Every year, hundreds of bicyclists are killed in the United States and thousands more are injured. In 2012, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, there were eight fatalities involving bicyclists in Tennessee. These eight fatalities accounted for approximately one percent of the total traffic fatalities in 2012. Not surprisingly, most of the deaths and injuries that involve bicyclists occur in the more densely populated areas in the state. In 2012, there were 97 bicyclist injuries and one fatality in Shelby County, 81 injuries and one fatality in Davidson County, 43 injuries in Knox County, and 33 injuries in Hamilton County.
Tennessee Bicycle Safety Laws
Under Tennessee law, bicycles have the same legal status as motor vehicles. As a result of this legal status, bicyclists have the same rights on the roadway, but they are also subject to the same
responsibilities under regulations governing motor vehicles. A bicyclist is required to ride on the right-hand side of the ride and ride the bicycle in the same direction of traffic. What is more, bicyclists must obey all traffic signs and signals and use hand signals to indicate moves, such as turning right or left. In addition, bicyclists are required to outfit their bicycles with a white light in the front that is visible from 500 hundred feet. In the back, the bicycle must have either a red reflector or lamp emitting a red light.
Common Causes of Bicycle Accidents
All of the regulations and rules governing bicyclists and the use of bicycles on the road are intended to make the roads safer for bicyclists, motor vehicles, and pedestrians. Notwithstanding these rules and regulations, accidents occur on a daily basis between bicyclists and motor vehicles. There are numerous causes of bicycle accidents, but some of the more common are:
- Poorly maintained roads, such as loose debris, potholes, uneven roads;
- Drivers failing to see a bicyclist when making a turn or opening a door;
- Drivers operating cars too closely to bicyclists when trying to pass;
- Drivers making lane changes too quickly;
- Drivers failing to yield to bicyclists at a stop sign; and
- Drivers driving too closely behind bicyclists.
Common Injuries Involving Bicycle Accidents
Bicycle accidents are particularly dangerous and face a higher risk of crash-related injuries and deaths than accident involving motor vehicles. Upper and lower extremity injuries are the most common areas for injuries followed by injuries to the head, face, abdomen or thorax, and neck. Common injuries that bicyclists suffer in accidents include:
- Broken bones, including ankles, arms, legs;
- Strains and dislocations;
- Concussions; and
- Scratches, bruises, cuts, lacerations, scrapes, including road rash.
Bicycle Accident Personal Injury Lawsuit
If you or someone you know has been involved in a bicycle accident as a result of another person’s negligent or reckless conduct, you may have the right to file a lawsuit to recover compensation for personal injuries. This is known as a personal injury lawsuit. In a personal injury lawsuit, the bicyclist will need to show that the negligent conduct of the driver caused the bicyclist’s injuries. Negligence means that the driver failed to use proper care in operating the motor vehicle. Common injuries that one may recover in a bicycle accident include compensation for property damage, physical and emotional pain and suffering, medical expenses, and loss of wages and of earning capacity.