Bicycle Accident Injury

bicycle accident injuries

Cycling is an increasingly popular mode of transportation and recreation in Ontario, thanks to the installation of new bike lanes and cycling-friendly initiatives. However, cycling comes with significant risks – from inconsiderate or negligent drivers and unwary pedestrians, to poor road conditions and adverse weather. Under Ontario’s Highway Traffic Act, bicycles are considered vehicles.

Despite efforts to improve road safety, Ontario remains far from its goal of eliminating fatal collisions for cyclists. The increasing number of motor vehicles on the roads, coupled with drivers’ frustration over traffic congestion, often results in aggressive driving and excessive speeding – the leading causes of serious bicycle accidents in Ontario.

Unlike cars, bicycles lack protective features such as seat belts and airbags, which increases the risk of severe injury or death. Additionally, bicycles are less visible to other drivers, especially in poor weather conditions or at night, making them more susceptible to accidents caused by driver inattention or negligence. At Oatley Vigmond, we understand the particular challenges faced by cyclists and are dedicated to helping you secure compensation after an accident has taken place.

Common Causes of Bicycle Crashes

Turning Left across an Oncoming Bicycle: Vehicles making left turns directly across an oncoming bicycle lane are one of the main causes of bicycle accidents. They often fail to recognize approaching bicycles when making left turns, leading to collisions and injuries.

Vehicles Switching Lanes Without Noticing Bicycles: Unfortunately, bicycles are easily missed when drivers switch lanes, often leading to sideswiping incidents.

Drivers Failing to Recognize Bicycles Due to Inattention: Motorists distracted by texting or talking on the phone can fail to notice bicycles on the road, leading to accidents.

Speeding by Both Cyclist and Vehicle Driver: Increased speeds reduce reaction times and significantly heighten collision risks, increasing collision risks.

Substance-Impaired Driving: Substance-impaired driving is one of the primary causes of bicycle accidents, as it compromises judgment and reaction time.

Reckless or Aggressive Driving: Acts such as tailgating, sudden lane changes, and road rage can create hazardous situations for cyclists that lead to accidents.

Dooring: Dooring refers to when an opened car door unexpectedly enters the path of an oncoming cyclist and causes an accident, often in urban environments. This type of incident often results in serious injuries.

Distracted Sideswipe: Drivers who are distracted can veer into bike lanes, leading to devastating sideswipe accidents that are fatal for cyclists.

Failure to Provide One Meter of Space: Ontario law mandates that drivers give cyclists at least one meter of space when passing them; failing to do so could result in accidents.

Potholes, Grates, Disrepair, and Poor Road Design: Unsafe roads may lead to serious accidents, and municipalities could be held accountable if conditions on their roadways become hazardous.

Common Bicycle Accident Injuries

Because there is little to protect a cyclist from the impact of an accident, common injuries include fractures, road rash, internal bleeding, soft tissue injuries, spinal cord injuries, and traumatic brain injuries. While wearing a helmet and proper gear can reduce risks of cycling and lessen the impact, they are not guaranteed to eliminate injuries.

Know the Rules: Cycling Laws in Ontario

Where You Can Ride: You can ride on most roads, bicycle lanes, and designated cycling routes, as well as multi-use trails and paths. However, there are certain areas where riding is prohibited. You cannot ride on controlled-access highways, such as Ontario’s 400-series highways, within pedestrian crossovers to cross the street, within crosswalks at intersections or locations with traffic signals, or on sidewalks. Children under the age of 10 are allowed to ride on the sidewalk until they have developed the skills to ride on the road in traffic. When crossing a road inside a pedestrian crossover or crosswalk, you must walk your bike to the other side.

Stay to the Right: When riding, stay in a straight line on the right-hand side of the road, at least one meter from the curb or from parked cars, where practical. If being passed, stay as close to the right side of the road as you can. For safety reasons, such as avoiding obstacles in your lane, you are allowed to use any part of the lane. You do not need to stay to the right when you are preparing to turn left, pass another vehicle, go faster than other vehicles, or when the lane is too narrow to share.

Safe Passing: Drivers must give cyclists at least one meter of space when passing, if possible. Cyclists aren’t required to maintain a one-meter buffer zone, but they still need to follow the rules of the road. When a vehicle approaches to pass, move right to allow safe passage.

Sharing the Road: Under the Highway Traffic Act, bicycles are classified as vehicles, granting you the same rights and responsibilities as drivers on the road. This means obeying all traffic signals and road rules, just like car drivers. Remember, safety first: single-rider bikes are meant for just that, one person, so leave the extra passenger at home.

Traffic Signals: Follow dedicated bicycle signals where available. Regular traffic signals apply otherwise. If both types of signals are present, obey the bicycle signal.

Understanding Your Rights

If you or a loved one is involved in a bicycle accident, you are not alone, and we are here to help. Even if the crash was partially your responsibility, statutory accident benefits are still available and can cover medical bills, rehabilitation expenses, and lost income as a result of catastrophic injuries sustained in an accident.

If the accident was due to another driver’s negligence, another cyclist, a pedestrian, or the management of the area where you were cycling, you may begin a lawsuit for damages, such as pain and suffering, future income loss, and care costs. Act quickly as there are time restrictions when notifying other parties of a lawsuit and filing claims. This applies even if you were not wearing a helmet at the time of the accident.

How Oatley Vigmond Can Help

At Oatley Vigmond, we offer comprehensive legal support to bicycle accident victims. After an accident, dealing with insurers can be daunting. Our lawyers possess an in-depth knowledge of bicycle accidents and are skilled in negotiating with insurance companies to secure maximum accident benefits and compensation for injuries sustained as a result of your crash.

How to File a Bicycle Accident Claim

Gather Evidence: In order to support your claim, collect photographs, witness statements, police reports, and documentation of injuries as proof. The more evidence there is available, the stronger your claim will be.

Filing a Claim with Your Insurance Company: To avoid complications later, be as transparent and comprehensive as possible when reporting an incident and provide all pertinent documentation as soon as possible.

Hire a Lawyer: Navigating a bicycle accident claim can be complex, and having legal advice to guide the process and protect your rights can make navigating this complex task much simpler.