Bike accident victim hit by car and then charged by the police!
Excellent article today in the Washington Post about Rosslyn’s “Intersection of Doom.” It accurately portrays a Kafkaesque situation we deal with at Bike Law on a weekly basis: cyclist hit by a car, transported to the hospital, and presented with a traffic ticket by the police:
“Lindsey Kelley says she was biking through the crosswalk [ed: the correct place for her to be riding] at the intersection last Monday evening when she was hit by a gold sedan. The 23-year-old never spoke to the woman that hit her, but a man in a black SUV [ed: you can’t make this stuff up, a black SUV!] stopped to reprimand her, she said, telling her that bikes should be on the sidewalk, that she came out of nowhere and that the crash was her fault. A U.S. Park Police officer asked whether she was hurt and needed an ambulance; she said yes.
She saw the officer again when he came to her hospital room and gave her a $70 ticket for “disregarding traffic signs or road markings.”
“He said, “Don’t get your blood pressure raised; here’s your ID and here’s your ticket. Now let me explain why I’m giving it to you,”” Kelley recalled. He said a witness [ed: remember the black SUV?] had told him that she was not in the crosswalk when she was hit. She protested, she said, and he told her that he had not been there to see the crash.”
Kelley is a trained and experienced bike commuter, having taken a safety class offered by the Washington Area Bicyclist Association. She had photographic evidence that her bike was lying in the crosswalk, but to no avail. The police officer delivered to her, while she was in a hospital bed, a unfounded ticket.
We wish Lindsay the best in fighting this ticket in traffic court. But the damage is already done and the ticket adds insult to literal injury.
As bicycle accident lawyers in Maryland and across the country, we at Bike Law deal with this exact problem all the time: an experienced cyclists is riding precisely where the law dictates, is hit by the negligence of a driver (and put in a bad spot because of horrible bike infrastructure), and then blamed and charged with a traffic crime by untrained and possibly biases law enforcement personnel. How many times have our clients been charged by police officers who deliver a ticket to a hospital without conducting a thorough investigation and sometimes without even speaking to the injured cyclist directly? Answer: all the damn time.
What can we do? We train police officers to prevent the problem (an uphill struggle, to be sure) and we fight in traffic court to protect the rights of cyclists. One day, we hope that cyclists will be treated with respect and not unfairly blamed by bad cops, but until then, we will continue to fight and win.
Let us know if we can help. We are always available at 844-531-7530 and at email@example.com.
Bike Law founder and bicycle crash lawyer Peter Wilborn has raced, toured, commuted, and ridden his bike daily for fun. In 1998, Peter had a bike tragedy in his own family, realized firsthand the need for lawyers who understand cycling, and devoted his law practice to Bike Law.