Articles Tagged with Bicycle accident lawyers

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Cycling dooring accidents

Drivers can use the Dutch Reach and reduce their chances of causing a cyclist a dooring injury. This approach calls on drivers to reach for their door with their right hand, across their body so they have a better view of the road and oncoming cyclists.

Drivers are sharing the road with cyclists as we enjoy August here in Massachusetts. Whether you are at home in the Boston area or vacationing on Cape Cod, we hope you give cyclists extra room when you drive and turn through intersections. We also want to remind you to use the Dutch Reach.

What is the Dutch Reach? It is a simple safety approach to help drivers park, look for cyclists and open their car doors safely. The goal is to prevent dooring injuries to cyclists. Using the Dutch Reach can raise your awareness of cyclists and save you from the trauma and shock of opening a car door into a bike. In our experience, we have heard many drivers say they look for cyclists on the road. But this changes when drivers park; many say they never even saw the cyclist coming.

The Dutch Reach can also save you from having to pay a costly auto insurance claim and fine. Opening a car door and interfering with a cyclist – or a pedestrian – is a traffic offense in Massachusetts. Drivers can be fined $100 for dooring under M.G.L c. 90, § 14.

Five Years of Encouraging the Dutch Reach in Massachusetts 

Massachusetts added an advisory on the Dutch Reach method to its driver’s manual in 2017, with a push from a local safety advocate following a cyclist’s tragic death. The cyclist was killed in a bicycle crash involving a car door in Inman Square in Cambridge in 2016.  Massachusetts was one of the first states to add this advisory, which calls on drivers to park and:

  • Check your rear-view mirrors.
  • Check your side-view mirrors.
  • Open the door with your far hand. 

Drivers should open their doors with their right hand; front-seat passengers should use their left. When you do this, you have a better chance of seeing cyclists approaching from behind. You become more aware of what’s known as the “door zone” and bike lane. By pausing and checking, you are less likely to seriously injure a cyclist in a dooring accident. 

Watch a demonstration:

 

This approach has become part of the culture in the Netherlands, which has one of the lowest rates for bicycle accidents in the world (Source: National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), Bicyclist Safety on US Roadways: Crash Risks and Countermeasures, NTSB/SS-19/01). Children learn this approach early and it is covered in driver’s education classes.

The National Transportation Safety Board has recommended all states include Dutch Reach advisories in their driving manuals.  As of 2021, Massachusetts, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Washington and Washington D.C. had all done so, according to the Dutch Reach Project.

Share the Dutch Reach Method With Family and Friends

Try the Dutch Reach next time you drive to the local post office or to pick up dinner. Then take time to share the Dutch Reach with your family members and passengers. Sharing the Dutch Reach may just help someone else in your life, especially during August and September, when many of us are on vacation and driving unfamiliar roads. Or we may be moving into new apartments for the Fall semester in Boston and venturing out. Unfortunately, many drivers and pedestrians do not really see cyclists on the side of the road. We are more focused on the cars and trucks in the traffic lane.

Before we sign off, a few more safety reminders for drivers and car doors. Remember, you have a responsibility to close the car door when you take in groceries or unload your car. You should never block or interfere with the bike lane. Cyclists may see your door open yet still be unable to stop. You could cause not one, but multiple bicycle accidents.

Last, use your cell phone with caution. When you park, you may want to reach right for your phone. More and more, drivers are using mobile apps to pay for parking or to pick-up take out or groceries. Someone may be sending you an alert or two.

But think twice and pause. You want to enjoy the month of August and focus on your September ahead. Reaching for your cell phone can be highly distracting as you exit your vehicle – and seriously injure a cyclist.

Learn About Breakstone, White & Gluck

bwg-1200×628With more than 125 years combined experience, Breakstone, White & Gluck has been consistently recognized as a top-rated Boston personal injury law firm. Our lawyers specialize in representing cyclists and others who have been injured by negligent driving in Boston, Cambridge, Quincy and across Massachusetts. If you have been injured, feel free to contact our firm. We offer a free legal consultation and one of our attorneys will take time to review the facts of your case with you and help you determine whether you have a potential legal claim. You can call 800-379-1244 or 617-723-7676 or use our contact form.

kidsafe-1200We also invite you to learn more about our Project KidSafe campaign for bike safety, which we began 10 years ago! To date, we have donated over 36,000 free bicycle helmets to children in Boston and across Massachusetts. Our goal with this campaign is to encourage children to protect themselves by wearing a helmet every time they ride.

