If you or someone you care for has been injured in a North Carolina Bicycle Accident, The Bishop Law Firm may be able to help. We offer free case reviews by phone or start your free case review online now.
North Carolina Bicycle Law
In North Carolina, bicycles are defined as “vehicles” and thus, bicyclists are drivers of vehicles. Bicyclists are entitled to the same protections as any other driver on the road. However, bicyclists in NC are required by law to also do the following (via NCSU):
- Bicyclists and their passengers under the age of 16 are required to wear helmets on public roads. For those over the age of 16, helmets are encouraged but not required.
- Passengers under 40 pounds must be seated in a separate restrained seat.
- If riding a bicycle after dark (from sunset to sunrise), front and back lights must be used that illuminate 300 feet (front) and 200 feet (back).
- Bicyclists in traffic should ride on the right (in the same direction as other traffic); except when passing, avoiding an obstruction, riding on a one way street or preparing for a left turn.
- Despite treating bicyclists as motor vehicle drivers, a bicycle is not considered a vehicle for purposes of impaired driving.
- However, a bicyclist can be charged with reckless operation if they are riding without due caution.
- Bicycle racing on highways (unless approved by state/local authorities) is unlawful.
- Bicyclists must observe all traffic signs and signals (just like car drivers).
- Bicyclists must signal before they make a turn (either by electrical, mechanical or arm/hand signaling).
- Bicyclists must yield when traffic signs dictate and when other vehicles have the right of way. They also must yield to pedestrians when pedestrians have the right of way.
Causes of North Carolina Bicycle Accidents
Many times injuries from bicycle accidents arise when motor vehicle operators are engaging in distracted driving, ignoring that bicycle riders have the right of way and generally being a careless motorist.
On the road, operators of motor vehicles frequently seem to forget that bicycle riders are also entitled to the same protections as any other driver on the road. According to NHTSA, there were 223 pedalcyclist fatalities in North Carolina from 2012 – 2021. Many of these deaths are preventable.
North Carolina Personal Injury Law
North Carolina is one of the few remaining contributory negligence states. This means that if you get injured by the negligence of someone else, but your own negligence contributed to your injury, it is a total bar to recovery. Violating any of the above North Carolina Bicycle Accident laws could prevent you from recovering for your injury.
However, North Carolina law also has the Last Clear Chance Doctrine which says even if your own negligence contributed to your injury, if the other party had the last clear chance of avoiding the accident, then you can still recover.
The Doctrine of Last Clear Chance most frequently comes into play in a personal injury case in the context of a car accident. For example, if another driver ran a red light and hit you, but you were speeding, your speed becomes a factor in determining fault. Even if you were speeding, if it is determined that the last clear chance to avoid an accident belonged to the defendant who should have stopped at a red light, you are likely to still recover under those facts.
Generally though, the law of contributory negligence creates a harsh result for bicycle accident victims and that is why most other states do not use contributory negligence laws, but rather are comparative negligence jurisdictions.
What can you recover under North Carolina Personal Injury Law?
If the bicycle accident was not your fault, you can recover for your medical expenses, missed time from work and for your pain & suffering.
The at-fault party (negligent driver) or their car insurance should pay for your accident related medical expenses. You should seek medical attention as soon as possible after the accident and take photographs of your injuries. Any accident related medical equipment, therapy (physical and mental), diagnostic testing, chiropractic treatment and specialist visits should be included. In addition, if your medical provider recommends future medical treatment, the value of that treatment should also be included. Also read Medical Bills After A Car Accident.
Pain and Suffering
North Carolina pain and suffering settlements cover the physical pain and mental suffering that a victim has to endure due to the injury they have sustained. If you break your leg, you will experience not only physical pain but also mental and emotional distress. Unfortunately, injuries can leave us with scars that affect our self-esteem.
You could develop depression, vehophobia, anxiety or post-traumatic stress disorder after your injury. This is what pain and suffering damages attempt to compensate you for. Also read Pain & Suffering in NC Personal Injury Cases.
A lost wage claim can be asserted against an at-fault driver for losing time from work because of personal injuries. In order to seek recovery for a lost wage claim, an injured accident victim needs documentation of the actual days he or she has missed from work due their injuries from a doctor.
Lost wage documentation must also verified by the injured accident victim’s employer. The employer should provide payroll records stating how many days the accident victim missed from work and the injured accident victim’s rate of pay.
Also read Lost Wages and Earning Capacity in NC Car Accident Cases
Do you need a North Carolina Bicycle Accident Lawyer?
A North Carolina Bicycle Accident Lawyer can help you gather all your medical records, bills, lost wage information, etc., a personal injury attorney will calculate your total expenses and send a demand package to the insurance adjuster ensuring that all your financial losses have been accounted for. This includes future expenses and pain & suffering. In complicated cases, expert opinions may be needed. A personal injury lawyer will find the right expert and ask the right questions to maximize your compensation.
An accident attorney may be able to obtain a higher financial recovery for you simply because the insurance company wants to avoid the cost of litigation. Litigation is expensive and most insurance companies want to avoid it. In addition, attorneys can investigate and add facts into evidence that a jury would appreciate when deciding your case. Lastly, and most importantly, a North Carolina Bicycle Accident Lawyer can work on your claim while you focus on your health.
The Bishop Law Firm represents victims in personal injury claims in Raleigh, Cary, Fayetteville, Durham, Rocky Mount, Wilson, Smithfield, Louisburg, Chapel Hill, Roanoke Rapids, and surrounding areas in North Carolina. We do not get paid unless we win your case and we offer free case reviews. Contact us today, (919) 615-3095! We wish you or your loved one a speedy recovery.
Also read NC Personal Injury Lawyer