Many people enjoy riding bicycles around St. Louis to take in the sites and attractions, such as the Gateway Arch and the Missouri Botanical Gardens. However, bicyclists must share the roads with large numbers of motor vehicles, and you always run the risk of getting into a bicycle accident virtually anywhere in the city.
Our legal team at The Bruning Law Firm wants to help accident victims such as yourself recover for the losses and damages you have suffered through no fault of your own. Bicycle accident injuries are painful, and when a negligent driver left you with expensive medical bills, the aftermath is a stressful experience you should not have to face alone.
The St. Louis bicycle accident lawyers at The Bruning Law Firm understand the challenges you face against insurance companies and at-fault parties. Call us today for a free case evaluation to learn how we can help you recover compensation so that you don't have to pay those medical bills out of your own pocket.
The Popularity of Cycling in St. Louis
Often voted one of the best cities for cycling in the country, St. Louis has a positive reputation among residents and visitors that travel by bicycle. With many greenway options for bicyclists to enjoy, the city is a hotspot for avid cyclists and recreational riders. In addition, many residents in St. Louis use their bicycles to commute to and from their work and daily errands as a way to stay active and go green. The city of St. Louis boasts over 135 miles of bicycle lanes and routes throughout the city.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that nearly 50,000 cyclists were injured in accidents involving motorized vehicles in a recent year throughout the United States. While bicycling and other forms of pedal-powered transportation are both healthy and efficient, they also expose riders to the risk of serious bodily injury. When bicycles are involved in car accidents or truck accidents, the injuries that victims sustain can be extremely serious. In some cases, victims may be left with permanent complications as a result of their injuries as well as massive and potentially ongoing medical expenses. Fortunately, if bicyclists can establish that a negligent driver caused the accident, they can recover damages for these losses with the help of an experienced St. Louis personal injury lawyer.
Risk of Injury and Death to Bicyclists in the St. Louis Area
Although cycling has risen in popularity throughout St. Louis, so has the frequency of bicycle accidents. Bicycles must often share the roads with motor vehicle drivers, which can put them at increased risk of injury and death. Although St.Louis offers many trails for cyclists to travel, many must travel on designated bike lanes for their commutes or to their recreation destinations, which puts them in danger on the roadways. In a given year, Missouri can see 13 bicycle-related fatalities and close to 400 injury-producing cyclist accidents.
The Dangers to Bicyclists on the Roadways in St. Louis
Unlike pedestrians that mostly travel by sidewalks and paths off of the main roadways, bicyclists must often travel on the road with vehicular traffic. In some areas, designated paths will help to keep bicyclists in a separate lane from vehicles, but in many areas, bicycles must travel by the same rules of the road and alongside cars, trucks, and other commercial vehicles.
Bicyclists that travel along roadways in and around St. Louis will encounter unique dangers that put them at higher risk of an accident and injury.
Parked Cars - Many people would not think of a parked car as a potential threat to the safety of cyclists. However, parked cars can cause serious injuries and even the death of an unsuspecting bicyclist that cannot react in time. The danger of a parked car is that an occupant will open their door onto the roadway without making certain a bicyclist is nearby. When a car passenger or driver opens a door that impedes a cyclist's right of way, the bicyclist can't avoid an accident without incident or injury. Cyclists travel at high speeds, especially when on road bicycles. They require some effort and time to come to a complete stop or safely maneuver out of the way of obstacles. An unexpected car door in the road can cause a cyclist to veer quickly into another vehicle or object or may impact the door directly, which can cause a cyclist to be thrown off their bike and into the road.
Congested Roadways - Rush hour can be particularly dangerous for bicyclists that commute on the roadways. Heavy traffic can cause impatient motorists to weave in and out of traffic or attempt to use bicycle lanes and the road shoulder to overtake other vehicles and get ahead. Bicyclists can't easily cross congested intersections safely, leaving them vulnerable to drivers who speed or run red lights and other traffic signals.
Visibility - Bicyclists are much smaller than any motor vehicle or even motorcycle on the road. The presence of a bicyclist on the road can often go unnoticed until it is too late. Motorists don't always respect the right of bicyclists to share the road alongside them. Visibility challenges become even greater during the nighttime hours, dawn, dusk, or inclement weather.
Slower Speed - Bicycles can move at much higher speeds than pedestrians, but these human-powered modes of transportation cannot maintain the same high rate of speed as motor vehicles. Even the most elite athletes in the world will travel on average at 25 mph on flat roads. The slower speeds of bicyclists can cause drivers to become impatient if they are behind one. In these instances, many drivers attempt to overtake the cyclists even if they don't take the proper precautions or have the space to do so safely. Many bicycle accidents will occur when a vehicle attempts to overtake or pass a rider.
