Boston Bicycle Accident Lawyer

Finkelstein & Partners LLP – Boston Office
15 Court Square #800a,
Boston, MA 02108

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With several miles’ worth of protected bike lanes within the city, and around 2.3 percent of Boston’s workforce using bicycling as a preferred source of transportation to and from work, Boston ranks among the most bike-friendly cities in the country. Unfortunately, traffic congestion, streets in poor repair, and negligent drivers make the city a dangerous place for riding bicycles, as well, particularly in urban areas of the region.

If you have sustained injuries in a Boston bicycle accident or have lost a loved one in this type of accident, you likely qualify to seek compensation for the financial and emotional costs of your injury. An experienced Boston bicycle accident lawyer from Finkelstein & Partners can assist you in learning more about this process and can even provide services to assist you.

Boston Bicycle Accident Facts

top 100 trial lawyers - the national trial lawyersAccording to a report published by Boston Emergency and Medical Services, the city experiences more than 300 incidents involving bicycles each year, with more than two-thirds of those incidents involving the transport of an individual to an area hospital. Of the remaining incidents, a small percentage involves fatalities, and the rest of the victims either refused medical evaluation or didn’t sustain any injuries. Of those requiring medical assistance, most require basic life support assistance, though a small percentage requires advanced life support.

More than half of all Boston bicycle incidents involve a motor vehicle, while 18 percent involve an accident that resulted from the road surface, and 9 percent involve a crash between a bicyclist and a pedestrian. The neighborhoods where bicycle accidents most frequently occur include:

  • Boston
  • Brighton
  • Dorchester

Common Causes of Bicycle Accidents

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that around 800 people die in bicycle accidents across the country each year. Thousands more suffer injuries that not only result in lost time from work or school but also permanent disabilities that hurt the individual’s ability to earn an income or live independently. Male bicyclists face a much higher risk of sustaining injuries or dying in a bicycle accident than female riders.

Motor vehicle drivers frequently cause bicycle accidents, with the following ranking among the most common causes of accidents between a motor vehicle and a bicycle:

  • Lack of visibility: Without headlights or a larger frame, it is difficult for a bicycle to capture the attention of drivers whose priority is preventing an accident with larger, faster-moving, and more dangerous vehicles. Inattentional blindness is the term used to describe the way the brain prioritizes hazards and determines which information to process and which information to ignore.
  • Alcohol impairment: Impairment by alcohol or drugs can create deficits in the skills drivers need to operate their motor vehicles safely. Some deficits caused by impairment include the inability to track a moving target, the inability to control one’s speed, and difficulty braking and maintaining a travel lane. A bicyclist who happens to ride nearby faces a tremendous risk of injury when confronted by a speeding, swerving vehicle whose driver may lack the ability to even see the bicyclist approaching.
  • Speeding: A speeding vehicle not only reduces the amount of time that a driver needs to see a hazard on the roadway and respond by braking but also increases the distance needed for the brakes to stop it. What this means is that a speeding driver would have a harder time stopping to avoid a collision with the bicyclist. Additionally, the additional speed makes it harder for the bicyclist to gauge whether a sufficient gap in traffic exists in which to cross.
  • Distracted driving: Driver distractions involve anything that causes drivers to take their hands from the wheel; avert their eyes from watching the roadway; or draw their thoughts away from the task of driving safely. Texting poses a particular concern, as it presents all three types of distractions. In fact, in the time it takes drivers to read or reply to a text, they can travel the length of a football field without attending to the roadway. This poses a major risk for a bicyclist in an adjacent lane with little separation.
  • Lack of separated bicycle lanes: While Boston has made an effort in recent years to improve its bike-friendliness by installing bicycle lanes, many of these lanes do not feature a separation from the travel lanes occupied by motor vehicles. This places riders in proximity to vehicles and at greater risk of an incident.
  • Failure to yield: About 30 percent of all bicycle accidents occur in intersections. Often, these accidents result from a driver who fails to stop at a red light or stop sign.
  • Dooring: A relatively common phenomenon, dooring often results in injuries to bicyclists. This situation occurs when the occupant of a vehicle parked on the side of the road opens a door into the path of an oncoming cyclist, forcing the cyclist to either collide with the door or risk injury by swerving into an adjacent lane of traffic.

