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Information about Personal Injury in Washington State

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Category Archives: Bicycle Injury

Cars & Bicycles in Close Proximity

Categories: Bicycle Injury

By Steven J. Angles. Posted on .

According to the US Department of Transportation, 677 cyclists were killed in motor vehicle accidents in 2011, and another 48,000 injured. [1] In fact, here in Washington, the State Department of Transportation has a web page devoted to keeping track of reported bicycle collision statistics, which can be found here.

Are bicyclists who wear highly reflective or colorful clothing less likely to be struck by a passing car?  Researchers in the United Kingdom sought to test whether bicyclists who wore high visibility clothing stood a better chance of avoiding injury caused by a passing motor vehicle collision than those that dressed less visibly.[2]

The chief researcher attached an ultrasonic distance sensor to his bicycle for several months while he commuted to work. He would wear different outfits on different days with varying degrees of eye-catching color or wording on it. He sometimes wore a highly visible vest with the words “Novice Cyclist” prominently displayed on the back. On other occasions, he would wear clothing with wording indicating he was video recording his trip.

Image Courtesy of Graur Codrin /

Image Courtesy of Graur Codrin /

After 5,690 vehicles passed the bicycle, researchers concluded that choice of clothing had little bearing on how much distance motorists gave when they passed most of the time. In fact, the bike sensor indicated that motorists passed dangerously close at times, sometimes as close as 50 centimeters (1 feet, 7 inches). Interestingly, the only outfit that offered a bit more distance from passing cars was the one that indicated the rider was video recording his journey.

If the worst should happen and you or someone you know has been injured as a result of being struck by a motor vehicle while cycling, feel free to contact our office for a free consultation concerning your rights.


[2] The influence of a bicycle commuter’s appearance on drivers’ overtaking proximities: An on-road test of bicyclist stereotypes, high-visibility clothing and safety aids in the United Kingdom, Ian Walker, Ian Garrard, Felicity Jowitt, published in the journal Accident Analysis and Prevention, 22 November 2013.

Cyclists cannot stop drivers overtaking dangerously, research suggests, news release from the University of Bath, accessed 27 November 2013.

Bicycle helmet laws linked to fewer child deaths

Categories: Bicycle Injury, Brain Injury

By Jacob W. Gent. Posted on .

HelmetAccording to a new study, state laws requiring children and teenagers to wear helmets are effective in reducing the number of deaths related to incidents involving bicycles and cars, according to a new study.   Researchers analyzing the number of bicycle deaths between 1999 and 2010 found that states with bicycle helmet laws reported about 20 percent fewer bike-related fatalities involving riders under 16 years old.

Approximately 900 people die as a result of bicycle-related crashes every year in the United States.   Three quarters of these fatalities are caused by head injuries.  Previous research found that wearing a helmet reduces a person’s risk of a head or brain injury by up to 88 percent.

Researchers analyzing data tracking the number of traffic-related deaths nationwide compared the number of children and teenagers killed while riding bicycles in the 16 states with helmet laws enacted in 1999 with states without such laws.

In 1999, only 16 states had helmet laws in place.  The overall rate of bicycle-related child deaths in the U.S. was 4 per million.  Between January 1999 and December 2010, there were 1,612 bicycle-related deaths among children younger than 16 years old.  During that time, states with helmet laws reported 2 bicycle-related deaths per 1 million children under age 16 years old, compared to 2.5 deaths per 1 million children in states without helmet laws.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends children wear a helmet approved by the Consumer Product Safety Commission every time they ride a bicycle.

Bicycle Crashes and Injury Statistics

Categories: Bicycle Injury

By Arthur D. Leritz. Posted on .

Recently, I was out for a nice, leisurely evening bicycle ride with my wife, our 9 year old nephew and our 12 year old niece.  We were all having a nice time until the kids stopped short, I did not, and I ended up flying over my handle bars.  One broken arm and one broken rib later, it got me wondering how often bicycle crashes occur in this country.

According to the U.S Department of Transportation and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration:

  1.  In 2010, 618 bicyclists were killed and an additional 52,000 were injured in motor vehicle traffic crashes.1  The average age of the rider was 42.2
  2. 72% of the bicyclist fatalities in 2010 occurred in urban areas and 67% at non-intersections.
  3. The majority of bicyclist fatalities, 28%, occurred between the hours of 4-8pm, with the second highest number, 25%, between the hours of 8-midnight.4
  4. The majority of bicyclists killed in 2010 were males (86%), and the highest number of male fatalities were between the ages of 45 and 54.  The most males injured were between 25 and 34.5
  5. Surprisingly, about 24% of bicylists killed in 2010 had a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .01 grams per deciliter or higher, and over 1/5 had a BAC of .08 or higher.  In 2010 34% of crashes involved alcohol involvement – either for the bicyclist or motorist.6
  6. Alaska had no bicyclist fatalities in 2010 and the District of Columbia had the highest, with 8.3% of the total number of traffic fatalities.  Washington State was at 1.3%, short of the national average of 1.9%.7


