Thousands of Las Vegas residents use bicycles as their primary form of transportation. Las Vegas's mild climate allows cyclists to be on the road all year round. The city has a bike-friendly reputation due to the more than 400 miles of bike lanes and paths. Unfortunately, cars and trucks kill many cyclists in Nevada every year, most often in Las Vegas. Given Las Vegas' high population, more and more vehicles appear on the roads. Las Vegas is also a haven for tourists. Excited tourists often fail to notice cyclists, ending up running them down. To raise awareness of the increasing bicycle accidents, cyclist activists placed a "ghost bike" at the scene of a fatal bicycle accident in 2016 to mourn the loss of a cyclist. If you or a loved one suffers a bicycle accident, the Las Vegas Car Accident Attorney Law Firm can help you seek compensation.
Bicycle Safety In The United States
As outlined by recent statistics, bicycle trips only make up 1% of all trips in the United States. However, cyclists account for 2% of the people who die in motor vehicle accidents in the United States. Bicyclists include all riders of two-wheel, non-motorized vehicles, including tricycles and unicycles powered only by pedals. In the United States, roughly 1000 bicyclists die every year while 130,000 suffer injuries in accidents that occur on the roads. The costs of bicycle accident injuries and deaths in the U.S. exceed $23 billion yearly. These costs include the costs of seeking medical treatment, the cost of lost productivity, and the cost of lost quality and enjoyment of life.
Some groups are more prone to bicycle accident injuries and deaths. The highest bicycle death rates are recorded in people between 55 and 69. Teens, adolescents, and adults have the highest rates of bicycle-related injuries, commonly treated in the emergency rooms. Nearly 1/3 of all bicycle-related injuries in the United States occur in people between 10 and 24 years. The death rate in male bicyclists is six times higher than in females, while the injury rate is five times higher than in females. Most bicyclists' deaths occur in urban areas. Around 27% of bicyclists' deaths occur at intersections, while 64% occur away from corners in areas where drivers move at high speeds. About 1/3 of the accidents resulting in bicyclists' deaths involve alcohol or drug-impaired drivers.
An Increase In Preventable Bicycle Accident Deaths
Recent statistics indicate that the number of preventable deaths resulting from bicycle accidents in the U.S. increased by 16% in 2020. There was an increase of 44% in bicycle accident deaths between 2011 and 2020. Usually, the number of bicycle accident-related deaths increases in warmer months. The deaths peak in May and increase through October. For example, in October 2020, most deaths occurred in August (157 deaths), while the least deaths occurred in February (53 deaths).
The statistics further indicate that of the 1260 bicycle accident deaths recorded in the U.S. in 2020, 806 were involved in motor-vehicle-related accidents, while 454 were involved in non-traffic-associated accidents. In addition, male riders accounted for 89% of the deaths, which is eight times the fatalities for female riders.
The estimated number of bicycle-related deaths often varies depending on the source. For example, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, usually abbreviated as NTHSA, 932 bicyclists died in motor-vehicle traffic accidents in 2020, which was an 8.9% increase from the 856 bicyclists who died in 2019.
Bicycle Accident Facts in Las Vegas
Every year, distracted or frustrated motorists cut down many accomplished, law-abiding bicyclists. So as a call to action, activists have been erecting ghost bikes that consist of stripped-down bicycles painted in ghostly shades of white. The ghost bikes also act as a message to the Nevada lawmakers to do something about the accidents.
According to Pat Treichel, the founder of Ghost Bikes Las Vegas, their response to raising awareness of bicycle accidents was similar to what you get after a mass shooting. Many people offered their prayers and thoughts, but no action was taken. By 2021, Treichel believed that the public and lawmakers were willing to take action to protect bicyclists on the road. However, it took a tragedy to get their attention.
In December 2020, five bicyclists were killed and four others injured on a rural highway south of Las Vegas. A box truck driver struck a group of bicyclists participating in an annual 130-mile ride. The accident occurred even though a safety vehicle with flashers was escorting the bicyclists. The truck driver, 45-year-old Jordan Alexander Barson from Kingman, Ariz, admitted that he had fallen asleep while driving moments before the accident that occurred on December 10, 2020. The investigators discovered that the driver had a high level of meth in his system. The driver faced 12 felony charges, including reckless driving and driving under the influence.
Awareness of Bicycle Accidents
Following the December 10, 2020, accident that claimed the lives of 5 cyclists, activists held a memorial service outside a local bike shop. The memorial featured a huge ghost bike statue. After the memorial, Vegas Golden Knights of the N.H.L. Groups representing runners, pedestrians, and motorcycle riders contacted the Ghost Bikes Las Vegas to learn how they could improve bicyclists' safety. Lance Armstrong also contacted the Ghost Bikes Las Vegas to know how they would work together. According to Treichel, the governor even started taking their calls.
A Bill To Toughen Penalties for Lawmakers
In 2017, a bill was proposed to persuade lawmakers to toughen the penalties for motorists who hit cyclists, injuring or killing them. The proposition was to make the motorists' actions a felony, with a minimum jail time of up to one year. However, the bill did not pass the legislature. However, after the December 2020 accident, activists sought sponsors for a new bill. The new bill sought to add a presumed liability clause. The clause shifts the burden of proof in any accident from cyclists to motorists.
