Cycling Crashes and Bike Law

When you, a child, or someone you love is injured in a collision with a car while on your bike, it is important to ensure that they have the best legal representation possible.

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This means an experienced legal team of lawyers and clerks that have the knowledge, resources, and contacts within the cycling network to be successful. It should include:

  • A legal team that understands how cycling crashes or cycling deaths occur and how to prove fault.
  • A legal team committed assisting in your recovery by ensuring you get the best rehabilitation and treatment possible to get you back on your bike.
  • A legal team that will build your case to succeed.
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Understanding How Cycling Crashes Occur and Building the Case

Bike crashes are no accident.  Road violence against cyclists and pedestrians has been rising with far too many cyclists and pedestrians getting hit every day. Whenever you are hit on your bike by a bad, distracted, drunk or careless driver, it is important that you have a set of lawyers ready to stand up for you and prove fault against that driver.

Too often, cyclists who are seriously injured (or the family of the deceased cyclist) do not have the ability to collect all the valuable evidence needed at the crash scene to ensure they can prove fault against the driver.  Solely relying on the police or bystanders to collect evidence to assist in the case would be a mistake.  It is critical that you speak to an experienced bike lawyer that knows the importance of investigating the scene, obtaining photographs, finding witnesses, preserving critical video evidence, soliciting police records, funding experts, getting the right forensic engineers, accessing vehicle data, retaining experts in municipal disrepair, and fighting from the start to build your case to succeed.  Experience matters.  You want a team of lawyers that have done bike cases across Ontario.  A team of lawyers that have had success in representing the families who have lost a family member who was killed on their bike.  Experienced bike lawyers that are familiar with how crashes occur and how to litigate them.

Types of bike crashes that include:

The Right Hook

A right hook occurs when a driver makes an illegal right turn across the path of a cyclist.  These types of crashes, which are the fault of the driver, happen when the driver attempts to make a right turn into a plaza, driveway, side street or intersection. It can happen when the cyclist is riding in a car lane, in a bike lane, a bike sharrow, or a bike path.  The cyclist has little or no time to react and in certain cases, the driver does not even indicate their intention to turn.

Right hooks are one of the major causes of bike injuries and bike deaths in Ontario.

The Left Hook

The left hook happens when the cyclist is hit or cut off by a driver making a left turn across the cyclists’ path.  It can occur when the cyclist is riding through an intersection on a green light and the driver attempts to make a left turn, striking the cyclist.  It can also occur when the turn is being made into a driveway, plaza or side street from an opposite lane of traffic.  The driver making the left turn must ensure they have a clear and safe path to make such a turn. When they do not, they will be at fault.

Dooring [Doored]

In many urban centers across Ontario, including Toronto, Hamilton, Ottawa, Waterloo, London, Windsor, Mississauga, Burlington, and Oakville, people in cars park and open their doors without looking for cyclists on the road.  As the door opens, the cyclist is either doored by hitting the door or they turn to avoid hitting the vehicle door causing them to crash or be struck by another vehicle.

Doorings result in serious injury to the cyclist and are far too common. The driver is at fault for not taking the time to look and open the door when it is safe to do so.

Distracted Sideswipe

Far too often, cyclists are struck down by drivers that don’t afford the cyclist the time and space they need.  Usually, they are distracted and drive into the path of the cyclists from the right.  A small encroachment or bump of a cyclist can have devastating consequences due to the weight and speed of a vehicle.

At times, the driver actually tries to get close to the cyclist so as to intimidate them by using their car as a means of sending a message by brushing up or getting near the cyclist. Not only is this conduct negligent, it can also have criminal consequences. The number of distracted drivers on our roads is increasing due to the use of personal devices such as smartphones, tablets, radios, watches etc.  Distracted drivers can also lose focus on cyclists due to make up, food, coffee, and distractions inside the car. Having an experienced lawyer to access phone records, videos, and witnesses is key to these cases.

Crossing into Bike Lanes, Paths, and Sharrows

More and more cities and towns across Ontario are putting in bike lanes, bike paths, sharrows (shared lanes), and signed bike routes to promote safe and contact free cycling. Unfortunately, from time to time, the bike infrastructure is encroached by drivers of cars and trucks.  This can result in both serious injury and death to the cyclists.

