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Old 08-09-07, 04:30 PM   #1
buffett81611
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4 year old hit by car on bike path-police do nothing-anyone offer advice or a lawyer?

Hey...

Long time reader, first time poster.

Trying to live a car-lite life...have a six year old daughter and four year old son, both who've been riding by themselves w/o training wheels since they just turned four.

We were on a bike path today that crosses streets. An out of state driver turned left right in front of my 4 year old son, who tried to stop and hit the driver's door with his helmet, and then fell to the ground and hit the back of his head. The helmet is cracked in four places, with the earflap about to detach.

Thankfully my son was OK after a visit to the ER. Mom and Dad are more upset than him. Everything checked out fine, and my son has a new helmet already and is back on his bike. I shutter to think of what might have happened if he didn't have a properly fitted and adjusted helmet on....

The police didn't give the driver a ticket or anything. To be fair, on most parts of this bike path there are yield signs painted on the ground or stop signs. On this, at the top of a very steep hill in Colorado, there is no sign. This is so the bikers climbing up "heart attack hill" (as it's sometimes called) don't have to stop at the last part of the climb. (We were all headed downhill when the accident occurred) The police talked with the parks department and decided to list the driver as the first cause of the accident on the police report, but not to find him "in the wrong"

I don't want to over-react...the main thing is that he is fine. I don't think it would be too much to ask the driver to pay for the ER bill (a $100 co-pay), a new helmet for my son, and perhaps a new bike. (It appears that it is still functioning fine...haven't had the time to give the frame a thorough review.)

Anyone have a similar experience on this forum and have a suggestion for us? Anyone a lawyer who could give some initial thoughts. As a Christian, I want to do the right thing here, and yet I feel like doing nothing does nothing to protect others who are legally riding on a bike path (or in the street) and get hit by cars.

Thanks for any thoughts or advice anyone has...

Peace,
Matt

PS--If there's a better forum to post this in, please let me know...
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Old 08-09-07, 04:35 PM   #2
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'advocacy and safety' may be a good category for this.
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Old 08-09-07, 04:45 PM   #3
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I'm not sure there is enough info about how the accident happened to give much of an opinion. Was the driver in the wrong for turning there? If so, how? From the simplistic description you give, is it possible that maybe your son was so low (being small) that the driver didn't see him?
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Old 08-09-07, 04:55 PM   #4
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You would do very well to talk to the patrol supervisor (the commander of the patrol unit at the police department) and find out first why they made the decisions they did. After that, talk to their legal counsel (probably a city attorney) for a bit more analysis on their end. It's free and a reasonable first step.

What city?
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Old 08-09-07, 04:57 PM   #5
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Not enough information about the streets and configuration to make a judgement on who is in the wrong here. You can always file a small claims lawsuit or just call his insurance company and file a claim.
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Old 08-09-07, 05:05 PM   #6
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First, I'm glad to hear that your son is doing okay.

I'll have to join the others here in saying that there doesn't seem to be enough information to really say. I'm not sure of the laws regarding bikes and crosswalks, but I do remember that it was always pounded into me as a kid to walk your bike across the street when you encounter a crosswalk. Sure, I don't do it so much anymore (still do it sometimes though), but if I had a 4 and 6 year old with me, it seems like fairly sound advice.

Good luck with whatever course of action you take and let us know how things turn out.
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Old 08-09-07, 05:11 PM   #7
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who actually has the right of way on the road? it sounds like normally there is a yield/stop sign for cyclists, but this particular section didn't?
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Old 08-09-07, 05:22 PM   #8
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First off, i'm glad your son's okay. It sounds as though it could have been much worse.

