If you have been involved in a bicycle accident in Kansas City, you may find yourself overwhelmed by the damages you’ve suffered and in need of serious legal aid. Our Kansas City bicycle accident lawyers can assist you in handling and facing your claim.
The nature of biking leaves the cyclist more exposed than a passenger in a motor vehicle. A bicycle accident can result in minor superficial wounds to grave injuries involving broken bones, brain trauma, spinal cord damage, and in the worst case, fatalities.
A bike accident can be brought on by an impact with another bicycle, car, truck, motorcycle, bus, or any other vehicle on the roadways. A cyclist has a higher likelihood of colliding with the asphalt or being struck directly by other objects.
Due to the difference in weight, size, and velocity between bicycles and other motor vehicles, bike accident victims are at a higher risk of experiencing serious injuries even while wearing the right protective gear. This heightened exposure can lead to extensive damages and, therefore, costly expenses.
If you or someone close to you has been involved in a bicycling accident, our experienced personal injury lawyers at Wendt Law are here to help.
Between 2014 and 2016, there were 23 fatalities from bicycle accidents in Missouri. The highest mortality rate was among the 50 to 55 age group, followed by the 26 to 30 age group. Bicycle accidents are more common, and more deadly, in urban areas like Kansas City. Despite these apparently low numbers, it’s important to remember that nonfatal bicycle accidents can still cause devastating injuries and expensive damages.
Biking in Kansas City
With a rise in the popularity of biking in the last decade, Kansas City Public Works has been implementing roadway improvements to better accommodate bike travel. Whether you are a visitor or resident, biking may be your preferred method of navigating the city. However, although Kansas City is working to enhance the accessibility of biking, bike accidents do occur.
In Kansas City, cyclists are required to abide by the same laws of the road as motor vehicles. Bike riders are strongly encouraged to wear a bicycle helmet and any other protective gear. To increase safety it is encouraged that cyclists ride on paved shoulders, use arm signals, be easily visible, and ride with a group if possible.
At night, it is required for bikes to be equipped with a visible front white light and a rear red reflector. It is always necessary that bicycles have effective usable brakes. Bicycles must not carry more than the number of people they are designed for, and a cyclist may not carry anything that obstructs the use of their hands.
Bicycle Laws in Kansas and Missouri
In Kansas City, bicycles are “vehicles” by law. They, therefore, have all the same rights and responsibilities as motor vehicles. Bicyclists may use the roadway to travel when bike lanes do not exist. They may not ride on sidewalks in downtown KC unless they are 12 years old or younger. Motorists in Missouri must maintain safe traveling distances around bicycles – a minimum of three feet at all times. Most counties in Missouri and Kansas require those under 18 to wear helmets while cycling. Breaking any of the bicycle laws in KC can increase the risks of collisions and serious injuries.
The majority of bike accidents occur because someone broke the law. Roadway laws are in place for the safety of motorists, bicyclists, and pedestrians. Breaking the rules opens the door to collisions. When motorists enter crosswalks without the right of way, speed, or engage in unsafe practices such as texting and driving, they risk the lives of everyone else on the roadway. Bicyclists are particularly at risk as vulnerable road users. A collision may cause minor vehicle damage to the motorist but can end the life of the cyclist. It is up to motorists to acknowledge the rights of bicyclists in Kansas and Missouri and to obey the laws.
If a motor vehicle driver breaks the law in any way, resulting in a bicycle collision, he or she may be guilty of negligence per se. In a typical negligence case, the plaintiff has to prove negligence by showing that a reasonable and prudent party would not have done the same thing as the defendant in similar circumstances. In a negligence per se case, the defendant’s negligence is obvious because he or she broke the law. Negligence per se claims is easier to win than typical negligence cases. A Kansas City bike accident lawyer can improve your odds of compensation in either type of claim.
