, AFFF, and Ozempic lawsuits.  Matt is a lifetime member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum and Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum for resolving individual cases in excess of $1 million and $2 million, respectively. He has also been selected by his colleagues as a Florida Superlawyer and as a member of Florida’s Legal Elite on multiple occasions. Further, Matt has been quoted in the media numerous times and is a sought-after speaker on a variety of legal issues and topics.

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