Who is Liable if a City Bus Hits My Bike?October 20, 2021
Although a lot of people enjoy bicycling, many more would except for one thing: the fear of colliding with a vehicle. Would-be cyclists often do not feel safe because roads are inadequate for cycling. While some cities have gone to great lengths to dedicate bicycle lanes on major thoroughfares, many have not.
Still, many people use their bikes to get to work, run errands, or simply enjoy being outdoors. But according to statistics, the threat of a bike accident is real. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that in 2019, a total of 846 bicycle riders were killed in collisions with vehicles. Thousands more suffered severe personal injury.
In cities with public bus transportation systems, bicyclists can easily collide with a bus while both are trying to claim space on the road and fighting bustling streets and intersections. But if a city bus hits your bike, who is liable for damages?
It comes down to who is responsible for causing the bus accident. It could be the bus driver, you as the bike rider, or both you and the bus driver. It could also be the local government who is responsible for maintaining the roads. In rare cases, a bus whose brakes or other parts fail can cause an accident, thereby casting blame on the manufacturer.
Assuming you are not partly or totally responsible for the accident, it is a good bet that the negligent party will deny wrongdoing or admit to only partial responsibility. A city may claim that they had just maintained that road and it was in a safe condition for drivers and bicyclists. A parts or vehicle manufacturer will also try to deny or lessen blame.
Often, an injured bicyclist will be working with the guilty party’s insurance company. Know that insurance companies are in the business of making money, not ensuring that you are fairly compensated for your injuries. Never accept an insurer’s first offer no matter how bleak your situation. A lawyer can work diligently to get you the compensation you deserve, not the lesser amount the insurer thinks you deserve.
How Do I Prove Who was at Fault if a City Bus Hits My Bike?
After a city bus-bike accident, you will be dealing with the city and its insurer. Your talks with them will focus on establishing negligence and to what degree each party was responsible. As stated, insurance companies will never pay what is proper, fair, and adequate. They will use pressure tactics, prey on your fears, and try to get you to sign off on their offer right away, promising quick money for your damages.
The problem is that the money will never be enough to cover your medical bills or lost wages. An insurance company will rarely consider your future bills or lost wages, either. Many bus-bicycle collisions cause serious injury to the unprotected rider. Victims may lose their ability to work for a long time or even forever. They will have a pile of medical bills, but many will also require lifelong care or lengthy rehabilitation. An insurer’s first settlement offer will not cover your actual damages.
Of course, you can accept an insurance offer. You can even negotiate. But in many cases, a person is too severely injured to deal well, if at all. They also may be too intimidated to advocate for themselves. That is when it is a good idea to handle a lawyer who specializes in personal injury. A lawyer knows how to defend against insurance company tactics and how to prove the extent and actual cost of your injuries. They will include future needs in their compensation demand.
To prove fault in a city bus-bike accident, a lawyer will employ various strategies and tactics to get to the truth, including the following:
- Collecting and preserving evidence from the scene and ensuring that neither the bus nor bike is repaired before the case is closed
- Getting witness statements
- Amassing photos and camera footage from bystanders, security cameras, and traffic cams
- Hiring bicycle accident reconstruction experts
- Consulting with licensed forensic bicycle engineers
- Establishing the value of your property damages, medical needs, future medical care, current and future lost wages and employment opportunities, and the value of your diminished riding abilities
- Determining fault
Your lawyer should be well versed in bicycle traffic laws, bicycle handling skills and techniques, how bikes operate, and the speeds they travel. They also need to be experienced in negotiating with insurance companies and trying bicycle accident cases in court.
With their knowledge and skills, a lawyer can reconstruct an accident and clearly determine who was at fault and at what level, such as totally or partially. After valuing your losses, they can approach the insurer with a compensation demand and begin the negotiation process on your behalf. If an agreement cannot be reached, the lawyer will take the case to court.
What Would Cause a Bus to Hit a Bicycle Rider?
There are many causes. Considering that buses often operate on very busy streets, it may be easy for them not to see a bike rider as they try to navigate heavy traffic. There are also significant blind spots for bus drivers, and they could be unaware that a bike was near them. Other causes include but are not limited to:
- Impairment from drugs or alcohol
- Reckless driving
- Poor weather conditions/not adjusting driving to weather conditions
- Drowsy driving
- Distracted driving, such as using a cellphone
- Inadequate training, licensing, or supervision
- Faulty equipment
- Poorly maintained roads
What Should I Do after a Bike Accident Involving a Bus?
There are specific steps a victim can take after an accident with a city bus to potentially help in negotiations and a later legal claim. These are as follows:
- Seek medical treatment. Never say you are fine after an accident. Many typical injuries to a bike rider do not show up until later, such as soft tissue and traumatic brain injuries. Always accept medical care on the scene, immediately after an accident, and whenever new symptoms appear.
- Cooperate with police and be sure a formal police report is filed.
- Do not admit guilt or responsibility for any part of the accident to the other party, the police, or anyone else.
- Take pictures and video of the scene, if possible. Include images of vehicle and bike damage, physical injuries, location of the bike and bus, road conditions, and any other relevant scenes.
- Talk to bystanders and witnesses. Try to get their statements and always get their names and contact information.
- Do not talk to an insurer or a government agency directly, and do not sign or agree to anything. Remember that anything said will be held against you in court and negotiations. The insurer or agency will try to get you to admit guilt and will prey on your financial fears. If you sign off on a settlement offer, there is little recourse.
- Write down your memories of the accident as soon as possible after it happens. You may need this information in negotiations or litigation. Memories get fuzzy, so recording them can help.
- Keep an organized file of all medical receipts and visits; insurance correspondence; work-related issues such as pay and days off; and any bills for rehabilitation, medical equipment, therapies, medications, hospital visits, and surgeries. Your lawyer will need this information to help value your claim.
- Continue to monitor your health. You may present with new symptoms, aches, and pains days, weeks, or even months after a collision with a bus. Always get them checked out by a medical professional. There is a decent chance they are related to the accident, and you need to be compensated for them.
- Hire a lawyer for all the reasons stated above. Most personal injury lawyers do not get paid unless they settle in your favor. It is always worth a consultation with one.
What Happens if My Loved One Dies after Being Hit by a City Bus?
When someone dies because of someone’s else negligence, such as a city bus driver, the legal claim moves from personal injury to wrongful death. Lawyers specializing in personal injury are almost always the same ones who would try a wrongful death case. Remember that survivors can be entitled to compensation if the death resulted from someone else’s proven negligence.
Maryland Bike Accident Lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton Fight for the Rights of Victims
Bike-bus accidents in Maryland can cause devastating physical and financial problems for the victim. The Maryland bike accident lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton have helped hundreds of bike riders get the compensation for which they are entitled after an accident. We are ready to get to work for you immediately. To schedule a free, confidential consultation, call us today at 800-547-4LAW (4529) or contact us online.
Our offices are conveniently located in Baltimore, Columbia, Glen Burnie, and Prince George’s County, where we represent victims throughout Maryland, including those in Anne Arundel County, Carroll County, Harford County, Howard County, Montgomery County, Prince George’s County, Queen Anne’s County, Maryland’s Western Counties, Southern Maryland and the Eastern Shore, as well as the communities of Catonsville, Essex, Halethorpe, Middle River, Rosedale, Gwynn Oak, Brooklandville, Dundalk, Pikesville, Parkville, Nottingham, Windsor Mill, Lutherville, Timonium, Sparrows Point, Ridgewood, and Elkridge.