As the summer months come upon us, we tend to take to the outdoors to enjoy warmer weather and open-air activities. One activity that increases significantly during the summer months, for both children and adults, is bicycling. However, as the number of bicyclists on the road increases throughout the summer months, so do the number of bicycle accidents. And when bicycle accidents increase, so do bicycle injuries and fatalities.bicycle accident

What Are the Most Recent Bicycle Accident Statistics?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), bicycle rides make up 1% of all trips taken in the United States. However, bicyclists account for more than 2% of all fatalities involving motor vehicles in the United States.

More than 130,000 people are injured, and about 1,000 people are killed, in bicycle accidents every year in the United States.  According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 932 bicyclists were killed in motor-vehicle traffic crashes in 2020—an 8.9% increase from 856 in 2019.  Mortality data collected by the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) reveals even higher statistics, reporting that 1,260 bicyclist deaths occurred in 2020, 806 of which occurred in motor-vehicle crashes and 454 of which occurred in other accidents. This is a 16% increase from 2019 and a 44% increase since 2010, when bicyclist fatalities were at their lowest point. According to data released by the U.S. Department of Transportation's Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS), although bicyclist deaths have decreased 7% since 1975, they have increased 50% since 2010.

Approximately 88% of bicyclist deaths in 2020 were for persons older than 20 years of age. Adults between the ages of 55 and 69 have the highest bicycle death rates, according to the CDC. Since 1975, fatalities among bicyclists under 20 years old declined 88%, while deaths among bicyclists older than 20 years of age have almost quadrupled.

The most significant difference in bicycle accident fatalities over these years has been between males and females.  In bicycle accidents involving motor vehicles, there have been more males killed than females every year since 1975. Between 1975 and 2020, males accounted for 89% of all bicyclist deaths. This is more than eight times the fatalities for females.

Statistics for bicyclist injuries are equally staggering. Although the number of nonfatal injuries for bicyclists declined 39% between 2011 and 2020 (from 536,412 in 2011 to 325,173 in 2020), there was a 5% increase in bicycle-accident injuries in 2020.  According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, there were 425,910 bicyclists treated for injuries in hospital emergency rooms in 2020. Adolescents, teens, and young adults have the highest rates of bicycle-related injuries treated in emergency rooms, with bicyclists between the ages of 10 and 24 accounting for nearly one-third of those. Male bicyclists have injury rates 5 times higher than females.

What Are Some Risk Factors for Bicycle Accident Injuries and Fatalities? 

Most bicycle accident fatalities occur during the summer months, with the most deaths occurring in August.  Here is a breakdown of bicycle accident fatalities by month in 2020, as reported by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS):

Bicyclist Fatalities by Month

Approximately 22% of the 2020 fatalities reported here occurred between the hours of 6:00 pm and 9:00 pm.

Bicyclist Fatalities By Time of Day

Here are some other 2020 statistics indicating increased risk factors for bicycle injuries and fatalities:

  • Most bicyclist deaths occured in urban areas.
  • About 27% of bicyclist deaths occurred at intersections. However, the majority of bicyclist deaths occur away from intersections, where vehicles tend to travel at higher rates of speed.
  • In about one-third of all crashes involving a bicyclist fatality, either the bicyclist or the driver of a motor vehicle had consumed alcohol.  Among bicyclists who were older than 16 years of age and were killed in 2020, 18% had blood alcohol concentrations at or above 0.08 percent.

Is Helmet Use a Significant Factor in Bicycle Accident Fatalities?

Most bicyclist deaths involve serious head injury.  In fact, according to the IIHS, 57% of bicyclists killed in 2020 were not wearing helmets. Research from as early as 2001 reveals that bicycle helmets reduce the risk of head injury by 60% and brain injury by 58%, according to the National Safety Council (NSC). Nevertheless, only 22 states and the District of Columbia had bicycle helmet-use laws as of March 2022.

As a result, bicycle injuries and fatalities take a heavy financial toll. According to the CDC, costs associated with bicycle accidents, including health care costs, lost productivity at work, and loss of life or quality of life, exceeds $23 billion each year in the United States.

What Costs Can You Recover If You Were Involved in a Bicycle Accident?

If you were involved in a bicycle accident that was caused by the negligence of someone else, you may be entitled to recover for any expenses you incurred, or will incur, as a result of the accident. Damages resulting from a bicycle accident can vary from minor property damage to major medical expenses resulting from any injuries you may have sustained. Specifically, you may be entitled to recover for:

Property damage. 

  • Even if you were not injured in your bicycle accident, you may be able to receive compensation for any damage that occurred to your bicycle or any other personal property that was damaged or destroyed in your accident. This may include the cost to repair or replace your bicycle and the cost of any other personal property that was damaged or destroyed, including:
    • Clothing;
    • Jewelry;
    • Protective gear;
    • Any accessories you may have been carrying on your bicycle or, perhaps, in a backpack.

Damages from physical injuries sustained in the accident. 

  • If you suffered physical injury in your bicycle accident, you may recover any costs associated with your injuries. These may include:
    • The cost of ambulance service required at the scene of the accident;
    • The cost of any medical exams taken after the accident, including X-rays, MRIs, CAT-Scans, or other diagnostic tests;
    • Any treatment you received in the hospital;
    • The cost of having to stay in the hospital, if necessary;
    • All medical expenses, including doctor fees and prescription medications.

Ongoing expenses for treatment after the accident. 

  • Most minor injuries from a bicycle accident can be treated quickly and a full recovery can be expected. But often, bicycle accidents can result in more serious injuries that take a long time to heal and can require ongoing treatment. In some cases, you may not recover completely. In these cases, you also may recover for any ongoing expenses or long-term disability resulting from your bicycle accident. These costs may include:
    • Follow-up doctor visits;
    • On-going physical therapy or rehabilitation;
    • Prescription medications;
    • Lost pay resulting from having to take time away from work;
    • Lost earning potential as a result of any long-term disability you may have suffered;
    • Pain and suffering; and
    • Loss of quality of life.

All of the costs and expenses associated with these damages are recoverable.

You Need an Experienced Bicycle Accident Attorney

To recover for any of these damages, you must show:

  • Another party was negligent in causing your bicycle accident;
  • The damages you suffered in the accident; and
  • The value of the damages you suffered.

To show this, you will need an experienced bicycle accident attorney like those at Foster Wallace, LLC. The Kansas City personal injury attorneys at Foster Wallace, LLC, will assist you to evaluate the cause of your accident and determine who was at fault. They will establish the value of your damages and make sure you receive the maximum compensation for your injuries, which can be substantial, depending on the nature and extent of your accident.  

Michael Foster
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Kansas City Personal Injury Attorney