As a city bicyclist, you likely experience a mix of excitement and danger every day. In Brooklyn, a bicycle is more than just an efficient way to get from point A to point B. It’s the go-to transportation mode for commuters, city-based delivery employees, and fitness enthusiasts. Bicycling is an economical option for navigating some of the worst traffic in the country. But that traffic is where the danger lies.
Each day thousands of bicyclists share city streets with cars, trucks, and commercial vehicles. While many drivers respect a cyclist’s right to ride, some drive in reckless ways that increase the potential for tragic outcomes. When a vehicle crashes into a bicycle, a cyclist has few defenses. Even the smallest vehicle driving at low speeds generates an impact that can seriously or catastrophically injure a cyclist upon impact.
Negligent Drivers Must Pay When They Injure a Bicyclist
At Sibley Dolman Accident Injury Lawyers, LLP, we handle cases for injured victims only. We’ve learned from experience that bicycle accidents sometimes involve complex issues. Negligent drivers don’t always accept their legal responsibilities. Cyclists often sustain serious or catastrophic injuries during these types of accidents.
Our Brooklyn personal injury attorneys understand that a favorable resolution requires a concerted effort to make responsible parties pay. We’ve dedicated our practice to our clients. Our attorneys do whatever is necessary to recover the damages our injured clients need to survive.
Our law firm has worked with many families as they manage the consequences of serious or catastrophic injuries. We’ve seen how accidents disrupt their lives physically, financially, emotionally, and personally. Our lawyers have always understood that we can’t eliminate our client’s future challenges, but we’ve assisted them with our commitment of time, energy, and resources and by fighting for justice on their behalves.
Our Firm’s Results
At Sibley Dolman Accident Injury Lawyers, LLP, we have always handled each case with focused effort and dedication to our clients’ best interests. Following this philosophy, we’ve recovered millions in damages for our injured clients. We’ve worked with the opposing parties’ defense attorneys and resolved cases through aggressive negotiation and mediation. Our attorneys have researched and prepared each case thoroughly because we understand that sometimes litigation is the best option for resolution.
Through our law firm’s efforts, we’ve established a track record of success. Our case results demonstrate our dedication to positive client outcomes. While we cannot guarantee a successful outcome in every case, some examples large recoveries we have secured for our clients include:
- $1.58 million: A defendant struck our client’s vehicle but claimed that their injuries were sustained in a prior incident. At trial, we received a $1.58 million judgment.
- $3.2 million: Our law firm settled our client’s traumatic brain injury case during mediation. We have kept the case details confidential in compliance with our client’s request.
- $750,000.00: Our client sustained a subdural hematoma and a rotator cuff injury in a motorcycle accident. The responsible party’s insurance carrier paid our client up to the policy’s $250,000 liability limit. Our client’s Underinsured Motorists Coverage carrier additionally tendered the policy’s $500,000 policy limit.
- $1.75 million: A poorly-maintained semi truck struck our client’s vehicle. Our client sustained multiple injuries but the liability insurance carrier refused to negotiate reasonably. We filed a lawsuit and eventually settled the case.
Bicycling in Brooklyn
Bicycling is a part of daily life in Brooklyn and throughout all five of New York City’s boroughs. Bicycles provide efficient, sustainable transportation. They’re economical to operate and allow easy access to the city’s central business district. To accommodate the continued growth in bicycle use, NYC continues to improve the city’s biking infrastructure.
The report, Cycling in The City, and the August 2019 “NYC DOT Mobility Report“ show patterns of bicycle use in Brooklyn and throughout NYC. The reports document a steady increase in bicycle ridership. Bicyclists regularly cross the East River via the Brooklyn Bridge. As with all of the city’s bridges, bikers use it as a daily commuter connection to jobs and activities in Manhattan. The Mobility Report includes City-Bike statistics. City-Bike the largest bike-sharing system in the country and an integral component of NYC biking data. Here are some facts about biking in NYC:
- The most recent American Community Survey documented 490,000 daily cycling trips in NYC.
