The quintessential picture of a peaceful summer afternoon in the countryside often involves a picnic, sunny day, and a bicycle ride. There are few things as quintessentially rooted in our culture as the bicycle and the enjoyment that comes with riding bicycles on beautiful days. While the American culture has yet to match the bike-friendly cities of Europe, steps have been taken in the right direction. However, motor vehicle drivers have not yet caught on that bicyclists roam the city streets as well. As a result, drivers often do not pay attention to bike lanes and incoming bicyclists, resulting in serious injuries.
If you or someone you love has been injured in a recent bicycle accident in Omaha or anywhere in Nebraska, the attorneys at Knowles Law Firm can help you seek justice. We can go up against a motor vehicle driver or insurance company on your behalf to pursue the case results that you need to move forward. Our personal injury lawyers will be your advocates and guides during this difficult time. Contact us today to schedule a free bicycle accident case consultation.
Why Choose Our Omaha Bicycle Accident Lawyer?
- Our results showcase our ability to achieve positive settlements and verdicts for our clients. Our lawyers have recently tried five jury cases in Douglas County, Nebraska, and obtained a greater verdict than the settlement initially offered in each case.
- We cater to each client’s specific needs. You will receive personalized care and attention from your bicycle accident lawyer, as well as communicate with us frequently throughout your case. We tailor our legal strategies to each unique case.
Knowles Law Firm operates on a contingency fee basis. This means we will only get paid if we are successful. If we do not win your case, you won’t pay us a dime. If we do secure compensation on your behalf, our fee will be charged as a percentage of what was won.
Awareness of bicyclists on the Nebraska city streets has risen in the past twenty years, leading to a marked decrease in the number of bicycle injuries reported each year. In 1994, a record 537 bicycle injuries were reported in Nebraska. This number has since decreased to 249 in 2014, representing a growing awareness of bicyclists on the road and better-developed bike lanes.
Bicyclists have a little more protection, and definitely more aware of impending accidents than pedestrians are. Bicyclists are often banned from riding on sidewalks and therefore must ride in the streets with vehicles that are several hundred times larger than they are. As a bicyclist, you are often rolling along with the speed of traffic and dodging cars left and right, while at the same time ensuring that you remain visible to cars.
Most Common Causes of Bicycle Accidents
In Nebraska, it is necessary to determine who or what caused your bicycle accident before you can file an insurance claim. This is because Nebraska is an at-fault car insurance state, where the party responsible for the crash pays for the related costs. Bicycle accidents on public roads are often caused by motor vehicle drivers. Many different examples of driver negligence and recklessness can cause a bicycle accident in Omaha, including:
- Distracted driving: Driver inattention took 3,142 lives in 2019 alone, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Many of these lives were bicyclists and pedestrians who went unseen by inattentive drivers. Texting and driving is the number one type of driver distraction.
- Driving while drunk or drugged: Driving under the influence of an intoxicating substance can impair a driver’s senses, reflexes, and judgment. Drunk driving drastically increases the risk of collisions, including bicycle accidents.
- Breaking traffic laws: Speeding, failing to stop at an intersection, failing to yield the right-of-way, and breaking other traffic laws can make bicycle and vehicle traffic cross paths, resulting in harmful collisions.
- Making unsafe lane changes: Lane-change accidents are common on public roads, especially for bicyclists, as they are small and difficult for drivers to see. Drivers are responsible for checking their blind spots and ensuring that a lane change is safe before executing the maneuver.
- Reckless driving: Driving recklessly, or with a wanton disregard for the safety of others, can refer to excessive speeding, racing, following too closely/tailgating, wrong-way driving or red-light running – all dangerous practices that can cause a bicycle accident.
- Following too closely: Many motor vehicle drivers are impatient with cyclists that whom they share the road, leading to vehicles coming dangerously close to bicycles. Following too closely, unsafe passing, cutting bikers off, and honking at them can cause accidents.