Secondly, i must say that the legal route may not be your best bet here. I would imagine that you got the information of the driver, so i would just call him and ask him. It is reasonable to assume that he is expecting such a call and would gladly pay 100-150 dollars to keep you from contacting his insurance company or taking any further legal action. If he says no, quite honestly the best option is to just let it go, suck up the cost, and be glad nothing truly bad happened. Other cyclists that get hit shouldn't be your concern, unless you want to lobby the local government to put up some more signs.

if you didn't get any information, just let it go. In my opinion, 100 dollars isn't enough to worry about in this particular scenario, and i'm sure you are not all that upset about the cost of the new helmet (after all, the first one worked, right?).
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Old 08-09-07, 05:43 PM   #9
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^^I think this is good advice.^^

Even if he wasn't ticketed, if he's not interested in covering the costs, I would think his insurance co. will, right? You don't have to get a ticket to have insurance pay for something.
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Old 08-09-07, 05:58 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CastIron View Post
You would do very well to talk to the patrol supervisor (the commander of the patrol unit at the police department) and find out first why they made the decisions they did. After that, talk to their legal counsel (probably a city attorney) for a bit more analysis on their end. It's free and a reasonable first step.

What city?
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Old 08-09-07, 07:17 PM   #11
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Thank goodness your son is ok. I'm with the others here there is not enough info to make a informed judgement.

I'm curious but did your son's bike have a tall flag so others can see him riding because the other poster that mentioned the small size does have a valid point. Tho it sounds like the driver had time to see the child as they stopped. I know what I'm driving in a parking lot I'm very cautious as little kids are hard to see especially when backing up and drive uber slow scanning for kids and people all the time.
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Old 08-10-07, 12:05 AM   #12
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OP, what is your motivation in seeking legal recourse against the driver, vengeance? Are you looking for a pay out? What outcome would you like to see from this?

You say you'd like to protect other cyclists, wouldn't talking to the parks department about proper signage be a better option than going after the driver who in all honesty most likely made a simple mistake? One thing that people on this board seem to forget is that sometimes an accident is just that, an accident.
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Old 08-10-07, 12:28 AM   #13
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You need to know and understand, and teach your children, that bike paths are not roads and a bicyclist should never, ever expect a driver to yield to him where a path intersects a road. If you can verify that the driver has noticed AND is DEFINITELY yielding to you, THEN, and only then, should you proceed. Maybe.

To rely on drivers focused on driving their cars on the road to see and not hit your 4 year old who appears "out of nowhere" from a bike path is bordering on parental negligence, if you ask me.

With all due respect, where were you when all this happened? What the heck is your 4 year old doing crossing a street unsupervised?
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Old 08-10-07, 12:53 AM   #14
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talk to a motorcycle or bicycle personal injury lawyer. most offer free consultations. no fee unless you retain them and you win a judgment.
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Old 08-10-07, 01:01 AM   #15
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How does the path cross the street?

Generally, unless marked up all over the place with signs, crosswalks, etc... the car has the right of way. It is another reason bike paths stink--- they often cross roads in the middle of nowhere, where cars are not expecting cross traffic- like in the middle of a block in a residential neighborhood. It sounds like in your case, the general signage indicates that bikes must yield. The best you can probably hope for is to have a sign installed at the intersection in question.
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Old 08-10-07, 04:50 AM   #16
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Are you in a no fault state? If not then I would talk to the guy and go through his insurance, I think they would easily pay the 200 or so to get you off their back, and if he doesn't realize this then he's an idiot. It really is a shame the police didn't have the cahone's to point out to this guy that: It's a child for god's sake!!! I would have had a hard time dealing with this. I'm glad he is okay!
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Old 08-10-07, 08:52 AM   #17
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First, I'm very glad to hear that your son is ok.

Contact an atty.

People need to be held accountable for mistakes. If you were in the wrong and damaged the guy's door, do you think he'd not come after you? Assuming the driver was at fault he needs to cover your child's new helmet and any medical costs, and his insurance needs to be notified. He needs to pay a higher premium as a reminder to drive with due caution & responsibility. You should not have to be out of pocket for something that wasn't your fault.
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Old 08-10-07, 09:01 AM   #18
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Since you say the driver was turning left where the path crossed the street, this sounds like an intersection with a sidewalk-type path transitioning to a crosswalk. Since you say your son struck the driver side door of a left-turning car, I infer that he was traveling on the left side of the street (but on the sidewalk rather than the roadway).

