Injured in a Bicycle Accident in Hawaii?
If you have been injured in a bicycle accident involving another vehicle
in Hawaii, you may be wondering if you have the same legal rights as drivers
of cars and trucks. Bicyclists have the same legal rights and responsibilities
in regard to sharing the roads of Hawaii as other vehicle operators.
Many drivers in Hawaii and its neighbor islands drive with Aloha, but some
unfortunately are disrespectful of bicyclists and believe they have no
right to share the road. This disregard for others' safety may cause
serious accidents. Many bicyclists ride along or near the Queen Kaahumanu
Highway on the Big Island because of its breathtaking scenery. Drivers
must be on the lookout for bicyclists on the road just as they must remain
alert for other cars and trucks, according to the law. Experienced riders
are rarely found to be at fault in a collision with a car.
Most accidents occur as a result of an error on the part of a motorist who is
distracted and not looking out for cyclists. A motorist's failure to respect
a bicyclist's right to ride on the road is tantamount to negligence
when a serious accident results. A Honolulu bicycle accident attorney
at Leavitt Yamane & Soldner will review the facts of your accident
free of charge and explain your legal options to seek compensation.
Call us at
request a free initial consultation.
What to Do If You Have Been Injured
After an accident causing injury or property damage, notify police of the
accident and remain as near the accident scene as is safe.
You should also do the following:
Assess your own condition and that of others involved. Common injuries
in bicycle accidents include scrapes, lacerations, fractures and more
serious injuries, such as head trauma and
spinal injuries. If you or anyone else involved in the collision has been injured, summon
emergency medical responders.
- Request names, addresses, and insurance information from others involved
in the accident and get contact information for any eyewitnesses to the accident.
- It is also a good idea to use your phone camera to take photos of the accident
scene and your injuries. The photos may provide useful evidence for you
and your attorney if you need to file an accident claim later.
Hawaii's No-Fault Laws
Many bicyclists including tourists visiting the islands who do not understand
how Hawaii's no-fault insurance system works and the steps you should
take after an accident. All motorists in Hawaii are supposed to have their
own no-fault insurance coverage to pay for medical costs. In an accident
involving a car and a bicycle, Hawaii's no-fault insurance system
provides that injured bicyclists are eligible to receive up to $10,000
in medical benefits from the no-fault insurance of the motor vehicle involved
in the crash, regardless of who is at fault. You do not need to show negligence
on the part of the motorist to receive these benefits.
Injuries suffered in a bicycle accident are often severe and may require
a long stay in the hospital. In many collisions, the forward momentum
of the bicycle throws the bicyclist over the handlebars, which can result
in a fracture or a serious head injury. If the medical bills for your
bicycle accident injuries exceed the amount paid by the no-fault insurance,
you may be entitled to make a legal claim against the at-fault driver
after the no-fault insurance company has paid $5,000 of your medical bills.
This can be confusing, so it is best to have an experienced bicycle accident
attorney review the facts of your accident and explain your legal options.
If you let us help you, we will make sure that you receive the medical
treatment you need. It is best to make sure that you have received all
the medical treatment that you need and have completed your treatment
and recovered from your injury before we make an injury claim against
an insurance company.
Bicycle Helmet Safety
Most fatal bicycle accidents are due to head injuries, according to the
Hawaii Department of Transportation. A properly fitted bicycle helmet
can prevent a head injury or reduce the seriousness of a brain injury
if you are involved in a bicycle accident. A study by the Institute of
Medicine on sport-related concussions found that wearing a helmet reduces
the risk of traumatic brain injury by nearly 70 percent. Hawaii law requires
that every bicycle rider under age 16 wear a helmet when riding. Every
rider should wear a helmet to reduce the risk of a head injury in an accident.
Bicyclists should also do the following:
- Select a bicycle helmet that fits as snugly as possible without being uncomfortable.
With the sizing pads inserted to fine-tune the fit, the helmet should
not move from side to side. The helmet should sit low on your forehead,
one to two fingers above your eyebrow.
- Adjust the straps so they form a V under your ears and the strap buckle
is centered under your chin, not to one side. The straps should be snug
enough that opening your mouth will pull down the helmet. If the straps
fit loosely, the helmet will not stay in place and protect your head in
- Look for a helmet that is Consumer Product Safety Commission certified.
If you are wearing an older helmet, look for a label to make sure that
the helmet meets ANSI or Snell standards.
It's important to wear a properly fitted helmet each time you get on
a bicycle. If you are wearing an improperly fitted helmet, it may not
stay in place and protect your head during a crash. According to the AAA
Hawai'i Guide to Safe Bicycling in Hawai'i, there are approximately
1,500 bicycle accidents a year that cause injuries or fatalities. Many
of these are due to lack of visibility and motorists who did not see the
bicyclist before a collision.
