Hartford Bicycle Accident Attorney
Hartford, Connecticut, is a beautiful area, and one of the best ways to experience all it offers is by bicycle. Since the city is smaller than most, it’s very convenient and easy to get on your bike and ride through several neighborhoods while enjoying the views, food, and art on your journey.
However, as experienced Hartford bicycle accident lawyers, we know that bicyclists also share the road with vehicles, increasing their chances of being in an accident. Busy intersections, distracted drivers, and cars running red lights or stop signs present dangers for bicyclists, even if you stay aware of your surroundings.
If you’re in an accident, it’s a good idea to enlist a bicycle accident attorney in Hartford, Connecticut, to help guide you through the legal process. At Hassett & George, P.C., we have experience assisting bicyclists in and around Hartford County to win the compensation they deserve to cover their losses from injuries sustained in an accident.
How Often Do Bicycle Accidents Occur?
The National Safety Council found that the number of preventable deaths from bicycle accidents jumped 16 percent in 2020 and increased by 44 percent in the past 10 years. However, they also found that the number of nonfatal, preventable bicycle accident injuries declined by 39 percent from 2011 to 2020 — though it did increase in 2020 by 5 percent compared to 2019.
The same study also found that deaths due to bicycle accidents increase in the warmer months from May through October. The most deaths happened in August 2020, and the fewest were in February. The NSC found that 806 bicycle fatalities occurred due to vehicle collisions, while 454 deaths resulted from non-traffic accidents.
According to Connecticut by the Numbers, roughly 550 bicyclists and 1,500 pedestrians get hit by cars in the state, leading to fatalities or serious injuries. The research found that speed played a significant role in the spike in deaths and accidents, and they found that drivers aren’t only speeding on highways. Instead, they’re speeding on major municipal roads throughout the state and running red lights where more pedestrians and bicyclists exist.
On a national scale, all traffic fatalities peaked at 10.5 percent from 2020 to 2021. Connecticut falls right in the middle of the nation’s rankings, with an average of 1.57 pedestrian fatalities for every 100,000 people. The higher fatality rates commonly get attributed to oversized vehicle increases, dangerous road signs, and speeding.
In 2022, there were 25 bicycle accident fatalities in Connecticut alone, and Hartford had the highest accident rate. In addition, many accidents occurred at busy intersections or highways with a greater chance of bicycle and vehicle collisions.
What Are the Causes of These Bicycle Accidents?
When a vehicle and a bicyclist get into an accident with injuries, you may assume the cyclist is at fault. However, the motorist can also be to blame, which is usually the case. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, some leading causes of bicycle accidents are speed, failure to yield, distracted driving, and the bicyclist not being visible to the driver.
Research found that roughly 64 percent of bicyclist deaths happened on road sections away from busy interstates, and 27 percent occurred at busy intersections where failure to yield and high speeds factored into the crashes. The research also showed that one-third of fatal accidents involved alcohol.
The Bike Adviser showed that in 2019, there were 846 bicyclists killed, and this accounted for 2.3 percent of all traffic fatalities that year. Additionally, of the 846 deaths, 58% of the accidents involved distracted drivers. Finally, the IIHS showed that 79 percent of cyclist deaths happened in urban areas, and 32 percent of the accidents occurred at intersections.
Bicycle Accidents at Intersections
As we touched on, 32 percent of bicycle accidents happen at intersections, and this is due to the limited visibility for the driver and cyclist. It can also be hard to judge speed and distance with any accuracy.
One common accident at intersections happens when the driver doesn’t have a stop sign up the cyclist does. After stopping, the cyclist rides through the intersection in front of the vehicle that has the right-of-way. Another common accident is where the driver has a stop sign but the cyclist doesn’t. The car stops and then drives into the intersection in front of the cyclist. The driver is usually responsible for this accident, but both parties may be at fault if the cyclist is riding against the traffic flow.
Cars Turning Left
The “left cross” is a very common bicycle vs. vehicle accident. When it happens, the bicyclist and vehicle approach the intersection from opposite directions, and the driver collides with the cyclist as they turn left. The driver usually misjudges the cyclist’s speed or doesn’t see them. In this accident, the driver is typically liable for any injuries.
