Bicycle fatalities rose sharply in 2020 (the last year of reported data), growing by more than 25%. Despite safety measures such as dedicated bike lanes and the mandatory helmet law, cyclists in Melbourne and other areas of Victoria are still at risk for serious injuries and death in the event of a bike crash.
Many different factors increase the risk of a bike accident. In addition to recognising potential hazards, it is also important to know your rights if you are injured or a loved one gets hurt or killed while riding a bike.
The bicycle accident lawyers at Henry Carus + Associates can help. Please contact us today for a free, no-obligation consultation to discuss your claim.
What Causes Bicycle Accidents?
All of the dangers facing motorists and other road users – such as careless driving, bad weather, road hazards, etc. – are intensified for bicyclists. Even with a helmet and other safety gear, cyclists are much more likely to suffer serious injuries and even die in the event of an accident.
The causes of most bicycle accidents can be categorised as follows:
1. Human Error
Motorists and cyclists alike must obey traffic laws. If the driver, the bicyclist, or both fail in these duties, the consequences can be disastrous – especially for the person on the bike.
Drivers of motor vehicles tend to cause more accidents than bicyclists. Some of the most common behaviours that lead to crashes include:
- Excess speed
- Failure to see bicyclists when changing lanes, turning, etc.
- Distracted driving
- Running stop signs, red lights, and give way signs
- Drink driving and driving under the influence of drugs
Cyclists must exercise caution as well. Errors on the part of the bicyclist – such as failure to use hand signals when turning, disobeying traffic signs, and riding while impaired – can also lead to bicycle accident injuries with motor vehicles.
2. Adverse Weather
Bicyclists are at the mercy of the elements. Unlike the occupants of motor vehicles, who are protected by windscreen wipers, an enclosed interior, and other features, bicyclists are subject to the full force of winds, rain, and other types of bad weather.
For cyclists, adverse weather increases the potential for collisions with other vehicles and stationary objects, as well as injuries caused by riders falling from and losing control of their bikes. Before each ride, it is crucial to check the weather forecast and prepare accordingly.
Also, poor weather reduces the visibility of a driver greatly, impairing a driver’s ability to spot a bicyclist on the road.
3. Dangerous Roads
Potholes, loose gravel, uneven grading, and other hazards can all lead to road accidents. Bicyclists are particularly vulnerable to obstacles on unsafe roads, as they can make bikes difficult to steer.
Faulty design is another roadway issue that can lead to bicycle accidents. Blind curves and other areas of poor visibility increase the risk of a collision between a bicycle and a motor vehicle.
4. Stationary Objects
Any type of object in the roadway can cause an accident. Though many of these hazards are inanimate, perhaps the biggest risk of collision is posed by the occupant of a vehicle opening a car door.
Dooring accidents typically occur in the blink of an eye. The bicyclist has little to no time to react in order to avoid the danger, resulting in a crash with the car door or the cyclist falling or sliding onto the pavement.
5. Animal and Plant Life
Loose pets and wild animals may cross the road in front of bicyclists and, in extreme cases, even attack people when they are on their bikes. This can result in collisions between cyclists and animals or falls when the rider tries to avoid hitting the creature.
It may be difficult to believe, but falling tree limbs are another major hazard on the roads, bike lanes, and sidewalks of Victoria. Bicyclists may be seriously injured and even killed from the impact of falling branches, as well as colliding with tree limbs that land in their path.
Your Rights After a Bicycle Accident
You may have several different claims after being in a bicycle accident. It is essential to speak to an injury attorney as soon as possible to find out what options you have for compensation.
The Transport Accident Commission (TAC) administers compensation to those who have been injured in road accidents. Cyclists are eligible for TAC benefits if they are hurt in an accident with a motor vehicle (such as a car, truck, motorcycle, tram, or train).
Benefits after a road accident cover the cost of medical care and like services, as well as income support while you recover from your injuries. You may be entitled to additional compensation if the bicycle accident (a) was the fault of the motorist and (b) caused you “serious injury” (as defined by law).
TAC benefits are provided on a no-fault basis. You do not have to prove that someone else caused the accident, unless you seek common law personal injury damages.
The Wrongs Act is the legislation in Victoria that governs personal injury claims outside of those administered by TAC and WorkCover (see below). After a bicycle accident, you may be able to recover compensation through a public liability claim.
Potential grounds for a public liability claim if you are hurt on your bicycle include:
- A dangerous or defective road, for which a government agency and/or private individuals and companies involved in the design and construction may be liable
- Trees are not maintained on public or private property, causing a bicyclist to be struck by a falling branch or creating an obstacle in the road
- Negligence on the part of the owner of a pet or livestock that gets loose and causes the accident
To recover common law compensation, you must prove that the negligence of one or more parties caused the bicycle accident. Damages for non-economic loss are only recoverable if it is determined that you suffer a “significant injury” as defined by the Wrongs Act.
If you are involved in a bicycle accident in the course of doing your job, you may be entitled to benefits and other compensation through WorkCover (the workers’ compensation scheme in Victoria). An experienced lawyer can advise you how to go about filing a claim.
Bike accidents frequently result in serious injuries. Unfortunately, victims and their families often struggle to get the benefits and other compensation they deserve.
At Henry Carus + Associates, we are proud to provide all TAC clients with a Medical + Like Services GUARANTEE. If you are having trouble getting your medical care and other services covered by TAC, our lawyers can help get your benefits paid 100% free of charge.
We will also examine the evidence to determine your right to common law compensation. You Deserve More, and our team has the skills and experience necessary to prevail on your behalf.
Please call Henry Carus + Associates at 03 9001 1318 today for a free, no-obligation consultation. Our bicycle accident lawyers serve clients throughout Melbourne and other areas of Victoria.