According to the League of American Bicyclists, in 2022, Virginia was the 7th best bicycle-friendly state. The ranking is based on five categories. These include infrastructure, education, traffic laws, policies, and evaluation and planning.
In addition to being bicycle-friendly, the state is also incredibly scenic. Many people use their bicycles to commute to work or for exercise. Regardless of why you climb on a bike, an accident between a car and a bike or a bike and a bike can be devastating.
2021 Virginia Law Covers Bicyclists
In a special session of the Virginia legislature in 2021, House Bill 2262 was passed. It took effect July 1, 2021, and included changes to bicycle traffic laws. Changes to the law include how motorists are expected to pass bicyclists on the road.
If there are not at least three feet on the left of the bicycle, the vehicle must move into the other lane. The new law also allows bicycles to ride two abreast, or side by side. Another part of the law directs the Department of State Police to convene a working group that will decide whether or not to adopt the “safety stop.” This allows cyclists to treat stop signs as yield signs.
The Virginia Department of Transportation maintains a website where the laws governing bicycling can be accessed. The intention is to help motorists and cyclists understand the laws. Not all counties in Virginia require a cyclist to wear a helmet. However, wearing a helmet helps protect your head and may benefit a legal claim. If you’re wearing a helmet after an accident, the defense cannot argue that you would not have been hurt, or you would not have been hurt as badly if you had worn a helmet.
What Are Your Insurance Options After an Accident?
The insurance options you have depend on whether you were hit by a car or another bicycle. If a car driver causes an accident, you can file a claim with the driver’s liability insurance carrier. Drivers who are insured are required to carry minimum liability insurance to cover injury, death, or property damage.
However, Virginia also allows drivers to pay a $500 uninsured motor vehicle fee in lieu of carrying car insurance. In this case, you could seek compensation through your own uninsured motorist policy.
Unfortunately, in some instances, the driver of the vehicle will flee the scene. This is called a hit-and-run accident. If no driver is found, you can still sue the driver as a “John Doe,” and attempt to recover damages from your own uninsured automobile policy.
You may have an accident with another bicyclist. When cars are not involved, auto insurance cannot be used. However, you may still file a liability claim against the other cyclist’s homeowners or renters’ insurance policy.
If you were in a bicycle accident that wasn’t your fault, it’s important to protect your interests. Always stop after an accident. Never leave the scene, even if it seems minor. Call 911 and request that the police come to the scene to document the accident.
A police report is helpful when you file an insurance claim. Always tell the truth to the officer without offering your opinions or guesses. After you get home, document the accident in a journal and keep a file of your medical expenses. Take pictures at the scene of the accident of damage to your bicycle, of the car involved, and any visible injuries. Keep this information in a file for your personal injury attorney.
Negligence and Time Limits
Virginia law relies on contributory negligence. This means that, in spite of being a victim of the accident, if you were more than one percent to blame for the accident, you may not recover any financial compensation. This means you must prove the driver was negligent and caused the crash.
In Virginia, you have two years from the date of the accident to file a claim or a personal injury lawsuit. This time period is defined by the statute of limitations. It is crucial that you do not wait to contact an experienced injury attorney. It takes time to gather evidence to prove your claim.
Contact Whitestone Young Today for Help After a Bicycle Accident
If you were injured in a car/bicycle or bicycle/bicycle accident that wasn’t your fault, you might be entitled to compensation. Contact the experienced bicycle accident attorneys at Whitestone Young today. Our lawyers can fight to protect your rights and help you receive fair compensation for your injuries. Call our office today at 703-591-0200 for your initial confidential consultation.