Cars Turning Right
There are several ways “right hook” accidents happen, including:
- The cyclist and driver are waiting at a light. When the light changes, the car turns right and hits or cuts off the cyclist.
- The vehicle passes the cyclist approaching an intersection and turns right, cutting the cyclist off.
- The cyclist passes a slower car on the right, and the car turns right into the cyclist.
Hartford Attorneys Holding Negligent Individuals Responsible
Although motorists are usually liable for causing accidents, the attorneys who represent the insurance companies try to blame the cyclist’s actions. Therefore, the cyclist must prove that the driver’s negligence caused the accident to recover damages.
To prove negligence, it’s strongly recommended that the cyclist preserves and collects causation evidence. This evidence includes knowing how the accident scene looked, witness accounts, photographs of the accident scene, and video footage from nearby cameras. A Hartford bicycle accident attorney will assist in collecting and preserving evidence to help you build a convincing claim.
If a driver hits a cyclist, the court can hold the motorist liable under the negligence per se rule. In this type of case, plaintiffs have to prove:
- The defendant was legally liable for ensuring the victim’s safety.
- The defendant failed this duty.
- The accident wouldn’t have happened if not for the actions of the defendant (or cause in fact).
- The negligence on the defendant’s part caused the victim’s injuries.
- The accident caused the victim to suffer injuries or damages.
When you have negligence per se cases, the plaintiff needs to establish:
- Cause. There is a viable connection between the statute violation and the victim’s damages.
- Damages. The victim has sustained property damages or a personal injury that entitles them to compensation for non-monetary and intangible losses.
- Violation of statute. There is proof the negligent driver violated the traffic law and caused the accident.
If a claim goes to trial, the jury will decide whether the motorist acted with a conscious indifference toward the bicyclist, and this may entitle the cyclist to more punitive damages. The cyclist has to prove that the driver’s negligence caused the accident to establish their liability and be awarded punitive damages.
The court may hold a third party responsible for the accident under the following instances:
- Negligent entrustment. The court can hold the driver’s employer partially responsible for damages because the employer supervises and monitors the employee.
- Respondeat superior. At the time of the accident, the driver was an employee and acting within their employment terms. Under these set terms, the employer can be liable for some damages.
Should a driver hit a cyclist while under the influence of alcohol, the court can’t hold whoever supplied the alcohol liable for the accident. However, if the alcohol supplier promised to get the driver home safely and failed, the court could hold the supplier partially responsible for the accident.
Connecticut’s Comparative Fault Rule
In an accident, even if the cyclist is partially to blame, they may still receive compensation for any injuries they sustained due to the comparative fault rule. Under this rule, an injured party is entitled to damages even if they’re partially responsible for causing the accident. However, the jury or judge will reduce the amount the cyclist can recover proportionately to their share of responsibility.
For instance, a motorist struck a cyclist, and the court found them 90 percent at fault because they didn’t allow enough room when they passed the cyclist. The court found the cyclist to be 10 percent at fault because they rode as close to the curb as they could. If the court awarded the cyclist $10,000 in damages, they would get $9,000 due to being 10 percent at fault.
It’s also important to note that the court can hold the bicyclist at fault for the accident. Any cyclist who engages in risky behavior or doesn’t follow the rules of the road can be found at fault, including:
- Distracted riding
- Failure to obey traffic signals
- Failure to signal
- Riding against the flow of traffic
To avoid being in or causing an accident, cyclists should ensure they always yield to pedestrians, make safe lane changes, and obey all traffic signals and signs.
What Are Connecticut Laws for Cyclists?
Cyclists must know their legal duties and rights when they cycle through Hartford. Below is a general, quick overview of Connecticut’s bicycle laws:
Laws Regarding Equipment
- At night, the bicycle must have a front white light with a 500-foot visibility, a red reflector on the rear with a 600-foot visibility, and reflective material on the sides with a 600-foot visibility.
- Bicycles must have brakes that allow the cyclist to stop within 25 feet on level, dry, clean pavement when traveling 10 miles per hour.
- Cyclists 15 years old and younger have to wear a helmet that they properly fasten.
Laws Regarding How to Ride
- As long as it doesn’t impede the normal flow of traffic, cyclists can ride no more than two abreast.
- Cyclists must signal when coming to a stop or turning.