- 24 percent of adult New Yorkers ride bikes regularly.
- From 2012 to 2017, the number of daily Brooklyn bicycle commuters increased from 14,550 to 20,771.
- Based on counts conducted from April through October 2018, 3,048 cyclists crossed the Brooklyn Bridge each day.
- As of October 2018, the NYC City-Bike Sharing system logged 2,578 trips per day within Manhattan’s midtown core.
- Most City-Bike trips cost 25 percent of the cost of a comparable taxi ride and most rides took 1 minute less time than the same vehicle trip would have taken.
Bicycle Safety in Brooklyn
Bicycles have such a high-profile presence in the city that they are a key part of the NYC Vision Zero plan to reduce traffic fatalities. Since the plan’s inception in 2014, the city implemented changes designed for enhanced bicycle safety. Each year the city plans and constructs bicycle infrastructure improvements. Riders now have access to 1,240 bicycle lane miles, which include 480 “protected” miles and 55 lane-miles exclusively for bicycle use.
Despite positive moves toward safer streets, bicycle injuries and fatalities continue. Drivers cut off cyclists in traffic, ignore cyclists’ rights of way, and “door” them in traffic. During the 2017 reporting year, The New York Department of Transportation “Bicycle Crash Data Report“ documented the following casualties from vehicle/bicycle accidents in Brooklyn:
- 1686 bicycle/vehicle accidents occurred.
- 1,691 bicyclists sustained injuries in accidents with vehicles.
- 8 motorists sustained injuries in accidents with bicyclists.
- 10 Brooklyn bicyclists died from their injuries.
- Of the 59 traffic fatalities in Brooklyn, 10 were bicyclists.
After a highly publicized Brooklyn bicycle fatality in August 2019, a New York Times article posed the question, “Cyclist Deaths in New York City: Accidents or Crimes?“ The article continued an existing debate over the lenient punishments drivers receive when they injure or kill a bicyclist. It further explained that vehicle drivers are upset over the push to implement bicycle safety measures.
Brooklyn Bicycle Accident Injuries
Cyclists often wear protective helmets, but a helmet provides limited protection during a serious crash with a vehicle. As the average bicycle weighs less than 20 pounds, it can’t withstand the speed-driven weight of a 3,000 to 4,000-pound car or pickup truck. The impact easily dislodges a cyclist from their seat and sends them airborne.
If a cyclist doesn’t sustain serious injuries on impact, injury is inevitable when they land against a utility pole, a hard street surface, or another vehicle. When a large truck or other commercial vehicle causes the impact, the injuries are even more severe.
Many bike-riders survive accidents, but they often sustain debilitating injuries, such as:
- Traumatic brain injuries;
- Spinal cord injuries;
- Partial or complete paralysis;
- Spinal disc damage;
- Shattered bones;
- Multiple fractures;
- Internal organ injury;
- Abrasions and lacerations;
- Loss of bodily functions; and
- Fatal injuries.
Who Is Responsible for Bicycle Accident Injuries?
Bicyclists and vehicle operators have the same rights and responsibilities under New York Consolidated Vehicle and Traffic Law § Title 7, Article 34. When negligent vehicle operators cause an accident that leads to injuries, they are among one of several potentially responsible entities. Other parties share liability based on their actions, relationships, or connections with the negligent driver or the involved vehicle. Examples include:
- Private passenger car or truck: A driver is responsible for their actions on the road. If another person owns the vehicle, under New York VAT Title 3, Article II Civil Liability, §388, the owner is responsible when another driver uses it with the owner’s permission and drives negligently. The Motor Vehicle Financial Security Act requires that owners have liability insurance to cover their legal responsibilities.
- Commercial vehicles: A vehicle operator, their employer, the owner, shipper, loader, or other related entities are sometimes legally liable based on their ownership and actions. If an employer knew or should have known about an employee’s poor driving history, the employer may be liable for negligent entrustment and negligent hiring.
