Bicycles are a mainstay of life in New York. Here, they’re as synonymous with transportation as city buses and taxi cabs.
Riding a bike invites a sense of freedom, contributes to better health, and is good for the environment too.
Unfortunately, riding a bicycle in New York isn’t always as safe as it should be. In fact, bike accidents are common here — and recent studies show that the problem is suddenly getting worse.
If you have been injured while riding a bicycle in White Plains, New York City, or anywhere else in New York — or if someone you love has been killed while bicycling — you may be entitled to significant financial compensation under the laws of our state.
Negligent drivers put innocent lives in danger. When someone chooses to get behind the wheel and then exceed the speed the limit, use their cell phone, drive aggressively, veer into a bike lane, violate the right of way, or operate while intoxicated, they can cause catastrophic and life-altering injuries. These people and their insurance companies have a duty to pay for the damages they cause.
Unfortunately, getting full and fair compensation after a bike accident isn’t always as easy as it should be. Auto insurance companies are known to mount aggressive defenses to bicycle accident claims in New York.
As New York bicycle accident lawyers, we fight hard for the rights of cyclists who have been hit, clipped, or otherwise injured by aggressive, reckless, or careless drivers. Our firm stands up for cyclists’ rights in New York, and we fight to maximize compensation for our clients at every turn.
Lever & Ecker, PLLC is a New York personal injury law firm with offices in both White Plains and Manhattan. We are proud to represent bicycle accident victims and their families in both these cities and throughout the entire state of New York.
Our attorneys offer more than 55 years of combined experience in the practice of law, having achieved a successful outcome in the majority of the cases we’ve handled. We would like to put our experience on your side, working to hold dangerous drivers accountable and fighting to get you the justice you deserve.
What Is a Bicycle Accident?
In New York, bicycles are considered to be vehicles under the law. For that reason, we do not typically characterize bicycle collisions as pedestrian accidents, though they may certainly involve pedestrians.
Generally speaking, a bicycle accident is defined as any vehicle collision in which at least one of the vehicles is a bicycle.
Most bike accidents in New York involve a collision between a bicycle and a moving motor vehicle (e.g. a car, truck, van, motorcycle, taxi, Uber, bus, etc.).
Alternatively, some accidents may involve a collision between two or more bicyclists. These accidents, too, can cause significant injuries.
Bicycle accidents can happen on public roadways or on private property.
No matter what your accident might have looked like, our New York bicycle accident lawyers are here to help. Our law firm has a wide range of experience in bicycle injury cases, and we are well versed in the various bike laws that apply specifically in White Plains, New York City, and elsewhere in New York State.
Who Is Responsible for a Bicycle Accident?
Bicycle accident claims generally fall within an area of law known as personal injury.
Personal injury law applies when an accident is caused by another person’s negligence (that is, carelessness).
In New York, every driver owes a legal duty of care to the people on the roadways, bike lanes, and sidewalks around them. Breaching that duty of care (through careless conduct or driving) constitutes legal negligence.
Negligent drivers are legally liable for the injuries and damages they cause.
Common examples of negligence that may cause bicycle accidents in New York include:
- Texting while driving
- Distracted driving
- Shoulder run-offs
- Drunk or drugged driving
- Running red lights or stop signs
- Aggressive driving
- Failure to maintain a vehicle in proper working condition
- Failure to yield the right of way to cyclists
Too often, motorists treat bicycle riders with a certain disregard. They may view the bikers as a slow-moving nuisance and, in their haste, fail to show them the safety and respect they deserve. This kind of callous disregard can cause serious injuries or death, even if the motorist never meant to hurt anyone.
Note: it is possible for more than one party to be responsible for a bike accident at the same time. The New York bicycle accident lawyers at Lever & Ecker, PLLC can help you determine who might be responsible for your injuries under the law.
Common Injuries in a Bicycle Accident
While bicycles offer many advantages over other modes of transportation and should be welcomed as an integral part of New York transit, the unfortunate reality is that bicycles simply do not offer the same level of physical protection as automobiles.
Accordingly, when car drivers hit bike riders, the injuries can be devastating. Indeed, many of these accidents involve severe or catastrophic injury. Sadly, some bicycle accidents in New York are fatal.
Here are just a few of the most common injuries associated with New York bicycle accidents:
- Broken or fractured bones
- Soft tissue injuries
- Head or brain injuries (TBI)
- Spinal injuries
- Impaired vision or hearing
- Cuts or contusions
- Knee injuries
- Internal bleeding
- Vital organ damage
- Paralysis (in severe cases)
- Death (in severe cases)
Naturally, every bike accident is different. Your injuries may be different from the examples cited above. Whatever your injuries might look like, the New York bicycle accident lawyers at Lever & Ecker, PLLC are ready to help.
Do I Need a Personal Injury Lawyer for a Bicycle Accident Claim?
The law does not require that bicycle accident victims be represented by an attorney before filing a claim for compensation. However, you may find that the process is much easier to navigate if you do hire a lawyer, and doing so may significantly increase your chances of getting the compensation you deserve.
