Articles Posted in Pedestrian & Bicycle Accidents

Many of us learned to bike as kids, and many of us continue to do so.  I know I don’t get to ride nearly as often as I’d like There is no reason to not to try and brush off those pedals and go for a spin, but if you’re over the age of 45, try not to push it too hard. The Journal of the American Medical Association found that the injuries sustained by bicyclists over the age of 45 increased by 23 percent, nearly a quarter more over their younger peers.

As with many statistics, this news should be taken with a grain of salt. There are always a multitude of factors that can result in skewed values. For example, there is actually an increase in the number of bicyclists over the age of 45, and an increase from there of cyclists who engage in sport cycling. It is not entirely risk born of age, and if anything the American people are showing that age really is just a number as they take to a pair of wheels. Still, our bodies aren’t always what they were before, and we need to be aware of our limits. If you’re biking to try and get back in shape, remember that you won’t get back there all at once. It takes time and practice. For everyone out there, remember to be safe. Wear a helmet, stay alert, ride with traffic, and obey the law. Stay safe and have fun out there!

If you or a loved one have been injured in a collision while biking or driving and need legal consultation, contact us at 202-296-0666.

Bicyclists beware; DC Law says you can’t recover any damages even if you are only a little bit at fault. This means that any incident where you had even the slightest possibility of somehow preventing that situation, you can’t collect any damages from a negligent motorist.  This is made worse by a lack of understanding of bicycle law by the police, and inconsistent police review.

The Washington Area Bicyclist Association is trying to  fix this through educational outreach, but it can only do so much. They are pushing for the Bicycle and Motor Vehicle Collision Recovery Amendment Act of 2015.  This proposed law attempts to change the law of contributory negligence.  Essentially, this amendment will prevent the cyclist’s opposing party from obtaining a complete defense due to any amount of fault on the cyclist’s part.

Recently, the Motor Vehicle Collision Recovery Act was voted 3-0 from the committee to move on for consideration by the full D.C. Council. It explicitly protects non-motorists in its language, and will afford bicyclists greater protection. The bill includes the last clear chance doctrine, which shifts the potential for final fault onto the negligent motorist. Even if the cyclist is found to be at fault, if the motorist failed to capitalize on a last clear chance to avoid the collision, the cyclist may potentially obtain a recovery.

Drive safe. It’s a familiar saying. Car accidents rack up a lot of costs, either monetary or emotional.  Too often, it costs lives, too.

What leads to crashes? In an interview with Bethesda Magazine, Detective Cpl. David Cohen said, “…in 99.9 percent of our cases, the fatal collision could have been prevented if someone had just done something differently.” To consider them accidents, according to the Detective, is to suggest there was nothing that could have been done to prevent it. We can always take precautions to protect our own lives and property, and those of our neighbors.

When a fatal crash occurs, county collision detectives get involved.  It is their task to study the scene of the collision and analyze the factors that went into it. With calculations, simulation, and long hours, detectives gain an understanding of the crash and determine who was at fault, and if that fault is of a criminal nature. Often, investigations do not end with criminal charges being pressed, but not for the reason you might think. In about 60% of the investigated collisions, the perpetrator died in the crash.

This chart shows recent pedestrian and bicycle accident data from the District of Columbia:

DC PED Injury graphs
As you can see, pedestrian fatalities are getting more frequent and more severe.

At Lewis & Tompkins PC, we are seeing more pedestrian and bicycle accident victims.  In our experience, inattentive drivers (I’m talking to you, cell phone users)  and hectic rush hour traffic are the most frequent causes of cars hitting pedestrians and bicyclists.

Ever since your son fell off his bike last month and needed to be rushed to George Washington U to get 20 stitches in his leg, you’ve been a little paranoid about his riding his bike. Being the overly protective mother that you are, you made the mistake of Googling bike accident injuries, and now you want to throw his bike in a dumpster to keep him from getting hurt.

Your husband unfortunately vetoed that idea and instead suggested you find other ways to protect him without denying him his bike.

So, besides wrapping him in bubble wrap and constantly walking next to him with a first aid kit, how do you keep him safe when he’s riding his bike?

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Every day you see at least one or two bicyclists as you’re driving home. Usually, you don’t have to worry about them too much, because they’re generally careful and respectful around traffic. However, today you witnessed a biker doing something so careless and idiotic, you could barely take your eyes off him.

You were making your turn around Dupont Circle when you noticed a biker weaving in and out of traffic. He had one hand on his bike handle, and his other was holding what appeared to be his phone. He kept looking down at it, and pressing buttons, all while jerking his bike back and forth. Suddenly, you saw him take his other hand off of the bike (removing any type of control he may have had), pluck his headphones out of his ears, and raise the phone to take a call.

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Walking in a warm summer rain storm can sometimes be a very freeing and fun experience, especially when that means you’ll have the otherwise busy downtown sidewalks all to yourself. Who cares about a little rain, when you can finally get your window shopping done around Woodmont Triangle, undisturbed by throngs of people? Not you.

However, no matter how nice it may feel, how convenient it is for clearing out pedestrian traffic, or how abruptly it may start, rain can also be extremely treacherous and lead to catastrophic pedestrian accidents.

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Since the weather has gotten nicer, you’ve made it a point to take your bike out for a ride down Clarendon Boulevard at least three times a week. However, lately your wife has been consistently and repeatedly insisting on your taking extra precautions.

She basically stands next to the door with a check list to make sure you have your helmet, knee pads, and gloves, and that you’re wearing appropriately bright clothing. She then quizzes you on what to do in certain situations. You always smile and go through the motions to make her happy, but is it really necessary?

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As you approach the intersection of 15th Street and Massachusetts Avenue, your heart starts to beat a little faster, your palms begin to sweat and you instinctively begin to pedal slower. It’s been over a year since your accident and roughly four months since you were able to get back on your bike. Traffic begins to slow as the light turns red, and you cautiously move to the front of your lane, trying to stay aware of all the cars around you.

The light turns green, but instead of immediately pedaling, you stay still for a few moments to check how traffic will continue. It’s a good thing you do, because the car next to you apparently doesn’t see you and turns, without warning, in front of you.

Although you’re glad you waited, you wonder if there are any other safety guidelines you should be aware of to help avoid other potential turning accidents.

Almost every day during the summer you swim laps at the East Potomac Pool and have to drive down Ohio Drive to get there, and almost every day you’re forced to drive next to a group of bikers who are doing their daily Hains Point ride. Although you commend them for working out on their lunch period—just as you do—driving next to them can sometimes get your heart rate racing faster than when you’re swimming.

On occasion, a biker will appear to lose his balance or veer into the road, causing you to panic and veer over as well, sometimes narrowly missing oncoming cars. Other times, a biker may suddenly stop, causing you to stop as well or attempt to avoid him by adjusting your course, even when this may increase the risk of a collision.

Is this normal? Do bikers know that their sudden movements can affect how a motorist drives?