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Bicycle Accident Lawyer for Lowell, Tewksbury, and Surrounding Communities

Bicycling is a popular activity, enjoyed by recreational cyclists as well we competitive riders.  Unfortunately, cycling can be particularly dangerous in the Tewksbury – Lowell, Massachusetts area.  While our area does have biking trails, our streets tend to be highly traveled, with inadequate bike lanes that offer protection for cyclists.

Tragically, the combination of high traffic and poor bike lanes can make a deadly combination, resulting in a significant number of deaths and serious injuries to cyclists.

How My Firm Helps Cyclists and the Families Who Have Suffered a Wrongful Death

In every case in which a cyclist is seriously injured or killed, it is critical to conduct a full investigation and to uncover the causes of the crash, including who may be at fault.  Often, those responsible for cycling deaths and injuries include:

  • Drivers. Drivers are may be driving negligently, such as texting, speeding, or simply not paying attention.
  • Municipalities. Tragically, there sometimes are many previous cycling injuries or deaths in a particular location.  When subsequent injuries or deaths occur, these “accidents” are not really surprise – in fact, they are foreseeable.  When municipalities fail to make locations safe for cyclists, they may responsible in part for the injuries and deaths that occur.
  • Bars and restaurants that over-serve intoxicated patrons. Under what is known as “dram shop” law, bars and restaurants can be held liable if they continue to serve alcohol to patrons who are already intoxicated, and those people drive drunk and injure or kill others.
  • Construction companies. In some cases, accidents occur when construction companies fail to make construction zones safe to both motorists and cyclists.
  • Other individuals or companies. Every accident will be unique.  It’s important to ensure that a thorough accident investigation is conducted to identify all those who may be responsible so that they can be held liable.

Bicycle Fatality Accident Statistics

Sadly, the number of bicyclists who lost their lives in collisions with automobiles increased by 12.2 percent between 2014 and 2015, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).  Researchers with NHTSA indicated that 2.3 percent of all traffic deaths involved someone riding a bicycle.

Similarly, the CDC (Center for Disease Control and Prevention) reported that over 467,000 cyclists were injured in 2015, and that more than 1,000 cyclists were killed that year.[1]

The Causes of Bicyclist Deaths and Injuries

The causes of cycling deaths and injuries include:

  • Alcohol or the influence of drugs. The CDC reported that for 2015, a staggering amount of 37% of all cycling deaths involved alcohol, where either the driver or the cyclist was impaired.[2]  While much attention has been devoted in the media to drunk driving and the dangers of vehicle crashes, relatively little attention has been devoted to the deaths and injuries resulting from alcohol impairment.
  • Driver inattention. Today’s vehicles offer a wide variety of distractions – ranging from stereo systems integrated with smart phones to an increasing number of controls available to drivers.  The controls on vehicles – especially when integrated with phones – not only allow drivers to make and answer calls, but also to listen and respond to text messages without even touching their phones.
  • Cell phone usage and texting. In addition to using the built-in features in vehicles integrated with phones, many drivers still use phones to check email, send text messages, watch video, play songs, and use apps (including Snapchat).  Using cell phones while driving is not only inherently dangerous, it is often illegal.
  • Non-existent bike lanes. Many roads and streets simply do not have any bike lanes.  Bicyclists thus must compete with in the same lanes as vehicles capable of going much faster than the cyclists.  As vehicles pass cyclists, drivers must navigate by not going too close to the cyclists, while at the same time not veering into the lanes for oncoming traffic.  When one vehicle swerves slightly to avoid a cyclist, the following vehicle may not see the cyclist in time to avoid a crash.
  • Other street and traffic conditions. Streets may have large potholes that can cause a crash.  Overgrown vegetation may block the views of drivers so that oncoming cyclists can not be seen until it is too late.  Construction zones may make safe navigation difficult, confusing both motorists and cyclists.

Frequent Injuries Suffered by Cyclists

When a bicyclist is hit by a motorist in Massachusetts, the risk of a debilitating bodily injury or loss of their life is high.  This is due to the fact that there is no protective barrier to shield the bicyclist when they are hit by a motorist; thus it is the cyclist – not the vehicle – that bears almost 100% of the impact.

As a result, many bicyclists suffer serious injuries, including:

  • Broken bones
  • Torn muscles and ligaments
  • Facial lacerations
  • “Road Rash”
  • Traumatic Brain Injury (or “TBI”)
  • Spinal cord damage
  • Nerve damage
  • Paralysis
  • Wrongful Death

We know that if you have been seriously injured in an accident with a motorist, your life may have been turned upside down. In the blink of an eye, you may be damaged physically, emotionally, and financially.  You may be wondering about:

  • Who will pay my medical expenses?
  • How will I be able to pay my bills if I am forced to take time off from work or am left disabled?
  • If the accident was a hit-and-run, can anyone be held responsible for my harms and losses?

As a Tewksbury bicycle accident lawyer, I can help address these issues during a free, confidential consultation.

How an Injured Bicyclist Can Obtain a Financial Recovery

When a bicyclist is involved in a collision with a negligent motorist, the auto insurance policies of both the bicyclist and motorist come into play.