The Law Tends to Favor Motorists
As outlined by Treichel, the law tends to be on the side of motorists. However, many defense lawyers point out that cyclists understand the inherent risks when they are out there.
Many bicyclists in Las Vegas believe that the city is treacherous. With the city's 24-hour drinking culture and tourists from around the world renting cars and hitting the roads, the city does not favor cyclists.
Effective Interventions For Curbing Bicycle Accidents
Some of the effective interventions for reducing injuries and fatalities in bicycle accidents include:
Bicycle helmets — in case of a crash, helmets reduce the risk of head and brain injuries. All bicyclists, whether adults or children, can reduce the risk of injuries or fatalities by wearing a well-fitting helmet every time they ride a bicycle.
Other interventions have also shown promise for reducing Nevada bicycle accident injuries and fatalities. They include:
- Fluorescent clothing for riders — fluorescent clothing makes riders more visible, even from a distance, than other types of clothing
- Retro-reflective clothing and materials — these can make a bicyclist more visible even in the dark
- Active lighting is a requirement by the law in many parts of the United States when riding a bicycle after dark. Active lighting includes rear red lights, white front lights, and other lighting on the bike or the rider.
The Leading Causes Of Bicycle Accidents In Nevada
Advocacy efforts to reduce bicycle accidents in Nevada can only be practical if we understand the leading causes of bicycle accidents. Some of the most cited causes of bicycle accidents in Nevada include:
Inattentive Drivers — drivers have become increasingly more inattentive while behind the wheel. According to NHTSA, 30% of all bicycle accidents occur when the rider is struck by a car. In addition, distracted drivers who are not paying attention on the road are more likely to collide with bicyclists.
Failure To Yield Right Of Way — unfortunately, many drivers and bicyclists are unaware of their responsibilities while on the road. For example, when should a vehicle driver yield, right of way to a bicyclist? Who has the right of way at an intersection? Accidents mainly occur when drivers fail to give cyclists the right of way.
Inattentive Riders — crashes between vehicles and bicyclists aren't always the fault of vehicle drivers. Sometimes, the bicyclists could also be fully or partially responsible for the accident. Riders must exercise maximum caution while sharing the road with large vehicles. Unlike vehicle occupants, bicyclists do not have any layer of protection. Therefore, in case of an accident, cyclists suffer extreme injuries. In addition, some riders use hands-free cell phones or even wear headphones while riding. This behavior could distract bicyclists, making them fail to maintain the bicycle lane and veer into oncoming traffic.
Riding at Night — most bicycle accidents occur when it is dark. Drivers have difficulty seeing cyclists who do not wear reflective clothing at Night. By the time a driver sees a cyclist, it is often too late to stop the vehicle.
Dangerous Road Conditions — the government should ensure that roadways, including the dedicated bike lanes, are in good condition. However, many bicycle accidents occur due to poor road conditions.
Common Injuries In A Bicycle Accident
While there are many benefits of riding a bicycle, some risks are also involved. The top threat to bikers in Nevada is other motorists who often overlook riders with whom they should share lanes. Bikers have a right to ride on the roads just as other motorists do.
If an accident occurs, bicycles lack protective safety features as vehicles, leaving bikers seriously or fatally injured. Bikers involved in Las Vegas accidents suffer anything from bruises and bumps to life-altering disabilities. The injuries you could suffer in a bicycle accident include:
Often, many people misunderstand this type of injury. The deceleration and acceleration mechanics of a bicycle accident causes pressure on the spinal column leading to severe pain. It also causes discomfort on the back, shoulder, and neck. Typically, the discomfort can take a few weeks or even be permanent.
If the symptoms exceed two years, there is a possibility that they will be permanent and, at times, have life-changing repercussions. Whiplash injuries can also cause headaches and tinnitus, which could be extremely agonizing.
Another common type of bicycle accident injury is head injury. These types of injuries differ in severity from hairline fractures, cuts, concussions, fatal injuries, and severe brain damage. The standard form of head injury is a concussion, which can cause dizziness, loss of speech control, memory loss, ringing in the ears, and temporary loss of brain function. A head injury will be much more severe if you get involved in a high-speed bicycle accident. Generally, if you suffer any head injury, it can hugely devastate your physical and emotional well-being.
Sprains And Fractures
Your knees, ankles, and limbs are at risk of injury when you are involved in a bicycle accident. You could suffer severe breaks, fractures, or minor sprains. Broken bones are typical injuries. You could suffer injuries like torn ligaments if the soft tissue is also damaged.
Soft Tissue Injuries
Soft tissue injuries often include discomfort, soreness, and pain that persist. Common pains are shoulder pain, foot pain, back pain, neck pain, and pain in any part of the body. The common parts that could persist with pain include the lower or upper middle, the shoulder regions, and the lumbar spine.
Long-term impairment can arise from soft tissue damage to the shoulder, unlike fractures that heal quickly and thoroughly. The shoulder joint is highly complicated; long-term repercussions always follow, even if it is just tweaked.