It is important to retain a lawyer who understands the various forms of cycling infrastructures and the rules that apply to them

Failure to provide One Meter of Space

The law in Ontario requires all drivers to give cyclists one meter of space when passing. When contact is made due to a driver not respecting this law, whether intentional or not, they are at fault.

Potholes, Grates, Disrepair and Poor Road Design

Bike crashes and injuries are not always the fault of a driver.  At times, the roadway and its condition can cause the cyclist to suffer serious, catastrophic injuries.  This can occur when the city or town fails to meet their responsibility to keep the road safe for all users.  That includes not only drivers and pedestrians, but cyclists too.  A pothole, crevice, grate, drop off, debris, oil, sand, gravel, and other forms of disrepair can wreak havoc on a cyclist.  If the state of disrepair is caused by the town or the city, or they failed to take reasonable steps to have the road put back in a state of repair, then the city can be held responsible. The same liability can arise when a city or town puts in unsafe infrastructure or fails to ensure road safety standards are used for their roads. A bike lawyer will know what to look for in these cases and what conduct may be enough to attach responsibility.

Knowing Bike Laws

A respected lawyer must know the proper bike laws and rules of the road to ensure success. This may include understanding:

  • Ontario Highway Traffic Act and Regulations
  • Criminal Code Driving Offences
  • Road Standards and Manuals, such as Ontario Traffic Manual Book 18
  • Ontario Office of the Chief Coroner’s Cycling Death Review and its Recommendations
  • Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) Regulations
  • Municipal Bylaws

Healing from Bike Crashes

A lawyer and their legal team should be committed to ensuring everything possible is done to help you get better.  Even though they represent you in the court case, they are also there to help ensure that the proper rehabilitation and medical professionals are involved in your care.  A lawyer experienced in bike cases involving multi-trauma fractures, spinal cord injury, traumatic brain injuries, disfigurement, and amputations will know how to help move you down the road to recovery and hopefully back on your bike.  They will achieve this by accessing resources, introducing you to experienced rehabilitation professionals, and understanding what aspects of your life you need to get back.

Accessing Resources for the Cyclist Client

An experienced multi trauma lawyer will ensure they get you access to the medical and rehabilitation benefits available. This will include making sure that the proper benefits classification is given to you whether it be catastrophic or non-catastrophic under the accident (no-fault) benefit system.  This is a complicated area of the law and does require knowledge, experience, and the necessary expert funding to succeed.   Any cyclist that is injured due to the driver of a car (whether or not direct contact is made with the vehicle, car or truck) is entitled to benefits from Ontario auto insurance regime.  The benefits are called no-fault benefits and the lawyer will assist in ensuring access to what you are entitled to.  This can include physiotherapy, massage, prosthetics, modified vehicles, rehabilitation, benefits for loss of income, and other expenses. Making sure your lawyer has a team to support the navigation of these benefits is key.

Accessing the Best Rehab Medical Team for the Injured Cyclist

Recovering from your injuries is not only dependent on having the right lawyer to get you the funding you need, but it also means introducing you to the best possible rehabilitation professionals experienced in treating injuries such as yours. This may include case managers, occupational therapists, physiotherapists, chiropractors, massage therapists, and others.  It also means ensuring you see respected medical professionals to assess your injuries such as orthopedic surgeons, physiatrist, and neurologists.  Treatment is always your choice, but it is helpful to know who has a proven history of treating people with similar injuries and also those who understands the needs of a cyclist.  Your lawyer may also assist the rehab team in ensuring you have the necessary imaging (X Rays, MRI) to help your doctors.

Selecting experts that specialize in your type of injury to give a medical opinion is key. An experienced lawyer will know which surgeons and specialists are needed.  When one suffers a concussion or head injury, other specialists may be needed such as neurologists, neuropsychologists, and neurosurgeons.

Accessing care, home modifications, and mobility aids

Bike crash injuries can result in both temporary and permanent lack of mobility or restrictions in the use of your body whether it be riding, walking, reaching, pulling, bending, carrying, sitting, and standing. Your legal team can work with your rehab team and doctors to ensure that modifications in the home and elsewhere are in place to help you move forward with as much independence as possible. It may also mean you may need additional help caring for yourself and having your basic needs met.  In addition to modifications and care services, certain mobility aids will also be needed.