Drivers don't scan reliably for contra-flow traffic traveling faster than walking speed. It's much safer to travel on the right side of the street even if you are using the sidewalk. Even at walking speed it's a problem; collision rates for pedestrians on sidewalks and crosswalks are higher for those walking on the left side of the street rather than the right. Drivers are used to looking in the direction where other vehicles are usually coming from, and forget to look elsewhere.

Depending on the state, the law for crosswalks is that the driver must yield to pedestrians who are already in the crosswalk and about to move in front of them, but the pedestrian may not move in front of a driver who is so close to create a danger. This sets up a sort of race condition; if the driver gets to the crosswalk area first, the pedestrian must wait until the driver clears. In your case, the driver was already in the crosswalk when your son struck the side of the car. The race condition isn't so dangerous when the pedestrian is moving at walking speed and can stop instantly and even step back. But for the driver of a vehicle on an interesecting course with another driver, it's a bigger problem, which is why drivers of vehicles have different rules, which don't include using sidewalks.

I'd like to look at the location using satellite photos. What are the names of the two streets, and the city?

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Old 08-10-07, 10:03 AM   #19
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What Steve said is basically correct for the first curbside travel lane but some states have additional rules that once a pedestrian (which may not include cyclists) is in the crosswalk adjacent lanes (or all lanes) of traffic must also stop.
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Old 08-10-07, 10:29 AM   #20
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I'd say you already got the best possible outcome from this incident. Almost any other result would have you praying to be in the position you are in.
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Old 08-10-07, 10:31 AM   #21
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Find out what the laws are in your state. In NY state for instance your health insurance will deny payment for the ER visit as the injury was caused by an accident involving a motor vehicle. In our state the auto insurance for the driver that hit your child will have to pay the ER bill (No Co-Pay for you either!). This falls under a No Fault rule when an accident involved a car and a pedestrian or cyclist. If you don't have the information from the other driver, you should be able to get a copy of the police report. Again this differs from state to state, but you don't want to be caught off guard. Also you should DEFINITELY get a new helmet and get the driver of his insurance company to pay.

Happy riding,
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Old 08-10-07, 12:33 PM   #22
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Seriously, stop at intersections of the MUP and a road. In the DC area, we've had a few fatalaties from that in the last year. Whether it's posted or not - yield to road traffic. They're bigger than you.

And Dad should always check for traffic first and shield the flock from cars. I'd not let a 4-year-old cross a street on his own.

I agree with the general consensus - you're danged lucky.
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Old 08-10-07, 12:33 PM   #23
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What Steve said is basically correct for the first curbside travel lane but some states have additional rules that once a pedestrian (which may not include cyclists) is in the crosswalk adjacent lanes (or all lanes) of traffic must also stop.
I like those states that require drivers to yield and/or stop if the pedestrian is in the crosswalk but still in another lane.

Here in NC, the driver is not cited for failure to yield to a pedestrian unless a collision actually occurs in a marked crosswalk. No marking or no collision = no citation (even though most legal crosswalks are unmarked and many drivers force pedestrians to take evasive action even in marked crosswalks).

However, I think the driver still has to be given a reasonable opportunity to stop. If a pedestrian enters the crosswalk when a driver is too close to stop while traveling at a reasonable lawful speed, I don't think the driver should be cited for failure to yield. As a matter of courtesy and prudence, I think drivers should try predict pedestrian actions near the curb - especially when the driver is turning - but sometimes this is difficult, such as at mid-block crosswalks where some pedestrians wait behind the curb for a traffic gap.

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Old 08-10-07, 01:42 PM   #24
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I will note there was a particularly nasty mid block trail crossing in PG County they first put up a safety island and signs saying stop for pedestrians in crosswalk. Within a month most the signs had been run over and lay broken in the gutter. They now have sensors that detect cyclists and pedestrians and turn on flashing lights embedded in the roadway. Cars are now stopping to allow pedestrians to cross.
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Old 08-10-07, 05:34 PM   #25
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The in road flashing lights seem to work better than any other solution for problem crosswalks and MUP crossings.

If you want safety, push the park to put the lights in.

For money, file a claim with the motorist insurance.

If you have not had the time to do a complete inspection the bike, why is your son still riding it?
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