Accidents involving cyclists and vehicles can lead to serious injury
Cycling, known for its health benefits and cost-effectiveness, has become increasingly popular in Canada, including in New Brunswick. This has led to more bicycle traffic and the creation of bike lanes in cities and small towns.
However, cyclists remain vulnerable near motor vehicles, even with helmets and other protective gear. If you’ve been injured in a bike accident, MacGillivray Law’s bicycle accident lawyers are available to assist with your personal injury claim.
What should a cyclist do after being hit by a car?
After being hit by a vehicle, a cyclist may suffer from serious injuries or shock, making it challenging to gather information. Here’s what to do if you’re involved in such an accident:
- Prioritize Your Health: Seek immediate medical attention if you are injured, as some injuries may not be immediately apparent.
- Call Emergency Services: In New Brunswick, the police should be called to the scene, along with any other necessary emergency services.
- Collect Information: If possible, gather information about the driver, including their name, contact information, and insurance details, as well as the make and model of the vehicle. Obtain the name and contact information of any witnesses, and take photos of the location, vehicle, bicycle, and injuries, if possible. Even if the driver is uninsured or flees the scene, you can still seek compensation.
- Consult a Lawyer and Contact Your Insurance Company: After medical care, speak with an experienced bicycle accident lawyer and contact your insurance company to begin a personal injury claim.
- Be Aware of Time Limits: In New Brunswick, the limitation period for a bicycle accident claim is 2 years, although certain factors can alter this. Seeking legal help early can ensure you receive the compensation you deserve.
Remember, the moments following an accident are vital for establishing a record of what happened, so take these steps to protect your rights and interests.
Common cyclist injuries
Some common bicycle accident injuries include:
- Road rash
- Broken teeth
- Facial injuries, such as damage to eyes, nose, and jaw
- Traumatic brain injuries or other head injuries
- Broken bones
- Soft-tissue injuries
- Neck and back injuries
- Psychological injuries, such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and anxiety
After an accident, an injured cyclist may be in shock and not feel pain right away. Injuries might only appear days or weeks later. Seeing a medical provider promptly is vital to ensure that any injuries are diagnosed and treated correctly.
The law in New Brunswick
Cyclists, like drivers, must follow the legal obligations of the province where they are riding. Even though cyclists don’t take obligatory lessons or pass a test, they must know and follow the rules of the road to prevent accidents. Drivers should also be aware of these rules, including keeping at least one meter of space between their vehicle and cyclists.
In New Brunswick, the law regarding bicycles is mainly found in the Motor Vehicle Act, RSNB 1973, c M-17. Although bicycles are specifically excluded from the definition of ‘motor vehicle’ in the Act, several sections apply to cyclists:
- Section 176: Cyclists have the same rights and responsibilities as vehicle drivers, except where laws don’t apply to bicycles.
- Section 177: Cyclists must ride on a proper seat; they can’t carry more people than the bicycle was designed for, and must wear a helmet with the chin strap fastened.
- Section 178: Cyclists can’t attach themselves or their bicycles to any vehicle on a roadway.
- Section 179: Cyclists must ride close to the right side of the road and not side by side on the roadway, except in designated areas. They must use designated bike paths where available.
- Section 180: Cyclists can’t carry anything that keeps them from using at least one hand on the handlebars.
- Section 181:
- (1) Bicycles ridden at night must have a front white light visible from 150 meters, a rear red reflector visible from 100 meters, and optionally a rear red light visible from 150 meters.
- (2) Bicycles must have a bell or similar device audible from 30 meters; sirens or whistles are not allowed.
- (3) Bicycles must have sufficient brakes for control, stopping, and remaining stationary.
These rules are intended to keep cyclists and motorists safe. In fact, approximately 1 in 3 cycling fatalities occur where road safety rules have not been followed. Around the same proportion of cyclist fatalities involved a rider not wearing a helmet.
By adhering to the provisions set out above, both motorists and cyclists can help minimize collisions and injuries, making the roads safer for everyone.
What does a lawyer need to prove on behalf of an injured cyclist in New Brunswick?
In New Brunswick, if you’re injured in a cyclist accident, it’s up to your lawyer to prove that the other driver was at fault. This means your lawyer must provide enough evidence to show that the driver didn’t take reasonable care, leading to the accident and your injuries.
What happens when a cyclist is partially responsible for a car accident?
When the actions or inactions of the cyclist played a contributing role in the accident, sometimes fault for the accident is shared between the motorist and the cyclist. This is called contributory negligence.
This situation is known as contributory negligence, and it means the fault is divided between the motorist and the cyclist.
If a cyclist is partly responsible, their compensation is reduced by the percentage of their fault. For example, if they’re awarded $100,000 but are found 25% at fault, they’ll receive $75,000. In rare cases, a cyclist might be found entirely at fault, if their actions were such that the driver couldn’t have avoided the accident.