Building the Case for the Injured Cyclist

Unfortunately, not all cyclists fully recover from their crashes.  Therefore, they find themselves needing help to ensure they have their financial needs met, that they have professionals and services available to let them live with dignity and independence, and that they are compensated for their pain and suffering.  An experienced lawyer knows that these cases take special care, require significant firm funds, and a good team to succeed. Litigation success may require the following:

Marshaling Top-Notch Medical Expert Reports

Accessing and funding top experts in various fields (orthopedic surgeons, physiatrist, care costs experts, etc.)  to provide medical evidence to support the nature and severity of the injury is key.

Obtaining Medical Illustrations and Using Demonstrative Aids

Not only is it crucial to ensure you have top experts, but your lawyer must also ensure the court and the people listening to your case understand the anatomy of the body and the injuries sustained.  One key component an experienced lawyer will use is medical illustrations, 3D videos, anatomical skeletons and brains, and other aids to help the experts teach  the Judge and jury members about the nature and extent of the injuries that you have suffered.

Using Before and After Witnesses to show the impact on the injured client

In many cases involving an injured cyclist, your lawyer needs to develop a window to show the effects of the injury on your ability to function. A persuasive way of doing this is to obtain information, not only from your treating team, but also from family members and friends who see you day to day. By marshaling this evidence, we are able to contrast your ability to function before and after the injury. Some of that evidence may include

  • How far did they cycle or ride their bike before and after the crash?
  • What type of riding did they do before?  Has it impacted their day-to-day activities?

How can McLeish Orlando’s Bicycle Accident Lawyers Help in Cycling Cases?

The personal injury and bike lawyers at McLeish Orlando understand that the symptoms from injuries sustained in a bike crash can cause pain and disability for years and sometimes for life. Our goal is to obtain compensation for the full extent of our client’s injuries. We retain trusted medical experts who can provide an accurate prognosis for our clients injuries and who can testify about the degree of future disability our client is likely to experience.  We thoroughly prepare each case for trial, however, by doing so we are most often able to achieve a reasonable settlement outside of court.

Our lawyers are experienced in dealing with all forms of cycling cases.  They are active founders and participants in many organizations and networks that enhance their skill set. These include the Ontario Trial Lawyers Association, Friends & Families for Safe Streets, and the Bike Law Network of Cycling Lawyers.  They have been involved in and represented the interests of the Toronto Cyclists Union, Cycle Toronto, Advocacy for Respect for Cyclists, Hoof and Cycle, Toronto Centre for Active Transportation and other groups.

McLeish Orlando’s bike lawyers have initiated and participated pro bono in the Coroner’s Cycling Death Review . In addition to donating thousands of helmets to children across Ontario. They continue to participate, organize, and sponsor projects and rides to support cycling advocacy and infrastructure.  They have also attended and actively written, consulted, and spoken to the Government seeking new laws to better protect cyclists.

Cycling Accident FAQs

What happens if you are injured after being hit by a car on your bike?

If you are riding your bicycle and suffer injuries as a result of the negligent act of the driver, you can start a lawsuit against the driver and owner of the car who hit you. You are also entitled to start a claim for statutory accident benefits. If you do not have your own car insurance, the insurer for the car who hit you will administer your accident benefit claim. You may also have a claim against a city, town, or region, for the disrepair of the roadway or improper design and upkeep of the roadways.

What if the cyclist is deemed at-fault or partly at fault for the crash?

Even if you are 100% responsible for the crash, you are still entitled to make a claim for accident benefits. Depending on the facts of the case, you may also start a lawsuit on the basis that the party who hit you is partly at fault for the crash.

Who pays the no-fault accident benefits?

If you are a named insured on an auto policy or are a dependent of someone who has an auto policy, it is your own auto insurer that will pay for your accident benefits coverage. If you do not have your own car insurance, the insurer for the car that hit you will pay your benefits.

How to access cycling collision compensation after being hit as a cyclist?

There are a number of standard forms that must be submitted in order to access Ontario no-fault benefits.  These forms will be provided to you by the auto insurer responsible for paying your accident benefits.  A lawyer can assist you in obtaining and filling out the forms.

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