Common Causes of Bicycle Accidents in Seattle

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For its health benefits and environmental advantages, biking is becoming more and more popular around Seattle and across the country. Like other forms of transportation, however, there are safety hazards that cyclists face, including careless or reckless drivers. After bike accidents, riders can pursue insurance claims against at-fault drivers and may have to file a lawsuit to win fair compensation.

Causes of Bicycle Accidents

Among the possible causes of bike accidents are:

  • Motor vehicle turns in front of bicyclists – This may occur when the vehicle is turning left and fails to account for a bicyclist with right of way to pass straight through the intersection in the opposite direction. It also may occur if the motorist is traveling the same direction as the bicyclist and makes a right turn in front of the bicyclist who is traveling straight.
  • Motor vehicle merges into bicyclists – This might be the case if the motorist is distracted or otherwise not paying attention and slightly veers into the bike lane, striking the cyclist.
  • Cyclist violates the rules of the road – In this case, the cyclist may fail to stay to the right side of the road, ride through a red light, violate stop sign laws or more.
  • Potholes or other obstacles – Road hazards can cause serious accidents. Bicyclists should be mindful of any upcoming potholes or road construction.
  • Riding error – A cyclist's foot may slip from the pedal or the rider may travel too fast for conditions and could slip or slide on wet pavement, for example.


This is far from an exhaustive list. Whatever the case, if an injured cyclist believes a motorist is to blame for the accident, he or she may pursue legal action to recover compensation for damages.

Where and When Bicycle Accidents Happen

Across the nation, 30 percent of bike fatalities in 2011 occurred between the hours of 4:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m., according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). This could be because there are usually more cars and bikes on the street at this time and less visibility as the sun goes down. Next were the hours between 8:00 p.m. and midnight at 21 percent of bike fatalities. Sixty-nine percent of fatal bike accidents occurred in urban areas, while 59 percent occurred at non-intersections, compared to 31 percent at intersections. In all, the state of Washington had 11 bicyclist fatalities in 2011.

Filing a Claim to Recover Compensation for a Bike Accident

The other driver's accident liability insurance should cover damages a bicyclist sustains if the other driver was at fault for the accident. After it receives a claim, the insurer will perform an investigation to determine the driver's (their policyholder's) liability for the accident. Even if the bicyclist is partially to blame for the accident, he or she may recover compensation for damages, minus his or her proportion of fault (e.g., if 10 percent at fault and suffered $10,000 in damages, the cyclist would recover $9,000).

Hiring an attorney is one of the best ways to receive fair treatment from insurance companies. An attorney will be prepared to take your case to trial if necessary. Attorney Max Meyers helps Seattle bikers recover fair compensation for their injuries after an accident with a motor vehicle. Contact our office at 425-399-7000 to set up a consultation.

Max Meyers
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Max is a Kirkland personal injury attorney handling cases in Seattle, King County & surrounding in WA State.