Hawaii is a wonderful place to see by bicycle. But it can also be a dangerous one. Bicycle accident fatalities jumped five percent nationwide in a single recent year. And the Honolulu Police Department reported four cyclist deaths in just nine months, compared to one fatality at the same time the prior year. That’s one person who never made it home after going out for a ride and one family left to grieve.
Cyclists who survive bicycle crashes often suffer severe injuries. That’s because bikes offer little protection against the force of impact in a collision. Let’s look at some of the most common bicycle accident injuries in Hawaii.
Types of Bicycle Accident Injuries
Bicycling is a more dangerous form of transportation by nature. However, it is an eco-friendly, cheap, and healthy way to travel — all perks everyone who lives or visits Oahu can appreciate.
Hawaii law grants cyclists the same rights as other drivers. Unfortunately, motorists are not always good at sharing the road with riders. Collisions can result in severe injuries, including:
- Cuts and lacerations — Falling from a bike can lead to scrapes, cuts, and road rash as the skin makes contact with the road or other rough surfaces.
- Traumatic brain injury (TBI) — Brain injuries happen from a sudden jolt or bump to the head. Even wearing a helmet, cyclists are vulnerable to suffering catastrophic harm when they hit the pavement, especially at high speeds.
- Broken bones — Painful fractures and dislocations can require surgery and a lengthy recovery period.
- Facial injuries — Broken jaws, dental injuries, and eye injuries may leave victims with disfiguring scars and long-term disabilities.
- Torso trauma — Chest injuries such as broken ribs, punctured lungs, and abdominal trauma could lead to dangerous internal bleeding and other damage to vital organs.
- Spinal cord injury — A blow to the spine can damage the vertebrae, disks, or sever the spinal cord entirely, leading to temporary or permanent paralysis and related complications.
- Musculoskeletal injuries — Sprains and strains on muscles, ligaments, and tendons may require intense rehabilitation to repair damage from a bicycle accident.
Healing from a bike accident injury is not cheap. Consulting with a bicycle accident lawyer can help determine whether you can pursue compensation for your injuries.
Most Common Causes of Bicycle Accidents
Bicycle accidents happen for various reasons, but many of the worst injuries are due to collisions with motor vehicles. Common causes of bicycle accidents involving cars include:
- Distracted driving
- Drunk driving
- Aggressive driving
- Running red lights or stop signs
- Drowsy driving
- Dooring accidents
- Failure to check blind spots
- Unsafe lane changes
- Negligent reversing
- Poor road design or maintenance
Bicycle accidents may also arise from negligence by property owners, pedestrians, rental companies, and other parties.
What is the Process for Recovering Compensation for Bike Accident Injuries?
One of the most critical questions clients ask is how to obtain compensation after a bicycle accident. The answer depends on the facts of the case.
If you were hit by a car while riding your bike, you can recover up to $10,000 in Personal Injury Protection (PIP) benefits from the driver’s insurance company regardless of who was at fault for the crash. In that case, you would file an injury claim with the driver’s insurer to recover money for your medical expenses. However, PIP benefits do not allow cyclists to receive money for pain and suffering. Filing a bicycle accident lawsuit against the negligent driver is not out of the question, but your injury would have to meet certain injury thresholds set by Hawaii law. An experienced lawyer can determine whether your case meets the criteria.
If the at-fault party is not a driver, you will file a personal injury claim through the responsible party’s insurer. Let’s say your bicycle accident resulted from riding on a road littered with unrepaired potholes or missing guardrails. In that case, you could have a lawsuit against the state or municipal agency responsible for keeping those roads in good condition. Check with a bicycle accident attorney quickly if this situation applies to you. The timeline for filing a bicycle accident claim against the government is short in Hawaii.
What is the Time Limit to File a Bicycle Injury Claim?
In general, you have two years to file a bicycle accident claim under Hawaii law. The deadline may be shorter or longer, depending on the circumstances. For example, minors must file suit within two years of their 18th birthday. By contrast, someone suing the government has just six months to sue.
Does Wearing a Helmet Affect my Right to Compensation in Hawaii?
Hawaii law requires anyone under 16 to wear a bicycle helmet. In addition, the helmet must meet specifications set by agencies like the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) or National Safety Council. But the failure to wear a helmet does not automatically mean you cannot recover compensation for your injuries. The insurance company may still use the lack of a helmet to push fault for the accident onto you. Having a bicycle accident lawyer by your side can ensure you get fair treatment and the settlement you deserve.
Tips for Staying Safe on a Bike
You can do your part to prevent a bicycle accident by following these tips:
- Wear a helmet and bright protective safety gear.
- Follow all Honolulu bicycle laws.
- Maintain a safe distance between your bike and other motor vehicles.
- Make sure your bike has effective reflectors.
- Avoid riding at night or in low-light conditions.
- Watch out for vehicles and pedestrians entering the road unexpectedly.
- Obey all traffic signs and signals.
- Always ride your bike sober.
If you find yourself hurt in a bicycle accident, move to a safe space (if possible) and seek emergency medical treatment immediately.
Schedule a Free Consultation with a Bicycle Accident Attorney Today
If you were injured in a crash, a Honolulu bicycle accident attorney from Recovery Law Center will demand justice, accountability, and maximum compensation for you. There’s nothing to lose and everything to gain by scheduling a free consultation. Call or contact us now.