Since January, 2018, bicycles deaths have skyrocketed in Toronto. Road safety has been jeopardized by an influx of cars and reckless driving that has increased on our streets. Even the Mayor has taken note to the increase in cyclist deaths in the city, and road safety has been bumped up on the agenda for city hall. Considering the increase in deaths, there has also been a huge increase in the amount of injuries sustained by cyclists on the road. With that increase, there has also been a demand and need for long-term disability benefits.
We have grown to be a city with more than three times the injury rate of cyclists compared to the overall North American average. Given the mere size and power of cars and other motor vehicles, the injuries sustained in collisions with cyclists are disproportionate and concerning, often resulting in long-term disability and catastrophic injury.
Incidents of Bicycle Accidents
Most bike accidents occur when cars and cyclists cross paths at intersections. It is here where the road is shared for left and right-hand turns, as well as heavy traffic control and congestion. City streets are more prone to catering to larger public transport vehicles such as buses and streetcars which also pose a danger to cyclists and are noted to be involved in many accidents as well.
Serious injuries are more commonly sustained when a cyclists encounters a motor vehicle at fault vs. incidents where the cyclists is at fault. Most commonly, when a cyclists is at fault for their injuries, it is often due to losing control of the bicycle, managing poor road conditions. Even if there is a safe, responsible and seasoned cyclists taking to the road, encountering a motor vehicle that chooses to ignore rules of giving right of way and sharing the road with cyclists – this is far more common and far more dangerous.
Another major culprit to cyclist accidents and injury is ‘dooring’ by car drivers and passengers of motor vehicles. ‘Dooring’ often refers to when a driver or passenger of a motor vehicle opens their door right when a cyclist is passing by on the road. This often leads to the cyclist colliding with the door or swerving and losing control of their bicycle in an attempt to avoid the door all together. Depending on the speed at which the cyclist is moving and the swinging of the door, injuries can be severe and even life threatening.
The quality of the road can have a great impact on a cyclist. Pot holes, unsafe and poorly signed bike lanes as well as debris have all been reason for bike accidents and injuries. Car drivers often feel a need to overpower bicyclists and assume the road is for them to rule, when in fact bike riders are typically legally treated as pedestrians which means they must be presumed to have right-of-way.
Long Term Disability Injuries Sustained
Many cyclists who are involved in accidents with motor vehicles require medical treatment, often need to file an insurance claim and request a form of disability leave as a result of the injuries sustained. Unfortunately, given the mere size and force of a motor vehicle, safety gear such as bicycle helmets do not often provide the necessary protection to avoid sustaining minor, major and catastrophic injuries.
While many cyclists involved in accidents obtain cuts, scrapes, bruises and contusions, more major injuries are often procured by the cyclist. These types of injuries are frequently catastrophic in nature and include:
- Breaks and Fractures
- Brain Injuries
- Back Injuries
- Internal Bleeding
- Back Injuries
Recovery and dealing with the long-term effects of these injuries is incredibly difficult and too common. Many cyclists have to deal with immense pain and suffering and a change in their overall life as a result of such injuries. Sometimes long-term disability ends up being a life-long disability. Other times, cyclists succumb to their injuries and it is the surviving family members that need to be represented in the fatal cyclist accident claim.
Legal Rights & Action
While bicyclists are responsible for obeying the rules of the road, they are often undermined and overpowered on roads, ignored and unnoticed; this type of dismissal and aggressive stance drivers take leads to injury and holds them liable for injuries sustained by a cyclist. It is very important for cyclists to understand that if anyone is solely or partially at fault for an accident involving a cyclists, they are responsible and liable for the incident. The cyclist in this instance has the right to pursue legal action against the driver or person involved, and is valid to file a ‘tort’ claim against them.
Unfortunately, there are a lot of cyclists who are bullied or left stranded by drivers after an incident has occurred. Some cyclists brush off their injuries and decide not to pursue any documentation of the event, only to be faced with the residual effects of a more major injury that only becomes symptomatic hours or days later. Having to deal with the long-term effects of pain or cognitive issues is debilitating and should not be left or ignored at the time of an accident. It is important for a cyclists to obtain the following information, if they are physically capable, after a bike accident with a vehicle or other person:
- Contact Information
- Car Make/ Model
- License Plate Number/s
- Witness Contact Information
- Photos of the Scene (If Possible)
Whether a driver responsibly and legally stays at the scene, flees, or was driving under illegal circumstances (such as that they do not have insurance or are driving a stolen vehicle), a cyclists is still entitled and able to file a tort claim, as well as seek short-term disability and long-term disability benefits. A ‘tort’ claim is filed when a cyclist seeks compensation for any damages they may have as a result of a bike accident. This can include:
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of income
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Endured medical costs
For these same reasons, one can also file a short-term disability claim or a long-term disability claim (depending on their injury and current needs). Accident Benefits (AB) can be claimed by the cyclist, which is available to those involved in a car accident in Ontario. Accident Benefits provides a cyclists financial and medical assistance including:
- Medical care (including needed rehabilitation)
- Income replacement
- Costs to cover caregivers and attendant care (including home maintenance)
- Damage to property such as clothes and the bike itself
- In worst case scenarios, funeral costs.
For more in-depth information regarding AB claims, visit the Financial Services Commission of Ontario [website.] (https://bit.ly/2md415G)
Contact a Bike Accident Lawyer or a Bicycle Accident Paralegal
If you have been involved in a bike accident, have been a victim of a bike and car collision that has resulted in injury, we highly suggest you contact a long-term disability attorney. Long-term disability lawyers are knowledgeable in personal injury law and liability, as well as have the full capacity to navigate and represent disability insurance claims.
When one is dealing with an injury, or a death of a loved one as a result of a bicycle accident, it is pivotal that they focus on healing and dealing with the matter on personal and comfortable terms. As a disability representative, TSF Law has the experience and esteemed legal team to act and speak for victims of bicycle accidents. From the moment when the accident occurs, during the filing of insurance claims / navigating the claims process, to representation in a legal setting, TSF Lawyer makes it their mandate to always be there for you and provide the best legal advice for the best outcome. Do not hesitate to contact our firm, we offer free consultations and respond quickly to those in need.