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Staten Island Bicycle Accidents

Bicycles are a popular mode of transportation in Staten Island, just as they are in Manhattan and other boroughs. It is not unusual to see people riding a bicycle everyday as their preferred mode of transportation, and many families enjoy a bicycle ride together as a favored hobby.

However, cyclists are more vulnerable to serious injuries than other people on the road. And bicycle accidents happen more often than they should. If you’ve been hurt in a bike crash, contact The O’Connor Law Firm today. Our Staten Island bicycle accident lawyer can meet for a free case evaluation.

How Common Are Bicycle Accidents?

New York City remains committed to bicycle safety. In fact, the city has put forward a Green Wave plan which seeks to significantly increase the number of bicycle lanes in the city.

Nevertheless, bicycle accidents are a fact of life in all boroughs, including Staten Island. In 2020, Staten Island saw about 104 crashes which led to 81 injuries. These numbers were much lower than for other boroughs, like Manhattan and Brooklyn, which saw over a thousand people injured. Nevertheless, these numbers are higher than previous years. In 2019, for example, Staten Island had 74 bicycle collisions leading to only 63 injuries.

With the city promoting cycling as an environmentally friendly mode of transportation, more people will be on the road. And that means more likely accidents.

Why Are Cyclists Vulnerable?

A bicyclist faces many challenges getting to their destination in one piece. Some of the more common problems include:

  • Careless, distracted, and negligent motorists who are not looking out for bicycles or routinely ride in bicycle paths.
  • Intoxicated or chemically impaired motorists who make poor judgment or take unnecessary risks.
  • The relative lack of dedicated bicycle lanes across Staten Island, forcing cyclists into the road with motorists.
  • Passengers in cars who open a door without checking behind them for approaching cyclists.
  • The complete absence of any physical barrier between a cyclist and a car, which means cyclists suffer a direct hit in many collisions.
  • The lack of effective restraint systems for bicycles, which can send cyclists pinwheeling through the air.
  • Road defects which impact a cyclist more than other motorists on the road. For example, uneven pavement, potholes, and road debris can send a cyclist tumbling over the handlebars.

What Injuries Do Bicyclists Suffer?

A cyclist can suffer many of the same injuries as passengers in cars. However, their injuries are usually more serious, because of the absence of any barrier or cushion. Our clients have suffered serious injuries, such as:

  • Facial injuries
  • Shoulder injuries
  • Concussions and traumatic brain injuries (TBIs)
  • Neck injuries
  • Fractures
  • Nerve damage
  • Abrasions or “road rash”
  • Herniated discs
  • Internal organ injuries
  • Spinal column injuries
  • Amputations

Some injuries also cause severe emotional distress. Someone who has lost a limb in a bicycle accident or suffered paralysis can experience intensely negative emotions. Depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder reduce a person’s quality of life and make it hard to return to normal. In fact, many people will never get on a bicycle again following an accident.

Suing for Compensation

To bring a successful claim, we must identify who is to blame for the crash. Fault is a legal concept, and we look to see if someone was negligent. At base, negligence requires showing that a person owed you a duty of care but breached that duty. We’ll also need to connect your injuries to the defendant’s failure to use care.

We can often sue the following people:

  • Motorists who drove carelessly or recklessly or who opened a door without checking over their shoulder.
  • Employers, if a business employee hit you while working.
  • Private bus companies if a bus driver struck you or forced you from the road.
  • Bicycle rental companies for failure to maintain their bicycles.
  • Bicycle manufacturers if the bicycle had a defect which caused a crash.
  • Municipalities, if a road defect caused your accident or a city bus driver hit you.

Before filing a personal injury claim, we need to understand your accident: what happened, when, and where. It isn’t unusual for defendants to blame cyclists for weaving in and out of traffic or otherwise causing their own accidents.

We rely on various forms of evidence, such as your own memories, photographs of the accident scene, and eyewitness testimony. Depending on the circumstances, we might also need to inspect your bicycle or search for local surveillance video which might have captured the crash.

Compensation for a Staten Island Bicycle Accident

Our clients seek damages for a variety of losses, such as:

  • Loss of income if you can’t work while recovering
  • Loss of earning capacity, if injuries keep you from returning to your old job
  • Medical bills to treat your injuries
  • Rehabilitation expenses
  • Prescription drugs for pain, anxiety, sleeplessness, and other symptoms
  • Future medical costs
  • Pain and suffering
  • Emotional distress or mental anguish
  • Disfigurement
  • Disability
  • Property damage

How much can you receive? There are many factors that go into that calculation. For example, we need to know how much insurance the defendant has. New York requires that motorists only carry $25,000 in bodily injury liability coverage, up to $50,000 for one accident which injures multiple people.

Even worse, some motorists might not have insurance at all. In fact, about 4% of New Yorkers lack car insurance, and this doesn’t include the uninsured drivers who visit Staten Island from out of state.

Other defendants might have more money. A business should have a large policy to cover your injuries, as should a taxi company or rideshare business like Uber. You are more likely to receive full compensation if you were struck by one of them.

Helpfully, New York law also allows bicycle accident victims to use their personal injury protection benefits. These benefits are no fault and cover the cost of some medical care and lost income. Nevertheless, many victims struggle to get an insurer to cover their losses. An attorney can help persuade an insurer that the accident is covered and that your injuries are real.

Comparative Fault & Bicycle Accidents

Cyclists sometimes make mistakes or themselves ride carelessly in the moments leading up to a crash. If so, then you are partially to blame for your accident. Under New York law, your compensation is reduced by your proportion of fault.

Here is a common example. You were weaving in and out of traffic when a motorist looking at her phone struck you. If your injuries are worth $120,000, but you were 50% to blame, you’ll get $60,000 in compensation. If you were 70% at fault, you would receive only $36,000.

Comparative fault can make a big difference in the amount you take home. Many motorists and other defendants blame cyclists for a collision—often unfairly. We strive to fully document a crash so we can minimize your degree of fault and point the finger at who is really responsible—the negligent driver who hit you.

Call Our Staten Island Bicycle Accident Lawyer

Brian J. O’Connor is an experienced personal injury attorney who’s tackled multiple negotiations and  lawsuits and obtained successful jury verdicts. He can quickly review what you know about your accident and analyze whether you can sue. If you need more information, he can also identify what information would flesh out your claim and strengthen your case. Obtaining a favorable settlement is an uphill climb, and the landscape is slanted in favor of motorists. Please call The O’Connor Law Firm today to schedule a free consultation.

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