Given the year-round warm climate in Las Vegas coupled with Reno and Lake Tahoe's flux of bicycling in the spring, summer and fall, thousands of bicyclists take to the streets every single day, whether commuting to work or simply looking for recreational exercise. Although cyclists are a growing, evolving community in Nevada, biking can lead to a high rate of injuries as the result of a number of accidents.
Many people in Las Vegas use bicycles as a viable alternative to driving a car or walking. These individuals may use bikes for transportation to work, to school, or just for pleasure. With over 400 miles of bike lanes, 180 miles of bike paths, and wide, well-maintained streets, Las Vegas is an excellent city for bicyclists. However, bicyclists in Las Vegas face many risks, as do those in other major U.S. cities.
Nevada experienced 328 bicyclist traffic fatalities in 2016. According to Nevada Public Radio, a bicyclist died in an accident with a taxicab in November 2017, which constituted the 115th traffic fatality in Las Vegas in that year. In 2017 alone, the United States experienced 5,977 pedestrian fatalities and 783 bicyclist fatalities in automobile accidents. Together these vulnerable road users account for a growing share of total U.S. traffic fatalities. In 2003, pedestrians and bicyclists represented 12.6 percent of total traffic fatalities, and in 2017, they accounted for 18.2 percent of fatalities.
Furthermore, each year more than 135 children die from injuries induced from accidents while bicycling, and approximately 267,000 cyclists receive injuries severe enough to require emergency room attention. Many bicycle accidents go unreported over the course of a year when the biker is not injured to a certain severity level, proving that bike accidents are more prevalent than one may think.
The dedicated Las Vegas bicycle accident attorneys of Benson & Bingham have helped bicyclists injured in motor vehicle accidents recover compensation after being injured by someone else’s negligence.
At Benson & Bingham, we are ready to help protect you in any way if injured in a bicycle accident. However, in order for a biker to avoid liability in the unfortunate event of an accident, it is important for a rider to follow Nevada Statutes regarding bicycle law which are explained below.
Nevada has specific laws that govern the operation of bicycles in the state. Many of the rules mirror those for motor vehicles. However, safe passing is the motorist’s responsibility. When passing, a driver must move into an adjacent lane to the left, if possible. If the driver cannot safely change lanes to pass a bicyclist, he or she must allow at least 3 feet of clearance between the car and the bicycle. Drivers of motor vehicles must yield to cyclists at intersections, just as for pedestrians and other vehicles. Motorists should not drive or park in designated bicycle lanes unless they are turning or in the case of an emergency. Furthermore, drivers must take special care around inexperienced riders, such as children.
There are also rules that apply specifically to bicyclists, including:
Many bikers fail to comply with the aforementioned statues of Nevada law, and therefore assume liability in the event of an accident. If you are uncertain, Benson & Bingham offer free consultations to determine if you were under compliance with all Nevada Bicycle Laws, and is willing to provide you or a loved one with legal assistance to help retain recovery in the event of a bicycle accident. Contact Us today for a no obligation, free consultation to discuss your rights.
To help prevent future accidents, it’s important for everyone to understand the common causes of bicycle accidents. Nationwide, 58 percent of bicyclist fatalities take place at non-intersections, and 45 percent occur in dark conditions.
The position of the bicyclist relative to the motor vehicle is a critical factor. Below we discuss some accidents that are caused by unsafe positioning:
Dooring accidents are common on busy streets. Heavy traffic may force a cyclist to ride close to parked cars. If the driver or passenger of a parked car fails to check to see if a bicycle or other vehicle is coming, he or she may open the car door, and the bicyclist may collide with it.
Side swiping accidents happen when a passing car does not provide a bicyclist with enough room. Nevada law requires three feet of clearance when passing to avoid these types of accidents.
Rear-end accidents occur when a car is following too closely or not paying attention and thus cannot stop in time to avoid colliding with the bicycle. These accidents often happen at stop signs.
Another type of common bicycle accident involves when a vehicle crosses into the path of a bicyclist at an intersection or when exiting a driveway or alley. Usually, the driver of the car is either not paying attention or does not see the bicyclist, which is why bicyclists should always wear high visibility clothing and use headlights when needed.
Drivers making right turns can also collide with bicycles. Many drivers fail to check their blind spot before making right turns. If a cyclist is traveling on the right side of the car, the car may hit the bicyclist.
Paying attention and driving responsibly is the best way to prevent an accident. Below we discuss some of the most common risky driving behaviors that endanger bicyclists.
Distracted driving has become a serious problem as more and more people try to multi-task while driving.
Speeding is more than driving above the posted speed limit; it also includes driving too fast for road conditions. It’s difficult for a driver to adjust to curves or road hazards when speeding, which means the driver may not react in time to a dangerous situation.