Riding in Pelotons (Large Groups) - An activity unique to cyclists. Riding in large groups is common, especially during training and weekend rides. This activity, however, can increase the danger of injury and death to the cyclists involved. When riding in a peloton, cyclists must remain alert to their surrounding riders and motor vehicles. Any mistake by another rider or impact of a vehicle on one of the cyclists can result in a massive crash that can cause many injuries and damage. Motor vehicles that encounter pelotons while driving are also likely to make any attempt to pass the group when not safe, which will put all of the cyclists at risk.
Road Conditions - Damage to the road, smaller debris, or other obstacles can pose a slight risk to motor vehicles, but often, many can avoid the dangers with ease. Unfortunately, the most minor of road issues can place bicyclists in serious danger. An unexpected rock, nail in the road, or loose gravel can cause a cyclist to lose control of their bicycle and into nearby traffic.
Weather - Inclement and dangerous weather is not the time for cyclists to be on the road, but some may unexpectedly get caught during a commute. When this occurs, they are in danger of a bicycle accident. Wet roads can make navigation difficult, while rain and snow can significantly reduce the visibility of motorists nearby, making it challenging for them to identify a cyclist that shares the road.
The Cause of Most Bicycle Accidents – Negligent Drivers
In just one year, over 800 bicyclists in the U.S. will lose their lives in motor vehicle accidents. Of those accidents, the vast majority will share the same cause: negligent drivers. Motorists do not often feel threatened by bicyclists on the road and many disregard the rights of a cyclist to share the road. This general attitude towards cyclists can make traveling on the roadways a deadly risk.
Motorists that engage in certain behaviors are more likely to cause a bicycle accident.
Distractions - Distracted drivers that lose focus for just a moment can strike a cyclist that is on the side of the road or crossing an intersection. Unlike a nearby vehicle that is more difficult to miss, a cyclist can easily be overlooked and struck when a driver is not fully alert and aware of their surroundings.
Drinking - Drivers under the influence pose a risk to everyone on the road and cyclists are no exception. This risk is even higher for bicyclists that may travel along roads in the early morning hours or on weekends in areas where drivers travel from their evening activities.
Speeding - Drivers that speed, risk the lives of cyclists. Their high speed will not allow the driver to identify a cyclist with sufficient time to react. In addition, the higher the speed at which a vehicle travels at the time of a bicycle accident, the higher the chance of the cyclist's death. Cyclists travel mostly unprotected on their bikes, and the impact from a vehicle can launch cyclists large distances into the air and ultimately into the pavement or another vehicle.
Aggressive - Probably one of the most frequent types of negligent driver encountered by cyclists. Aggressive drivers will attempt to overtake cyclists with little regard or patience to await a safe opportunity.
Common Injuries in a St. Louis Bicycle Crash
Bicycle riders have little protection other than their helmets. While a helmet is a critical piece of safety equipment that can increase the chance of a cyclist's survival in a bicycle accident, it cannot prevent all injuries. Bicycle accident injuries are often serious, and many cyclists may not survive the impact of a motor vehicle.
Bicycle accident injuries often take time to heal and recover from and many can leave permanent effects on the life of a victim.
Traumatic Brain Injury– Brain injuries are among the most common in a bicycle accident and one of the most dangerous. These injuries can leave cyclists with a loss of mobility and function that can take years to recover from and in some instances can result in permanent brain damage.
Spinal Cord Injury– Broken backs, necks, and other spinal cord injuries often afflict survivors of bicycle accidents. Bicyclists travel at high speeds and speeding vehicles can hit them. The momentum of these accidents results in unimaginable forces on the human body as bicyclists fall onto the ground, other vehicles, or nearby objects.
Road Rash– When bicyclists fall off their bikes into the road beneath them they may often have exposed areas of skin that come into contact with the ground. Road rash injuries are most common in all bicycle accidents, even those occurring off the roads, but the speed and hardness of road surfaces result in severe road rash injuries.
Broken Bones– Broken bones in a bicycle accident are common, especially in the arms and legs of riders. When bicyclists fall they will likely attempt to break their fall, which can cause fractures and breaks of one or multiple bones.
Internal Injuries– While not always visible, internal bleeding and injuries to organs can endanger the health of cyclists. The impact of a bicycle accident can cause internal injuries whenever the body strikes another object or the ground.
You could suffer other serious injuries as well, and even if you don't think your injuries are serious, you should still seek medical attention immediately following a bicycle accident. For one, a thorough medical exam will identify or rule out any internal injuries you may have suffered that could cause problems later. Also, you will need documentation you suffered injuries and received treatment in order to file an injury claim with the insurance company or court.