The Injuries Associated With Bicycle Accidents

Bicycle accidents can produce catastrophic injuries, including injuries to the brain and spinal cord. These two organs make up the body’s central nervous system and control the other functions of the body. Unfortunately, the brain and the spinal cord each have only a limited ability to heal from injury. Traumatic brain injuries can result in deficits, such as difficulty communicating or understanding verbal communication, memory loss, the inability to move in a balanced and coordinated manner, blindness, or difficulty controlling one’s emotions and behaviors.

Spinal cord injuries most often result in a loss of sensation and function below the site of the injury. Paralysis impacting the entire body from the neck down is known as tetraplegia or quadriplegia. Paralysis affecting only the lower extremities is referred to as paraplegia.

Other types of injuries associated with bicycle accidents include:

  • Broken bones: Victims commonly break bones in bicycle accidents, particularly if the accident involves a large or fast-moving vehicle. The lower extremities, including the hips, legs, ankles, and feet, face the highest risk of bone fractures from bicycle accidents. These areas sit within the impact zone for many types of passenger cars, and can also break from the force of the rider landing on the pavement. Broken arms and wrists also commonly result from the body’s instinctive reaction to outstretch the arms to catch itself when falling.
  • Facial injuries: While a helmet can protect the brain and skull in an accident, often a helmet will not prevent facial injuries, including fractures to the facial bones, eyes, or teeth.
  • Internal injuries: Bicycle accidents involve significant force that may throw the rider onto the hood of the vehicle during the collision or through the air. While the body’s internal organs—including the lungs, heart, kidneys, liver, and spleen—generally enjoy protection from day-to-day impacts, the impact from a vehicle can result in severe damage to the organ and even uncontrolled internal bleeding, known as a hemorrhage.
  • Damage to the spinal vertebrae or discs: While this type of injury will not generally result in paralysis as an injury to the spinal cord would, it can result in mobility loss and chronic pain due to instability in the back and often requires surgical repair.
  • Road rash: This type of injury involves a deep skin abrasion in which the skin scrapes off due to contact with a rough surface, such as an asphalt roadway. While some road rash heals within weeks with home care, many instances require medical treatment to clean the wound and prevent complications, such as extensive scarring or infection.

Seeking Compensation After a Boston Bicycle Accident

In Massachusetts, if you have sustained injuries in a bicycle accident, you have three years from the date of the accident to file a personal injury lawsuit seeking compensation for the expenses and impacts of your injury.

Injured individuals file personal injury claims in civil court and seek to show who caused (and thus bears financial liability for) the accident that resulted in your injury, as well as to show the cost of your injury-related expenses and the psychological impacts you have suffered as a result of your injury.

Most Boston bicycle accident lawsuits start as claims made against the insurance policy of the at-fault party. While bicycle accidents often result from negligent drivers, other parties can also bear liability, including the government agency tasked with maintaining the roadway, the manufacturer of parts used on the car or bike, or other drivers whose actions contributed to the accident.

Your bicycle accident attorney will file the claim in the form of a demand package, which details the case and includes a total amount that you seek in compensation. This generally begins the settlement process, which involves negotiations between the at-fault party’s insurance provider and you, through your attorney.

As the statute of limitations draws nearer, if you have not yet resolved your case through a settlement, you and your attorney can file a lawsuit. You should also note that settlement negotiations can continue even after the case commences, right up until the court issues a final decision.

Boston Bicycle Accident FAQ

Did you suffer injuries in a Boston bicycle accident? You likely have questions about your right to file a claim for compensation for those injuries. Take a look at the FAQ below to learn more.

Suffering severe injuries in a Boston bicycle accident means you may have hefty medical bills to go along with them. Naturally, you may want to know who has to pay those extensive medical costs.

As the injured party in a bicycle accident or the parent of a child injured in a bicycle accident, you will need to make arrangements to pay for whatever medical bills may arise from those treatments. However, you may have more financial help than you think covering the cost of medical bills.

PIP Insurance, If You Carry It

If you carry auto insurance with personal injury protection coverage, you may use it for the costs associated with bicycle accident injuries. Contact your auto insurance provider to learn more about your PIP coverage and how it may apply to accidents outside your motor vehicle.

Your Health Insurance

If you carry private health insurance, it may offer your best line of protection following a Boston bicycle accident. Health insurance can help cover both the short-term cost of emergency medical treatment for acute bicycle accident injuries, like road rash or broken bones, and the long-term cost of ongoing medical treatments for severe injuries, including traumatic brain injury or spinal cord injury.

Notify your health insurance provider about your bicycle accident and ask about the coverage you have, particularly as it pertains to the specific types of treatment you will need for your bicycle accident injuries. For example, you may want to ask about how many physical therapy sessions your insurance provider will cover each calendar year, or what coverage your provider offers for the cost of durable medical equipment.

