Thousands of people take to Virginia roads on their bicycles. Not only is bicycling a fun pastime, there are also many health benefits to be enjoyed. Although it can be a great way to stay fit, it can also be a dangerous activity when dealing with vehicle drivers who are not paying attention. According to national statistics, approximately 800 bicyclists are involved in traffic fatalities each year. Another 50,000 bicyclists are injured.
One of the most common – and increasingly so – ways bicyclists are injured are in “dooring” accidents. This happens when a bicyclist is riding along and a driver in a parked vehicle suddenly opens the door into the person on the bike. In the majority of these cases, the person in the vehicle is at fault because they never looked to make sure the area was clear before opening the door.
The Virginia General Assembly approved a bill, which is now awaiting the governor’s signature. The new law will require those people who open a vehicle door when it is not “reasonably safe” to pay a $50.00 fine.
According to lawmakers who sponsored the bill, it can be difficult for a bicyclist who is injured in a dooring accident to file a personal injury claim against the vehicle owner’s insurance company. Dooring accidents often involve a debate over who is actually at fault – the person in the vehicle or the person on the bike. Establishing a legal penalty for a violation helps make that determination. Lawmakers hope the possibility of a fine will also remind drivers to be more aware of their surroundings before opening their door.
If you are injured in a bicycle accident, there are certain steps you should take, just as you would if you were involved in a car crash. Make sure to report the accident to the police. It is important to have an official record of the accident. If possible, you should also document the accident site, such as take photos and get the name of any witnesses to the incident.
Make sure to seek medical attention, even if you think you feel okay. Many people do not realize that certain injuries – such as bump on the head – can actually result in a much more serious medical condition.
It is also important to contact an experienced Virginia personal injury attorney who can help you determine what legal recourse you may have against the driver for pain and loss caused by your injuries.