Washington DC is recognized as a top bicycling city by Bicycling Magazine, Travel & Leisure, and others. Local government acknowledges safe streets as a priority, having adopted complete streets policies and striving for zero roadway deaths by 2026 as part of Vision Zero. New bike lanes are installed daily, and Capital Bikeshare bikes are everywhere. But even in the most bike-friendly cities, cyclists are at constant risk of a collision with the vehicles around them—and when a car strikes a bicycle, the bicyclist’s entire body is vulnerable to serious injuries.
The reason is obvious. A cyclist isn’t buckled into a steel cage. A cyclist is protected, at most, by a helmet, which offers no protection at all to most of the body.
If you have been hit by a car while riding your bike, you need an attorney who actually rides a bike and who understands cycling and the unique legal issues that go along with it. Accident investigation is critical, and taking appropriate steps to obtain nearby surveillance footage may be the difference between winning and losing. Insurance coverage is also complicated, and cyclists may have sources of insurance coverage that might not at first be obvious to them.
It’s Not an Accident—It’s a Crash
I am a cyclist. I once watched my husband get hit by a car and then get yelled at by the driver to get off the road. So when I say I understand what it means to be a cyclist, believe me. I have experienced bike crash injuries personally and professionally, and I have seen the myriad of ways these injuries affect a person’s everyday life. That’s why I tell my clients that it wasn’t an “accident,” it was a crash—and someone or something caused it to happen.
Some of the most common causes of cyclist injuries include:
- Door prize. Drivers can cause serious injuries to cyclists even if the car isn’t in motion. A driver parked by the side of the road may fail to check the rearview mirror before exiting the car, forcing an oncoming cyclist directly into the path of the open door. A cyclist who doesn’t have time to swerve safely could suffer broken bones, road rash, or severe head injuries.
- Left hook/right hook. An accident caused by a vehicle turning left and striking a cyclist in the oncoming lane is known as a left hook. The right hook is different—a typical right hook involves a vehicle passing a cyclist and then turning right, either by cutting them off or driving right into them.
- Lane incursions. Bicyclists can legally ride in bike lanes, in the road, and on sidewalks, and drivers are supposed to watch for cyclists in all lanes of travel. Drivers are also required to follow road rules when riding next to or passing cyclists, including leaving a wide space cushion beside and ahead of the bicyclist. If a driver suddenly swerves into a cyclist’s lane, the cyclist may be run off the road or crushed, causing brain injury, facial fractures that could cause permanent scarring, even death.
- T-bone/angle. The majority of bicycle collisions happen at intersections. The “angle” or “t-bone” accident occurs when a cyclist crosses an intersection, and another driver runs a light or stop sign and strikes the cyclist from the side. In the worst cases, cyclists can suffer from limb, pelvic, and spinal fractures.
Help From a Competent and Caring DC Bike Crash Attorney
If you have been in a crash, don’t wait to call a lawyer. You may think you can handle it yourself, and perhaps you can, but insurance companies value cases entirely differently when lawyers are involved. Fortunately, I don’t separate my “work” personality and my “home” personality. When I care about someone, they become part of my family. I not only handle the legal aspects of your case, but I also look for ways to make your life as easy as possible during your recovery.
When you come to me for help, you can expect me to:
- Know what you’re talking about. I ride a bike—I regularly bike to court, the post office, with my children to doctors appointments and sports practice, meetings, you name it. When you use terms like “cycle track” or “sharrow,” I get it.
- Put your needs first. After you have left the emergency room, it is vital that you continue to receive follow-up medical treatment for your injuries. I take everything else off of your plate so you can rest and heal.
- Deal with insurance companies. Insurance companies make money by paying claimants as little as possible (or nothing at all) for their injuries. I speak to insurers on your behalf and negotiate a fair amount for your medical expenses, lost wages, and damage to your bike.
- Challenge bias against you. There is an overwhelming assumption by many drivers that cyclists are irresponsible, dangerous, or simply less entitled to roadways. False. Cyclists are fully entitled to use roadways, even if drivers are mildly inconvenienced.
- Work your case. I will do everything. I’ll gather video evidence, interview witnesses who saw the bicycle crash occur, study photos, visit the accident scene, subpoena anyone who might have evidence, depose police officers, hire accident reconstructionists, and do everything in my power to prove the negligence of the at-fault party.
- Try your case. Lots of lawyers, believe it or not, are scared to try cases. Not me. I’ve tried lots of cases and won’t hesitate to try your case in court if an insurance company won’t make you a reasonable settlement offer.
Personal Legal Guidance for the Toughest Time in Your Life
Kitchel Law, PLLC provides personal attention and legal representation to injured cyclists and families throughout the Metro DC area. If you or someone you love was struck by a car while riding a bike in Arlington, Alexandria, Fairfax, or the surrounding areas, contact me today for the help you need.