North Carolina Car Accident Lawyers Blog

Articles Posted in Bicycle Accident

Drivers on public roads are required to use reasonable care in the operation of their motor vehicle. “Reasonable care” is the degree of caution or concern for the safety of others that a rational or ordinarily prudent person would use the same or similar circumstances.
One notable exception to this is the “sudden emergency doctrine.” Though the language of the doctrine may vary slightly from state-to-state, the general idea is that when a person, through no fault of her own, is placed in a sudden emergency while driving, he or she won’t be expected to exercise the same degree of care that a reasonably careful person would have exercised had the emergency not arisen. It’s essentially a less stringent standard of care.

The North Carolina Court of Appeals weighed in on this issue several years ago in the 2007 case of Sobczak v. Vorholt, the court determined the two elements that have to be satisfied in order for the doctrine to be applied are:

  • An emergency situation exists or arises that requires immediate action to avoid injury;
  • The emergency must not have been created by the negligence of the party seeking protection from the doctrine.

The court ruled it’s improper to consider the sudden emergency doctrine unless there is evidence of a sudden, unforeseeable change in conditions to which driver must respond quickly to avoid injury.
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A new study published by the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) reveals the number of bicycle injuries over the last 15 years has nearly doubled, attributed largely to a huge increase in the number of over-45 riders.
More people are riding in that age group, researchers say, and older riders are more susceptible to injury.

The conclusion is based on hospital admission figures tallied from 1998 to 2013. While in the 1998-1999 year, hospitals admitted 8,791 patients for bicycle injuries, by the 2012-2013 year, that figure had spiked to 15,427.

Of those, researchers found:

  • 52 percent of injuries involved an extremity
  • 16 percent of injuries involved the head
  • 17 percent of injuries involved the torso
  • 16 percent of injuries involved another body part

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Nationally, there has been a steady increase of cycling fatalities and injuries in recent years, with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration indicating in its most recent report a 6 percent uptick in fatalities and1,000 more reported injuries.
The vast majority of these incidents involve collisions with motor vehicles. In many cases, the driver is solely at fault, though there are some situations in which cyclists share a portion of the blame.

In personal injury law, when a plaintiff is responsible to some extent for his or her own injuries, this is called “comparative negligence” or “comparative fault.” Different states have varying civil procedure approaches to this. For example, South Carolina allows injured parties who share blame to recover damages from others, so long as plaintiff’s own fault doesn’t exceed 51 percent (called modified comparative fault). However, in North Carolina, any degree of fault by plaintiff will bar compensation for personal injury.
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Umbrella insurance policies are designed to provide extra coverage when other forms of insurance are exhausted, but still don’t cover the cost of the claims. They can cover a host of different kinds of claims, ranging from dog bites to trip-and-fall accidents to serious crashes.
In auto accidents, an umbrella policy can be good for an at-fault driver so he or she isn’t stuck personally with a huge bill for damages, faced with the possibility of wage garnishments and asset seizures. It’s also a plus for the injured parties, as there is a higher likelihood of receiving payments promptly and in full for the extent of damages.

But of course, as with any insurance policy, there are bound to be loopholes. Lots of them. This was demonstrated recently in the case of Schill v. Cincinnati Ins. Co. before the Ohio Supreme Court.
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Asheville recently earned the dubious distinction of being, per capita, the most dangerous city in the state for people on foot. Cyclists don’t fare much better, though there is evidence to suggest that element might improve the more cyclists are on the street.
Our Asheville car accident attorneys understand that between 2008 and 2012, the average number of annual vehicle-versus-pedestrian accidents was 8.1 per 10,000 people. That is by far the highest of any of the 10 largest metro areas in the state, according to a recent report from the North Carolina Department of Transportation.

Figures aren’t yet available for the 2013 calendar year, but a report from the Asheville Citizen-Times indicates we’ll likely see the uptick continue, given a number of serious crashes reported by the paper last year and so far in 2014.
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Commuting via biking and walking is good for your health and good for the planet. The Alliance for Biking & Walking is a nonprofit organization designed to improve conditions for bicycles and walkers and encourage people to travel more on foot or via bicycle. Recently, the Alliance published its 2014 Benchmarking Report, which is a complication of data and research on both walking and bicycling across all 50 states. shadow-of-the-past-1432188-m.jpg

The report is important because it sheds light and on where people are walking and biking the most; as well as on how various factors affect the rate of pedalcyclist or pedestrian accidents. An experienced Asheboro, NC accident lawyer can assist riders or walkers who suffer an injury in a motor vehicle collision and can represent family members of those killed in collisions.
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Officials with the South Carolina Highway Patrol are investigating a fatal accident that killed a bicyclist in Carolina Forest. According to News13, the accident happened just before 10:00 p.m. near Plantation Lakes.
According to the Chief Deputy Coroner, the bicyclist was a 35-year-old man from Conway. He was hit by a vehicle and died at the scene. No charges have been filed.

