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Charlotte Bicycle Accident Lawyer

Our Motivated Bicycle Accident Attorneys Will Fight and Advocate for You

Cycling in North Carolina can be a great way to get more exercise, reduce your environmental impact, and enjoy for nature. But unlike the drivers of motor vehicles, cyclists are placed in a much more vulnerable position when they are hit. Even a cyclist who wears a helmet won’t be protected if they’re blindsided by someone driving recklessly. That’s where a Charlotte bicycle accident lawyer can help.

A bicycle is no match for an engine-powered motor vehicle. Being struck by a motor vehicle when cycling can be a traumatic experience, one that causes catastrophic injuries. You may require a significant amount of medical attention for severe injuries to the head, back, neck, or brain. In worst-case scenarios, an accident could lead to paralysis, amputation, or even death.

If you or a loved one was injured while in a bicycle accident, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries through insurance or a personal injury lawsuit. After a bicycle accident, your ability to work, care for your family, and enjoy daily activities may never be the same.

The laws governing who is at fault in a cycling accident can be complicated. If you’re struck by a commercial motor vehicle, large corporations may use big-name law firms and complex insurance terms to persuade you to take an immediate settlement.

Choose a bicycle accident lawyer from Sumwalt Anderson. We’ll fight hard to make sure you collect all of the compensation you are entitled to. Call us today at (704) 377-3770 for your free consultation.

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Charlotte Bicycle Accident Lawyer

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Working with a Bicycle Accident Lawyer in Charlotte

The Lawyer You Choose to Represent You is Crucial to Your Case

In the immediate aftermath of a bicycle accident, your ordinary routine might suddenly be shaken up. If you were injured, you may have to attend to your injuries for a long period of time, requiring physical therapy and regular medical visits. Your professional and personal obligations may have to be delegated or put on hold as you nurse your body back to health.

On top of your personal injuries, you may be faced with tough conversations with insurance providers. These conversations can have significant legal ramifications. The flurry of paperwork and phone calls can prove to be chaotic on top of an already stressful situation. Here are just a few of the things that you may have to deal with in the aftermath of a bicycle accident:

The Driver Who Caused the Accident May Reach Out to You

Some drivers may try to reach out to you immediately after an accident. While some may genuinely express their condolences for the accident, they will also be perceptive of your tone and attitude toward the accident as they try to recollect the facts for themselves.

Any statement you make with an inclination of fault or responsibility could consciously or unconsciously be used against you as the driver determines the next course of action that they will take. Even answering the question “How are you?” by expressing to the other driver that you feel fine could potentially affect your cause.

An Insurance Adjuster May Ask for Your Version of Events

Assuming insurance information was exchanged, the other driver could potentially try to be proactive to file a claim with their own insurance provider. You or your loved one may still be in the hospital when you first receive a call from the insurer asking you to provide your version of events.

The importance of recalling the facts surrounding your accident may seem small, especially when you’re faced with injuries. But what you say here will matter. Anything that you say to the insurer could potentially be used against you. In fact, a claims adjuster is likely to ask for your consent to record the exchange.

The Other Party May Seek Legal Representation

Depending on the circumstances surrounding the accident, the driver may determine that the preferred course of action will be to seek legal representation to either minimize their own losses or maximize their gain.

If the driver is a commercial delivery truck driver represented by a large corporation, the legal counsel could approach you with a settlement offer to make the situation go away as quickly as possible. If the accident is severe, the company could try to avoid a claim of respondeat superior – essentially, liability for the company based on the driver’s action – by presenting a quick settlement.

If the driver feels like you were in the wrong, they may seek a lawyer themselves to try to maximize their recovery. If they take the view that the accident was primarily a car accident, their counsel could approach you with a demand letter to try and settle the case quickly.

These Immediate Communications Could Make or Break You

While every accident varies when it comes to the type of communication to expect, there is one common factor: each of these scenarios requires you to have your story as clear and concise as possible. Any ambiguity in facts or uncertainty about events can create a glaring piece of evidence that can be used as leverage for denying a claim or proposing a settlement offer with a low value.

If you reach out to the experienced team of bike accident lawyers at Sumwalt Anderson, we can listen to your side of the story without any pressure and provide you with a proper assessment of the strength of your case.

At Sumwalt Anderson, you can connect with a knowledgeable bike accident attorney in Charlotte who is familiar with the complexities of cycling laws in the state. Call Sumwalt Anderson at (704) 377-3770 to schedule your free consultation.

Why Choose Sumwalt Anderson as Your Charlotte Bicycle Accident Lawyers?

An Effective Bike Accident Lawyer Will Understand Which Laws Apply to Your Case

Under the North Carolina General Statutes, every “device that is in, upon, or by which any person or property is or may be transported or drawn upon a highway” is considered to be a vehicle. In fact, a bicycle is specifically called out as a vehicle, and every rider of a bicycle is subject to provisions applying to a vehicle operator.

Since a bicycle is considered to be a vehicle, riders are subject to the same general rights and responsibilities as motor vehicle operators when riding on the road. Basic traffic laws, such as stopping at stop signs and signaling when turning, apply to bicyclists as well.

However, a bicycle is distinguished from a motor vehicle. A motor vehicle is “every vehicle which is self-propelled.” Generally, laws that apply to vehicles will apply to bicyclists but laws applying specifically to motor vehicle drivers will not.

