Few things are more fun than hitting the open road behind the handlebars of your bicycle. As you probably know, however, bike riders have a greater risk of sustaining an injury in an accident than motorists do. If you collided with a vehicle, you need an advocate on your side. A bike crash attorney at The Idaho Advocates can help you determine if you have a legal outlet to receive compensation for your injuries.
Cycling is often more about the journey than the destination. Still, you want to arrive safely wherever you go. To increase your chances of avoiding a bike crash, you should know a few things about these crashes and how to prevent them. Also, if you regularly ride on Idaho’s roadways, you must be familiar with the rules of the road.
Bike Accident Statistics
You should not use bike accident statistics as a reason to stay off your bike. After all, cycling is one of your passions. You should, however, understand the frequency of bike accidents in the Gem State. The Idaho Department of Transportation regularly releases information about bicycle crashes. The department’s last report was in 2016.
That year, there were 319 bike accidents on Idaho’s roads. Unfortunately, 97 percent of riders in these collisions suffered some type of injury. Even worse, six cyclists died on Idaho’s roadways in 2016. While bike accidents affected every age group, 25 percent of those injured in crashes were between ages 4 and 14.
When you leave home to explore everything Idaho has to offer on your bike, you must be constantly vigilant. Accidents often occur quickly and without much notice. Because serious injuries are common in bicycle accidents, you must have a strategy for receiving compensation for injuries you sustain. By working with a bike crash attorney at The Idaho Advocates, you learn how best to protect yourself after a bike crash.
Idaho Bike Laws
With most drivers, you can expect reasonable and responsible behavior. Some motorists, however, seem to become irrationally angry when they see a rider in the road. While you cannot control the emotions of those who share Idaho’s roads and highways, you should be mindful of the state’s bike laws.
The Flow of Traffic
Bicyclists in Idaho must follow the flow of traffic. To help you understand this concept, think of your bike as a car. When riding on most roads, you should steer your bike the same way you would your vehicle. There are exceptions, of course, but this rule applies in most cases.
Riding with traffic makes sense for a couple reasons. First, when you ride in traffic lanes, you can clearly see posted signs. Second, motorists expect traffic to move in a pattern. When you ride with the flow of traffic, drivers have a better chance of noticing you and respecting your riding space.
If you choose to ride in Boise, and the road has a bike lane, however, you must stay in the bike lane. If you leave the space, you could receive a citation. You may also increase your odds of needing the services of a bike crash attorney.
Finally, in most places in Idaho, cyclists may legally ride their bikes on the sidewalk. Before you do, though, you should check municipal regulations to be certain a town or city does not prohibit sidewalk riding. If you choose to ride on the sidewalk, you may increase your liability. If you are reckless or unreasonable and injure pedestrians, you could be held responsible for their damages. Officers may also cite you for reckless riding. Further, if you have a gas-powered bike, you must stay off the sidewalk altogether.
The Idaho Stop Law
Whether you have been riding bikes for years or are a new cyclist, you probably understand that you should respect stop signs. After all, coming to a full stop allows you to survey your surroundings and avoid a collision. Nonetheless, bicyclists do not have to stop at stop signs. That’s right, the Idaho’s stop law allows riders to approach stop signs and cruise through them. When you approach a stop sign on a road in the Gem State, though, you do have a legal obligation to yield to oncoming traffic.
At red lights, the rule is a bit different. While you do not have to wait until the light changes to green, you must come to a complete stop at red lights. Your stop can be brief, however. Provided you yield, you can proceed through the red light when it is safe to do so. If you plan to turn at a red light, you can treat it as a stop sign. That is, you may slow down, yield to oncoming traffic, and make your turn.
Just as cyclists are at increased risk of sustaining an injury in a bike-vehicle crash, pedestrians may suffer great harm from bikes. To help prevent injuries, Idaho law requires cyclists to alert pedestrians of their location. If you are passing a walker or runner, you must make an audible noise. Sounding your bike’s bell or calling out to the pedestrian is usually sufficient.
As you probably know, bike injuries can be serious. Even if you think your collision caused no harm, you may develop symptoms over time. While an experienced bike crash attorney may be able to help you receive compensation for your injuries, you are likely better off by avoiding injury altogether. Before you climb onto your bike, you should be aware of some safety best practices.
Always Wear a Helmet
Your head, neck, and spinal column are vitally important. To protect your brain from a traumatic brain injury, always wear a helmet when you ride. Even if you only plan to ride a short distance, a helmet significantly reduces your chances of sustaining a head or facial injury.
Obey Traffic Rules
While complying with the rules of the road cannot eliminate your odds of a bike crash, it can keep you safe. Remember, drivers expect traffic to flow in a certain way. Anything you do to disrupt this flow could leave you vulnerable to a bike accident.
Be a Smart Rider
While you should always wear a helmet and obey traffic rules, you can use your own common sense to stay safe on your bike. The National Highway Traffic Administration recommends taking the following actions every time you ride a bike:
- Choose a bike that fits you and works properly.
- Wear high-visibility clothing so motorists can see you.
- Stay focused, alert, and cautious of your surroundings.
- Secure personal belongings in a backpack or carrier to keep your hands free.
Think About Your Bike Route
Finally, before you head out for your ride, you must plan your route. Try to avoid areas where traffic congestion is common. If you can, include bike lanes or clear sidewalks on your route. Also, remember that many accidents occur in inclement weather or during nighttime hours. As such, try to ride only when visibility is clear and weather conditions are pleasant.
Even if you always ride cautiously, you may not be able to avoid a bike accident in Idaho. When you speak to a bike crash attorney about receiving compensation for your injuries, you will likely discuss blame. After all, in Idaho, you can only recover for accidents where you were not at fault.
In many bicycle accidents involving a motor vehicle, riders claim that the driver was negligent. In Idaho, the tort of negligence has four elements. You are responsible for proving each element by a preponderance of the evidence. That is, you must show that it is more likely than not that the driver’s actions caused your injuries.
To prove negligence, you must demonstrate each of the following:
- The motorist had a duty of care.
- The motorist breached his or her duty of care.
- The motorist’s actions caused the accident.
- You sustained an injury.
In the Gem State, the concept of comparative negligence applies. Under this legal doctrine, a judge or jury determines how much fault you and the motorist had. If either finds that you contributed to the accident, the amount you can recover is reduced. Provided you were not completely at fault for the accident, however, you can probably receive compensation for some of your injuries.
Asserting Your Legal Rights
Riding a bike is a good way to exercise and experience the natural world. When you ride, you assume you will arrive at your destination safely. As statistics show, however, bike accidents frequently occur in Idaho. If you have sustained an injury in a bike crash, you may need to act quickly to assert your legal rights. After all, for most personal injury cases, Idaho law requires you to file suit within two years after the accident.
Determining whether you have a valid legal claim likely requires a comprehensive legal analysis. Simply put, you may need the help of an experienced lawyer. A bike crash attorney at The Idaho Advocates can help you analyze your case. We always offer a free case review at your initial consultation with an Advocate. Don’t hesitate. Call us today at (208) 995-2444 or speak to an attorney on our homepage.
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