- Dooring: Dooring refers to a motor vehicle driver swinging a door open into the path of an oncoming cyclist. The bicyclist may strike the door and be propelled off of the bicycle and into the road.
- Turning on top of a cyclist: When turning left, drivers must check for oncoming bicycle traffic. Failing to yield to cyclists can lead to intersection accidents. Similarly, if a cyclist is to the right of a driver, a right-hook crash can take place if the driver doesn’t check before making a right turn.
Drivers cause the majority of vehicle accidents of all types, including car and truck accidents, but are a major problem for vulnerable bicyclists. If a driver causes a bicycle accident, his or her car insurance company must pay for related costs. Bicycle accidents in Omaha may also be caused by issues not related to motor vehicle drivers, however, such as:
- Road hazards: If the cause of a bicycle accident is a road hazard or defect, such as a pothole, the government could be responsible for failing to maintain a safe public road. On a private road, the private property owner could be liable for dangerous premises, instead.
- Bicycle defects: If the bicycle contains a defective part, it may malfunction in transit and contribute to a crash. Common examples include bad brakes, defective handlebars, and broken chains. Product defects can place liability on the bicycle manufacturer or seller
- Bad weather: Biking in bad weather, such as rain or fog, can come with visibility problems that increase the risk of an accident. If a motor vehicle driver doesn’t drive safely in poor weather, he or she could strike a cyclist.
Even if you were involved in a single-vehicle bicycle accident – one that doesn’t involve a motor vehicle driver – it is possible that a third party is responsible for your wreck. Our attorneys at The Knowles Law Firm can help you determine the cause of your bicycle accident and explore all available outlets for a financial recovery.
Where Are Bicycle Accidents Most Likely to Happen?
Although a bicycle accident can happen anywhere, some locations in Omaha come with higher risks of collisions naturally. One of these locations is intersections. A driver may fail to yield the right-of-way to a bicyclist at an intersection or turn left into an oncoming cyclist. Busy roadways also come with increased accident risks. In residential neighborhoods, the risk of striking a child bicyclist is higher. Roads without bike lanes, where bicyclists have to ride in traffic, can also be more dangerous for vulnerable bicyclists. Finally, roads with dangerous construction zones, potholes, uneven surfaces and obstacles can increase the risk of bicycle accidents.
How to Prevent Bicycle Accidents
As a bicyclist, you may have the power to prevent a bicycle accident with due care and vigilance. Never assume a driver will do the right thing. Instead, assume the driver will break the law and risk your life. Take it upon yourself to prevent accidents by obeying all traffic laws, watching carefully for oncoming cars and being as visible as possible. Wear brightly colored clothing or a reflective vest. Try to avoid riding between sundown and sunup, but if you must, equip your bicycle with the proper rear and front lights. Properly maintain your bike to help prevent accidents. Keep your actions predictable to drivers by obeying all roadway laws, including stoplights and stop signs.
If you are a driver in Omaha, prevent bicycle accidents by giving bikers the space they need. Keep at least three feet of distance between you and a cyclist at all times. Yield the right-of-way to bicyclists whenever applicable. Watch for oncoming bicyclists when making a left turn, pulling out of a driveway or opening your driver-side door. Reduce your speed around bicyclists and respect their rights to the road.
Types of Bicycle Accident Injuries
Despite being a commonly enjoyed activity, bicycle riding comes with a relatively high risk of injuries and deaths. Bike riding near motor vehicles can put the bicyclist at risk of serious or fatal collisions. Every year, bicyclists suffer life-changing injuries in traffic accidents around Nebraska. With or without protective gear such as a helmet, a bicyclist could end up in the hospital. The nature of bicycle accidents causes certain injuries more often than others.
- Leg and foot injuries
- Head and face injuries
- Broken bones
- Road rash/abrasions
- Muscle strains/sprains
- Neck and back injuries
Traumatic injuries from a bicycle-vehicle collision could affect any part of the body, from head to toe. Although wearing a helmet can significantly decrease the risk of a head or brain injury, a victim could still suffer a serious concussion or brain trauma from the impact between the helmet and the road or a vehicle. The spine and internal organs can also suffer irreversible injuries in bicycle accidents.