Riding a Bicycle Versus Operating a Motor Vehicle
Riding a bike and driving a motor vehicle may seem like vastly different practices, but they have many similarities in the eyes of the law. Both drivers and bicyclists have an obligation to share the road under the laws in the state of Missouri. This means bicyclists have many of the same obligations as other drivers. Under Missouri law:
Bicyclists must ride with traffic, never against it.
Bicyclists should ride as close to the side of the road as possible (allowing for safety).
A bicyclist may move toward the middle or left of a lane as appropriate, including while making a left turn, to avoid a hazard, and when the lane is too narrow to share with a motor vehicle.
Bicyclists must check traffic and signal their intent to change lanes or a position within a lane.
Motorists also have certain obligations when sharing the road with bicyclists. These include:
Changing speed and providing care around a bicyclist, especially with poor road conditions.
Giving a full lane to bicyclists when passing, if possible.
Yielding to a cyclist when making a right turn.
Yielding to an oncoming cyclist when making a left turn.
Checking for bicycle traffic before opening a car door in a downtown or urban area.
Yielding to bicyclists in a bike lane.
Common Causes of Bicycle Accidents in Kansas City
No matter how careful a cyclist is, even while wearing protective gear and taking proper precautions, accidents happen, and they are always unpredictable. There are many causes for bicycle accidents, but often these accidents are due to some form of motor vehicle negligence. Common conduct that gives rise to bike accidents in Kansas City includes the following:
Passing recklessly: A driver may not give enough room between their vehicle and the cyclist while passing. Passing dangerously can lead to a collision or the driver running the cyclists off the road completely. In some extreme cases, aggressive drivers may intentionally push a cyclist off the road.
Opening vehicle doors: Drivers may open their doors without caution after parking their vehicles. If a cyclist is passing by, this can easily cause a collision. The cyclist may not be able to brake fast enough and crash into the car door causing physical injuries.
Reversing without caution: Drivers who are not exercising caution while parking or maneuvering their vehicles may enter the path of an oncoming cyclist.
Turning without caution: Drivers turning left may fail to yield and veer directly into an occupied bike lane. Drivers turning right may forget to use their turn signals or check their mirrors, causing them to turn into the path of the cyclist. Drivers may fail to yield the right of way or fail to pay attention to oncoming cyclists altogether.
Driving under the influence and reckless driving: Driving under the influence is prohibited by law. Impairment compromises the attention of a driver and can quickly result in injured cyclists. Distracted and reckless driving directly puts cyclists at risk on the roadways.
Defective or hazardous roads: Unkept roads comprised of potholes, signs of wear, and broken down infrastructure can put cyclists in harm’s way. Road and weather conditions may contribute to the circumstances that bring about a bicycle crash.
Authorities encourage bicyclists to ride defensively to increase their safety, but ultimately the conditions of the bikeways and the responsibility of drivers to drive safely are out of a cyclist’s control.
Common Injuries Following Bicycle Accidents
Cyclists are equally entitled to use the roadways as motor vehicles. Unfortunately, cyclists are more at risk of injury following a crash or collision. Below we elaborate on injuries our Kansas City bicycle accident lawyers frequently see.
Head injuries can vary from bruises and scrapes to fractured or damaged skull bones. Any impact on the head has the potential to cause a brain injury. The use of a helmet is strongly advised in Kansas City.
A bike crash can cause serious injury to the vulnerable facial area. Bicycle accident victims often suffer from broken or lost teeth, fractured jaw, damage to the eyes or vision, broken nose, or road rash that can deeply scar sensitive facial skin.
Traumatic Brain Injury
Traumatic brain injuries, known as TBI for short, are damage to the brain due to forceful impacts on the head. A cyclist may endure a concussion without any visible external damage. Head and neck injuries can result in severe cerebral and neurological damage. Symptoms of trauma to the brain may include headaches, loss of consciousness, feeling faint or dizzy, nausea, verbal difficulties, and loss of coordination. TBIs are serious injuries requiring immediate medical attention and have the potential to cause permanent damage.
