New Hampshire Bicycle Accident Attorney
For many people, the phrase “bicycle accidents” brings to mind childhood tumbles that ended in skinned knees or bruised elbows. But, for those who cycle seriously or use bicycles as a means of transportation, the risks are much more significant. Nationwide, hundreds of people are killed in bicycle accidents every year. And, even non-fatal accidents can result in serious injury.
For New Hampshire residents, those risks are a bit lower than they are in many other areas of the country. Bicycle accident fatalities in the granite state are typically in the single digits annually. A bicyclist killed in Concord in late 2018 made news as the city’s first bicycle fatality in more than a decade.
But, bicycle accidents do happen, so it’s important to understand how to stay safe on the road and what to do if you are injured or lose a loved one in a bike crash.
New Hampshire Bicycle Safety
The first and most obvious means of staying safe on the road as a bicyclist—or protecting bicyclists as the driver of a motor vehicle—is obeying traffic safety laws.
Some of the most important traffic safety laws apply equally to bicyclists and motorists. For example, driving under the influence is a crime for both. New Hampshire is one of the few states that includes bicycles in the definition of “vehicle” in its DUI statute. This is a more serious issue than many imagine: nationwide, about 22% of those killed in bicycle accidents were legally intoxicated.
Of course, bicyclists are required to observe proper lane usage and traffic signals just like a car, though cars are required to yield to bicyclists as they would be to pedestrians. Other safety measures are specific to cyclists. For example, New Hampshire law requires reflective gear at night. And, although they aren’t legally required for adult riders, helmets can significantly reduce the risk of death or serious injury.
Liability for New Hampshire Bicycle Accident
In New Hampshire, a driver or other party may be responsible for a bicyclist’s injuries if his or her negligence caused the accident and resulting harm. Every case is different, but some of the damages that are commonly awarded in bicycle accident cases include:
- Medical expenses, including those you have already incurred and the anticipated future costs of medical care associated with the injury
- Lost wages and lost future earning capacity
- Intangible damages such as pain and suffering and loss of quality of life
If the bicyclist is killed in the accident or later dies as a result of his or her injuries, the remedy will be a New Hampshire wrongful death case rather than a personal injury claim. Damages in a wrongful death case are determined differently.
What if the Bicyclist was Partly Responsible?
Many traffic accidents, including those involving bicycles, have more than one contributing cause. For example, the driver of a motor vehicle might be distracted by his phone and hit a bicyclist in the intersection. But, if the bicyclist was crossing against the light or engaging in some other negligent behavior, then the injured cyclist may share responsibility for the accident.
When more than one party is responsible, the injured bike rider may still be able to recover damages. But, there are two qualifications. First, no one who is more than 50% responsible can recover damages in a New Hampshire personal injury suit. Assuming that the bicyclist was not more than 50% responsible, then he or she may still be entitled to compensation. But, the other party will only be responsible for a percentage of the damages, in proportion to his or her share of the blame. So, if the driver of the car was 80% responsible and the bicyclist 20%, then the driver may be ordered to pay up to 80% of the bicyclist’s damages.
If that sounds complicated, don’t worry. An experienced New Hampshire personal injury attorney like Kevin J. Broderick can help. If you’ve been hurt in a bicycle accident or lost a loved one, call 978-459-3085 or fill out the form on this site to get help now.
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