Two wheels are faster than walking, that’s for sure, so if you’re in a hurry a bicycle is a great way to get from here to there and back again, indeed. And while two wheels are not as fast as four, if those four are attached to a chassis that is propelled by a combustion engine, two wheels are certainly better for the environment and a great way to see nature while you get there. In short, bicycles are a wonderful way to enjoy the environment, run an errand, or travel to meet friends, but bicycles are vulnerable any time they are in close proximity to motor vehicles. An average motor vehicle can weigh three or four thousand pounds, and when that much weight is travelling at speed it can spell disaster for anything in its path—most certainly including bicycles.
Bicycle accidents can be deadly. Even when the cyclist is wearing a proper helmet, their entire body is exposed and susceptible to serious injury in a collision of any type with a motor vehicle. Just falling off a bike at speed, with no collision, can cause injury. Bikes are fun and a great way to travel, but every rider needs to understand the rules of the road, and be prepared for any situation, always. Bicycle riders need to ride with the expectation that motor vehicles are going to break laws, run lights, and veer too close. It all happens every day and any experienced bicyclist can probably list a handful of times that they have either been run off the road, nearly struck, or actually struck and lived to tell the tale.
At Shaw Law Offices, our hope is that we never meet you. That may sound strange, but in terms of bicycle accidents, it is our sincere hope that we don’t, because we’d obviously prefer that no one suffer a bicycle accident injury. But we don’t live in a perfect world, and people make mistakes. Drivers run red lights. They speed. They veer out of their lanes carelessly. And… they drive drunk. No matter how many laws are in place to protect citizens, there will always be people who break them. When they do, and their actions injure you, you need a bicycle accident attorney in Indiana who has been down that road before, a bicycle accident attorney who has a track record of success settling cases outside of court and winning them in court.
If you are someone you love has been injured in a bicycle accident, call us. We can help. We know how to win and we will fight to get you the maximum compensation you deserve for your injuries.
Attorney Jeff “JJ” Shaw understands that the laws regarding bicyclists in Indiana can seem confusing, but as an expert in this area of law, JJ can help you navigate through the confusion successfully. JJ recently tried two newsworthy cases successfully, trials that involved bicycle and scooter accidents (as mentioned in The Indianapolis Star article seen below). While Indiana has an increasing number of bicyclists on the road (some statistics state the number of bikers has doubled since 2000), most Indiana cyclists and drivers are unaware of the specific Indiana laws regarding bicycles. As experienced Indiana bicycle and bike accident attorneys we have represented numerous bicyclists who have been severely injured in accidents.
Many of these Indiana bike accidents are the result of crashes with car or trucks, while others are due to defective bikes, negligent placement of construction roadway markers, improper maintenance of roadway, and careless cycling by another cyclist on the road.
We’ve developed relationships with some of the best known biking experts in the country and have used them to testify at trials related to bike and bicycling accidents. It is important to hire an Indiana personal injury law firm that has experience with bicycle accidents and understands the rules of the road.
The laws in Indiana are a mess, and confusing to drivers and bicyclists alike. These cases are best suited to a bicycle accident attorney in Indiana that really understands biking and the laws that pertain to it.
Collision course: Confusing laws vex Indiana drivers, cyclists
INDIANAPOLIS – Since 2011, bicycle accidents have increased nearly 50 percent in Marion County.
Experts attribute the rise to the sheer volume of cyclists now joining motorists on the road, but there could be another factor at play — ignorance of the state’s confusing bike laws.
Cycling advocates and legal experts say motorists and cyclists alike don’t know how they’re supposed to interact on the state’s roadways. And while “share the road” makes for a great slogan, it doesn’t come with a clear instruction manual. Even legal experts give conflicting interpretations of the state’s convoluted — and largely untested cycling laws.
“There haven’t been a lot of cases — that’s the thing,” said Marion County Superior Court Judge David Dreyer, whose court awarded settlements to two crash victims recently. “There’s more bicyclists around than ever, and people on both sides don’t know what they should be doing.”
Nancy Tibbett, executive director of Bicycle Indiana, says that based on surveys done by her group, upwards of half of all Hoosiers don’t even know that cyclists are allowed on the road — much less the nuances of who should yield to whom at an intersection.
“As much as I’d like to say common sense should always prevail, we also know that it doesn’t,” Tibbett said.
This month, a new law was added to the mix. On July 1, Indiana became the 16th state to enact what’s known as a “dead red” law, allowing motorcycles, bicycles and mopeds to run red lights when the signal has been stuck on red for more than two minutes.
