It was supposed to be a day of celebration for the Queens father of two.
Instead, his family was mourning his death – on his 37th birthday – after he was struck while riding his bicycle to work on Queens Boulevard.
Queens bicycle accident attorneys understand that the driver of the truck that hit him did not stop, and authorities are searching for him.
There has always been a measure of peril when it comes to biking in New York City, with the vast majority of crashes caused by careless motorists. But a new bike share program, set to be launched in March, is sure to increase these fatal accidents, as there will soon be more bicyclists on the road. The Department of Transportation has announced that to start off, the program will have 7,000 bikes at some 420 stations. The program is expected to balloon by next summer to some 10,000 bikes at 600 stations.
Essentially, the city will rent out the bicycles for commuters to pick up and ride to work or wherever else they are going, and then return them at one of the hundreds of drop-off points throughout the city.
It’s the first massive public transportation program the city has rolled out in about a century. Many bicyclist are enthusiastic about the program, but a report in June by the city comptroller warned that the city was opening itself up to potential personal injury lawsuits, stemming from a number of safety oversights.
The city has required the operator of the program, Atla Bicycle Share, to carry a $10 million-a-year insurance policy. However, the comptroller has expressed concerns that they may not be enough to cover the potential liability.
Since 2002, there have been more than 100 bicycle-related personal injury claims filed against the city each year, with judgements and settlements totaling an average of about $4 million annually. (These actually represent a fairly small fraction of personal injury lawsuits filed against the city each year, which break down to about $500 million on average.)
Three years ago, the city settled a lawsuit for $11.5 million, after a bicyclist was fatally struck by a police department tow truck. More bicyclists, inevitably, mean more lawsuits, the comptroller said. A similar program in Paris resulted in a record number of cycling accidents there.
The comptroller recommended that the operator of the program increase its insurance coverage.
Because the city only has 19 detectives working to investigate traffic accidents – and only then, in the most severe cases – many bicyclists have taken to wearing cameras mounted to their helmets. This is effectively acting as a “black box” in case of an accident. It provides solid proof of fault in case of an accident.
Too often in these cases, we are relying on the bicyclist’s word against the motorist’s. This is a way that the facts can be undeniably proven in court.
The cost of these devices has come down quite a bit, and most now start at about $200. It may still seem a bit pricy to some, but it is well-worth the initial investment if you later find yourself filing a personal injury claim.
The Law Offices of Nicholas Rose, PLLC offers free consultations. Call 1-877-313-7673.
NYC bicyclist killed on his birthday, Sept. 26, 2012, Associated Press
Cameras Are Cyclists’ ‘Black Boxes’ in Accidents, July 20, 2012, By Nick Wingfield, The New York Times
More Blog Entries:
More Slow Zones for NYC, Helping to Protect Pedestrians, Aug. 27, 2012, New York City Personal Injury Lawyer Blog