As the weather warms up, more people will take advantage of the nice weather by bicycling. It’s a great way to commute, exercise, and have fun, but it comes with certain risks. Whether you prefer two wheels or four, it’s critical to understand Alabama bike law before hitting the road.
Keep reading to learn bike law essentials in Alabama and what to do if you’re the victim of a bike-car accident.
In the State of Alabama, Bikes Are Considered Vehicles
Bicycles are vehicles under Alabama law. As such, cyclists are required to ride on the road and not the sidewalk. Like cars, they must also obey all traffic signals and laws. It’s tempting to weave through lanes, cross a double yellow line, or ignore a stop sign when you’re on a bike, but disregarding laws you wouldn’t break in a car is illegal and can be dangerous to you and to drivers.
Bikes on the road deserve the same respect drivers give to each other. To keep bikers safe, cars should maintain at least three feet of space when passing a cyclist. They are also required to check before opening their car door into oncoming bicycle traffic and not leave doors open longer than necessary, as they can impede bike lanes.
Protect Yourself Against Possible Bike-Car Accidents
While it’s impossible to safeguard yourself from accidents completely, there are precautions cyclists can take. Wearing bright, reflective clothing, and using bright white light headlights and red reflector taillights helps bicyclists be more visible to drivers. Also, in order to maintain the flow of traffic, cyclists are required to ride as far to the right of the road as is safe and reasonable. Additionally, bicyclists should always wear helmets, especially when they ride on the road. Further, Alabama law states that bikers under 16 must wear a helmet. And finally, as with cars, it is illegal for cyclists to ride their bikes while intoxicated, and those who do can be charged with a DUI.
Common Causes of Bike-Car Accidents
There are dozens of ways in which bicyclists and motorists can become involved in dangerous collisions and accidents. Here are a few of the most common we see at Citrin Law.
- Dooring: When a driver opens their car door, hitting a cyclist or causing a cyclist to run into the door because they can’t get out of the way in time.
- Side swiping: Not passing at a safe distance of three feet and hitting a biker with the side of their car.
- Inattentive cyclists: Cyclists ignoring traffic laws, riding on the sidewalk, or biking recklessly can have drastic consequences.
- Inattentive driving: Turning into cyclists at a stop sign or light and not checking blind spots before merging or turning.
- Driving too close to a bike: Not leaving enough space between a vehicle and a bicycle can result in a rear-ending or side-swiping.
What You Should Do After a Bike Accident
Making a game plan before an accident will help you take the proper medical and legal steps should you be involved in a bicycle accident with a motor vehicle.
After you’ve been hit, make sure to notify the proper authorities, including the police and medical professionals. Speak with the police and request and receive a copy of the official report, including your testimony. Gather as much information about the driver as you can — including their name, license plate number, and contact and insurance information. If you aren’t able to take this information down, ask a witness to do it for you. Don’t speak with or antagonize the driver and certainly do not apologize or admit fault; these exchanges could be used against you later. Leave your bicycle where it landed after the accident, and wait for the authorities arrive to sort out the situation.
Visit the Emergency Room or a Physician After a Bicycle Accident with a Motor Vehicle
Even if you don’t think you’ve been hurt, you should still see a doctor after a bike-car accident to assess possible injuries and establish a paper trail of medical records. Some injuries, like concussions or internal damage, can take time to develop, and you might not realize you’ve been seriously hurt until several days (or even weeks) have passed. If you are seriously injured, medical records corroborate your story, which is critical for filing successful insurance settlements and personal injury lawsuits.
Collect and Save the Evidence from a Bicycle Accident
Once you’ve left the scene of the accident, write down every detail you can remember about the crash — including license plate numbers, the names and contact information of witnesses, and all relevant police report information. Don’t wash bloodstained clothing, attempt to repair your bicycle, or throw away a cracked helmet. Take pictures of everything, and save the physical objects in case you need them as evidence at a later date.
Contact a Personal Injury Lawyer
An experienced personal injury lawyer is critical when it comes to seeking justice for your injuries. Don’t let an angry driver, insurance company, or defense attorney bully you out of the compensation you deserve. While most personal injury bike accident cases are settled out of court, you still need an attorney on your side to negotiate the best possible settlement for your injuries and suffering.
The Andy Citrin Personal Injury Law Firm Is Ready to Fight for You
Cyclists have the same rights as motorists on the road and deserve the same avenues to legal justice. At Andy Citrin Injury Attorneys, we spend time learning about the details of your claim and developing a preliminary legal plan during your free consultation. We understand Alabama bicycle laws and have helped hundreds of victims receive fair compensation by carefully investigating their claims with the help of expert witnesses and accident reconstruction professionals.