In Columbus, Phenix City and Ft. Benning—and through our community—we are fortunate to have miles of dedicated bike paths and trails. And while most everyone experienced scrapes, bumps, and bruises when they first learned how to ride a bike, most of us have enjoyed injury-free bike rides ever since. As more of us take advantage of the trails and opportunities for outdoor activity in Columbus, even the effort to keep cyclists safe is complicated when other people are negligent and don’t respect cyclists and their rights on the road.

When cyclists are struck by cars, there are no “fender benders!” Cyclists don’t just suffer bruised elbows and scraped knees, either. They can suffer severe, even life-threatening, injuries that require extensive treatment. Our latest blog covers some common scenarios involving bicycle injuries and what I have seen in my experience both as a cyclist and a lawyer.

How Do Crashes Between Bicycles and Cars Happen?

Sometimes crashes between bikes and cars happen because car drivers fail to notice cyclists. Others happen as a result of road rage because drivers don’t want to respectfully share the road with bicyclists like they are legally required to do. And—most, in my experience—happen at intersections and controlled crossings when drivers don’t pay attention.

Common crash scenarios include:

  • Dooring: This type of crash occurs when a driver parks on the street, then the driver or left-hand rear passenger opens their door without checking to see if a bicyclist is approaching from the rear. The cyclist usually doesn’t have enough time to stop or react before hitting the open door and being thrown from their bike.
  • Left turns: This type of crash occurs when a car is turning left and strikes an oncoming cyclist going straight. Left-turning vehicles MUST give right of way to vehicles going straight, but drivers often fail to notice cyclists. This type of accident is also extremely common in crashes between cars and motorcycles.
  • Right turns: Cars may pass a bike rider on the left who is heading in the same direction, and then make a right turn in front of them, leaving the bike rider little to no time to react before they hit the passenger side of the car. This happens even when bicyclists are lawfully using bicycle lanes, since cars have to cross the bike lane to turn right.
  • Intentional ramming: Some drivers resent being forced to slow down and use caution when driving behind or beside cyclists and will intentionally reduce the space between themselves and the bicyclists in an attempt to force them off the road. This is both exceptionally dangerous and illegal.

We also see collisions when a designated bike trail crosses a road.  Sadly, our office has dealt with many bad collisions involving bicyclists on Miller Road in Columbus and on the River Walk where debris has been left or the roads not maintained after construction projects. The truth is that most people just don’t think about bicyclists having rights on the roadway.

Related Reading: How to Make Yourself More Visible to Cars When on a Motorcycle

Do I Need to Go to the Hospital After a Bicycle Accident?

According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, roughly one-quarter of all bike crashes on roadways require hospitalization.

What Are the Most Common Injuries after Being Hit by a Car on a Bike?

When bicyclists are struck by cars, they are twice as likely to suffer serious injuries to their lower bodies than cyclists who fall from their bikes when cars are not involved. They are also very susceptible to head, chest, and back injuries in collisions with cars.

Essentially, when bicyclists are involved in accidents, they are likely going to suffer more than one serious injury.

  • 28% of cyclists suffer injuries to the face and/or neck
  • 22% of cyclists suffer injuries to the head
  • 46% of cyclists suffer injuries to the arms and hands
  • 37% of cyclists suffer injuries to the legs and feet

The types of injuries bicyclists suffer in crashes with cars are roughly evenly split between lacerations, contusions, and fractures, with bicyclists having about a one-in-three chance of one or more of these types of injuries after a crash. A one-in-three chance of a broken bone is not great odds!

How Long Do Bicycle Injuries Take to Heal?

The timelines listed below are just general estimates. Your doctor will be able to provide a more accurate timeline for you based on your specific injuries.

Doctors’ testimonies are often important pieces of evidence in personal injury cases proving the severity of your injuries and how and how long they will affect your ability to work.

  • Lacerations and contusions: Most minor bruises and cuts should heal within a week or two after a crash. Deep cuts may take several weeks and require stitches, while bruises that go down to the bone may take months to heal.
  • Sprained ankle or wrist: This will depend on the severity of the sprain. Minor sprains may heal in as soon as two weeks, while severe sprains could take as much as three months to heal.
  • Broken bone: This will again depend on the severity of the fracture AND which bone was broken. In general, most bones take 6-8 weeks to heal, but heavier and longer bones like the femur (thigh bone) or tibia (shinbone) could take as long as five months to heal.
  • Concussion: Minor concussions may heal within two weeks, but severe concussions or successive concussions can cause permanent brain damage that victims may never recover from.
  • Skull fracture: Depending on the severity, a skull fracture could take between 3-6 months to fully heal, although children may heal more quickly than adults.
  • Spine injury: With physical therapy or surgery, some spine injury sufferers may recover some functionality within a year, but others may never fully recover.

Your compensation after a partially or permanently disabling injury should include medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering.

VIDEO: Gary Bruce discusses what goes into calculating compensation for pain and suffering.

After a Bike Crash, Get Gary Bruce

Bicyclists have just as much right to the road as anyone in a car.  We have dealt with these collisions for years. The at-fault driver usually has no impact to their life and, when questioned, usually has some reason for failing to pay attention. Meanwhile, our clients have been laid up and unable to work for weeks or months because a driver was careless or refused to cede right-of-way. We appreciate our bike trails and the effort being made to create a safe riding environment in Columbus, but the bad decisions of some drivers still create a hazard environment for cyclists.

Cyclists deserve compensation for their injuries, pain, and lost wages. If you were injured by a negligent driver while riding your bike, our firm is here to get you that compensation.

The insurance company will try to lowball you and may even try to argue you caused your own injuries with the way you were biking. Hang up on them! We will fight to make sure they don’t get away with this. We know the harm that negligent drivers cause, and the devastating ways victims’ lives can be affected after being struck by a car.

Contact the Law Offices of Gary Bruce today for a free, no obligation consultation.