In a busy town like Billings, Montana bicycle accidents are an unfortunate reality. In any metropolitan area where pedestrians and motorists have to interact, lack of awareness of bicyclist safety and too many hazardous intersections can lead to tragic and often preventable bike accidents. These accidents may involve life-threatening injuries such as severe concussions and brain trauma. If you or someone you love has been in a bicycle accident in Billings recently, we want to hear from you at Heenan & Cook, PLLC Our bicycle accident attorneys can help you.
Knowing Bicycle Laws in Montana
Many bicycle accidents occur because of motorist negligence. Not just distracted drivers or those texting and driving, but those who drive recklessly around bicyclists out of anger and impatience. Some drivers try to intimidate bicyclists by following and passing too closely, overtaking them and then making a turn, or failing to give them the right of way. Although bicyclists are not as fast as motor vehicles, they have just as much right to the roadway in Billings, Montana.
It is every driver’s duty to drive with reasonable prudence and safety around bicyclists and to obey the rules of the road. Here are a few important bicycle laws in Montana:
- Montana’s roads and city streets are the territory of bicyclists as much as motor vehicle operators. The Department of Transportation encourages travel by bicycle. Bicyclists are allowed on any road or sidewalk unless local laws otherwise restrict use.
- No state law requires bicycle riders of any age to wear a helmet. In Billings, however, there is a municipal law that mandates bicyclists under the age of 16 wear a helmet. If someone breaks this law and has an accident, it does not always mean the bicyclist cannot obtain compensation.
- Two bicyclists are only allowed to ride side by side on roads with multiple travel lines. In any other instance, bicyclists must ride single file. Bikers should stick to the right-hand side of the road as much as possible, although state laws do allow them to travel to the far left when making a left turn.
- Bicyclists must have functional brakes, a white headlight visible from 500 feet, reflective gear visible from at least 300 feet, and a rear tail light or red rear reflector. Bicyclists must have one hand on the handlebars at all times, even if carrying items.
Consequences for Reckless Drivers
Failing to obey state and local bicycle laws as a bicyclist or a motorist can have repercussions in a bicycle accident. The insurance company or judge will look at any rules broken and weigh them in terms of whether they contributed to the accident.
In Montana, modified comparative fault rules make it possible to receive compensation as an injured bicyclist even if you were partially responsible for a crash. Speak to the attorneys at Heenan & Cook, PLLC, for more information about this law and how it may affect your case.
Step-by-Step: What to Do After a Bicycle Accident in 2018
Stay Calm and Remain at the Scene
Don’t leave the scene of a bicycle accident until authorities determine it is OK to do so. You must call 911 and report the crash if it caused injuries or deaths and remain at the scene until help arrives. If you are injured in the accident, stay as still as you can until paramedics arrive. If you suffered an injury such as a spinal cord injury, moving the wrong way could worsen the damage. Stay calm while you wait for help to arrive at the scene.
Get the Driver’s Name and Insurance Information
If the driver that struck you stayed at the scene, get his/her name, contact information, license plate numbers, and insurance company information. You will need this information to file your insurance claim. You will also need at least the basic details of your bicycle accident, such as where you were, when it happened, and how it happened. Gather as much information about your accident as you can, including photographs if possible. The more facts you collect about your wreck, the stronger your case.
Request Immediate Medical Attention
Bicycle accidents often cause serious personal injuries, such as bone fractures, concussions, traumatic brain injuries, spine injuries, road rash, lacerations, contusions, and internal bleeding. Never skip the hospital as the victim of a bicycle accident. Even if you do not think you have injuries, tell the police officers you aren’t sure until you’ve visited a doctor. Many serious head, brain, and back injuries can have delayed symptoms – especially if adrenaline is pumping through your body from the collision. Call an ambulance or at least go to the hospital as soon as possible after a bicycle accident in Billings.
Call The Insurance Company
Once you’ve received treatment for your injuries, it’s time to call the at-fault driver’s insurance company. Montana is a fault state, meaning the party that is at fault for your injuries will be the one you call for damage recovery. If you were the victim of a hit-and-run bicycle accident, call your own auto insurance company and find out if you have uninsured/underinsured motorist insurance. If so, this will cover your damages even if police never identify the at-fault driver. Stick only to the facts of the case as you know them during your first conversation with an insurance company. Never admit fault.
Negotiate With An Insurance Claims Adjuster
The other driver’s insurance company will want to get you to settle for as little as possible; or, better yet, deny your claim altogether. The insurance claim adjuster’s main goal is not to reimburse you for damages – it’s to save the company money. Keep this in mind when discussing your accident with an insurance agent. Don’t agree to give a recorded statement and don’t say yes to a fast settlement. Instead, take your time and review your case with a lawyer before signing up for a settlement that cannot be changed.
Call Heenan & Cook, PLLC
Heenan & Cook, PLLC, can take over your bicycle accident case in Billings no matter how far along you are in the process. Call us the day you get into your crash or after an insurance company has already offered you an initial settlement. We’ll jump right in and immediately start protecting your rights. Hiring a lawyer to represent you during bicycle accident claim negotiations can make a big difference in the amount the insurance company offers for your damages. Most insurers will do everything they can to avoid a personal injury trial.
Trusting Our Billings Bicycle Accident Lawyers With Your Case
After an injurious bicycle accident, you may be able to settle your claim satisfactorily through the other driver’s car insurance company. However, insurance companies typically try to get accident victims to settle for as little as possible, to protect the financial status of the company. In the event of a bicycle accident, injuries can easily be catastrophic and require thousands of dollars in medical costs. Some victims may need to pay for ongoing treatments and rehabilitative therapies.
If the insurance company isn’t offering what we believe your case is worth, we can take the claim to court in pursuit of fair compensation. We’ll put our resources, connections, and experience to work on your behalf. We’ll fight for full reimbursement of your medical bills, pain and suffering, bicycle property damage, and lost wages through all available outlets. It all starts with a FREE personal injury consult in Billings.