Studies have consistently shown that personal injury victims who hire an attorney tend to recover greater sums of financial compensation than those who are unrepresented.
The claims process is complex, and it typically plays out over a long period of time (months or sometimes years). Navigating it on your own can be incredibly challenging, especially in the face of an aggressive insurance company on the other side. Mistakes are easy to make, and it’s easy to feel confused or overwhelmed.
It’s important to understand that the insurance companies are not on your side. No matter how strong a case you may have, and no matter how “in the right” you may be, the insurance company’s only goal is to save itself money to the greatest extent possible. They’re good at what they do, and facing off against them by yourself can be a real challenge.
Choosing the right lawyer may make all the difference. The experienced New York bicycle accident lawyers at Lever & Ecker, PLLC are here to stand in your corner, give you a voice, and look out for your best interests at every stage of the claims process.
What Can I Be Compensated for in a Bicycle Accident Claim?
New York has adopted a complex system for car accident compensation called no-fault car insurance. This typically means that in a collision involving two or more automobiles, each party must first turn to their own auto insurance policy for damages. The compensation available under the no-fault system is typically more limited than under an ordinary personal injury system.
Reading the no-fault rules in New York can be especially confusing for bicycle riders. While bikes are generally considered to be vehicles in our state, cyclists are treated more like “pedestrians” where the no-fault rules are concerned.
Depending on the circumstances, as an injured cyclist, you may be able to bring two separate claims:
- A no-fault claim, which will cover your reasonably necessary medical expenses as well as a portion of any lost earnings (80% or $2,000 per month, whichever is less).
- A bodily injury claim, which proceeds like a traditional personal injury claim against the at-fault driver and/or their insurance provider. With this claim, you can seek additional compensation for economic expenses not covered under the no-fault claim (e.g. additional medical expenses, lost wages, or property damages), as well as emotional damages (e.g. pain and suffering, emotional distress).
The good thing about the no-fault claim is that you are able to make that claim no matter who was at fault for the crash. This is true even if you do not have auto insurance of your own. (That’s important because many cyclists do not have an auto insurance policy.) Injured cyclists are considered to have “first-party benefits” under the other driver’s auto insurance policy (in other words, the cyclist has the same rights to no-fault compensation as the driver).
The bodily injury claim, meanwhile, is only available in cases involving “serious injury,” as that term is defined by state law. Many bicycle accidents do qualify, but you should talk to a lawyer to confirm whether you are eligible to file a bodily injury claim in your case.
While it is not possible to predict or guarantee a particular outcome, you should understand that some injured cyclists do have a claim to substantial financial compensation after an accident in New York. Your rights will depend on the specific facts and circumstances surrounding your accident.
We encourage you to schedule a free consultation with our New York bicycle accident lawyers as soon as possible to learn more about your options.
What About Hit-and-Run Bicycle Accidents in New York?
Sadly, hit-and-run bicycle accidents are not uncommon in New York. If you have been injured by a hit-and-run driver, please don’t give up hope. You may have more options for claiming compensation than you realize. The New York bicycle accident lawyers at Lever & Ecker, PLLC can help.
What If I Wasn’t in the Bike Lane When I Was Supposed to Be?
Even if you were partially at fault for your own accident, you may still be able to recover compensation for your injuries. We encourage you to contact our office and discuss the details as soon as possible.
How Long Does a Bicycle Accident Claim Take?
Because every case is different, there is no one-size-fits-all answer to the question of how long a bicycle accident claim takes in New York. Some claims resolve in a matter of months; others take a year or longer.
The period of time required will depend on a number of factors, including (but not necessarily limited to):
- The nature of the evidence in the case
- How many parties are involved
- The severity of the injuries
- The court’s calendar (if the claim proceeds to trial)
- The extent to which the insurance company is cooperative
- Whether there is a dispute as to causation or liability
At Lever & Ecker, PLLC, we understand the importance of putting your injury claim behind you and getting the monetary compensation you need as soon as possible. We work hard to resolve these claims as efficiently as possible while also recognizing that the fight for financial justice can take time.
There may be a number of options for paying your medical bills and other obligations while you wait for your claim to resolve. Our New York bicycle accident lawyers will be happy to discuss these options with you during your consultation.
Schedule a Free Consultation with our New York Bicycle Accident Lawyers
Please do not sign a settlement agreement with an insurance company or any other party until you have talked with a lawyer. Doing so can permanently impact your legal rights. You and your family may be entitled to more compensation than you realize.
Lever & Ecker, PLLC is a New York personal injury law firm located in White Plains and serving clients throughout the state, including New York City’s five boroughs (The Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens, Manhattan, and Staten Island), as well as Westchester County, Rockland County, Long Island, and beyond.
We are proud to offer bilingual legal representation for our Spanish-speaking clients.
We will not charge a fee for our services unless and until we get you money. Your initial consultation is completely free with no obligations whatsoever.
To schedule your confidential consultation with our New York bicycle accident lawyers, please call 914-288-9191 (in White Plains) or 212-766-5204 (in Manhattan), or simply contact us online.