A Bicycle Accident Claim

If someone else’s negligence caused your bicycle accident injuries, you may file a bicycle accident claim. A bicycle accident claim can go a long way toward reducing the costs you have to bear for your bicycle accident injuries.

Keep in mind, however, that a bicycle accident claim will not force the driver that caused your bicycle accident to pay your medical costs directly. Instead, it will provide you with compensation for your bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering, which you can then use to cover the cost of your medical treatment.

Wearing a bicycle helmet can substantially decrease the risk of brain injury, neck injuries, and facial injuries in a bicycle accident. Failure to wear a bicycle helmet may lead to much more severe injuries in an accident.

However, your decision not to wear a bicycle helmet may not change that you can file a bicycle accident claim. While Massachusetts law does require any bicycle rider under 16 to wear a properly-fitted bicycle helmet, the law does allow riders over the age of 16 to choose for themselves whether they want to wear a helmet.

Furthermore, helmet use, or the lack thereof, may not change the driver’s dangerous actions and how they contributed to a bicycle accident. You may have the right to file a claim against that driver that will help you obtain compensation for your injuries.

You have the right to file an injury claim any time you suffer injuries in a bicycle accident due to the negligence of another party, including cases in which a driver or passenger in a vehicle opens the door into you. Open-door accidents can cause severe injuries, particularly when the door opens into a bike lane and you had no reason to expect that door to open. You may suffer severely broken bones, head trauma, or immense road rash from the door opening accident.

To help reduce the risk of injuries due to opening doors, both drivers and passengers should look carefully before opening their doors, especially around bike paths or known bicycle routes. Parents may also need to carefully observe their children so they do not open doors prematurely. In the case of an open-door accident, you may file a claim against the liable driver’s auto insurance, just like you would if you had sustained injuries in a collision with that driver’s vehicle.

Both drivers and bike riders in Boston must adhere to the rules of the road. As a bike rider, you must follow the same traffic laws and signals that the driver must follow. If you fail to adhere to those laws, including ignoring stop signs or red lights or attempting to enter a traffic lane without adequate room, you may bear liability for a bicycle accident.

However, bicycle accidents across Boston frequently occur due to driver negligence. Drivers often fail to pay adequate attention to the bikes around them, particularly if they have to keep track of bike traffic on narrow streets or in otherwise busy areas.

Furthermore, some drivers may not allow adequate room when passing bicycles or may move forward without providing the bike rider with the right of way, particularly when in a hurry. In those cases, the driver will typically bear liability for the accident.

Sometimes, mechanical damage to your bike can increase the risk of an accident, increase the severity of the injuries you sustain in your accident, or even cause the accident outright. For example, locked or malfunctioning brakes can make it impossible for you to stop your bike safely regardless of what happens with the traffic around you, while a tire that comes off of your bike may send you plunging into traffic or falling into a lane of traffic instead of safely occupying a bike lane or path.

As the bike owner, you must carefully monitor and maintain your bicycle: airing up or replacing tires, keeping all screws tightened, and ensuring that it receives regular inspections and repairs when needed. However, in some cases, another party may bear liability for the damage to the bicycle, leaving that party liable for the accident caused by that damage.

The Manufacturer

Sometimes, manufacturers produce bicycles with serious mechanical errors that may cause or raise the risk of an accident. Manufacturers need to recall those bikes or fix the problems with them. However, if the manufacturer fails in that duty of care, the manufacturer may bear liability for an accident caused by that clear act of negligence.

Your Bike Mechanic

When you take your bike in to have it worked on, the mechanics at the bike shop need to exercise care as they examine it and make sure that it receives the care it needs. If your mechanic fails to fix those damages or inadvertently damages the bike worse, leading to a serious collision, the mechanic or shop may bear liability for those damages.

The Bike’s Owner

If you do not own the bike yourself, including times when you may have rented a bike from a shop, the person that owns the bike bears responsibility for the bike’s upkeep. If that owner failed to take care of needed maintenance and did not inform you about the potential danger, particularly with rented bikes, the owner may bear liability for a collision caused by that act of negligence.

Most people may bear a higher overall duty of care when it comes to children, and when children suffer serious injuries in a bicycle accident, it grows more likely that the driver involved in the accident will bear a high degree of liability for the accident. Drivers should exercise particular care when driving around children on bikes, slow down in neighborhoods, and keep a close eye out for children who may engage in reckless, dangerous, or unpredictable behaviors while biking.