Damages in a Bicycle Accident Case
If a bicycle accident injured you through no fault of your own, you might recover compensation against the party responsible. Under the law, victims of a bicycle accident with a motor vehicle can seek compensation against a negligent party for their damages and losses. While negotiations with insurers will resolve most cases, some may require lawsuits. A lawyer can evaluate your case and help you determine the best course of action to protect your rights and for you to fight for the compensation you deserve following a bicycle accident.
Damages you can seek in a bicycle accident case can include:
Current and future medical expenses
Current and future income losses
Damage to the bicycle and other property damage
Pain and suffering
Loss of quality and enjoyment of life
Compensation for the wrongful death of a loved one
In certain rare cases, courts may award punitive damages in bicycle crash cases if it finds the defendant acted with extreme negligence or intentional wrongdoing. Your attorney may advise taking your case to court and pursuing punitive damages if the driver who hit you was intoxicated or violating traffic laws, for instance.
St. Louis Bicycle Accident FAQ
The biggest risk for St. Louis cyclists is getting hit by an inattentive or aggressive driver. There is also the equally dangerous “chain reaction” scenario, where one car hits another and sends it on a collision course with the cyclist in the next lane.
However they happen to unfold, bicycle accidents can cause catastrophic injuries from fractured bones and ruptured organs to potentially life-changing injuries to the spine. If a driver's negligence hurt you in a serious bicycle accident, you deserve compensation.
We have put together answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about navigating this stressful situation, but keep in mind that every case is different. You will need the direct guidance of a St. Louis bicycle accident lawyer about the unique circumstances of your accident.
A car hit me while I rode my bicycle, but I was partially responsible for the accident. Can I still pursue compensation from the driver?
The massive power differential between cars and bicycles means that a cyclist will generally do everything in their power to avoid being hit, which is why driver negligence causes most collisions. However, since bicycles on Missouri roads have the same rights as cars, they also have the same responsibilities.
That includes obeying traffic lights and stop signs, using hand signals to indicate, yielding to pedestrians, and generally exercising reasonable care. Therefore, it is possible to find the cyclist partially at fault for causing the accident.
The good news is that Missouri has one of the most plaintiff-friendly laws in the country when it comes to collecting damages, even if the claimant was partially or even mostly responsible for an accident. Under the state’s framework of pure comparative fault, you can still pursue compensation as long as you were not 100 percent responsible for the accident.
Is there a deadline for when I have to file my bicycle accident claim?
In Missouri, the statute of limitations is five years, so that's the maximum time the injured individual can wait to file, with some exceptions. In cases where the incident resulted in someone’s death, and a direct family member is bringing a wrongful death suit, the deadline becomes three years from the date of the victim’s death.
If your bicycle accident happened because of poorly maintained roads and you want compensation from the city or county, you must get the ball rolling in a matter of months. Not submitting your claim by the correct timeline for your situation would almost certainly mean losing your chance to get compensation.
While most bicycle accident claims will technically have five years before the statute of limitations runs out, it is not realistic to wait that long if you want a good outcome. For starters, investigating an accident and building a strong case can take months.
Your legal team has to gather and review evidence, consult with experts and interview any witnesses to the incident. The entire investigation process will happen much more effectively before too much time has passed. The witnesses can forget important details as their memory of the accident fades, and it is even possible for crucial evidence to be lost or destroyed somewhere along the way.
For all these reasons, you should begin the legal process as soon as you can after your accident. Contact a knowledgeable St. Louis bicycle accident lawyer who can begin gathering evidence, communicating with the insurance company, and putting you in the best possible position for getting fair compensation.
How much compensation can I expect after being injured in a bicycle accident?
There is no easy answer to this question because every case is unique, but the main factor determining compensation will be the nature and severity of the cyclist’s injuries. How much did the hospital bills cost and will you require even more treatment in the future, such as ongoing physical therapy? Did the injuries cause permanent harm, such as disfigurement?
There is also the major issue of any lost income from taking time off work while healing. In the most serious bicycle accidents, victims might even look at a permanently reduced earning capacity because they cannot return to the same career due to a physical or mental disability.
Most bicycle accidents will result in a payout from the negligent driver’s insurance company. That means the second really important factor for determining your compensation will be the terms of the negligent driver’s insurance coverage. All Missouri drivers have to carry a minimum of $25,000 per person for injuries but the policy payouts can also be much higher than that, especially with commercial insurance. No matter how strong your claim or how serious your injuries are, the terms of the insurance policy can limit the money available to you. The role of a skilled attorney will be to negotiate with the insurance company to seek the maximum compensation and, if necessary, escalate the situation to civil court by filing a personal lawsuit.
An on-the-job driver caused my bicycle accident. Can I pursue compensation from their employer?
