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Accidents and injuries can turn lives upside down in an instant. When faced with the aftermath, Des Moines personal injury lawyers become invaluable allies. These legal experts specialize in advocating for those who have been harmed due to the negligence of others, ensuring they receive the compensation they deserve. This article explores the critical role Des Moines personal injury lawyers play in helping individuals navigate the complexities of their claims and reclaim their lives.

Options for Compensation after a Bicycle Accident Hit and Run

Hit-and-run bicycle accidents are all too commonplace. National bicycle accident statistics reveal that over 800 pedal cyclists died in accidents in 2015. This is bad enough, but sometimes irresponsible drivers, who may be driving while under the influence or without a license, often flee the scene of an accident out of fear of reprisal. Fleeing the scene makes it exceedingly more difficult for bicyclists to recover financial damages after suffering at an accident scene.

There’s no viable excuse for the illegal and unethical act of leaving the scene of an accident. If you or your loved one suffered a bike accident hit and run, you'd likely need to look to your insurance policies to pay for your damages.

Finding the Driver Responsible for Your Accident

If you were hurt by a hit-and-run driver, don’t assume that all is lost. Drivers with a conscience sometimes come back to turn themselves in. Likewise, law enforcement investigation efforts sometimes prove successful. They are often able to use evidence such as traffic or surveillance camera footage and eyewitness testimonies to identify the driver.

You might want to call the local news station and request they cover your story. If they air your hit-and-run accident story, viewers may be able to tip law enforcement. Once a driver is identified, they will not only face criminal charges, but you will be able to file a claim with their insurer or sue them directly for the harm you’ve sustained.

Obtaining Compensation after a Hit-and-Run Bike Accident

If the driver stays put or the police find them after the crash, you would be able to file a claim with the driver’s insurance company to cover your damages. If the driver flees, your damages may be compensable under your auto insurance policy’s uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage (UM/UIM).

UM/UIM covers your damages in these instances:

- The driver doesn’t have insurance.
- The driver lacks enough insurance to cover your damages.
- The driver flees the scene.

Coverage is usually extended to include traffic accidents when you are a pedestrian or bicyclist. Not all auto policies include UM/UIM though. It’s an optional coverage in Iowa. If you do carry it, the minimum coverage is $20,000 for each person/$40,000 for each accident. You’ll need to check with your insurance agent to determine what your coverage entails.

Don't let negligent drivers get away with hurting bicyclists.

Bicycle Accidents in Iowa: How to Avoid Them and What to Do When It Happens to You

In Iowa, there were five pedal cyclist fatalities in the year 2011, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Polk County had the most bicycle-car accidents in Iowa from 2009-2014. The goal is to reduce the number of bicyclist accidents in the state to zero. If you’re a bicyclist, here are some of the most common types of bicycle accidents, and what you can do to prevent them from happening:

A Right Hook Accident

A right hook accident refers to an accident type where a car that’s making a right-hand turn turns into the path of the cyclist. Right hook crashes can happen at intersections, or when pulling out of a driveway or parking lot. Because some drivers fail to use their turn signals, knowing if a driver is going to make a turn in front of you, “hooking” you, can be challenging.

However, this accident type can be avoided if you’re biking consciously. One tip to avoid this accident type is to make sure that when stopped at a red light or stop sign, you always are slightly in front of vehicles in the right-hand lane.

This way, the motorist will have you in their direct vision. The other way to avoid this is never to pass a vehicle on the right, as it’s unlikely that the car will be expecting you if they decide to make a right turn. Instead, always pass on the left.

"Dooring" Accident

A "dooring" accident can be very severe. This accident type occurs when a cyclist is riding in between the lanes of traffic and parked cars on the right-hand side of the road.

When a motorist opens a door on the left side of the vehicle unexpectedly, the door may either block the cyclist from continuing forward or slam directly into the cyclist. A car door accident may cause the cyclist to swerve, turning the bike into oncoming traffic.

Dooring accidents can be tough to avoid, especially when the distance between fast-moving traffic and parked cars is minimal. If a bike lane is available separate from the road, always choose this as the preferred route. Otherwise, always stay alert for parked cars, and slow down and pay attention when approaching one.

Vehicle Turning Left

At an intersection, left-turning vehicles are usually required to yield (unless they have a green turn arrow) to oncoming traffic from the opposite direction. Unfortunately, bicyclists—especially when lighting is poor—can be much harder to see than other cars.

As such, a vehicle may assume that the road is clear and make a left-hand turn directly into or in front of a cyclist passing straight through the light.

The best way to avoid this accident type is to make sure that your bike has a light and that you’re wearing bright colors; this will improve your visibility. Additionally, try to make eye contact with left-turning drivers before proceeding through an intersection. Also, don’t ride on the sidewalk as motorists don't check sidewalks for fast-moving vehicles.

Failure to Yield

The final most common type of bicycle accident occurs when the cyclist fails to yield to a vehicle in an intersection. It can be easy to misjudge an oncoming car’s speed and distance.

Make sure you always exercise caution when proceeding into an intersection. Even if you do have the right of way, double-check before entering an intersection to ensure that you’re in the clear and that other drivers can see you.

Just like drinking and driving, drinking and biking do not mix. Alcohol impairs your cognitive and motor skills and slows your reaction time. Despite the obvious dangers of operating a motor vehicle or bicycle while under the influence of alcohol, millions of people still do it. Roughly 3.2 percent of Iowans admit to getting behind the wheel in the past 30 days after drinking too much, which, incidentally, is significantly higher than the national average of 1.9 percent, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Statistical Snapshot of Alcohol-Related Bike Accidents

Statistics don’t lie. One glance at the following figures provided by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and it becomes obvious just how deadly the mix between alcohol and driving/biking can be:

- In 34 percent of fatal bicycle accidents, either the cyclist or the driver was under the influence of alcohol.
- Of all the bicyclists who died in traffic accidents in 2013, 20 percent had a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08 g/dL, the legal limit for alcohol, and nearly one-quarter of them had BAC of 0.01 g/dL.

Intoxication Affects Bike Accident Liability

In addition to putting your and others’ lives in danger when you bike or drink while under the influence, you also put yourself at risk legally. First of all, if you are ever responsible for an accident and your BAC exceeds the legal limits, you will be subject to criminal charges. This can mean jail time, fines, and lost driving privileges, among other penalties.

Also, driving or cycling while intoxicated is considered negligence in an accident claim or lawsuit. As such, if ever you are in a crash and were inebriated at the time, you will be the party responsible for the damages. This is because Iowa is an at-fault car insurance state. This means that when you hurt someone, they are legally entitled to pursue recovery from you, i.e., sue you.

We Are Here To Help

Remember, you are not alone in recovering from your injuries. We have helped thousands of Iowans through their physical, emotional, and financial recoveries. If you have questions about what you are going through, feel free to call our office for your confidential injury conference. We will take the time to listen to you and give you our advice concerning your injury matter at no cost or risk to you.

Free Book at No Cost 

If you are not ready to speak with an attorney yet but would like to learn more about Iowa injury cases including tips about how you can avoid making common costly mistakes request a copy of our Iowa Personal Injury book which includes 14 myths about Iowa injury cases and 5 things to know before hiring an attorney.

If you have specific questions about your injury matter feel free to call our office to speak with our Injury team at 641-792-3595 or use our Chat feature by clicking here 24 hours a day/7 days per week. Your information will remain confidential and there is no cost or obligation.