Bicycle Accident Recovery
After a bicycle accident occurs, the recovery process is often long and painful. Bicyclists often suffer very serious injuries after an accident, including:
Many of these require ongoing care for the rest of their life. All of this could be prevented by a motor vehicle driver simply paying attention to the road. This negligence can lead to the ability of a bicyclist to recover for their medical costs, ongoing rehabilitation, and any lost wages. An Omaha personal injury attorney can assist you in calculating the number of damages you are entitled to receive.
It is important to contact a personal injury attorney shortly after your injury to prevent any settlement from occurring with the negligent party’s insurance company. Insurance companies are in the business to make money – they often do so by settling with an injured party shortly after an accident occurs. Any settlement which you sign, may limit your ability to bring a claim for your injuries.
Proving Negligence in a Bicycle Accident
Negligence is the foundation for most personal injury claims. It refers to the failure to exercise a reasonable amount of care, resulting in harm to others, such as a driver breaking a roadway rule and causing a bicycle accident. Your attorney will be tasked with proving negligence after you file a bicycle accident claim against a driver or another party in Nebraska. The burden of proof is a preponderance of the evidence, meaning enough evidence to show that the defendant caused your accident with at least a 51 percent certainty.
Your attorney must establish four elements to prove negligence:
- Duty of care owed: the defendant had an obligation to act with the same amount of care that a reasonably prudent person or party would under similar circumstances. All drivers in Nebraska owe a duty of care to other road users. They must obey traffic laws, pay attention to the road and prevent collisions to the best of their ability.
- Duty of care breached: the defendant violated or fell short of the established duty of care with a negligent act or omission. This can refer to anything that is done with carelessness, recklessness or a wanton disregard for the safety of others.
- Causation for the bike accident: A direct link must be established between the defendant’s breach of the duty of care and the victim’s injuries. In other words, the bicycle accident would not have happened but for the defendant’s negligence.
- Damages suffered: you have compensable losses that were sustained in the bicycle accident, such as bodily injuries, lost wages, property damage, and pain and suffering.
Nebraska is a modified comparative negligence state, meaning both parties in an accident claim could be allotted a percentage of fault and the victim could still recover compensation. As long as the victim is determined to be less than 50 percent responsible for the bicycle accident, he or she can still receive a monetary award. However, the amount collected will be diminished by the plaintiff’s degree of fault.
Bicycle Accident Injury Claim Timeline
A statute of limitations is a law that is in place to keep the justice system just for both parties: the plaintiff and the defendant. Without a law requiring a plaintiff to file within a certain amount of time, he or she could feasibly hold the threat of a lawsuit over the defendant’s head indefinitely. This would be unfair to the defendant. A statute of limitations also encourages timely filing to protect the integrity of the evidence used in the case.
If you suffer an injury in a bicycle accident in Omaha, you must keep a careful eye on your timeline. You are not given an indefinite amount of time in which to file an injury claim in Nebraska. The Nebraska Revised Statutes, Section 25-207(3),gives claimants a limit of four years to file a personal injury claim, in most cases. With only rare exceptions, claims that are brought after the statute of limitations has expired are dismissed by the courts.
While four years may seem like a long time to file a bicycle accident claim, this deadline can approach quickly. Waiting to file could put you at risk of missing the time limit, as well as losing important evidence to prove facts that are relevant to your case. For example, eyewitness statements may become less reliable over time as the memory fades. To protect your rights, act quickly to initiate your claim and begin the financial recovery process.
If you wish to seek financial compensation for fatal bicycle accident wrongful death case in Omaha, you will have just two years from the date of death to file. Two years is also the deadline to file a workers’ compensation claim in Nebraska. If your defendant is a government entity – such as after a bike accident caused by a road defect – you must also make your claim in writing to the Risk Manager within two years.
