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Bicycle Accidents and Injury Laws in Massachusetts

With the increasing number of cyclists in the City of Boston, understanding the risks of bike riding and your legal rights is more important than ever. This article focuses on essential bicycle safety measures and legal guidelines to navigate in case of a bicycle accident.

Common Causes of Bicycle Accidents

Bicycle accidents in Boston often occur due to negligent driver behavior, including:

  • Speeding: High speeds limit drivers’ reaction time, increasing the risk of serious injuries.
  • Unsafe Lane Changes: Drivers may overlook or fail to yield to bike riders.
  • Distraction or Impairment: Activities like texting or driving under the influence dramatically raise accident chances.
  • Not Keeping a Safe Distance: Failing to leave sufficient space around cyclists can lead to accidents.
  • Ignoring Traffic Laws: Disobeying traffic laws, including running red lights or stop signs at intersections, often results in collisions.
  • Car Doors: Unchecked car door openings are a frequent hazard for cyclists. (“Bicycle Dooring Accidents”)
  • Aggressive Driving: Hostile behaviors towards cyclists can escalate into accidents.

Key Cycling Laws in Massachusetts

In Massachusetts, the interplay between bicycles, motor vehicles, and pedestrians is governed primarily by MGL c.85, § 11B, which outlines the rules for biking in the Commonwealth, including the use of bike lanes, required safety equipment, and rules about riding on sidewalks and public ways. For an in-depth understanding of these laws, the MassBike website is an invaluable resource. It offers detailed insights into Massachusetts bicycle laws and advocacy efforts.

Navigating Traffic and Avoiding Accidents

Many bike accidents in Massachusetts occur when a motor vehicle overtakes a bicyclist. State law, particularly Mass. General Laws c.89 § 2, mandates that drivers must maintain a safe distance from cyclists, at least three feet of space, and only return to the lane when it is safe to do so. Additionally, right turns after passing a cyclist must adhere to specific safety protocols to avoid severe injuries, as detailed in Mass. General Laws c.90 § 14.

Immediate Steps to Take Following a Bicycle Accident:

If you’re involved in a bicycle accident, it’s crucial to take specific steps:

  • Contact the Police: Immediately contact the police and describe how the accident occurred. An official police report is vital for clarifying the accident details and determining fault.
  • Seek Medical Treatment: Don’t underestimate any injuries. Immediate medical examination is crucial, as some injuries might not be immediately apparent but can have serious consequences.
  • Gather Contact Information from the Driver: Secure the driver’s contact and insurance information.
  • Speak with Witnesses: Look for witnesses and get their contact information. Their accounts can be crucial for your case.
  • Document the Scene and Injuries: Take photographs of the accident scene, your injuries, and any damage to your bicycle. Detailed evidence can significantly support your personal injury claim.
  • Consult a Personal Injury Attorney: Contact an experienced lawyer who specializes in bicycle accident cases. They can guide you in claiming the compensation you deserve.

Post-Accident: Who Pays for Injuries and Damages

In Massachusetts, a bicyclist hit by a motor vehicle is covered by that vehicle’s no-fault coverage, otherwise known as Personal Injury Protection. Personal Injury Protection (PIP) covers medical expenses, a portion of your lost wages due to work absences, as well as other necessary services and prescriptions pursuant to the no-fault provisions of the standard Massachusetts automobile policy. Drivers whose vehicles are registered and insured outside Massachusetts will have insurance policies that comply with the regulations of that state.

Consulting a Boston Bicycle Accident Lawyer

It’s in your best interests to consult with a Boston bicycle accident lawyer who specializes in bicycle accident cases.  They will guide you through the legal process while you get the medical treatment you need.  Dealing with insurance companies, medical bills, and pursuing a personal injury claim can be overwhelming following a bicycle accident. At Gavagan Law, we specialize in representing bicycle accident victims in Boston, MA. We are well-versed in Massachusetts law, from the rules of the road to complex negotiations with insurance companies. Our goal is to ensure you receive fair compensation for property damage, medical expenses, and other financial burdens resulting from the accident.  

If you or a family member have been involved in a bike accident, contact Gavagan Law for a free consultation. Call or fill out our contact form with your information.

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