North Carolina offers a wealth of bike routes, bike trails, and urban bicycling routes to locals and visitors alike. From Asheville to Charlotte to Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill, North Carolina offers bicycle-friendly cities and towns. The unfortunate reality is that whether you ride for recreation, for transportation, or for exercise, it can be dangerous — and at times fatal — activity, especially if there are also motor vehicles on the road.
North Carolina: The Roads Are Great for Bicycles – The Laws, Not So Much
What many people may not know is that North Carolina personal injury laws are unique, and what you do in the aftermath of a bike crash can positively or negatively affect your potential claim.
If you are a bicyclist who’s been injured in a crash with a vehicle, it’s crucial to:
- Seek medical treatment right away, even if you don’t notice any injuries immediately after the collision. Bike accident injuries may not always be obvious and can manifest later, especially injuries involving head trauma.
- Speak with an experienced bicycle accident lawyer as soon as possible.
Do I need a lawyer after a bicycle accident in North Carolina?
North Carolina is one of a handful of states that still have an antiquated law called “contributory negligence.” This means that even if you were just 1% at fault for the collision, you may not be able to recover compensation from the other party’s insurance to cover the damages you’ve sustained from the crash. In our experience, some insurance companies may attempt to shift at least some of the fault on you to try to pay you as little as they can – if at all – for the injuries you’ve incurred. They are, after all, a business – and the nature of business is to make profit.
That’s where a personal injury lawyer can come in and try to make a difference for your case. The field of “personal injury” law can encompass harm or injury that another negligent or reckless person has caused to another – and that includes bicyclists injured by cars and trucks. Consider that our experienced personal injury lawyers have made a career in representing clients in North Carolina’s contributory negligence laws, and are familiar with the ins and outs. They know what to look for in your case, what tactics the insurance company may try, and they are able to advocate for you every step of the way.
How much will it cost to hire a bike accident attorney?
If you are worried about the financial aspects of a potential claim, consider that our firm works on a contingency fee2 basis, which means that we don’t recover an attorney’s fee if we don’t get you compensation.
What are the most common causes of bicycle-motor vehicle crashes in NC?
According to the most recent report from the NCDOT, the most common causes of injuries and deaths among cyclists are motorists overtaking bicyclists, failing to yield to signs, and turning/merging. However, even the most careful and defensive cyclists can easily be injured by careless or reckless drivers.
North Carolina Bicyclists’ Rights and Bicycle Laws
Did you know that North Carolina established the nation’s first bike program in 1974? What is now known as the Bicycle and Bikeway Act of 1974 helped the state to increase bike safety and accessibility to all, creating bicycle facilities, transportation initiatives, cyclist-friendly road improvements, etc. Here are the NC bicycle laws you should know:
- Bicycles are considered vehicles in North Carolina, so bicyclists must obey the same rules on the road and have the same responsibilities as motor vehicle drivers.
- Bicyclists must travel on the right side of the road, going the same direction as the flow of traffic. They must be as far to the right of the road as possible and as is reasonable.
- Proper hand signals are required while cycling.
- Bicyclists must wear bright clothing and properly fitted helmets. They must also comply with proper lighting and reflector equipment requirements.
- Helmets are required for children under 16.
- NC’s DWI statute applies to bicyclists.
- Cyclists must yield to pedestrians.
Most Common Bicycle Injuries
In a bicycle-motor vehicle crash, bicyclists often sustain catastrophic injuries. Blunt force trauma to the head, internal organs, and the spine can cause:
- Head trauma (traumatic brain injuries)
- Facial injuries
- Soft tissue injuries
- Ruptured discs
- Spinal injury or damage
- Bone fractures and breaks
- Neurological damage
- Psychological trauma
- Wrongful death
By the Numbers: Bicycle Accident Statistics in North Carolina
According to the CDC, bicycle trips account for only 1% of all trips in the U.S., yet cyclists face a higher risk of crash-related injury and deaths than occupants in motor vehicles. On average, 850 bicyclists are hit by vehicles each year in North Carolina, which makes it “one of the least safe states in the U.S. for walking and bicycling,” according to Watch for Me NC.
At a national level, it may come as no surprise that passenger cars and light trucks like SUVs, pickups, vans, etc. have the highest incidences of collisions with bicyclists, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
More bike crashes occur in urban areas than in rural areas, according to the NCDOT.
In the Triangle, about 56% of all vehicle-bicyclist crashes in the Triangle occur at intersections, with about a quarter of all crashes occurring when a vehicle is turning.
Here’s an interactive map from the NCDOT to see where bike accidents occur most frequently in the state.
Contact a Bicycle Accident Attorney ASAP.
If you or someone you know was injured in a bicycle accident in North Carolina through no fault of your own, you have a legal right to recover compensation for your injuries. Damages may include medical bills, pain and suffering, rehabilitation expenses, loss of wages and an overall diminishment in the quality of life.
Our experienced team at the Law Offices of James Scott Farrin can help you prepare a claim against the driver of the motor vehicle that struck you. Our attorneys can put experience and resources to work to try to make sure your rights are protected throughout the case. However, it’s crucial that you don’t wait to speak with us. The clock starts ticking on your ability to pursue compensation as soon as you are hurt in the bike accident. Time is of the essence, so we encourage you to call as soon as possible. The insurance company is already working on their claim against you. Let us handle your case so that you can focus on getting better.