BICYCLE ACCIDENT – NO WITNESSES

Case Description

A cyclist was found unconscious on the northbound side of the road. The police accident report concluded that the cyclist had lost control of his bicycle due to gravel along the edge of the road. There were no witnesses to the incident. The cyclist was wearing a helmet at the time.

Steps Taken:

ARCCA’s expert conducted a comprehensive accident investigation that entailed:

  • Reviewing the police accident report and photographs;
  • Reviewing the deposition testimony of the cyclist;
  • Conducting an inspection of the subject bicycle;
  • Conducting an inspection of the cyclist’s riding apparel and bicycle helmet;
  • Performing a site inspection documenting the roadway geometry and conditions;
  • Reviewing the medical records;
  • Performing a fit check to assess the proximity of a side mirror to the cyclist’s buttocks; and
  • Conducting a bicycle safety analysis of the cyclist’s actions/or inactions.

Final Findings:

ARCCA’s inspection of the bicycle and the cyclist’s riding apparel revealed several key findings: an abrasion to the right rear of the seat; the seat was twisted, with the right side higher; scuff marks on the right buttock area of the cyclist’s riding shorts; and abrasions to the front left side of his helmet. A review of the medical records indicated that the cyclist sustained predominately left-sided injuries, a neck fracture consistent with neck extension, and a contusion on the right lower buttock area. The site inspection showed that the road was a very lightly traveled country road with edges that were broken and uneven, and had rutted sides in the area of the incident. The cyclist testified that he did not remember anything about the accident, but his normal route was southbound (into the photograph). He indicated he would generally ride towards the center of the road because the right side was broken and had uneven conditions.

The confluence of the evidence suggested that the cyclist was contacted on his right rear buttock by a phantom vehicle passing on the right. The ARCCA expert confirmed this theory with a vehicle fit check that demonstrated the right side driver’s mirror would have been in close proximity to the cyclist’s right rear buttock. Furthermore, there would have been enough room for a vehicle to pass the cyclist on the right with the cyclist riding out towards the center. The impact to the cyclist’s right side was consistent with him coming to rest on the left side of the road. The ARCCA expert also found that the cyclist’s position towards the center of the roadway was consistent with safe cycling practices for avoiding hazardous roadway conditions.