- Maintenance or repair company: When negligent repairs or maintenance contribute to an accident, the service company may share liability.
- Manufacturer: If a vehicle or parts defect caused or contributed to an accident, the manufacturer may also be liable.
- Contractual liability: Other parties may share contractual liability for a cyclist’s accident and injuries. Owners, lessors, shippers, and other negligent parties sometimes assign their legal liability through hold harmless, duty to defend, indemnification, or other formal contract clauses.
Recoverable Damages From Bicycle Accident Injuries?
A personal injury settlement usually includes two types of damages: economic damages and general damages. Under some circumstances, a settlement may also include punitive damages.
Economic damages pay an injured person for their out-of-pocket costs incurred because of their injuries. This type of damages can also cover future costs not yet incurred. Economic damages include:
- Lost income;
- Diminished earning capacity;
- Hospital and doctor bills;
- Prosthetics, mobility devices, and other medical devices;
- Therapy costs;
- Medical transportation;
- Personal care;
- Household replacement services; and
- Funeral and burial expenses.
General damages are more difficult to calculate. They include damages that are based on the injured person’s subjective feelings, emotions, and experiences. These can include:
- Pain and suffering;
- Anxiety and emotional distress;
- Changes in spousal and family relationships;
- Loss of bodily functions;
- Scarring and disfigurement; and
- Permanent disabilities.
A court sometimes awards punitive damages as punishment for a defendant’s actions. The injured party must convince a jury that the negligent party committed a wanton, reckless, and malicious act.
Will the Person Who Caused Your Injuries Try to Get Away Without Paying?
Except for a few self-insured commercial businesses, most drivers and owners report accident claims to their liability insurers. While not all insurance representatives fit the bad-guy claim adjuster persona, it is their job to reduce the average amount of injury claims they pay out. They achieve this performance goal by settling claims for less than the claim reserve, even when liability is clear.
Each insurance company has its own claim handling strategies. While some negotiate in good faith, others delay settlement until they reach the courthouse steps. Some companies follow a low-ball negotiation strategy that forces plaintiffs to sue. They know that rather let litigation costs eat away at a potentially larger settlement, some injured plaintiffs will settle for an unreasonably low amount.
When plaintiffs refuse to settle for low-ball offers, some responsible parties and their insurance carriers defend themselves through trial. They offer various defenses and hope that a judge or jury awards a dollar amount that’s lower than the plaintiff’s demand. Some common defenses include:
- No negligence: If a defendant proves that they were 0 percent negligent, they owe no damages to the plaintiff.
- No defect: When a bicyclist or vehicle operator alleges that a defect caused an accident, they must prove that the vehicle, bicycle, or a component is unreasonably unsafe, not fit for the purpose intended, or negligently manufactured.
- Damages: In some cases, a defendant tries to diminish the plaintiff’s damages in addition to or instead of defending against allegations of liability. They sometimes seek to reduce a claim’s value by alleging that all or some of the injuries occurred at some other place and time.
At Sibley Dolman Accident Injury Lawyers, LLP, we’ve never been intimidated by insurance company defense strategies. We’ve relied on our experience and our firm’s resources to produce successful outcomes for our clients. We’ve persevered at the negotiation table, during alternative dispute resolution, and through trial. Our attorneys have relied on evidence, case preparation, and our own winning strategies to overcome whatever a defense team tosses in our path.
Call Our Brooklyn Bicycle Accident Attorneys Now
If you or a family member were seriously injured in a bicycle accident, you need a seasoned legal team working on your behalf. With offices in Brooklyn, Sibley Dolman Accident Injury Lawyers, LLP, has the resources to provide aggressive, personalized legal services. Call us at 833-552-7274 (833-55-CRASH) or complete our contact form. We will schedule a free consultation so we can determine if our law firm can help you.