By Matt Lalande in Bicycle Accidents on December 29, 2020
Cycling has become a popular alternative mode of transportation, particularly in bigger urban areas, like Hamilton. Bike crashes however, do still account for a significant number of serious roadway injuries. The Ontario Ministry of Transportation statistics tell us that over 1500 cyclists in the Province suffered very serious or fatal injuries in 2019. This does not account for under-reported, non-severe or non-fatal injuries suffered by cyclists throughout the Province. One thing is for certain, in reviewing statistics over the years published by the Ministry of transportation, severe injuries caused by cycling continue to fluctuate without a clear trend.
Our Hamilton Bicycle Accident Lawyers, understand that cyclists, whether commuting or for pleasure, are constantly dealing with dangers such as other vehicles on the road, distracted drivers, motorist not checking their blind spots before changing lanes, roadway issues, potholes and unexpected door openings, poor driver vision, motorists who disobey the traffic laws, careless or reckless driving, and environmental hazards on the road.
You, as a cyclist, are no doubt, the easiest target on the road.
Accidents involving vehicles and bicyclists continue to be a significant problem in Ontario, particularly in busy cities like Hamilton. Even though both biking is a healthy, cheap and environmentally-friendly mode of transportation and recreation, there are dangers involved. In our experience, the most common car-bicycle collisions that we see are the right hook, the left hook, and being “doored.”
This is one of the most common car-bicycle collisions, but one that insurance adjusters never seem to understand. Generally, the car is traveling faster than the bike. The car passes the bicyclist, then turns right, cutting the cyclist off without warning. Often, the motorist makes the turn so quickly after passing the cyclist that, even if the motorist had activated the right turn blinker, the car is already next to the cyclist, so the cyclist could not see the warning blinker. The second critical fact which the adjusters never seem to understand is that, since the car is traveling faster than the bicycle, the motorist invariably has just passed the cyclist on his or her right, and thus should have seen the cyclist.
When a motorist turns left, they often cross over multiple lanes of traffic. This is a dangerous maneuver and commonly causes accidents of all kinds, including crashes involving pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists. Often, when making a left turn, motorists fail to notice cyclists and cut them off, causing an accident.The motorist may strike the cyclist or cut the cyclist off and T-bone fashion. Left took accidents can be devastating if the vehicle is travelling at high speed relative to the bicycle.
Some adjusters do not realize that drivers have an obligation to yield to the oncoming motor vehicle. It is basic law in Ontario that a left-turning vehicle must yield to oncoming traffic before turning left. In particular, the motorist turning left has a responsibility not to commence their turn unless it can be done in safety pursuant to s. 142(1) and s. 144(8) of the Highway Traffic Act.
The bane of all urban cyclists is being “doored,” getting hit by a car door that opens suddenly in the trajectory of the cyclists’ path. Dooring happens so fast that there is normally no way around it. The cyclist cannot do much about it except hope for the best.
From the cyclist perspective, scanning rows of parked cars, is like looking into a crystal ball – dooring accidents are highly unpredictable and often times it’s simply impossible to stay 1.5 meters from parked vehicles, in busy streets.
In Ontario, S.165 of the Highway Traffic Act has a “dooring” law that is not very well known. The act states that “no person shall open the door of a motor vehicle on the highway (roadway) without first taking due precautions to ensure that his or her act will not interfere with the movement of or endanger any other person or vehicle.”
Dooring has become such a problem that Tesla has confirmed a future update to its vehicles that will help protect cyclists from being the victim of unintended accidents caused by opening doors. Teslarati.com, a website dedicated to all things Tesla, reported that Tesla is known for its continuous feature updates on its vehicles and one of its latest planned updates will be able to prevent unwanted accidents such as dooring by possibly using the car’s sound system to warn Tesla drivers and occupants about the possible dangers surrounding the vehicle when opening their door.
In Ontario, a cyclist does not have to prove liability – but rather, the Highway Traffic Act shifts the onus to the driver that caused that hit the cycist to establish that he or she was paying attention. Regardless of what the cyclist is doing, if a motorist is not keeping a proper look out or was negligent by distracted driving or speeding, a driver will be found liable for the accident. In short, the “reverse onus” means that the motorist that strikes a person on a bicycle needs to prove that the accident did not happen through their own negligence or improper conduct.
If you have suffered an injury in a cycling accident because of someone else’s negligence, take the time to speak to an experienced Hamilton personal injury lawyer as soon as possible. Matt Lalande has represented hundreds of cyclists since 2003 – call us in the local GTA/Hamilton Area at 905-333-8888 or toll free anywhere in Ontario at 1-844-LALANDE today for your free consultation. We are happy to meet in person, or by Zoom to discuss your legal rights.
*The above inforamtion was approved by Matt Lalande or another lawyer at Lalande Personal Injury Lawyers. The information comes from legal experience, trial experience, extensive medical research and discussion with medical professionals, medical journal review and updates and/or consultations with fellow friends and collegues in the legal and medical field.