It’s meant to solve a problem: Some stoplights only change when triggered by the mass of a vehicle, and even motorbikes aren’t large enough to activate them.
But it’s far from the only situation in which cyclists are at a disadvantage because our roads were designed for larger vehicles.
Where to Ride?
Take something as simple as where a cyclist should ride when there’s no bike lane. Talk to three experts and you could get three different answers.
Some say visibility is king for cyclists, and recommend riding near the middle of the lane in some situations.
“According to the letter of the law, a cyclist can be in the middle of the road in his lane cycling, as long as he’s following the rules of the road,” says Lance Worland, a personal injury lawyer with Caress Law Group. “I think drivers a lot of times aren’t aware of that, and don’t realize the cyclist has a right to be there.”
His take — shared by many cyclists — is based on the state bicycle law, which says cyclists have all the rights and responsibilities of motor vehicles.
But others say cyclists should cling to the curb, based on another state law that suggests slow vehicles should be “as close as practicable to the right-hand curb.”
Road Rules: Indiana Bicycle Laws
“You’ll hear bicyclists say, ‘we have the same rights as motorists to be in the road’ — I’m not sure I agree with that,” said Dreyer. “As a motorist, I’m as irked by (cyclists using the middle of the lane) as anybody, even though I ride a bicycle all the time.”
The judge acknowledges that the law isn’t clear. The slow-moving vehicle statute actually says cyclists should be in the right-hand lane “or” as close to the curb as possible. One or the other may have been intended to apply to different situations, but the law doesn’t explain what those are.
Tibbett suggests that cyclists use the right third of the lane. “But we actually don’t say they should ride as close to the edge as possible,” she said. “If they’re too close to the edge, they might not be seen.
“The challenge with that becomes for the bicyclist, that if they’re close to the right, a motor vehicle will take the liberty to pass the bicyclist in the same lane, and often that could be entirely too close.”
Increasingly, ignorance of the rules of the road is becoming a dangerous proposition for cyclists, and a costly one for motorists.
Bicycle-related collisions in Marion County jumped from 170 in 2011 to 250 in 2013, according to state crash report data, a 47 percent rise. Statewide, such collisions increased 8 percent from 963 to 1,039. Exclude Marion County, and the rest of the state actually stayed about the same in that period.
Within the past eight months alone, huge settlements have been awarded to cyclists after drivers were found mostly at fault for crashes.
In one case, Dreyer upheld a $3.9 million ruling awarded to a then-17-year-old cyclist, Richard Bethel, after he was hit by a school bus in 2010. In another, a jury in Dreyer’s court awarded a $240,000 settlement to David Asher, a moped driver who was hit by a car that turned in front of him while he was going straight through an intersection in a bike lane.
Worland says his firm has seen a “substantial” increase in cycling-related injuries in recent years, with most of them occurring at intersections.
“Normally, either a car’s taking a left or a right at a light or a stop sign and fails to yield to the cyclist crossing the street,” he said.
Clear Rules, Education Needed?
State law generally puts the burden on motorists to “exercise due caution” to avoid vulnerable road users. But it can be confusing for motorists what a cyclist is planning to do — and Worland said “rogue cyclists” who break the rules of the road make it that much more difficult for the two sides to get along.
“That means stop at stop signs, stop at red lights … there are a lot of cyclists that don’t do that,” Worland said. “It gives cyclists who are serious about it a bad rap.”
Advocates like Bicycle Indiana are working to educate both groups. And they have their sights set on adding new protections to cyclists in state law. Currently, laws spelling out who can be in a bike lane and establishing a 3-foot buffer when passing a bicycle have only been adopted by a few cities, including Indianapolis and Carmel.
The discrepancies from one city to another are confusing at best, and legally problematic at worst. The Asher case hinged on Dreyer’s interpretation that a Marion County law prohibiting mopeds from entering a bike lane conflicted with a state law urging slow vehicles to stay to the right.
“It’s confusing,” Worland acknowledged. “I would say that we do need clearer guidelines for drivers and cyclists alike.”
If You’re Injured, We’ll Fight for You!
Here at Shaw Law, we believe that every accident is preventable. Every accident is due to someone’s fault, and it’s our job to make sure that the party that injured you pays for it, and provides you the compensation you deserve, not just for your immediate medical expenses but for your pain, suffering, and future care. Essentially, we will work to get you a financial settlement or award that will cover you for as long as your injury impacts your life in any way, even if that means forever. You should never be forced to suffer because of someone else’s negligence.
You can hire us to start working on your case in less than 10 minutes. Contact us today.
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