Most bicyclists avoid riding in bad weather whenever possible, but some people bike in snow, sleet, or heavy rain, conditions that make a bicycle difficult to see. Also, sun glare can blind drivers during rush hour traffic.
Drugs and alcohol cause one out of every three motor vehicle-related fatalities. Bicyclists are at especially high risk due to their limited protection. Impaired driving can cause catastrophic injuries and even death.
Bicyclists should also ride defensively and take appropriate safety measures to avoid accidents. They should ensure that they are as visible as possible, wear a properly fitted helmet, and check their bicycle’s condition before every ride. Always remain alert and listen for cars approaching from the rear and sides. Do not follow cars closely or ride in their blind spots; ride defensively. When biking, you may expect other vehicles to yield the right of way, but you cannot assume that they will do so. Instead, assume the other driver does not see you and always remain on the lookout for hazards, such as potholes, grates, or anything that may cause you to fall.
Nobody wants to be involved in an accident. Riding aggressively or recklessly puts everyone on the road at risk. A defective bicycle can also cause an accident. Other causes include poorly maintained roads, such as potholes. Some bicycle lanes are confusing and dangerous for all traffic, and swerving to avoid unexpected road hazards can also result in an accident.
To help decrease your risk of being involved in a crash, keep these bicycle safety facts in mind:
According to an Insurance Institute for Highway Safety study, 45 percent of bicycle accident fatalities occurred when a motor vehicle was traveling in the same direction as the bicyclist, and 40 percent of serious bicycle collisions occurred when a car rear-ended the bicyclist. Thus, bicyclists are more likely to sustain an injury by being rear-ended by a car than any other way. The second most likely cause of a serious collision is a T-bone scenario, where a car runs into a cyclist while crossing its path perpendicularly. When a bicycle collides with a car, it’s usually the cyclist who sustains the brunt of the damage. Accidents often result in fatalities, especially when the car is going fast or the cyclist is not wearing a helmet. Even in non-fatal accidents, the cyclist may sustain serious, long-term disabilities.
Injuries sustained in serious collisions include:
If you’ve sustained an injury in a bicycle accident, you should seek both economic and non-economic damages in your personal injury claim. Economic damages include monetary losses, such as medical bills and lost wages. Non-economic damages, such as pain and suffering, are more subjective and difficult to calculate. However, in the event of a catastrophic injury, some of the non-economic losses are often the greatest because of how a serious injury can change your entire life.
Potential damages that you may receive following a bicycle traffic accident include:
Both bicyclists and drivers are bound by rules of the road. These rules include traffic laws for cars and any special state or local rules created specifically for cyclists. Both bicyclists and drivers must exercise care when on the road.
Negligence is at the root of many kinds of lawsuits, including personal injury cases. Negligence involves a person who owes a duty of care to another person and breaches that duty. In such an event, the negligent party is liable for any resulting injuries.
When a bicyclist files a lawsuit against a driver for injuries suffered in an accident, negligent behavior on the part of one or both parties is a critical factor. Driver negligence can take many forms, such as running a stop sign, speeding, or improperly using designated lanes. But what if the cyclist is partially at fault? Nevada follows the doctrine of modified comparative negligence , which means that a plaintiff can collect compensation from all other at-fault parties, so long as a court determines that the plaintiff was not 50 percent or more responsible for the accident.
If you’re involved in a bicycle accident, you should first move to a safe area and seek medical care as soon as possible. Even if you think you’re uninjured or that your injuries are minor, some injuries may not show up until days or even weeks later. It is important for your health that you receive prompt treatment. Also, medical records are important evidence that your attorney will use to prove that you were actually injured in the accident. Consider the following tips: When riding a bicycle, carry a cell phone, personal identification, and emergency contact information.
After any accident, call the police. Even if the accident is minor, an official police report documents the accident and will prove helpful if you end up filing a lawsuit.
Leave your bike in the same, damages state as it was after the crash, if possible. It’s best if the police are able to see the accident scene undisturbed.
Get the driver’s name and his or her insurance information, along with the names of any passengers and eyewitnesses. Do not admit fault under any circumstances.
Take photos of injuries, any damage to your bicycle, and the accident scene.
Do not publish photos of or information about your accident on social media. Insurance adjusters and private investigators may read your posts, which may have a negative impact on your case.
Don’t make any statements to insurance companies or other parties until you first consult with an experienced personal injury lawyer.
As bicycling becomes more popular, you need to take appropriate safety measures to stay safe on the roads. If you or a loved one has been involved in a bicycle accident, you need to speak with an experienced, compassionate Las Vegas bicycle accident attorney. Our legal team has the experience and resources necessary to gather evidence and develop a strong case. Nevada’s statute of limitations laws impose strict time limits on when you may file a personal injury claim, so it is important to retain an attorney as soon as possible. Call Benson & Bingham at (702) 382-9797, or contact us online, to schedule a free consultation with an experienced member of our legal team.