Under Massachusetts law, motorists must carry a state-mandated minimum amount of auto insurance coverage:

  • $20,000 in coverage for bodily injury claims filed by a person per accident; and
  • $40,000 in coverage for bodily injury claims filed by any and all individuals per accident.

In addition to the minimum coverage amounts described above, all motorists must also carry a minimum amount of personal injury protection (PIP) coverage through their auto insurance policy. In Massachusetts, all motorists are required to carry at least $8,000 in PIP coverage, which is typically used to help cover two types of expenses often incurred – medical bills and lost wages.

Does PIP Provide Compensation for Injured Bicyclist Resulting from Vehicle Accidents in Massachusetts?

In most instances, the answer to this question is yes.

PIP coverage in Massachusetts typically provides compensation for a claimant’s medical bills and lost wages.   PIP coverage for cycling accidents is very similar to PIP coverage for individuals involved in motor vehicle accidents while operating their motor vehicle.

An issue related to accessing PIP coverage in Massachusetts pertains to individuals who have a private, non-ERISA, health policy. For these individuals, PIP coverage only applies if (i) your health policy does not cover your medical bills after the accident; (ii) your health policy has a large deductible; or (iii) your health policy has a large co-pay.

If your health policy has a large deductible (for example, if you have a high deductible health plan with an accompanying health savings account) or a large co-pay, then PIP coverage will be used to cover those costs rather than actually reimbursing you for your medical expenses.

What Happens in Cycling Hit and Run Accident in Massachusetts?

It is against the law to leave the scene of an accident.  In Massachusetts, when a motorist is involved in an accident, they are legally obligated to stop and exchange their information with the other individual, or individuals, involved in the collision. Despite this legal obligation, hit and run accidents remain disturbingly high in Massachusetts and nationwide. For example, according to AAA, more than one hit-and-run accident occurs each minute on roads and streets in the U.S. As a result, between 2009 and 2016, there was a shocking 60 percent increase in hit and run collisions.

If you or a loved one was the victim of a hit and run bicycle accident, you have the ability to file a personal injury claim through your own auto insurance policy. If you do not have an auto insurance policy and relied on your bicycle for transportation, do not give up hope. If you live with a blood relative or spouse who has an auto insurance policy, you may be able to file a claim through their policy to seek financial restitution for your harms and losses.

Why You Should Let a Lawyer Negotiate with the Auto Insurance Company

In order to obtain the financial restitution, you are owed for your harms and losses (such as medical bills, lost wages, emotional trauma, and related pain and suffering) after a bicycle accident, there will likely need to be a level of negotiation with a claims adjuster. This is an individual who works for insurance company assigned to evaluate your claim. In many instances, a claims adjuster will make a low-ball settlement offer and do all they can to reduce or deny liability. These low-ball settlement offers often cover only portions of your medical expenses and lost wages without even providing an iota of compensation for your pain and suffering. This is why it makes sense to hire an experienced and aggressive Tewksbury bicycle injury lawyer. I can take the burden off your shoulders of dealing with the insurance company. This allows you to focus on your recovery and getting your life in order while I will work to obtain the best financial recovery for you.

Taking Defendants to Trial

In cases involving serious injury or wrongful death, it is especially critical to have the representation of an experienced injury lawyer in seeking full compensation.  The process of holding all defendants accountable and recovering a fair settlement is meticulous, and typically involves months of investigation, depositions, interrogatories, and negotiation.  The defendants and their lawyers need to understand the full amount of damages incurred, including the pain and suffering endured.

Insurance companies (who are typically involved in settlement payments on behalf of their insured) are notoriously averse to paying full compensation, even when it would appear obvious that their insured (the driver) is fully responsible for a crash.  In essence, they will do everything they can to avoid liability, including blaming the injured cyclist.

My role is to build up the case of clients to the point where insurance companies and defendants have one decision – they can either pay full compensation my client (the injured cyclist), or they can go to trial and have fault and damages decided by a jury.  If they refuse to pay a fair settlement, I will not hesitate to go to trial.

Be Cognizant of the Statute of Limitations

In Massachusetts, there is a finite amount of time that injured bicyclists have available to initiate a personal injury lawsuit against the negligent motorist who hit them to seek financial restitution for their harms and losses. The legal term for this finite amount of time is known as the statute of limitations. In most bicycle accident injury cases, the amount of time to file a lawsuit is three years, commencing from the date of the accident. If you fail to file a personal injury lawsuit within the allotted statute of limitations, you will likely be prohibited from ever holding the negligent motorist accountable for their careless actions.

How I Can Assist You and Your Family with a Bicycle Accident Injury Claim

If you or a loved one was seriously harmed in a bicycle accident caused by the careless or reckless actions of a motorist, contact my office today to schedule a free, confidential case review. During this case review, I can provide an honest assessment of your claim.  My objective is to secure full and fair compensation for you. I work on a contingency fee basis, which means that I do not get paid unless and until you get paid. Contact my office today to get started.

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