How North Carolina Tort Law Principles Apply to Bicyclists

Whether a bicycle is a vehicle is important when applying tort law to accidents. Tort law is the field of law relating to determination of civil liability for fault. In particular, the theory of negligence within tort law specifically applies to traffic accidents.

Negligence is made up of five elements:

  • Duty: The defendant owes a legal duty to exhibit an amount of care toward the plaintiff under the specific circumstances.
  • Breach: The defendant breached that duty by acting or failing to act in a reasonable manner.
  • Actual Cause: Apart from the defendant’s action, the plaintiff would not have had the alleged injury.
  • Proximate Cause: The plaintiff’s harm was the expected type of harm that would have resulted from the defendant’s action.
  • Damages: The plaintiff was actually harmed.

In general, drivers have a duty to use reasonable care when operating a vehicle. Since bicycles are defined as vehicles in North Carolina, the general principle is that cyclists are to exhibit reasonable care as well. The usual traffic laws of North Carolina can be used as a standard for what behavior is considered “reasonable.”

A classic example is when a cyclist decides to ride on the sidewalk instead of on the road, because the road is full of heavy, high-speed traffic. Importantly, the decision to act differently than general traffic does not excuse cyclists from exhibiting generally reasonable behavior. So in this example, the cyclist would still be expected to use signals to communicate with traffic and to watch out for pedestrians.

“Fault” vs. “No-Fault” state

Like the majority of states in the United States, North Carolina uses a fault system for vehicular accidents. Under a fault system, a third party can file a claim against another person’s insurance. The insurance will then use the facts and circumstances to determine who is at fault.

The benefit of a fault system in the case of an accident is that your insurer can go after the insurer of the other person who caused the accident. However, the fault system can cause complications on just compensation. One typical problem is if the other driver does not have insurance. In this case, an alternative legal action is likely more appropriate.

Turn to a skilled bike accident lawyer in Charlotte who can work hard to ensure that you receive fair compensation in the insurance process. Call Sumwalt Anderson today at (704) 377-3770 to discuss your case.

FAQs

  • How is my case affected if I was hit by a commercial vehicle?

    Being hit by a commercial delivery truck can be one of the most severe accidents for a cyclist. Oftentimes, these cases will result in serious injuries or death. Typical considerations of negligence must be applied when hit by a delivery truck. However, an additional theory of recovery can be tried, known as respondeat superior.

    Respondeat superior is a theory of negligence in which an employer will be held liable for the negligence of an employee if the employee was performing duties for the employer at the time of the accident.

    If a truck driver was delivering cargo or transporting passengers for work at the time of your accident, the respondeat superior theory would allow you to sue the plaintiff’s employer for the costs of the accident.

  • Will my case be diminished if I was not wearing a helmet at the time of the accident?

    In 2001, the “Child Bicycle Safety Act” was introduced into the North Carolina General Statutes. The state requires children under the age of 16 to wear a bicycle helmet. There is no requirement for adults to wear helmets. However, the North Carolina Department of Bicycle and Pedestrian Transportation does recommend that adults wear helmets while riding.

    North Carolina is one of the few states that still follows a pure “contributory negligence” standard. While most states have modified this strict standard, North Carolina, in theory, will deny the plaintiff recovery if the plaintiff is at fault by only 1%.

    The Child Bicycle Safety Act specifically points out that the law is not meant to assign any liability, and the lack of the mention of adult helmet use in the legislature has been used as an argument against contributory negligence. In fact, the negligence of a motor vehicle operator can be so grave that no helmet can be expected to protect a cyclist from serious brain injury.

    For complex issues of helmet use, turn to an experienced bike accident lawyer in Charlotte from Sumwalt Anderson, who can best inform you how to account for the lack of a helmet.

  • Can I still recover if I was under the influence while cycling?

    Under North Carolina state law, a bicycle is considered to be a vehicle, so it is not allowed to be driven while impaired.

    As mentioned above, contributory negligence could play a role in barring recovery, but every case is fact specific. If you were under the influence at the time of your accident, it’s important to consult with a skilled legal representative right away.

  • What side of the road are cyclists required to ride on?

    State law requires vehicles to drive on the right side of the highway. Riding against oncoming traffic is considered to be a form of wrong-way riding and could be found to be negligent behavior.

    Any vehicle, including a bicycle, that moves slower than the speed limit should drive in the right-hand lane or close to the right-hand curb. Given the slower speed of bicycles, cyclists are typically expected to ride on the right-hand side of the road.

  • What types of behaviors could be considered to be negligent behavior as a cyclist?

    Negligent behavior by a cyclist includes:

    • Failing to yield to other vehicles when they have the right of way
    • Failing to come to a complete stop at a stop sign
    • Riding on the wrong side of the road or against traffic
    • Failing to signal when turning.

    While these behaviors are considered to be negligent, the determination of fault is fact-specific.

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    Turn to Sumwalt Anderson, Your Charlotte Bicycle Accident Attorneys

    Call Sumwalt Anderson at (704) 377-3770 to talk with an experienced bicycle accident attorney in Charlotte, NC. Our compassionate, knowledgeable team will set up a free case evaluation to assess your specific case.