Our Carolina Forest accident attorneys understand that bicyclists have some serious risks for injuries this summer. Not only are their chances for an accident high, but their risks for serious injury and even death in the event of a collision are much higher. This is why it’s important that cyclists are on the lookout for dangers around them. Motor vehicle traffic also needs to do its part to help protect these riders. Bicyclist safety is a job that depends on everyone.

The truth of the matter is that we lost more than 675 bicyclist lives in traffic accidents in the U.S. in 2011. Yes, this is a number that’s lower than the 830 fatalities the nation saw in 1995, but these kinds of accidents have again been on the rise in recent years. These fatality numbers represent a little more than 2 percent of the total number of people killed in traffic accidents for the entire year. The number of injuries reported from bicyclists has also followed a similar fluctuating trend, from 61,000 in 1995 to close to 40,000 in 2011.

According to the South Carolina Department of Health and Environment Control, bicycle use laws and safety guidelines are oftentimes misunderstood by bicyclists. Unfortunately, studies indicate that riders in our area who have little or no knowledge of the current bicycle laws, safety rules or even the proper use of protective and reflective gear are at greater risk for injury or death. Our state’s bicycle fatality rates have been consistently over the nation’s average. Our state has been one of the top 10 states with the highest rates of cycling deaths, more than double the national average during some years. But we unfortunately still lacked a statewide bicyclist educational program.

Some of the most important things we’ve got to remember as motorists is that bicyclists are granted all of the rights and are subject to all of the duties applicable to the driver of a vehicle.

When riding on two wheels out there, you’ve got to remember you’re acting as a motor vehicle, too. Make sure you’re aware of the movement around you and you’re staying one step ahead of traffic. Remaining aware and riding defensively is going to help to avoid accidents — and save your life.
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The number of bicycle fatalities per 1 million people is higher in North Carolina than it is overall in the nation.
According to the latest report on bicycle crashes released by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, our crash rate per 1 million was 2.59, compared to the total U.S. rate of 2.17.

Our Asheville car accident attorneys know that the majority of fatal bicycle crashes involve motor vehicles. When a car or truck strikes a bicyclist, a bicyclist’s risk of injury is great because aside from a helmet, there is nothing else to cushion the body from the pavement. Depending on how fast the motor vehicle is traveling and the angle at which the bicyclist is hit, he or she faces high risk of a serious injury or death.

The NHTSA’s annual report, which this year details 2011 statistics, revealed that across the U.S., there were nearly 680 bicyclists killed and 48,000 injured in motor vehicle crashes.

Deaths of people operating bicycles accounted for 2 percent of all those killed and 2 percent of all those injured throughout the year.

What’s especially concerning, though, is that the number of cyclists killed was nearly 10 percent higher in 2011 than it was for 2010. While there were 623 killed in 2010, there were 677 killed in 2011. In fact, the percentage of bicyclist fatalities was higher in 2011 than it’s been in the last decade.

Although we don’t have figures for 2012, we do know that throughout the country, more people are choosing to ride bicycles as a means of regular transportation because it’s greener, healthier and often more enjoyable than a motor vehicle commute.

But more bicyclists mean more crashes.

A 2009 report – the most recent – by the North Carolina Department of Transportation revealed that more than half (55 percent) of all bicycle crashes in North Carolina that year occurred in counties within the Piedmont region, which includes the cities of Charlotte and Raleigh. The Coastal Plain counties accounted for 38 percent of all bicycle crashes, while the Mountain region, where Asheville is located, accounted for just 7.5 percent.

However, that’s not an indication that Asheville is any safer than elsewhere in the state. Simply, the Mountain region of North Carolina simply has fewer people, even though those in Asheville may tend to ride bicycles more than those in other areas.

The largest portion of bicyclist fatalities in the country happened between 3 p.m. and 8 p.m., according to the NHTSA. That accounted for about 30 percent of all fatalities. The second-highest number, 21 percent, occurred between 8 p.m. and midnight.

Thirty-one percent of those incidents were in rural areas, while 69 percent were in urban settings.

Another noteworthy trend that continued through 2011 was the rising age of bicycle crash casualties. In the last 10 years, the average age of bicyclists injured rose from 28 to 32. The average of bicyclists killed rose from 36 to 43.

