You Need an Experienced Bicycle Accident Attorney
We are proud to stand up for injured cyclists in Buffalo and throughout New York
Especially in the warm summer months, cycling is a great way to get around in Buffalo and throughout western New York. Cyclists have every right to be on the road, but unfortunately, some motorists don’t see it that way. When they fail to pay attention or drive aggressively around bikes, lives can be changed forever. You may be living with the pain of your accident for the rest of your life.
Getting compensation for a bicycle accident can be a difficult process, but you don’t have to go it alone. The Law Offices of James Morris has the experience and resources needed to take on the insurance companies and get justice for injured cyclists. Contact us today to speak with an experienced Buffalo bicycle accident attorney about your legal options.
A law firm that represents victims of all types of bicycle accidents
Crashes between cars and bicycles can happen in several ways, but the most common cause is inattention or carelessness on the part of the driver. We represent victims of all types of bike accidents, including:
- Doorings: a driver or passenger opens a car door without looking, right into the path of an approaching bicycle. The cyclist either hits the door itself or swerves into traffic and hits another vehicle.
- Left hook or left cross: a motorist making a left turn at an intersection fails to yield the right of way to an oncoming cyclist and turns in front of or into the bicycle. This is one of the most common types of bicycle accidents, and one of the deadliest.
- Right cross: a car entering the road from a driveway or parking lot pulls out in front of the cyclist, causing a crash.
- Right hook: a car passes the bicycle on the left and then makes a right turn in front of the cyclist. This sometimes happens when a car and bicycle are stopped side by side at a red light and the car makes a right turn when the light turns green.
- Car rear-ends bicycle: bikes have a much shorter stopping distance than cars, so when a motorist fails to compensate and follows a bike too closely, a devastating collision may follow.
Motorists and cyclists alike have a responsibility to share the road, but when either party fails in that responsibility, it’s usually the cyclist who gets badly hurt. When drivers fail to safely operate their vehicles and cause serious injuries, cyclists have legal recourse under New York law.
Understanding New York bicycle laws
Legally, cyclists have as much right to use most roadways as motorists. New York law does, however, prohibit cycling on most expressways, highways, interstate routes, bridges, and thruways, unless specifically authorized by signage.
In New York, cyclists are required to use bike lanes where they are available or ride all the way to the right if there is no bicycle lane (except when making a left turn or avoiding an obstacle). Motorists are not allowed to park in the bicycle lane, nor leave a car door open and block bicycles from passing for any longer than necessary to load or unload passengers.
New York state law does not expressly regulate cycling on sidewalks. However, many municipalities have local laws restricting cyclists from using the sidewalk. In Buffalo, riding a bicycle on the sidewalk is illegal except for children under age 14.
How compensation for bicycle accidents works in New York
New York is a “no-fault” state for motor vehicle accidents, including collisions between a car or truck and a bicycle. That means injured cyclists can access no-fault benefits to pay for some accident-related costs, including:
- Medical and rehabilitation expenses
- 80% of your lost wages, up to $2,000 per month
- Up to $25 a day reimbursement for other accident-related expenses (such as transportation or household help)
- A $2,000 death benefit
As a cyclist hit by a car, you can usually file a no-fault claim under the insurance policy for the car that hit you. If you were hit by an uninsured motorist, or a hit-and-run driver who cannot be found, then you can be covered under your own car insurance, or an insurance policy for a close family member who you live with. If there is no other applicable insurance (for instance, you were hit by an uninsured driver and no one in your household owns a car), then you can file a claim with the Motor Vehicle Accident Indemnification Corporation (MVAIC), a state agency that stands in for the insurance company when there is no other coverage.
In addition, if you meet the state’s standards for a “serious injury,” you can file a third-party claim with the at-fault driver’s liability insurance, or a lawsuit against the at-fault driver (in which their interests will be represented by their insurance). In New York, a serious injury is any injury that causes at least one of the following:
- Significant disfigurement
- Fracture (broken bone)
- Loss of a fetus
- Permanent loss of use of an organ, member, function, or system of the body
- Permanent consequential limitation of use of a body organ or member
- Any injury that stops you from performing your normal daily activities for 90 of the 180 days after the accident
Most bicycle accidents meet this threshold easily enough: when a car strikes a cyclist’s relatively unprotected body, serious injuries are the norm. Such a claim can allow you to recover damages that aren’t covered by no-fault, such as pain and suffering, as well as wage loss and medical expenses that exceed the no-fault policy limits. However, to do so, you need to prove that the driver’s negligence (careless behavior) caused your injury.
When you’re hurt in a bicycle accident, get experienced legal counsel
Bicycle accidents are often high-stakes cases because the injuries sustained are so severe. When an insurance company sees that the person injured in an accident was a cyclist, they immediately go to work protecting their own interests. They will put experienced adjusters and attorneys on the case with one goal: to pay you as little as possible, or nothing at all. To them, it's nothing personal, just business, but that is little comfort when you’re hurting.
We will put in the effort to thoroughly investigate your bicycle accident and prepare a case the insurance company can’t ignore. Our team will gather evidence, talk to witnesses, and hire experts if needed to explain what happened and how it has affected your life. We understand how to negotiate with insurance companies, and we know New York law. If we can’t get them to pay a fair settlement, we are ready to fight for your rights at trial.
We represent injured cyclists on a contingency fee, which means you don’t owe your lawyer a penny unless and until we recover a settlement or verdict for you. Our firm will advance the costs of litigation and deal with the insurance company on your behalf while you just focus on healing. It’s that simple.
The key is to act promptly, before evidence disappears and witnesses forget what they saw. If you were hurt in a bicycle accident in Buffalo or anywhere in western New York, face what’s next with an experienced attorney on your side. Contact us today for a free consultation with a Buffalo bicycle accident attorney.