As a bicyclist, it is imperative to make yourself as visible to other motorists
as possible for your own protection. In addition to a brightly colored
helmet, wear brightly colored, reflective clothing to make yourself more
visible to other motorists.
Traffic Guidelines for Safety
Riding a bicycle is a great way to see more of the stunning scenery of
Hawaii and the neighboring islands. Bicyclists have a right to share the
roads of Hawaii. But they do not automatically have right-of-way over
other vehicles. Bicyclists have rights and responsibilities for obeying
traffic safety laws as drivers of vehicles on Hawaii's roadways.
If you are a bicyclist, you are required to know Hawaii's traffic laws
and to obey them. If you fail to follow the traffic laws and are injured
in an accident, it will make it more difficult for you to collect financial
Bicyclists are required to ride in the same direction as other traffic
and to ride in a single file unless using a designated bicycle lane or
bicycle path. Drivers on the Big Island are more accustomed to seeing
cyclists than drivers on some of the neighboring islands where bicyclists
are less common. But when riding a bicycle on the road, it is important
to remain alert for other motorists at all times.
According to the Hawaii Department of Transportation, bicyclists who are
moving slower than cars should ride near the right edge or shoulder of
the road so that faster moving vehicles can pass. There are some exceptions
to this rule. Bicyclists may move away from the right shoulder to the
middle of the road under certain circumstances. These circumstances include
when the bicyclist is moving at normal speed, when the road is too narrow
for a bicycle and motorist to travel side by side, when necessary to avoid
a roadside pothole or hazard and when preparing to make a left turn.
Tips for Bicycling Safety
Use hand signals when turning. To signal a left turn, extend your left
arm out from your side. To signal a right turn, extend your right arm
or bend your left arm up at a right angle with your hand flat.
Look behind you before changing lanes or changing positions within a lane
to make sure another vehicle is not approaching.
Other tips include:
- When making a left turn on a bicycle, you should signal your turn, move
into the center of the turning lane and complete the turn. Alternatively,
you may ride to a pedestrian crosswalk and walk your bicycle across the
- Drivers who are turning across a bicycle lane must yield the right-of-way
- Assume that other motorists do not see you and try to make eye contact
with them to make sure they do see you.
- If you ride at night, Hawaii law requires that your bicycle have a front
headlight that is visible at least 500 feet away, a rear red reflector
visible at least 600 feet away and reflective material on both wheels.
- Bicycling support groups have cited the safety concepts embodied in Kamehameha's
Law of the Splintered Paddle to assert bicyclists right to ride safely
on the roads of Hawaii.
Hawaii has adopted a vulnerable road user's law to increase protection
for bicyclists, pedestrians, and police. Bicyclists who are obeying traffic
laws and acting lawfully are protected by Hawaii's Vulnerable Users
Law. The law doubles the penalties for a motorist who is operating in
a negligent manner and seriously injures or fatally injures a cyclist
who is riding legally on a public street or highway.
How Do You Know if You Need a Honolulu Bicycle Accident Attorney?
Seeking the assistance of a trusted Honolulu personal injury lawyer is
important for ensuring that your legal rights as a bicyclist to be on
the road are respected. You should not be treated as if you were somehow
to blame for an accident just because you were riding a bicycle. If you
have been involved in a bicycle accident and sustained injuries requiring
emergency medical treatment or hospital care, you may have thousands of
dollars of medical bills.
You may have disabling injuries that will affect your ability to live independently
and require ongoing medical treatment and assistance. A knowledgeable
personal injury attorney will work with life-care planners to project
your future medical expenses and losses and include those as part of your claim.
You should get the medical treatment that you need and consult a personal
injury lawyer about your legal rights to seek compensation.
How to File a Claim After a Bicycle Accident
If you have been involved in a serious bicycle accident involving another
vehicle, you may be eligible to file an injury claim after the at-fault
driver's no-fault insurance has paid at least $5000 of your medical
bills. It's important to recognize that every bike accident has its
own unique circumstances, contributing factors and degrees of injury.
An experienced injury attorney can review the specific details of your
bicycle accident and explain your legal options.
An injured bicyclist who qualifies to file an injury claim may pursue compensation for:
- Medical bills
- Rehabilitation expenses
- Lost income due to missed work
- Pain and suffering
If the accident was caused by a driver whose conduct showed wanton disregard
for public safety, such as a driver travelling at a very high speed, you
may be entitled to seek punitive damages from the at-fault driver as well. The
lawyers at Leavitt Yamane & Solder will review the specific facts of your accident and identify all the potentially
responsible parties who may have liability for your injuries. We will
interview witnesses and make sure that the bicyclist's version of
what happened in the accident is part of the record and not ignored by
insurance companies biased in favor of car drivers.
We will represent you in negotiations with the insurance company and seek
a settlement that reflects the full extent of your injuries. If the insurance
company refuses to make a fair settlement, we will pursue the claim in
court, where we have been successful in helping many clients.
To learn more about how we can help, please give us a call today.