You think you know the answer, right? Bicycle versus car. Who wins? The car will win every single time. Why?
Because the car weighs thousands of pounds, is made of metal, steel, glass, and is surrounded by material to absorb an impact. A bicycle on the other hand weighs anywhere from 16 pounds for a superlight road-racing bike to 30-40 pounds for a mountain bike. The bicycle has no crash protection, no bumpers, no ability to absorb any impact. Just you and your thin bike to get you from one place to the other.
What safety devices do bicycles have?
(1) Reflectors(2) Rear tail lights(3) Sometimes a front headlight(4) An experienced rider will often wear high-visibility clothing with reflective strips to give him or her better chances of visibility to cars and trucks. Many riders also wear blinking battery-operated bike lights- again to improve their chances of being seen by motorists.
What safety devices do cars have?
(1) Headlights(2) Tail lights(3) Anti-lock brakes(4) Front and rear proximity sensors(5) Airbags- head/ front/ side(6) Thousands of pounds of metal, glass and an engine to encompass you
Often, motorists do not see bicyclists even with all the "safety devices" designed to improve their visibility.
Recently, I represented a man who was biking home from work at his job at a computer company. He was travelling on a busy roadway at rush hour, using the "bicycle lane" on the shoulder of the roadway. It was about 5:30 p.m. He was wearing a helmet, reflective bike shoes, and a highly visible biking jersey. The traffic going in his direction was in stop & go traffic, but on the shoulder lane he had clear sailing.
He was biking on a slight uphill doing about 10 miles per hour. A car travelling in the opposite direction decided it need to turn into a strip mall just about where my client was riding. Unfortunately for my client, the car made a very swift left turn, and because of the stopped car traffic adjacent to my client, never saw him as he accelerated toward the driveway to the strip mall. Who won? The car- as always.
Who lost? My client. His fancy road bike, the least of his problems, was totally destroyed. He suffered fractures, bruises, cuts and lacerations. An ambulance deposited him to the closest emergency room, where he underwent a battery of tests, including x-rays, CT scans, blood tests and an overnight stay at the hospital. The impact put him out of work for over a month, and he needed repeat visits to the orthopedist to follow his fractures and make sure they were healing properly. After the orthopedist gave the ok, he was told to start physical therapy to begin to use his arm and leg properly again.
My client lost his dignity that day. He lost the ability to continue his bike-ride home without interference from a car. His family was thrown into turmoil, rallying around dad in the emergency room. He had to explain to his boss why he couldn't return to work for weeks. He had to explain to his friends why he couldn't join them in their activities. He sat at home, useless to his wife, on the couch watching mindless television.
On the day I met my client for the first time, he had returned to work in a limited capacity, and at reduced hours. The most important thing he wanted to show me was not his scars and his cast. Rather, he wanted to show me his broken and destroyed bicycle that sat in a crumpled heap inside his car. As any bicyclist knows, a good bike is a trustworthy friend that gets you from point A to point B effortlessly. When that has been destroyed, it is devastating. However, as all things material, it can and will eventually be replaced. My client's life was miraculously spared that day, and he will learn once again to walk, to run, to write, and yes, to bike.
The driver of the car, unfortunately, had a limited insurance policy, which nevertheless was quickly offered to settle the case.
Remember to always wear your helmet when you ride, and make yourself as visible as possible to the motorists around you. Never wear earphones to listen to your Ipod or MP3 player, as you will not be able to hear the traffic around you. Be smart, and enjoy your bike ride.
Gerry Oginski is an experienced medical malpractice and personal injury trial attorney practicing law in Brooklyn, Bronx, Queens, New York, Staten Island, Nassau & Suffolk. He has tirelessly represented injured victims in all types of medical malpractice and injury cases for over 19 years. As a solo practitioner he is able to devote 100% of his time to each individual client. A client is never a file number in his office. Call him at 516-487-8207.
Also, go over to http://medicalmalpracticetutorial.blogspot.com for Gerry's free instructional videos on malpractice & accident law.