Distracted DrivingDistracted Driving and Bicycle Accidents: Holding Drivers Accountable

July 7, 20240

Riding a bicycle on public roads carries inherent risks, even when cyclists follow traffic laws and ride defensively. One of the biggest dangers comes from distracted drivers who fail to see and yield to cyclists. If you’ve been injured in a bicycle accident caused by a distracted driver, you have legal rights to seek compensation. Here’s what cyclists need to know about distracted driving accidents and how to hold negligent motorists accountable.

The Dangers of Distracted Driving for Cyclists

Distracted driving refers to any activity that diverts a motorist’s attention from the road. With the proliferation of cell phones and in-vehicle infotainment systems, drivers today have more potential distractions than ever before. Common distractions include:

  • Texting or talking on a cell phone
  • Adjusting music, GPS, or other devices
  • Eating, drinking, or smoking while driving
  • Applying makeup or grooming while driving
  • Fatigue or daydreaming
  • Looking at accident scenes or other external distractions

For cyclists, even a briefly distracted driver can have catastrophic consequences. Bicycles offer far less protection than a car or truck in a collision. According to safety group AAA, a driver engaging in cell phone use is up to eight times more likely to crash.

With distracted driving on the rise, bicyclists face increased risks sharing the road with negligent motorists. Holding distracted drivers accountable is key to improving road safety for all vulnerable road users.

Distracted Driving Laws in Hawaii

To combat distracted driving, most states, including Hawaii, have enacted laws prohibiting cell phone use and other activities that divert driver attention.

In Hawaii, it is illegal for all drivers to use handheld cell phones for any purpose. Hands-free cell phone use is permitted only for drivers over 18. Texting or emailing while driving is also completely banned, even when stopped at intersections or in traffic.

Violating Hawaii’s distracted driving laws can result in fines starting at $300 for a first offense and $400 in a school zone. Drivers who cause collisions while violating distracted driving laws may face additional civil liability or criminal charges like reckless driving.

Proving Driver Negligence in Bicycle Accidents

In a bicycle injury claim or lawsuit, proving the driver acted negligently is key to recovering damages. Using evidence that a driver violated Hawaii’s distracted driving laws can help establish negligence. Useful evidence in distracted driving cases may include:

  • Witness statements confirming driver cell phone use
  • Admissions from the driver that they were texting or otherwise distracted
  • Cell phone records indicating usage at the time of the crash
  • Crash forensics suggesting distraction, such as no braking prior to impact
  • Police reports citing distracted driving as a factor

Even without concrete evidence, circumstances like a driver drifting into a bike lane or striking a cyclist from behind can support an inference that distraction caused the collision.

Bicycle accident lawyers with experience in distracted driving cases understand how to thoroughly investigate crashes and build negligence claims against at-fault drivers. An attorney can obtain evidence through official records requests, subpoenas, accident reconstructions, and other legal means.

Damages Available in Bicycle Injury Lawsuits

In Hawaii, accident victims can recover both economic and non-economic damages in personal injury claims and lawsuits. Economic damages compensate tangible losses like:

  • Property damage, including damage to the bicycle
  • Cost of hiring domestic help during recovery
  • Lost wages and lost earning capacity
  • Medical expenses, both immediate and ongoing

Non-economic damages cover intangible harms such as:

  • Disfigurement or permanent disability
  • Loss of enjoyment of life
  • Emotional distress
  • Pain and suffering

Punitive damages may also be pursued against drivers who acted with malice or extreme recklessness that endangered others. An experienced bicycle accident lawyer can thoroughly evaluate damages and fight for full compensation.

Statute of Limitations for Bicycle Injury Claims

Hawaii law imposes strict deadlines for filing personal injury claims following bicycle accidents. For adults, the statute of limitations is two years from the date of injury. Minors have until the age of 18 to file. The statute of limitations also may be tolled while an insurer processes a claim.

Preserving the right to recover damages requires contacting an attorney promptly after a bicycle crash with a negligent motorist. Attempting to negotiate with insurers yourself can jeopardize your rights. A lawyer will provide skilled representation to obtain a full and fair recovery.

Safeguard Your Right to Compensation

Sharing the road with negligent drivers poses serious risks to bicyclists’ safety and rights. If you were injured by a distracted motorist, don’t delay in seeking legal help. With an experienced bicycle accident attorney representing you, drivers and any other responsible parties will be held fully accountable. To start your claim and avoid missing legal deadlines, contact our firm today for a free consultation.

Visit our office at 700 Bishop St, Ste 2100, Honolulu, HI, 96813.

Or call us today for a free consultation on (808) 745-1592.

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