People have always enjoyed riding bikes and going for walks, whether it’s for exercising or just for leisure. Due to the current pandemic, many people have found themselves going outside more frequently to pass the time and stay healthy. As a result, the amount of pedestrian and bicycle accidents have been increasing.
Therefore, it’s important to know your rights, the rights of drivers, and the general laws around walking as a pedestrian and bicycling on the road. First, we will discuss pedestrian accidents and then bicycle accidents.
To discuss any aspect of your pedestrian or bicycle injury case in a free consultation call 504-483-3400 or e-mail us.
In Louisiana, your risk of pedestrian accidents is one of the highest in the United States. According to a report released by the National Complete Streets Coalition (an advocacy group that works with numerous stakeholders, including elected leaders, economic agencies, and transportation professionals, to empower communities across the U.S.), Louisiana ranked number four among all 50 states for pedestrian danger. It’s also important to note that New Orleans specifically has a higher ratio of accidents, mainly due to the numerous numbers of street events that are celebrated each year.
Pedestrians are at a much higher risk of catastrophic injuries because they do not have the kind of protection that a driver has, nor do they usually have the basic level of protection that a bicycle rider has. An overwhelming number of injuries are sustained because of driver negligence and their refusal to give the right of way to a pedestrian. Specifically, pedestrians in the state of Louisiana are the most vulnerable in the following areas: uncontrolled crossings, residential streets, the shoulder of a highway, driveways, parking lots, and in loading zones.
In Louisiana, the law states that pedestrian signals are given precedence over traffic signals, requiring all vehicles to stop until you (the pedestrian) have reached a neutral area such as a sidewalk. Legislators have explicitly placed this requirement in the legislation because of the vulnerability faced by pedestrians (discussed above).
The law also states that when a motorist has stopped at an intersection to allow the pedestrian to cross the road, any other vehicles approaching behind the motorist must not pass the stopped diver.
These are accidents that occur when you are on the road and are injured by a negligent party that is either in a motor vehicle or a motor vehicle-like mechanism (such as a motorbike or even a bicycle). On the other hand, if a negligent property owner, either directly or indirectly, caused you to sustain injuries because of a structural issue on the property, you can file a premise liability claim.
Even if you haven’t been injured as a pedestrian, you can still contact a personal injury lawyer on that person’s behalf. As your attorney’s we will do the necessary research like going to the New Orleans police department for an investigation or obtaining an accident report.
First, and depending on the severity of your injuries, you should get medical assistance as soon as you can. Next, contact the police as soon as you are safe and away from traffic. Next, you should try to gather as much evidence about the incident as possible. This usually involves taking photos of all your injuries, photos of the vehicle that hit you, etc. Finally, get professional legal assistance from a Louisiana lawyer that has experience in pedestrian accidents.
Broken bones: In a car accident any of the bones in your body can be broken. However, the most common ones include the following: lower legs, arms and wrists, clavicles, ribs, facial bones and even the skull.
Traumatic Brain Injury: An open brain injury (also called a penetrating brain injury) is one in which your scalp breaks and part of the skull may enter the brain. A closed brain injury is one that doesn’t involve the skull being broken. Specifically, a closed brain injury is caused by a rapid forward or backward movement which causes the brain to shake inside the skull. If the pedestrian’s head hits against the vehicle or the road’s surface, it may result in a traumatic brain injury.
Cuts and lacerations: A laceration is a deep tear in the skin or flesh. This type of wound is often irregular and jagged. There are various types of cuts and lacerations that can happen in a car accident (mainly from car parts flying off, or from shattered glass). These kinds of cuts can also occur when a victim is pinned under the vehicle, and they try to get out from under it. Specifically, the types of lacerations include, but are not limited to, cut-type lacerations, over-stretching, grinding compressions and split lacerations.
Spinal cord injuries: Pedestrian accidents injuries usually occur when the spinal cord gets severed at the moment of impact. This injury may result in partial paralysis in the area below the point of injury.
Pelvic injuries: In pedestrian accidents, typically the hood of the oncoming vehicle hits the victim, which in turn leads to a broken hip bone. Senior citizens are particularly vulnerable to these types of injuries.
Wrongful Death: Among all types of accidents on the road, the incidence of fatalities is the highest in pedestrian accidents. There are certain factors that will determine the extent of your injuries leading to death, including the following: the size of the vehicle, the speed at which it was moving at the time of impact, and the nature of the injuries.
Louisiana is a comparative negligence state, meaning that the compensation for the accident could be reduced by the extent to which you contributed to your own injuries. You should be aware that the at-fault driver and their insurance company will use all possible arguments to place part of the blame onto you. The defendant may claim that you should have yielded the right of way to the motorist, for example, even if the negligent driver was speeding, they may claim that you were jaywalking.