What might cause a cyclist to share the blame? Factors include:
- Failure to use bike lanes
- Ignoring traffic signs and signals
- Riding against traffic or on the sidewalk
- Impaired, aggressive, or reckless riding
- Insufficient protective gear
- Wearing headphones while riding
In these scenarios, the cyclist’s compensation would be adjusted according to their responsibility for the accident.
Contributory negligence doesn’t mean the victim is left without compensation. Rather, it reduces the amount awarded. A personal injury lawyer can help by collecting the necessary information and building a case to maximize the victim’s entitled damages. Even if some fault lies with the injured party, legal assistance can help in obtaining significant compensation. Book a free consultation to learn more.
Are there New Brunswick court cases about bicycle accident injuries?
Yes, there are published court decisions in New Brunswick where cyclists received compensation through the Courts. Keep in mind that each case is unique, and no two situations will be identical. If you’ve been injured in a bicycle accident, it’s important to get input from a lawyer.
In Reeves v. MacEachern, 2006 NBQB 235, Reeves was riding his bicycle when he was struck by MacEachern’s car at an intersection. MacEachern stopped to make a right turn and seemingly signaled to Reeves to proceed. However, she turned without seeing him, leading to a collision. The court found both parties equally at fault: MacEachern for failing to see Reeves while turning and Reeves for misinterpreting the signal and assuming it was safe to proceed. The judgment reflected this shared responsibility, with each party being 50% liable.
In Dixon v. Cameron, 2001 CanLII 7075 (NBKB), a collision occurred between Dixon’s bicycle and Cameron’s car at a Tim Horton’s location in Moncton, New Brunswick. Dixon was riding her bicycle on the sidewalk, carrying a can of paint on the handlebars, while Cameron was exiting the parking lot, distracted by trying to catch up with a friend’s car. The Court found Cameron was 40% at fault for being distracted and not being mindful of the busy area, and Dixon was 60% at fault for riding at a high speed and carrying the paint unsafely.
In Chiasson et al. v. Baird et al., 2005 NBKB 102, a six-year-old child was struck by a vehicle while riding his bicycle without a helmet in front of his home. The child’s view was obscured by foliage, and the defendant driver, Baird, claimed the child suddenly crossed the road, giving him no time to react. The court found both parties equally at fault for the accident, each bearing 50% responsibility. The child was at fault for disobeying his family’s rules about biking on the road and not looking for traffic before crossing. The driver, however, was expected to drive at a lower speed due to the road’s curvy nature, poor visibility, and awareness that children played nearby. His failure to maintain a proper lookout and drive at a reduced speed contributed to the accident.
The parents were not held liable, as the court determined that they had supervised the child appropriately and educated him on bike safety. The tragic accident underlines the shared responsibility of both drivers and cyclists, even young ones, to exercise proper care and awareness on the road.
How can cyclists hurt in an accident in New Brunswick be compensated?
If a cyclist is injured in a car accident, financial compensation through insurance is available. This can cover different types of damages, including pain and suffering, lost wages, reduced ability to do household chores, future medical care, and out-of-pocket expenses like medical costs. Certain benefits, such as income replacement and some medical coverage, are available regardless of fault through Section B insurance.
Unlike typical car accidents involving drivers or passengers, where individuals are covered by their own auto insurance policies, insurance coverage for cyclists may vary, adding a layer of complexity to the situation.
If a cyclist has car insurance, either individually or as a dependent, seeking damages depends on the driver’s insurance. If the driver is insured, their policy will cover the cyclist’s damages and Section B benefits. In a situation where the driver is uninsured or unknown, like a hit-and-run, the cyclist’s own insurance will provide compensation, as per New Brunswick’s Insurance Act, RSNB 1973, c I-12.
If a cyclist lacks insurance, getting compensation depends on the driver’s insurance. If the driver has insurance, that policy will cover the pedestrian’s damages. If the driver isn’t insured or is unknown, the Facility Association will provide coverage. Even without the cyclist’s own insurance, Section B benefits, including income replacement and medical coverage, can be negotiated as a lump sum with the Facility Association.
Our experienced personal injury lawyers can help you navigate your claim for compensation.
Bicycle safety recommendations for New Brunswick
This white paper shared by Velo NB includes recommendations for bicycle safety in the province as presented to the Minister of Justice and Public Safety in 2018.
We represent people injured in bicycle accidents in New Brunswick
Due to the lack of protection afforded by bicycles, cyclists are particularly vulnerable to severe injury caused by accidents. Just like in other motor vehicle collisions, you may be able to receive compensation for your medical bills and medical treatment, lost income, loss of valuable services, and pain and suffering caused by a bicycle accident. MacGillivray Law has 30 years of experience defending the interests of bicycle accident victims and helping them get compensation from insurance companies. Contact our firm today for a free consultation and learn how we can fight for you.
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