Bodily injuries can range from soft-tissue damage to broken or fractured bones. Cyclists struck from behind commonly endure whiplash. A rider that is hit from the side could sustain broken bones or damaged ligaments. Naturally, cyclists tend to brace for a fall, which can result in a dislocated shoulder, broken wrist, or broken hand bones.
A forceful impact to the spine that fractures, dislocates, crushes or compresses one or more of the vertebrae is considered spinal cord damage. These can be devastating injuries causing paralysis or fatalities. Spinal cord injuries can be life-altering and require extensive care and rehabilitation.
Bicycle crashes can quickly turn fatal when distracted driving, drunk driving, speeding, and hazardous road conditions are involved in the incident. If someone close to you was killed in a bicycle accident, we recommend you contact a wrongful death lawyer immediately.
Understanding Liability and Damages in a Bike Accident
Liability with bike accidents works similarly to that of car accidents. When a bicyclist gets into an accident with another vehicle and the driver is at fault, he or she may pursue damages against the driver to compensate for medical bills and other damages.
Determining fault in a bike accident is no simple task, but it generally requires proof of the following elements:
The driver owed the bicyclist a duty of care.
The driver violated that duty by committing negligence. A driver usually commits negligence by breaking a traffic law.
The driver’s negligence directly resulted in the bicyclist’s injuries.
The bicyclist suffered harm because of the accident.
An injured bicyclist may have grounds for a valid personal injury claim, assuming the preceding elements are true. An injured party may collect the following types of damages after an accident under Missouri’s state laws:
Economic damages, which compensate for the tangible harms a bicyclist suffers in an accident. Examples include medical bills, lost wages, and the costs of future care.
Noneconomic damages such as physical pain, suffering, emotional anguish, or loss in quality of life.
Bicycle accident victims may be able to gain valuable reimbursement for their injuries when they result from a negligent driver. To learn more about your possible legal options, contact us, and schedule a free case evaluation with our Kansas City bike accident lawyers.
Who is The At-Fault Party in a Bicycle Accident?
An individual or an entity may be at fault for causing a bicycle accident. Common at-fault parties for bicycle accidents in Kansas City include the following:
The cyclist: A bike rider can be liable if they failed to obey traffic rules or exhibited negligent cycling behaviors. Negligent cyclists may be riding out of bicycle lanes, riding on the wrong side of the road, breaking traffic laws, or distracted biking.
Motor vehicle drivers: Bicycle accidents are commonly caused by negligent drivers who may be distracted, breaking traffic laws, driving over the speed limit, or impaired.
Bicycle Parts Manufacturers: Companies can be held responsible if a defective bike part plays a role in causing the accident.
Commercial Companies: A company or corporation may be liable if the incident involved a negligent driver of a commercial vehicle or a company-owned vehicle.
Government Agency: Government parties can be held accountable for unsafe road conditions, incidents involving public transportation vehicles, or neglected and damaged road signage.
It is critical to determine the at-fault party in a bicycle accident promptly. Only parties who contributed to causing a bike accident can be liable for the damages endured by the victim. It must be proven that the liable party was involved in causing the accident.
In Missouri, there are comparative negligence laws that can keep you from receiving compensation if you are found to be 50% or more at-fault for the accident. A Kansas City bike accident lawyer can help you distinguish who may be held responsible.
What Should I do Following a Bicycle Accident in Kansas City?
Assess Injuries and Relocate: Immediately following a bike accident, scan all involved parties for possible injuries and relocate to a safe area. Exercise caution while repositioning any injured person due to the potential of causing further injury.
Seek medical assistance: Contact 911 immediately to have a medical professional assess your well-being. Following a bicycle accident, the victim may have suffered minimal visible damage and appear fine, yet it is important to be examined by a medical professional to ensure that no internal harm has occurred. Unseen internal damages can become serious. We suggest making a check-up appointment after your initial examination.
Contact the Police: Dial 911 straight away and report the bicycle accident. To file an insurance claim it is important to have an official record and police report of the incident.
