On the North Shore, bicycle riding is a very popular mode of transportation during the summer months. Some choose to take the opportunity to bike to work while others use a bicycle for more leisure activities. Perhaps pedaling along the ponds, rivers, streams or beautiful beaches that line the coast of the communities we live in. It is a great way to enjoy a sunny summer day with friends and family, while taking in the breathtaking Massachusetts views. Not to mention it is a great physical work out! However, biking can be a dangerous activity. According to an article on the Insurance Journal website highlighting the findings of a report published by the Governors Highway Safety Association, Spotlight on Highway Safety: Bicyclist Safety, the number of bicyclists killed on U.S. roadways is trending upward. According to the report there were 722 bicyclist-motor vehicle fatalities in 2012; up from 621 in 2010.
In a 2014 study conducted by the Boston Globe, the reporter found that collisions involving bicycles in the Greater Boston suburban area increased by 9 percent from 2010 to 2012, while statewide the number jumped 13 percent during the same three-year period. That same study showed that nearly 70 percent of the crashes resulted in injuries. In many situations collisions are caused by automobile drivers who fail to follow the basic rules of the road ignoring basic safety precautions. Further, the Globe report states that the Massachusetts Department of Transportation used a $461,851 federal grant to help train and educate police about the bike law in some Massachusetts communities including Lynn and Salem, as these cities were targeted because of the number of bike crashes. When a driver of an automobile is negligent and is responsible for causing an accident with a bicycle rider, the driver can be held accountable for the bike rider’s injuries.
There may also be additional claims against the driver’s employer or owner of the vehicle if the accident occurred during the commission of the driver’s employment. According to media reports, in 2013, Alexander Motsenigos was struck and killed by an 18-wheel truck while riding his bike in Wellesley. Motsenigos had been training for a triathlon and at the time of the incident he was lawfully riding a specialized bike with his helmet on. As he was riding he suddenly was stuck and pulled under the truck. The driver was hauling crushed concrete from Cambridge to Natick and according to police, drove off after the collision. The driver when later questioned by police, denied that he hit the cyclist. After criminal charges were not filed against the driver, Motsenigos’ family filed a civil suit in Norfolk Superior Court naming the driver of the truck, as well as his employer, C.J. Mabardy and Truck Leasing Family Limited Partnership, which owned the truck. The accident lawsuit alleged that the driver recklessly and negligently tried to pass Motsenigos when it was not safe to do so, despite the driver being familiar with the roads. The civil suit also alleged that the driver was an “extremely dangerous driver who should not have been behind the wheel of a truck” as apparently the driver had three decades of motor vehicle infractions and a seven page driving history with 19 license suspensions. The case is scheduled to go to trial in late 2015.
Every driver of a car or truck should do so carefully and responsibly. When drivers are negligent or fail to drive in a safe manner thereby violating safety rules, they should be held accountable. If you or a family member is injured while biking on the North Shore, the Boston area, or anywhere in Massachusetts, it is a good idea to speak with an injury lawyer as early as possible to make sure your rights are protected and defended.