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By: Ronald Gluck

Attorney Ron Gluck is a member of the Charles River Wheelers and wrote this article for the club’s monthly newsletter, WheelPeople.

If you witness an accident, let the victim and the police know. The role of eyewitnesses is critical to the outcome of a case involving injured cyclists. In many cases, police receive a version of the incident from both the cyclist and from the driver of the motor vehicle. When these versions conflict, as they often do, it can be a toss-up as to who is correct. That is when an independent witness, who has no skin in the game, is critical. That person’s version of what they saw can be the difference-maker in the case.

Unfortunately, many people choose not to identify themselves as witnesses. Perhaps they are concerned that their involvement will take too much of their time. They may fear that they might even have to go to court someday to testify in the case, or be involved in a deposition. For many people, the default is to stay uninvolved. For the victim of a serious accident, the witness’s preference to remain uninvolved can have life-altering consequences.

What Would You Want if You Were Seriously Injured? What to Consider.

Perhaps one way to think of it is to ask yourself the question, “what would I want a person to do if I were the one seriously injured in a bicycle collision?” The answer is obvious: you would want the person to identify themself and convey to the police what they had observed. Since that’s what we all would want people to do, then adopt it as a policy of what to do in the event that you are such a witness.

Let’s look at what is really involved in terms of your time and the interruption in your life if you became a witness in a case that eventually went all the way to trial.

First, at the scene you may be a first responder and can provide comfort to the cyclist and be the first to call 911. Then, after identifying yourself to police, you would briefly give your statement and the police may ask you to submit a written statement which you could do from your home. Many months later, you may be contacted by an attorney to briefly discuss your observations over the telephone and then, perhaps, in the next year you may spend an hour or two giving your observations in a deposition which these days is often done by Zoom.

Although many people feel nervous when being questioned by attorneys in the course of litigation, the fact is that a witness who is simply volunteering their observations, and who has no rooting interest for either side, is treated with great respect by attorneys. The attorneys will always help accommodate a witness’s schedule to make the deposition convenient for them. And, if the case ultimately goes to trial and you are called to testify in court, the attorneys and the judge will go out of their collective way to accommodate the schedule of the witness if at all possible. The testimony would take an hour or so of your time.

Having done all of that, over the course of 2 to 3 years, the witness would likely feel good about their participation in the process. They would feel good that they helped the victim achieve justice. They would feel good that they stood up and made their voice heard.

One Witness: “It Was the Right Thing to Do.”

Recently, a witness to a serious collision stepped forward and made his name known to police at the scene. He did not know it at the time, but the driver of the vehicle that struck the cyclist would present a version of accident that was designed to help him escape liability for the collision. The witness told police what he had seen. He then wrote out a statement and gave it to the police. The cyclist, who suffered a brain injury, and who had little recollection of the incident due to the brain injury, achieved justice in the end largely because of the courage and selflessness of the witness to step forward. When I asked the witness why he had stepped forward and spent his time making sure that police understood what he had observed, he replied simply, “it was the right thing to do.” Yes, the right thing to do. Many people live by that credo. This is one more way, in the bicycling and motor vehicle context, that we can all bring it to life in the name of seeing that justice is done.

Enjoy riding and stay safe.

If you have questions about a particular incident or more generally about the subject matter of this column, feel free to contact Ron Gluck at gluck@bwglaw.com.

About Ron Gluck
Ron Gluck is a founder and principal at Breakstone White and Gluck in Boston. Throughout his 35-year legal career, Ron has represented seriously injured individuals in a variety of cases including cycling accidents involving catastrophic injury and wrongful death. Ron is a member of the Charles River Wheelers and regularly writes The Gluck Legal Takeaway column for the monthly newsletter, WheelPeople.

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Ebikes, also known as EAPCs- electronically assisted pedal cycles, have become very popular over the past 10 years. The Industry is exploding with new models and new users.  In Massachusetts bikes fall into the Ebike category if they are motorized but the motors have a maximum speed of twenty-five mile per hour. Massachusetts restricts use of these bikes to people who are sixteen or above.  Operators of Ebikes must have an operator’s license and an  Ebike may require registration depending on its maximum speed. All riders must be helmeted.  Insurance is not required.  Ebikes may not be ridden on bike paths in Massachusetts.

For certain insurance purposes, Ebikes are treated differently than ordinary bicycles. As an example, whereas riders of bicycles who are hit by a car or truck are entitled to personal injury protection benefits which cover medical bills and lost earnings.

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