Bicycle accidents in Connecticut: Statistics and liability

The rate of bicycle fatalities due to motor vehicle accidents continues to grow.

The most recent data from the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) shows 840 bicycle fatalities in 2016. The GHSA notes that the number goes up by an average of 55 bicyclist fatalities every year since 2011. Interestingly, the study also found that the type of victim has changed significantly in recent decades. In the seventies, victims of fatal bicycle accidents were primarily children. Today, these victims are much more likely to be adults over the age of 20.

Why are bicycle fatalities on the rise? The report does not provide a clear reason for the increase. The researchers note that there are more bicycles on the road. Larger numbers could play a role in the increased accident rate.

Distraction is also to blame. A study published by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) found distracted drivers were the "cause of an increasing share of fatalities found among pedestrians and bicycle riders."

What is being done to address this dangerous trend? The GHSA calls for increased education of law enforcement. The agency reasons that if officers are more informed on the laws that are designed to protect bicyclists, they will be more likely to enforce these laws. These laws include distracted driving laws, safe passing laws and enhanced penalties for drivers that are involved in a car accident that results in injury to bicyclist.

What about those injured in a bicycle accident? In many cases, those who are injured or lose a loved one because of a bicycle accident may be able to hold the driver liable for the costs that result from the accident through a personal injury lawsuit.

Those who pursue such a claim are wise to consider both negligence and recklessness to determine if the driver was liable. When attempting to establish that a driver was negligent, a victim would need to show that the driver failed to meet his or her duty to operate their vehicle safely and this failure contributed to the accident. This legal strategy will build upon the details of each specific case. It may require the use of eyewitness testimony, an analysis of any police reports and a review of all available evidence.

It is important for victims to realize that the driver may attempt to claim the bicyclists was responsible for the accident. A wise legal strategy will take this likelihood into account. These are just a few of the factors to take into consideration when building a case to hold a negligent or reckless driver responsible for the damage caused in an accident. An attorney experienced in auto accident claims can help.