Bicycling has experienced a surge in popularity throughout New England in recent years. Although exact numbers are difficult to ascertain, the sport’s growth is evident. In Massachusetts, for example, an estimated 762,000 adults ride bikes at least once during the summer. Boston has seen a significant increase in ridership, with the Boston Bikes initiative playing a key role. The initiative led to the addition of over 60 miles of bike lanes, hundreds of bike racks, and the unveiling of the Balance Hubway bike share system.
Unfortunately, the increase in cycling also comes with a downside. Bicycle collisions in Greater Boston suburban areas have risen by 9%, with a 15% increase statewide. Injuries occur in 70% of these accidents. As bicycle commuting grows, the likelihood of accidents increases, highlighting the importance of safety measures and infrastructure improvements.
In an effort to reduce bicycle injuries by 50%, the Boston Bikes initiative aims to have 10% of all trips in Boston taken by bike by 2020. Several Massachusetts laws have been implemented to address safety issues, such as requiring motorists to check for cyclists before opening doors, allowing bicyclists to pass vehicles on the right, and mandating helmets for those under 16.
Despite these efforts, accidents still occur due to driver inattention, unsafe road conditions, and failure to respect cyclists’ rights. If you or a loved one has been involved in a bicycle accident in Massachusetts, it is crucial to consult with an experienced personal injury attorney at Bellotti Law Group, P.C. that understands your rights and the appropriate steps to take. Call 617-225-2100 for a free case evaluation.
Bike Accident Safety Tips
Ensure your safety
If you find yourself on the ground as a result of a bike accident, remain still until you or a qualified individual can confirm you’re not seriously injured. Limit your movements to only what’s necessary to check for severe bleeding or broken bones. Stay calm and take a few minutes to relax and gather your thoughts.
If you’re in a dangerous spot, move to a safer location. Similarly, move your bike to prevent further damage. Make mental or written notes of where you and your bike were after the collision, as well as any changes in the motorists’ positions. This information will be useful when reporting the incident to the Registry of Motor Vehicles and the police. Accept medical care unless you’re certain you’re uninjured. Never decline assistance if you’ve experienced head, face, back, or neck trauma.
Identify others involved in the crash
Collect driver’s license and vehicle registration details from all involved drivers. Record their names, addresses, and insurance information. Speak with witnesses and gather their contact details. Note any injuries sustained by you or others at the scene.Cooperate with the police if they investigate. Share your observations without assigning blame. Stay calm and avoid anger when interacting with others involved in the incident. If the other driver flees, try to get their license plate number and state. Report this to the police promptly.
Assess your bike
Refrain from riding your bike if there’s damage to the fork, handlebars, or headset bearings. Check for issues with the handlebars, fork, and headset, which could compromise steering and balance. Inspect the front end, spin each wheel, and test the brakes. If the wheels are misaligned or the brakes malfunction, avoid riding the bike. Check the cranks and pedals for any signs of damage. Consider calling a ride (taxi, rideshare, or friend) and obtain a receipt, as you may be reimbursed when filing an insurance claim.
Once away from the crash scene, focus on your well-being and bike repair. Seek medical attention, comply with reporting laws, and document damages to your bicycle and gear. Thorough documentation will facilitate recovery and compensation for any damages resulting from the crash.
Accident Reporting Procedure
In Massachusetts, you must submit an accident report for any motor vehicle accident resulting in injury to any party or causing property damage exceeding $100 within five days of the incident. Obtain an accident report form at any police station or download one from the RMV website.
When completing the report, create four copies:
- Mail the original copy to the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles at the address indicated on the form.
- Submit a copy to the police department in the city or town where the crash occurred.
- Retain a copy to provide to the other motorists’ insurance companies if requested.
- Keep a fourth copy for your personal records.
If you have an attorney or seek legal advice, consult with them before submitting the accident report. They can help you present the accident details in a way that better supports your account of the incident.
Contact Insurance Companies Promptly
After an accident, promptly contact the insurance companies of all involved motorists. Provide necessary information and cooperate with the assigned claims adjuster. However, decline any requests for written or recorded statements to protect yourself in case of fault disputes.
In Massachusetts, medical expenses are covered up to the no-fault limit, while out-of-state policies follow their respective regulations. Property damage is covered if the insurer determines their client is responsible. If deemed at fault, consider small claims court or consulting an attorney. Insurance companies typically resolve cyclist claims quickly, so maintain open communication with the claims adjuster and ask any questions about the process.
Upon receiving claim forms, complete and submit them alongside receipts, repair estimates, lost wage documentation, and other relevant information. Massachusetts insurance companies typically have separate systems for medical expenses and property damage, so ensure each claim type is submitted with the correct form. Make copies of all submitted materials. Insurance companies prefer to resolve claims quickly, but don’t rush the process at the expense of gathering necessary information. If additional time is needed to obtain repair estimates or assess property damage, take the required time before filing the claim.
Hire a Personal Injury Attorney
Deciding whether to hire an attorney after a cycling accident is crucial. It’s advisable to consult a lawyer at Bellotti Law Group, P.C. before proceeding with insurance claims and settlements. They can offer guidance and support in case you face opposition from insurance companies or authorities. Be cautious about signing a release, as it prevents any future claims related to the accident. Allow time to ensure all injuries are accounted for before signing. If there are potential long-term injuries or pending claims against you, seek legal advice. In situations where state laws require unsafe cycling practices or authorities are reluctant to support you, find a personal injury attorney experienced in cycling cases to advocate for you. Our attorneys cover a variety of car accident cases, such as bike accidents involving children, bike lane accidents, commuter bicycle accidents, etc. Call us today for a free consultation at 617-225-2100.