Our lawyers will evaluate the following factors while preparing your claim: evidence that points to the driver being at fault, the extent of your injuries, how the injuries have affected your life, any loss of income, potential loss of the ability to make income in the future, and your chances of a full medical recovery. In addition to the medical evidence and the testimony of doctors, your lawyer may also involve expert testimony of an accident reconstructionist, an economic life valuation specialist, and / or a vocational rehabilitation expert.
In Louisiana, the main piece of legislation that protects cyclists is called the Colin Goodler Protection Act. Specifically, the law emphasizes two main things. First, it requires the operator of a motor vehicle, when overtaking a bicycle proceeding in the same direction, to exercise due care. Second, it states that the operator of a motor vehicle may pass a bicycle traveling in the same direction in a ‘no passing zone,’ only when it is safe to do so.
Right to the road: Since bicycles are defined as vehicles, they generally have the same rights and responsibilities as motor vehicles drivers. The only main difference between the two revolves around the inability of cyclists to go onto a highway.
Where to ride in Louisiana: Bicyclists are required to ride as close as possible to the side of the roadway. The only exception being when they are overtaking another bicyclist, or when preparing to make a left turn. Also, bicyclists may, but are not required to, utilize any usable path for bicyclists that have been provided. It’s important to remember that Louisiana state law does not prohibit bicyclists from being ridden on the sidewalks.
How to ride: Bicyclists may not impede motor vehicle traffic in any way. If a rider does intentionally (or even unintentionally) impede traffic, they may bear some responsibility for their own injuries. Also, bicyclists are required to slow down and come to a complete stop at a stop sign. On the other hand, motor vehicles are required to exercise due care and leave a safe distance of no less than 3 feet clearance when overtaking a bicyclist.
Equipment to have: Bicyclists under the age of 12 are required to wear a helmet. At night, a bicyclist must be equipped with a front white light and a rear red light, both of which must be visible from 500 feet. Every bicyclist must be equipped with a bell or some other device that is capable of giving an audible signal for a distance of at least 100ft. Every bicycle must have breaks that enable the bicyclist to break appropriately.
Alcohol: Louisiana’s legislation around DUI’s does not apply to bicyclists, however, a rider under the influence may be charged with public intoxication.
The first thing is to make sure you move to a safe area away that is away from traffic. Once you are relatively comfortable, you should check yourself for injuries. Next, you should document all the relevant information, such as driver and witness contact information. Then, call the police. While you are waiting for police to arrive, you should document your account of events, specifically any damage to your body and / or property. Finally, you should reach out to an experienced bicycle accident lawyer.
Most cases are handled outside of the court system. However, it’s still important for you to find a lawyer with relevant experience because riders are often blamed for accidents that are not their fault.
Distracted driving / riding: Operators of motor vehicles that look away from the road while texting or making a phone call might not see a bicyclist crossing the street. However, distracted driving is not limited to motor vehicle drivers, as cyclists can also be distracted by texting or sometimes by wearing headphones while riding.
Riding too close: In Louisiana, drivers are required to maintain at least three feet of space between a bicycle and their vehicle. However, cyclists should also be aware of how much space they have when riding around cars because not all cars will yield. In some cases, it may be wise to ride on the sidewalk (like if you are riding in the evening / night or are riding at a fast velocity downhill).
Traveling too fast: Speeding cars cannot always stop in time for a rider who suddenly veers into a lane.
Cars entering the street: A bicyclist should never assume that a driver sees them approaching as the driver is backingout of a driveway. Since space is limited, both the driver and the cyclist may not be able to react in time.
Reduce your risk of injury: While you cannot control the actions of drivers, you can take steps to protect yourself from injury by doing the following: keeping a safe distance from vehicles on the road, wearing a helmet every time you go for a ride, and when driving at night you should try to wear bright, reflective clothing. Also, make sure not to ride and text.
Most care insurance policies cover bicycle accidents as well as injuries to cyclists. As a rule of thumb, if you were hurt while riding a bicycle, and the accident was the driver’s fault, you are entitled to compensation from the driver’s insurance company. Sometimes your own auto accident insurance may provide additional insurance coverage for an accident. In the case of a hit and run, meaning that the driver cannot be identified, the rider’s insurance policy will only provide coverage for those who have uninsured motorist coverage.
Although pedestrian accidents occur less frequently than car accidents, the consequences can be more severe. The injuries may be more pronounced, and the legal penalties may be more punitive (and may even involve jail time). Therefore, it is important to know your rights and know what is required whenever you are on the road.
To discuss any aspect of your pedestrian or bicycle injury case in a free consultation call 504-483-3400 or e-mail us.