Yes, it is possible, although you need to prove specific conditions. You can hold employers vicariously liable for the careless or negligent actions of their employees, as long as they were in the course of the employee’s work duties. Some common examples would be a delivery driver, a taxi driver, or a long-haul trucker. Whether the driver was an actual employee or an independent contractor could also potentially matter.
The strongest cases for pursuing compensation from the at-fault driver’s employer will also have evidence of how the employer created the conditions for the bicycle accident to happen. This negligence might include hiring someone with a documented history of traffic violations, not providing proper training, or allowing the employee to work too many hours and get overtired.
This is where having a skilled bicycle accident team will make a difference in your case, whether it is at the negotiation table with an insurance company or in a court of law.
A road defect, such as a large pothole, a faulty traffic light, a sign obscured by foliage, or an uncovered manhole caused my bicycle accident. Do I have a case against the city or county responsible for maintaining this roadway?
If unsafe, negligent road conditions caused your bicycle accident, then you may have a case against your local municipality. However, governments have many protections that make the legal process more complex than if you filed against a person or a private business.
Many rigid rules surround these cases, but the biggest issue is a compressed timeline. Missouri’s statute of limitations for personal injury claims is five years from the accident, while wrongful death claims have three years. But when filing against a city, town, or county, the plaintiff has to send a written notice of how the bicycle accident happened within 90 days. If you do not meet this crucial deadline, the court will dismiss the lawsuit. That is why it is essential to move quickly when you are pursuing a claim against a municipality. If poorly maintained roads made it dangerous to ride and injured you, contact an experienced attorney as soon as possible.
What is the likelihood of my bicycle accident case going to trial?
It could happen, but it is not as likely. Most claims will end up in a negotiated settlement with the insurance company and never progress to the point of actually filing a personal injury lawsuit. Even in those situations when the claim does reach the level of a court trial, the parties are still likely to come to a settlement before reaching a verdict.
The biggest factors determining whether the case goes to trial will entail the severity of your injuries, the strength of the evidence against the at-fault driver, and the skill of your lawyers in being able to negotiate. There are situations where the policy does not offer reasonable compensation for all the damages the victim has suffered, and that is when a personal injury lawsuit does become the better route.
The job of your legal team is to provide support every step of the way and act in your best interests, whether that is getting the best possible settlement or taking the case to trial.
Do I have to talk to the at-fault driver’s insurance company if they call me?
You have no legal obligation to speak to them, give them a written statement about the incident, or send them any of the documents they might request. Beyond the legality of it, discussing the details of your case directly with a representative from the responsible party’s insurer is simply not wise.
The truth is that this person’s job is to find a reason to minimize your claim and offer a lowball settlement. They look for any possible information to use against you, such as an excuse to argue that the crash was your fault.
Avoid any potential misunderstandings that could weaken your case by letting a bicycle accident attorney handle communication with the insurer. An experienced legal team understands all the tactics these companies use to dodge responsibility and will prepare to handle them on your behalf.
How much will it cost to hire a St. Louis bicycle accident lawyer?
Nothing. At The Bruning Law Firm, you get a completely free initial consultation to discuss your accident. Once we get to work, we charge no upfront costs and you will not receive a bill unless we win compensation for you.
We work on a contingency basis, which means we charge a percentage of the money we help you obtain.
A bicycle accident can break your heart and turn your life upside down, but we are here to help you recover.
Contact a St. Louis Bicycle Accident Lawyer Today to Schedule a Free Consultation
If you or a loved one is in a bicycle accident, you must contact a bicycle accident attorney as soon as possible after the collision occurs. Do not accept any settlement offers from an insurer or the party at fault without first consulting a lawyer. You may feel nervous and uncertain about the medical expenses and other costs and losses you have accrued because of your injuries.
Our lawyers can advocate for your rights through a bicycle accident claim or lawsuit. Our goal is to help you reach a positive resolution in your case and set you on a path forward from your unfortunate and preventable accident. Call The Bruning Law Firm today for a free case evaluation if a driver hit you while you rode your bike in St. Louis—whether in the city or county—or in the Metro East area of Illinois.
Bicycle accident victims may be eligible to receive significant financial compensation for their injuries and other losses. Contact The Bruning Law Firm today at (314) 735-8100 to discuss your claim with an experienced St. Louis bicycle accident attorney.
The Bruning Law Firm
555 Washington Ave Ste 600A,
St. Louis, MO 63101
"AJ and team were so delightful to work with. They were very responsive to all emails and phone calls. I always knew which step we were on in the process of getting my lawsuit settled. I was pleasantly surprised to see that the amount the settlement was for was twice that of the original coverage of the insurance company. I don’t know how they did it but I am very pleased with the service they provided. Hands down easiest process, and people to deal with. 100% recommend if you have a personal injury case to be worked. Hopefully I won’t need their services again, but if I do I won’t hesitate to call." - Amanda W.
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