- Cyclists are required to come to a complete stop at any traffic devices signaling red or at stop signs.
Laws Regarding Overtaking
- Cyclists on the road have to exercise due care when they pass a vehicle moving in the same direction or a standing vehicle.
- Drivers have to pass cyclists to the left at a distance of no less than three feet.
- A bicycle can’t carry more people than it’s designed to hold.
- Clinging to motor vehicles isn’t permitted.
- Cyclists can’t ride into oncoming traffic.
- Cyclists can’t use limited state access highways or parkways unless they’re on a bike path.
- Cyclists must keep one hand on the handlebars at all times.
Understanding Compensation in Bicycle Accident Cases
If another party causes or contributes to your accident, you may recover damages for any injuries or expenses incurred. These things could include:
Your accident may have caused you to miss work due to the severity of your injuries or your doctor’s appointments. If this is the case, you can ask for damages that equal your pay had you been able to return to work. If you lose your job or injuries prevent you from returning, you can ask for future income damages.
If your injuries require medical attention or an emergency room visit, you’ll likely recover these damages. You can ask for medical costs for severe or minor injuries, including only visiting the doctor for stitches. If you got taken to an emergency room, required surgery, and underwent long-term care, you may also recover these costs.
Pain and Suffering
It’s more difficult to prove damages for pain and suffering, so you should have a bike accident lawyer guide you through the litigation process. You can document the costs of your damaged property or medical bills, but pain and suffering reflect the emotional and physical damage the accident inflicted.
Your injuries could include scarring or disfigurement that makes social situations awkward. Maybe you developed anxiety and no longer enjoy riding your bike around Hartford County. You could potentially be entitled to damages for any of these scenarios.
Physical Property Damage
It’s possible to recover damages from any personal property damages resulting from your accident. For example, you can recover the cost if your bike is totaled. You may also have had a smartwatch, cell phone, helmet, glasses, or backpack that you lost, and you can also ask for payment for these items.
As Hartford personal injury lawyers we can tell you these damages can have a limit. You won’t recover punitive damages by filing a claim with the at-fault party’s insurance company. However, if the negligent party was malicious when they caused your accident and injuries, a civil lawsuit can help you recoup punitive damages. Your bicycle lawyer can help you decide if this is a viable option.
Bicycling in Hartford
Hartford has a thriving bicycling community due to how accessible everything is and the sheer amount of things to do and see around the city. Depending on where you want to go, you can experience:
Start your adventure by riding down Capitol Avenue towards the Capitol Building. Before you get to the Capitol and Broad’s intersection, stop and grab a coffee at Story and Soil in Frog Hollow. You can then continue to Capital Ice Cream, grab an ice cream cone, or go to the Red Rock Tavern for a cocktail, beer, or snack.
North End of Hartford
Keney Park is the best spot to ride in Hartford’s North End. Start on Scarborough Street and head north until you take a right on Albany Avenue. Continue down and take a left on Westbourne Parkway until you get to Keney Park. You’ll find a golf course, pond house, and the Keney Park Sustainability Project here.
South End of Hartford
Start your ride at Franklin Avenue and Maple Street by going south down Franklin Avenue. If you’re hungry, there are plenty of fantastic restaurants along this route. Once you grab a bite to eat, take a right on South Street and travel until you get to Goodwin Park. Take a ride through the park and grab a drink at the Hangar when you finish.
West End of Hartford
Begin at West Boulevard and Prospect Avenue and head north until you get to Asylum Avenue. Once you get here, you can go right to get to Elizabeth Park. The blooming roses make a stunning backdrop if you’re here in early June. From here, go on Whitney Street to West Boulevard and take in all the historic homes.
If you don’t want to ride alone, there are several established bicycle clubs in and around Hartford. A few popular choices include:
- Appalachian Mountain Club Connecticut Chapter
- Bike West Hartford
- Middletown Cycling Club
- Thread City Cyclists
Hartford Injury Law Firm
If you were in a bicycle accident and sustained injuries, the lawyers at our injury law firm are ready to help. Our bicycle injury attorneys know local laws and regulations, and we have a reputation for helping our clients secure the compensation they’re entitled to. Contact us by filling out our secure online form to schedule a meeting with one of our qualified bicycle accident lawyers.