You may receive what looks like a reasonable settlement offer from the liable driver’s insurance company following a Boston bicycle accident. You sustained injuries due to that driver’s negligence. You may have submitted a clear report of your injuries and the medical treatments you needed, or will need, for those injuries.

The insurance company, however, may not automatically provide you with a reasonable settlement offer after a Boston bicycle accident. Many insurance companies will try to minimize the compensation they have to pay out after an accident as much as possible. They may issue a settlement offer that does not reflect your bicycle accident damages.

Working with an attorney offers you the best odds of understanding the full compensation you deserve and working to recover it. An attorney can help go over your settlement offer and determine whether you should continue to negotiate for additional compensation.

Bicycle accident claims can prove incredibly complicated, especially if you sustained severe injuries or the accident requires a complicated investigation. You may need to wait for several stages of the claim to progress before you ultimately receive compensation for your injuries.

You may need to wait until you have recovered from your injuries to process your claim.

Sometimes, you may have relatively straightforward injuries that will lead to an equally straightforward, predictable recovery. In other cases, however, you may have unexpected complications along the way. In the case of injuries like brain injuries or spinal cord injuries, your doctors may not know what your eventual recovery will look like until more than six months after the initial accident.

To make your injury claim as accurate as possible, you should wait until you have progressed in your recovery and your doctors can provide a better, more comprehensive prediction of what your eventual recovery will look like.

Both sides may need time to investigate.

Both your lawyer and the insurance company will need to investigate all the details of the bicycle accident before determining how much compensation you may deserve and who bears liability for the accident. You can expect it to take several weeks, or even several months, for both sides to look into the bicycle accident. They may want to review footage of the accident, take a look at the damage to your bike and your injuries, and talk to witnesses who may have seen the accident.

Negotiation takes time.

It may take time to arrive at a settlement agreement that works for both you and the insurance company. You may need to go through several rounds of negotiation, including an ongoing exchange of information related to the accident, before finally arriving at a reasonable offer.

Some bicycle accident claims do have to go to court.

The majority of Boston bicycle accident claims do settle out of court. However, if your claim has to go to court, you may find that it takes much longer to resolve your claim.

Who Bears Liability?

Proving liability constitutes the cornerstone to having a successful personal injury claim. Most bicycle accidents caused by other parties result from negligence.

You must prove negligence by establishing:

  • The at-fault party owed you a duty of care, a term used to describe the actions a reasonable person would take to avoid causing injury or damage to property.
  • The at-fault party breached the duty of care, which occurred when the at-fault party took actions that contradicted the act of avoiding harm.
  • This breach resulted in a bicycle accident in which you sustained serious injuries. Because of these injuries, you incurred expenses and impacts on your quality of life.

What Type of Compensation Exists?

In Boston, you can recover compensation for the costs of your injury and non-economic damages (the impact that your injury has had on your quality of life).

Some examples of the expenses and impacts that you can claim include:

  • Medical expenses, including the cost of emergency treatment, ambulance transport, hospitalization, surgery, diagnostic tests, prescription medication, physical therapy, rehabilitation, and the provision of assistive devices, such as crutches or a wheelchair.
  • Lost wages for the days you needed to call into work due to your injury.
  • Loss of future earning capacity if your injury has had a lasting impact on your ability to earn an income.
  • Property damage, such as the cost of repairing or replacing your bicycle and gear.
  • Emotional distress.
  • Physical pain and suffering.
  • Loss of the enjoyment of life, if your injury permanently prevents you from enjoying your favorite hobbies and activities.

How Can a Boston Bicycle Accident Lawyer Help?

Lawyer for a Bicycle Accident in Boston
Boston Bicycle Accident Lawyer, Andrew Finkelstein

If you have sustained injuries in a Boston bicycle accident, the experienced attorneys at Finkelstein & Partners understand that this situation can prove painful, difficult, and overwhelming for you.

You don’t want to have to worry about paying someone to help you obtain compensation, and you certainly don’t want to attempt to handle your legal claim on your own. Because the benefits of having an experienced bicycle accident lawyer assist you with your claim can prove so vital to the success of your case, we will happily provide information and guidance to anyone who needs it through a free case evaluation.

During that evaluation, we will explain your legal options and provide information about the additional services that we offer to our clients. You can discuss the details of your accident, ask questions about your next steps, and determine your eligibility to pursue compensation for the full cost of your injuries. Let’s get started.

Contact Finkelstein & Partners today to speak with an experienced member of our legal team.