Back And Spinal Injuries
Other bicycle accident injuries include spinal injuries, which can have catastrophic repercussions. If you suffer a spinal injury, it could be hard for you to move, leading to paralysis. The typical spinal injuries from a bicycle accident include coccydynia, fractures, spondylolisthesis, slipped discs, and spinal damage.
What You Should Do After A Bicycle Accident
When you are out on your bike, there is always a risk, even if slight, of being involved in an accident. Knowing what to do after involvement in a bicycle accident is essential. The actions you should take include:
Ensure You Are Safe
Your safety comes first after a bicycle accident. For example, if a vehicle hits you, you should move out of the road to safety unless you are severely injured or it is unsafe to move. Call an ambulance if you are severely injured, and do not fear asking for assistance from people around you.
Report To The Police
If you are injured, you have a responsibility to report the accident to the police. You should do so as soon as reasonably practicable, in any event, within 24 hours. The police report will serve as evidence when you file a claim to seek compensation.
You should take photos to record the accident scene. For example, if a defect on the road causes an accident, take a photo of the road conditions. You should also take pictures of your bicycle wreckage and the vehicle that struck you.
If the accident scene has surveillance cameras, you should immediately obtain a copy of the CCTV footage. Helmet camera footage is also helpful if you have it, especially if you are required to claim against a third party. Ensure it is saved and not subsequently overwritten. The more information you gather, the easier it will be to negotiate any resultant insurance or legal claim.
Get The Other Party’s Details
If possible, request the telephone number, email, postal address, and the other party's name in the accident, including the vehicle's registration number. You need to be calm and avoid arguing, to admit fault, or apportioning blame.
Seek Medical Treatment
A doctor should examine you after a bicycle accident even if you feel okay. This is because there could be long-term injuries that you overlooked when the accident occurred. For example, you could suffer concussions even if you did not hit your head.
Record Witness Information
If people at the scene of the accident witnessed it first-hand, request their telephone numbers, email, postal addresses, and their names. You could call them later to account for the accident.
Keep Damaged Items
You are required to keep anything destroyed in the accident because it could serve as evidence in an insurance claim. This includes your riding clothing, helmet, and your bike.
Call Your Attorney And Insurer
Your attorney and insurer should be the first people to call after involvement in a bicycle accident. They will require to know when and where the accident occurred. They will also inquire about the level of damage and your injuries. They could also seek to know about the details of the other people involved in the accident. Your attorney will use this information to build a strong case for you.
Damages Available In A Bicycle Accident
You could recover compensation for your injuries and expenses if another party contributed to your bicycle accident. The common damages you could recover include:
Physical Property Damage
You can recover damages for any item destroyed by a bicycle accident. For example, if your bicycle was damaged in the crash, you can recover the loss. The law allows you to recover the damages if you also had anything on your person that was damaged in the accident, like glasses, backpack, cellphone, helmet, and smartwatch.
Under Nevada law, these types of damages are usually capped. You can seek compensation for punitive damages by filing a claim against the liable party. However, in a civil lawsuit, you can only recover punitive damages if the responsible party acted with malice, causing the bicycle accident and your resulting injuries. Your injury attorney can assist you in ascertaining whether this recovery is likely.
You could recover medical costs from the person who caused your bicycle accident if you have injuries that require medical attention or visit the emergency room. In addition, you can recover medical costs irrespective of whether your injuries are severe or minor.
You could recover medical costs even if you visited the doctor only one time. You could also recover those costs if you go to the emergency room, need surgery, and need long-term medical care.
Pain And Suffering
It can be hard to prove the damages for pain and suffering. Usually, you can document the costs of your damaged property and medical bills. However, pain and suffering constitute the emotional and physical anguish you suffer from a bicycle accident. For example, your injuries could have caused scarring or disfigurement, which makes social circumstances more uncomfortable. You could also have developed anxiety after the bicycle accident and fear of riding your bike to work. The fear could be so extreme that you can no longer enjoy bike riding. The law allows you to recover damages for pain and suffering for any of these damages resulting from your accident.
If you suffer psychological issues after your involvement in the bicycle accident related to the negligence of another party, you could undergo a psychological evaluation to prove the damage.
Wrongful Death Compensation
If a victim dies because of the injuries sustained in a bicycle accident, the surviving relatives can file a claim to seek compensation for the loss of their loved one. The persons who can pursue the claim include the victim’s children, spouse, parents, grandparents, and stepchildren, among others. A wrongful death compensation covers burial expenses and financial support the deceased used to provide to the family. The extent of payment will vary depending on whether the victim was employed and the remaining period of employment.
Find A Bicycle Accident Attorney Near Me
A bicycle accident could leave you with many devastating injuries affecting your life. If you suffer minor or catastrophic injuries in a bicycle accident, you need an aggressive attorney to defend your rights and help you seek the settlement you deserve. The Las Vegas Car Accident Attorney Law Firm represents bicycle accident victims, helping them hold the liable parties responsible. You can count on our reliable legal representation. Call us at 702-576-0010 to speak to one of our attorneys.