We may continue to see this figure rise with the continued aging of the baby boomer population.
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A bicycle accident on a busy North Carolina road launched the start of “Ghost Bikes.” A father of three was hit and killed by a passing semi-truck as he cycled alongside the road. Fellow cyclists put a white bike at the site of the accident to serve as a memorial and to help to raise awareness about these kinds of accidents, according to The Republican.

When loved ones got to the scene of the accident, they already noticed an old white bike that was stood up alongside the road unchained. It was a ghost bike.
These bikes are now popping up all over the world. According to the organization’s website, there are about 500 of these bikes in nearly 200 locations throughout the world. The bikes come in all different shapes and sizes, just as the victims do. Most of them are white, but there is a bright pink one that’s been spotted. Many are smashed to signify the consequences of car accidents with bicyclists.

Our Asheville bicycling accident attorneys understand that these kinds of accidents are alarmingly common during this time of the year. Nationwide, bicyclists are hitting the road. The warm summer weather provides idea conditions for bicyclists. Unfortunately, motorists aren’t recognizing the presence of these travelers and their safety is suffering because of it.

New York City has been noted for the number of Ghost Bike memorials. There are currently more than 100 throughout the city. New York City is also the city where the group of bicycling advocates who maintain reside.

Every year, there are hundreds of cyclists killed and thousands more injured in the U.S. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), there were nearly 620 cyclists who were killed and more than 50,000 who were injured in accidents with motor vehicles in 2010. These accidents accounted for about 2 percent of all motor vehicle-related deaths. More than 70 percent of bicyclists who were killed during the year were killed in urban areas. About 30 percent of the fatalities happened at intersections and half of them happened between the hours or 4:00 p.m. and 12:00 a.m.

In Raleigh, there’s a memorial for Steven Jordan, that sits in the grass right next to a busy six-road street. It has been there since the 4th of July, when that passing truck driver slammed into him. Since then, the driver has been charged with a failure to reduce speed to avoid a collision and a misdemeanor death by motor vehicle. Bicycle advocates in the area also helped to organize a memorial ride for their lost bicyclist.

Drivers are asked to use these bicycles as a reminder. Keep an eye out for these two-wheeled travelers along our streets. Much of their safety relies on your safe habits. Look twice, save a life.

“I think ghost bikes aren’t only a memorial but art,” said Timur Ender, local bicycling advocate. “Whenever I pass one I have a moment of silence — they’re a reminder of how fragile life can be.”
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There have been nearly 15 municipalities across the state that have been chosen to receive monetary help with their pedestrian and bicycle planning. There were nearly $400,000 in grants awarded last month by the North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) to help with these programs.

This is now the 9th year in a row in which the grant program has offered assistance to cities throughout the state to design and develop their own comprehensive strategies to help to make their areas more accessible and safer for both bicyclists and pedestrians.
Municipalities that were awarded funds are scattered across the central, western and eastern regions of the state. There were approximately 20 applications that the awards committee had from which to choose. These applications were from transportation planners from across the state, including councils of government, metropolitan planning organizations and municipalities.

Our pedestrian accident lawyers understand that these programs and these kinds of systems are very important when it comes to the safety of residents and visitors statewide. Bicycle and pedestrian programs are key in helping to ensure the safety of all travelers. The municipalities that have received some of the funds are now expected to start the planning process for their new programs this fall.

Which areas received some of these funds?

-Mount Holly: Nearly $32,000 in pedestrian funds.

-Gastonia: $39,000 in pedestrian funds.

-Boone: $45,000 for a bicycle plan.

-Siler City: Nearly $25,000 in pedestrian funds.

-Chapel Hill: $57,000 for a bicycle plan.

-Angier: $20,000 in pedestrian funds.

-Fuquay-Varina: Nearly $32,000 in pedestrian funds.

-Wrightsville Beach: Nearly $25,000 in pedestrian funds.

-Southport: Nearly $25,000 in pedestrian funds.

-Clinton: $22,000 for a bicycle plan.

-Trent Woods: nearly $25,000 in pedestrian funds.

-Duck: Nearly $25,000 in pedestrian funds.

The planning initiative and grant program has been sponsored by both the NCDOT’s Transportation Planning Branch and the Division of Bicycle and Pedestrian Transportation. Money for these funds has been allocated from a fund that was previously approved by the General Assembly back in 2003. Federal funds were also earmarked for these kinds of specific bicycle and pedestrian planning.

There has been nearly $4 million awarded to nearly 140 communities for this kind of planning since 2004.

During this time of the year, motorists are asked to be on the lookout for bicyclists and pedestrians, especially in areas that don’t have the most ideal bicycle and pedestrian programs. Safe driving habits may be the key in helping to keep these vulnerable travelers safe on our streets. Keep an alert eye out when driving.
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