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 Newfoundland and Labrador. 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 Newfoundland and Labrador, 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 Newfoundland and Labrador, the limitation period for a bicycle accident claim is 2 years, although certain factors can alter this. Further, you must file a notice of intent within 120 days of your accident to be eligible for prejudgment interest on your claim. 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 Newfoundland and Labrador
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 Newfoundland and Labrador, the law regarding bicycles is mainly found in the Highway Traffic Act, RSNL 1990, c H-3. Although bicycles are specifically excluded from the definition of ‘motor vehicle’ in the Act, several sections apply to cyclists:
- Section 96, the “One Metre Rule”: Drivers must maintain at least one metre distance from bicycles or pedestrians on roads with speed limits of 60 km/h or less. The distance increases to one and a half metres on roads exceeding 60 km/h.
- Section 129 outlines general rules for cyclists:
- Cyclists have the same rights and responsibilities as drivers.
- They should avoid riding on sidewalks.
- They must ride as close to the right-hand curb as practicable.
- They must not ride alongside another cyclist on a roadway.
- They must wear a helmet that complies with regulations and fasten it securely.
- They must keep at least one hand on the handlebars.
- They should only ride on a regular seat and not carry more individuals than the bicycle’s capacity.
- They must not carry objects that may interfere with the bicycle’s proper operation.
- They must not ride on highways where signs prohibit bicycles.
- If a usable path for bicycles is adjacent to the roadway, they should use it.
- Parents or guardians should not allow children under 16 to ride without a helmet.
- Individuals aged 16 or older who fail to comply with helmet regulations, or parents or guardians who allow violations, may face penalties.
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 Newfoundland and Labrador?
In Newfoundland and Labrador, if you’re injured in a cycling 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 Newfoundland and Labrador court cases about bicycle accident injuries?
Yes, there are published court decisions in Newfoundland and Labrador 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 Treberg v. Jarvis, 2007 NLTD 125, cyclist Treberg collided with Jarvis’s vehicle at the intersection in St. John’s, NL. The court found that Treberg had the right of way and entered the intersection properly with a green light, while Jarvis failed to maintain a proper lookout. Jarvis was held fully at fault for the collision and the Court awarded damages to Treberg.
How can cyclists hurt in an accident in Newfoundland and Labrador 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.
What benefits do I have if I am an insured cyclist?
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 Newfoundland and Labrador’s Insurance Act.
What options do I have if I am an uninsured cyclist?
If a cyclist lacks insurance, getting compensation depends on the driver’s insurance. If the driver has insurance, that policy will cover the cyclist’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.
Helpful resources for bicyclists in Newfoundland and Labrador
Bicycle NL has a wide variety of resources for cyclists in the province, including links to relevant legislation and safety videos.
We represent people injured in bicycle accidents in Newfoundland and Labrador
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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