Before getting on your bike:

  1. Make sure you have a properly fitting helmet (mine was the only thing on me that wasn’t scratched when I crashed, ironically).
  2. Obey the rules of the road and check your local municipality for additional bicycling ordinances.  Remember, bicyclists are considered vehicle operators and are subject to all traffic laws, signs and signals.
  3. When riding your bike, use proper hand signals to alert other bicyclists and motor vehicles on the road.  When driving your car, be especially cautious around bicycle riders and even more so around children who are riding bicycles.
  4. Increase your visibility by wearing bright and/or reflective clothing when riding a bicycle, especially at night, and make sure your bicycle is equipped with reflectors on the front and rear, as well as the wheels.
  5. Make sure to properly maintain your bicycle.  This includes checking for loose wheels, making sure the seat is adjusted properly, the brakes are in working order and that the tires are properly inflated every time before you go for a ride.


If you are injured while riding your bike due to the fault of a motorist, in Washington State you may have coverage under the driver’s policy, if they carried personal injury protection (PIP) coverage.








Bicycle Safety Tips For Your Child

Categories: Bicycle Injury

By Melissa D. Carter. Posted on .

Bicycle friendly cities like Seattle see die-hard cyclists that proudly brave the wind and rain in the dark days of winter.  With summer finally here, though, the cyclists hitting the street increases dramatically, as does the risk for bicycle collisions.   This risk is even greater with children, who are less capable of making quick decisions and are less visible to motorists.   Here are some tips on bicycle safety and children.

A Properly Fitted Helmet Can Save A Life

Helmets protect your biggest asset: your brain.  A cheap investment in a helmet can save your child’s life, but take the time to ensure that the helmet fits properly.  Per the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), following these easy steps will help you fit and wear your helmet to maximum safety:

Step 1[1]: Size.  Measure your child’s head for approximate size.  Try the helmet on for a snug fit.  While the helmet sits flat on the top of the head, make sure that the helmet doesn’t rock from side to side.  In your child’s helmet, remove the padding when your child’s head grows.   Remember to select a helmet that fits your child’s head now, not one to “grow into.”

Step 2: Position.  The helmet should sit level on the top of your head and low on the forehead; one to two fingers above the eyebrow.  The helmet must cover the forehead.

Step 3: Buckles: Center the buckle under the chin.  Tighten for snugness so no more than one finger can fit under the strap.

Step 4: Side Straps: Adjust the straps on both sides to form a “V” under and in front of the ears.  Lock the slider.

Step 5: Final Fitting: Open your mouth wide: does the helmet pull down?  If not, tighten the chin strap.  Make sure the helmet does not rock back and forth or forward into the eyes.  If so, re-adjust the side straps and chin strap.

Also, be sure to replace a helmet whenever it has been involved in a crash, even if it appears unharmed.

Helpful Safety Tips

Before your child‘s feet hit the pedals, check the equipment to ensure that the tires are properly inflated and that the brakes work.  Make sure that your child wears bright, neon or fluorescent colors while riding (day or night) to increase visibility.  Consider installing light reflectors on the bike and helmet.  Even with these precautions, a child should avoid riding at night at all times.

Per the NHSTA, the safest place for adults to ride is on the street, following the same rules of the road as motorists.  Washington law requires that bicyclists always ride with the flow of traffic.[2]  However, children under 10 years old are not mature enough to make decisions necessary to ride safely in the street.  Children under 10 are much better off riding on the sidewalk.  When riding on the sidewalk, a bicycle rider has all of the rights and responsibilities of any pedestrian.[3]  Have a discussion with your children about alerting nearby pedestrians on sidewalks that they are approaching, watching for vehicles exiting driveways, and entering the street at corners, instead of between parked cars.   A bell or horn can be a very helpful tool for your child’s bike, as well a fun one, too.



[1] Bicycle Helmet Safety Institute:

[2] RCW 46.61.100.

[3] RCW 46.61.755

Safety means more than a good bicycle helmet

Categories: Bicycle Injury

By PI-Advisor. Posted on .

So you have your bicycle helmet, a good bike and you are good to go, right? Well, not quite.  Just like with your car, there are often over looked critical components for your safety; making sure your bike is in good working order is one.  When was the last time you took your bike to a good mechanic?  Are you properly trained to do routine maintenance on your bicycle?  One important task for good maintenance is checking your tire pressure often.  Bicycle tires lose a little air every day.  Keep a tire gauge near your bicycle at all times and check pressure before riding.    Underinflated tires are unsafe as they can wobble or even come off the rim when taking a tight corner. Before riding, take a few moments to turn each wheel and look for bulges, debris, bubbles, and spots they inner casing may show through.  Bicycle tires are more prone to certain types of flats, and make your bike less efficient.  An overinflated tire is going to give you a harder road feel, can cause a loss of traction in the corners and is more likely to be damaged by road hazards.