Throughout Hawaii, residents, and tourists alike enjoy bicycle riding as a way to commute, exercise, or simply enjoy the state’s unrivaled beauty. Sadly, bicycle accidents are considered a major traffic concern for the state. Statistics show that hundreds of cyclists are injured and several are killed every year due to collisions with motor vehicles.
If you were involved in a Hawaii bicycle accident, you may be suffering from painful injuries and facing an uncertain future. If the negligence or recklessness of another caused the accident, you may have grounds to file a claim against the at-fault party for compensation. This money can help you recover financially and access the medical care you need.
At Recovery Law Center, we have more than 25 years of experience serving injured victims throughout Hawaii. We can help you understand your legal rights and learn what to expect if you choose to pursue compensation in an injury claim.
It’s important to take legal action promptly, while evidence and witnesses’ memories are fresh. Contact us today for a free consultation with an experienced Honolulu bicycle accident lawyer.
What Are the Most Common Causes of Bicycle Accidents in Hawaii?
There is widespread bias against bicyclists. Many people feel that bikes do not belong on the road and that cyclists are to blame for most bicycle accidents. However, statistics suggest motor vehicle drivers are more frequently responsible for bicycle crashes. The most common causes of bicycle accidents in Hawaii include:
- Distracted driving: Drivers who are focused on text messages, phone calls, or anything other than the task of safe driving are significantly more likely to overlook cyclists and cause devastating accidents.
- Aggressive driving: When drivers exceed posted speed limits or follow bicyclists too closely, they may not leave enough time or distance to slow, stop, and avoid potentially deadly collisions.
- Driving under the influence: Drivers who are drunk or high behind the wheel pose dangers to themselves and others. An impaired driver is less likely to have the judgment or reflexes required to drive safely around bicycles.
- Drowsy driving: Studies suggest that driving while fatigued can be just as dangerous as drunk driving. Drowsy drivers are less likely to notice nearby cyclists or react in time to prevent disastrous crash scenarios.
- Running red lights or stop signs: Ignoring traffic signals at an intersection is always dangerous, but the risk is even greater when negligent drivers fail to check for cyclists exercising their right of way.
- Unsafe lane changes: Drivers who fail to indicate their turns or engage in lane weaving are incredibly hazardous to cyclists. In some cases, drivers looking to avoid traffic may even merge into occupied bicycle lanes without checking.
- Dooring accidents: Dooring happens when a negligent driver parks their vehicle and then opens their door without looking. If a car door in the path of an oncoming cyclist is opened unexpectedly, the rider can crash into the door and sustain serious injuries.
- Negligent backing: If a driver fails to check behind themselves when reversing out of a driveway or parking space, they can easily back over passing cyclists.
How Often Do Bicycle Accidents Happen in Hawaii?
- There are nearly 6,000 non-fatal injuries caused by Hawaii traffic accidents every year. In 11 percent of these crashes, accident victims require hospital admission. Almost 55 percent of admitted patients are “vulnerable road users,” such as bicyclists.
- Non-fatal bicycle accidents accounted for 91 hospital admissions and 1,065 emergency room visits in Hawaii in a recent three-year period.
- Only 61 percent of polled road users in Hawaii were reportedly aware of the recommendation to provide bicycle riders with at least three feet of space when passing.
- In a five-year period, 16 out of 17 bicycle accident fatalities in Hawaii involved a collision with a motor vehicle.
- The total number of bicycle accident fatalities exceeded target levels by at least 100 percent in two recent calendar years.
- HDOT has set a goal to avoid exceeding three bicycle accident fatalities in 2021. To achieve this goal, the department has hired a State Bicycle and Pedestrian Coordinator and plans to apply a “data-driven approach” to address education and infrastructure issues.
What Should You Do If You Are In a Bicycle Accident?
Understanding the best steps to take in the aftermath of a Hawaii bicycle accident can have a big impact on your ability to protect your legal rights and pursue compensation. If you were injured in a bicycle crash, it’s a good idea to:
- Seek immediate medical care: It’s essential to take care of your health and establish a record of your physical well-being. Make sure you follow your doctor’s orders and attend any future appointments to demonstrate that you’re taking your health seriously.
- Document everything: Write down every detail you can remember about the accident, including when it happened, where you were, and how the events played out.
- Take photos of your injuries and bicycle damage: If you sustained visible injuries or your bike was damaged, take pictures before your injuries heal or your bicycle is repaired or replaced.
- Record symptoms of your injuries in a pain journal: It’s wise to document the impact an injury has on your day-to-day life. Keeping track of your daily pain levels and physical limitations will help support your claim for maximum compensation.
- Keep track of your accident-related expenses and losses: Hold on to any medical bills, repair invoices, and other receipts from accident-related costs. This includes the costs of transportation to and from medical appointments.
- Avoid providing statements to insurance providers: It’s incredibly easy to damage your compensation claim with an innocent offhand comment, so it’s best to avoid providing statements to insurance representatives until you’ve spoken with a bicycle accident lawyer.
- Avoid sharing information on social media: Anything you post, share, or say on social media can be accessed by investigators and may be used to discredit your claim. It’s best to avoid social media entirely while your claim is pending.
- Contact a knowledgeable bicycle accident lawyer: An experienced attorney can help you understand Hawaii’s bicycle laws and seek the compensation you need to recover.
Bicycle Accidents and Your Legal Rights
Bicycles are legally considered vehicles, which means cyclists have the same basic rights and responsibilities as other drivers in Hawaii. However, since bicyclists are more vulnerable than others on the road, motor vehicle drivers are expected to:
- Allow bicyclists the full use of traffic lanes when the lanes are not wide enough to allow cars to pass safely. Drivers must wait patiently behind bicyclists until it is safe to pass them, even if cyclists are traveling below the speed limit.
- Slow down upon approaching bicyclists or pedestrians.
- Allow at least three feet of extra space when passing bicyclists on the left.
- Check for bicycles on the shoulder or right side of the road when making right-hand turns and yield to bicyclists before initiating a turn.
- Check for bicycles approaching from the opposite direction when making left-hand turns.
- Look for oncoming cyclists before opening the door of a car parked along the side of the street.
- Watch for nearby cyclists when exiting a driveway or parking space.
- Avoid using car horns near bicyclists since the unexpected loud sound could startle them and cause them to swerve into traffic.
- Take special precautions around bicyclists who are minors or obviously impaired or inexperienced.
Contact a Hawaii Bicycle Accident Attorney Today
The Honolulu bicycle accident lawyers at Recovery Law Center care deeply about pursuing the best outcome for every client. Our team focuses on building personalized relationships to understand your needs and develop the most effective legal strategy to secure maximum compensation in your case.
Our legal team has a history of securing favorable settlements and trial verdicts for accident victims throughout Oahu. Our firm does not charge any up-front fees to begin handling your case, and there is no cost to you unless we help you win compensation.
There’s nothing to lose and everything to gain by scheduling a free consultation. Call or contact us today.