Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Bicycle Accidents

Many cities, including New York City, are encouraging residents and visitors to use bikes to get around the city.  There are more bike lanes being put in every day, and you can rent a “Citi-bike” just about anywhere.  It’s not surprising that this has resulted in an increasing number of bike accidents citywide.  They only have two wheels, so they are easy to tip over when they are hit by a car.  There is no protection other than a helmet for the bicyclist, so injuries from bike accidents tend to be serious.  If you are injured in a bicycle accident, an experienced bicycle accident attorney in NYC can explain the law as it applies to your specific situation.

If you’ve been injured in a bicycle accident, you need a Bicycle Accident Attorney in NYC that knows everything about bicycle accidents, and if you are riding around on these crowded streets you should learn about the many different types of bicycle accidents so you can do your best to avoid them.  We see it all the time, the delivery guy on the bicycle going the wrong way down the street or careening through a red light.  Bicyclists fail to know the rules, and fail to follow them, at their own peril.  I almost hit one of these guys today!


Car Door Accidents (sometimes called “Dooring)

When somebody opens a vehicle door in front of a bicyclist, the results can be catastrophic.  Even at a low speed, “getting doored” can propel a cyclist over their handlebars and onto the street.  Sometimes accidents are caused due to a cyclist trying to avoid a car door that suddenly opens, causing a collision with another vehicle.  Dooring is more common in cities like New York where cycling increasing at a rapid rate that drivers are not used to.  Passengers may not be aware that their is a bike lane to their right when they exit a vehicle, dooring a cyclist.  When you are riding in the City, always expect that a door may open, and be especially aware of passengers exiting taxis and rideshares.  The insurance for the motor vehicle will be primary for both no-fault benefits and liability coverage.

Children Involved in Bicycle Accidents

Children account for close to a third of the bicycle accident injuries that are treated in Emergency Rooms throughout the country.  Drivers owe a higher duty of care and must always give the right of way to child cyclists.  Judges will tend to rule in favor of a child cyclist that has crashed with a motorist.  Child cyclists are hard to see, especially when drivers are focusing on the road.  Drivers often don’t see a child on a bike until it’s too late.  If road or sidewalk conditions played a part in the crash, municipalities can be held liable as well.

Bicycle vs Bicycle Accidents

Cyclists are naturally leery of motorists, but sometimes there are crashes between two bicycles.  Insurance becomes an issue as New York does not require cyclists to carry liability insurance.  Bicycle liability insurance does exist, but people rarely carry it.  Sometimes homeowners or renters insurance will pick up the tab for these accidents, depending on the policies at hand.  These policies are sometimes ample, with umbrella protection extending up to one million dollars.

Cyclist v. Dog

Dog owners are responsible for their animals.  If a dog chases you while you are riding a bike, causing you to fall, or the dog bites you, the owner can be held liable for your injuries.   But what if the dog doesn’t make contact with you at all, just frightens you, causing you to fall?  The owner can still be held liable for failing to properly control their dog.  After an animal-related injury, you should take the following action:

  • Ascertain the identity of the dog
  • Get the owner’s name and where they live
  • Go the Emergency Room for treatment (or to Urgent Care.)
  • Report the dog to local authorities
  • Take pictures of the bike, the dog, the scene and of your injuries

Product Liability

Bicyclists are a product, just like cars and lawnmowers, so the laws of product liability apply.  When bicycle parts are defective, there are many entities that can be liable, such as:

  • Manufacturers
  • Retailers
  • Suppliers of Parts
  • Assembly house
  • Wholesalers
  • Distributors

In New York, product liability claims can be brought under theories of strict liability, negligence and breach of warranty.  For more information, see our article on Product Liability.

Common Bicycle Accidents

The Federal Highway Administration did a study that showed what types of bicycle accidents are most common.  Here they are:

Going the Wrong Way Down the Street

Riding against oncoming traffic causes nearly 25 percent of bicycle accidents.  This type of accident also causes the most serious injuries.  If you are riding the way down the street, causing an accident, you are unlikely to be able to recover damages for your injuries.

Failure to Obey Traffic Signals

Cyclists ignore traffic signals at their own peril.  This accounts for about 10 percent of bicycle accidents, as some riders do not believe that they must abide by traffic signals.  The crash occurs when a motorist collides with them.

Exiting a Driveway

Crashes that occur when a bicyclist rides out of a driveway, alley or sidewalk onto the road.  These accidents usually occur in residential areas, and are about 5 percent of the total.


Confirming insurance coverage for bicycle accidents requires some investigation.  Medical bills, lost earnings and out-of-pocket expenses are payable by the offending vehicle, so this insurance company must be either provided by the driver or researched from the police report.  Bicycle accidents should always be immediately reported to the police because if the car that hit you is uninsured, the claim can only go forward if there has been a report filed within 24 hours.  That’s why it’s a good idea to call a bicycle accident attorney in NYC immediately after an accident.


A notice of claim must be filed with the City of New York within 90 days if your accident involved a city vehicle or was caused by a defect that the city is responsible for.  The statute of limitations against the City of New York is also shorter than for other parties.


  • Potholes on roads
  • Traffic signals broken or not functioning properly
  • Telephone poles that are poorly place
  • Trees obstructed the roadway
  • Trees or foliage that is blocking signs
  • Improperly designed bike lanes
  • Median barriers not properly designed
  • Lane width improper
  • Ditches and open holes
  • Violations at construction sites

 Call bicycle accident attorney NYC, Wittenstein & Wittenstein for a free consultation. Please call us at 718-261-8114.

At Bicycle Accident Attorney NYC, we would like you to stay as safe as possible.  Check out some bicycle safety tips for kids that we’ve found.  You should also take a look at New York City’s laws and regulation for bicycle riders.  Please bike safely.



2019-01-17T13:01:40+00:00By |0 Comments

About the Author:

Alyce Wittenstein is a world class attorney, blogger and filmmaker. She began working at the firm in 1985 as a managing paralegal, learning all the practices and procedures of the firm from Mr. Wittenstein and the staff. From 1995-1998, she attended CUNY Law School where she made a mark as a teaching assistant for Civil Rights leader Haywood Burns. She founded a Human Rights Delegation to Haiti and studied Constitutional Law with Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Working at the Equal Opportunity Employment Commision (EEOC), she learned a great deal about Employment Discrimination matters. She brought her knowledge of the Personal Injury practice and her passion for Civil Rights to the firm when she was admitted to the Bar in 1999. In 2000, she became a partner and the firm name was changed to Wittenstein & Wittenstein, Esqs. PC.

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