Capture photos or videos: The shock of an accident can often trigger a fight or flight response compromising the victim’s memory of the event. Taking photos of the crash scene can create solid, pertinent evidence to support your future case. We suggest capturing photos of vehicle damage, nearby traffic signage, and any injury suffered by the victim. We advise capturing evidence of any government negligence at the accident scene, such as areas in need of roadway maintenance or hazardously exposed construction.
Gather information: Collect information from the at-fault driver as quickly as possible. Information including the driver’s name, home address, driver’s license number, license plate number, and any insurance information.
Talk to witnesses: Anyone who saw the accident can corroborate details of the incident which can support your future case. Be sure to obtain information from witnesses, such as full names, addresses, and phone numbers.
Contact your insurance company: Alert your insurance company that you have been involved in an accident and suffered an injury. However, you should avoid answering any immediate questions or giving any specific details about your bike accident. Instead, notify your insurance company that you are seeking representation from a lawyer who can answer their questions.
Contact us at Wendt Law for a free consultation: After a bicycle crash, you may find yourself overwhelmed and in need of legal aid. At Wendt Law, our legal team offers free case evaluation so you can seek advice on the potential next steps. By getting in contact with one of our Kansas City bicycle accident attorneys as quickly as possible, you improve your chances of recovering maximum compensation.
When to Contact a Kansas City Bike Accident Lawyer
More often than not, bike accidents result in serious injuries. Bicyclists can suffer concussions, traumatic brain damage, crush injuries, internal damage, spinal cord injuries, and broken bones. Some injuries may result in permanent disability. Injured bicyclists should not accept insurance settlement offers without first speaking to a qualified personal injury attorney. The driver’s insurance company is likely offering less than the case is actually worth. A personal injury claim against the driver, on the other hand, can result in maximum recovery. A Kansas City bike accident lawyer can help with insurance settlement negotiations or a civil claim after a harmful bike collision in KC.
What Damages Can I Recover From in a Personal Injury Claim
Following a bicycle accident, the cumulative damages can rapidly add up. Depending on who is at fault for the accident, insurance companies may get involved. The insurance company of the culpable party will contact the victim in an effort to persuade the victim toward a settlement.
We urge you to speak with an experienced Kansas City bicycle accident lawyer before coming to an agreement with any insurance company. These companies are looking to make a profit and do not consider the true cost and damage of an accident-induced injury. Common damages our personal injury lawyers litigate for:
Medical Costs: Bicycle accidents can bring on costly medical bills. Medical costs may include ambulance fees, hospitalization, surgeries, and continued rehabilitation.
Lost wages: If you are unable to return to work due to your bike accident, you may be able to seek compensation for your total lost income, including future losses.
Pain and suffering: Along with physical injuries, a victim may be entitled to compensation for their cumulative pain and suffering. This encompasses the ongoing pain experienced from the injuries as well as the emotional trauma suffered from being involved in a bicycle accident. Often, victims have endured severe emotional distress due to their accidents, making returning to work and day-to-day life difficult.
Wrongful death: If a loved one was killed in a bicycle accident, you may be entitled to file a wrongful death lawsuit. This type of lawsuit can compensate for a family’s economic losses and suffering as a result of the death of their loved one.
At Wendt Law, a skilled attorney will carefully examine the facts of your case and the extent of your injuries in order to file a strong claim against the at-fault party.
Contact a Kansas City Bicycle Accident Lawyer Today
If you are unsure whether you are eligible for compensation, our law firm offers a free initial consultation.
At Wendt Law, we work on a contingency fee basis meaning there is no upfront cost. A proportion of your settlement will be paid to our law firm only if we successfully recover financial compensation on your behalf. Simply, you only pay if we win your case.
A bicycle accident lawsuit may seem unapproachable alone, but our legal team will work to facilitate the process. Our Kansas City personal injury attorneys are experienced in bicycle accident claims and are determined to recover compensation for you as swiftly as possible.
Call today at 816-542-6734 for a free consultation with an experienced person