Damages You Could Recover
It can be extremely important to your future to file a bicycle accident claim as soon as possible after a collision in Omaha. Prompt claims filing can ensure you do not miss the deadline and lose your right to obtain compensation. Filing an insurance claim or an injury lawsuit with the help of one of our Omaha personal injury lawyers could end in compensation for your economic and noneconomic damages. The compensatory award the defendant may owe you could make up for many different losses.
- Injury-related medical expenses
- Past and future pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Lost wages and missed future earning opportunities
- Bicycle repairs or replacement
- The cost of hiring an attorney
- Punitive damages
The best way to find out what your bicycle accident claim could be worth is with a free consultation at the Knowles Law Firm. We can carefully review your case, calculate your damages and help you determine a fair amount of compensation to demand from the defendant. Our attorneys can then help you negotiate your insurance claim or personal injury lawsuit for maximum compensation.
Omaha Bicycle Safety Tips
As a cyclist in Omaha, you should take your safety into your own hands. Do not trust drivers to follow the rules of the road and see your bicycle. Instead, assume the opposite – that they will break the law and place you in danger. Ride defensively, meaning prepared to stop or take evasive action to avoid an accident, at all times. Remain vigilant while on your bike. Use these safety tips to decrease your odds of getting into an accident:
- Choose the right bike for you. Purchase the correct type of bicycle based on where you plan to ride (street vs. trail), your level of experience and your height. Make sure you are comfortable on the bike that you choose.
- Always wear a helmet. Even though Nebraska has no helmet requirement for bicyclists, you should always wear one for your own safety. Wearing a bicycle helmet can drastically reduce your risk of suffering a serious or fatal brain injury in an accident.
- Check your bike before you ride. Complete a safety and maintenance inspection of your bicycle before every ride. If your bike has any problems with the chain, tires or other components, it could break down during your trip.
- Wear bright colors. Motor vehicle drivers miss oncoming bicyclists and often cause collisions in Omaha – especially when making left-hand turns. Wear bright colors while you ride to make yourself more visible.
- Avoid riding at night. Optimize your visibility as much as possible by only riding during the daytime. If you must ride at night, make sure your bicycle has the required front and rear lights and reflectors.
- Obey roadway rules. Bicyclists are subject to the same road rules as other motorists. You must ride in the same direction as traffic, obey traffic signs and speed limits, and yield the right-of-way to others when appropriate.
- Use bike lanes when available. You generally cannot ride on sidewalks in Omaha, but you can – and should – use bike lanes. A bicycle lane can keep you safely away from the main flow of traffic while you ride.
- Don’t ride distracted. Protect yourself by never riding while texting, watching videos, using headphones to listen to something or talking on the phone. Pay attention to your surroundings and the pavement in front of you at all times.
- Keep both hands on the handlebars. Remain in full control of your bicycle by keeping both hands in place on the handlebars unless you are using one hand to signal a turn. Regularly riding one-handed or hands-free could lead to an accident.
- Remain careful and predictable. Watch for drivers, pedestrians and other bicyclists. Ride safely and prudently, and keep your bicycle where it legally should be at all times. This can keep your movements clear and predictable to surrounding drivers.
You may get into a bicycle accident in Omaha despite your best efforts to stay safe. You can control your own actions, but you cannot change how the drivers around you act and behave. If you get injured in a bike accident, try to remain calm and do not admit fault for the collision. Call the police to report the crash and get medical attention immediately. Then, before engaging in insurance settlement negotiations, contact an attorney at Knowles Law Firm for legal advice.
The Knowles Law Firm | Omaha, Nebraska
If you or a loved one have been injured in a bicycle accident, do not hesitate to contact the attorneys of the Knowles Law Firm. Our attorneys are avid supporters of bicyclists anywhere and will work tirelessly to ensure the responsible party is held responsible for your injuries. Bicycle awareness grows each year, and the number of accidents will decrease with the number of drivers held responsible for their actions. Your claim may help prevent a future bicycle accident from occurring in the state. Contact our Omaha, Nebraska office today for your initial free consultation.