Call

Blog

Law
02

Blog

Why Being a Bicycle Accident Lawyer Matters

Tennessee Bicycle Accident Lawyer Amy Benner on the challenges and opportunities of being an attorney for the rights of bicyclists.

Last Tuesday, I was thrilled to officially become affiliated with Tennessee Bike Law as the Tennessee attorney in the network, covering the State from Memphis to Nashville to Knoxville and all places in between. Well-timed, because on Wednesday, I traveled to Nashville to attend and speak at the third annual Tennessee Bike Summit. I have been advocating for safe streets and shared roadways for some time now. Additionally, I defend the rights of those accused of crimes. These two areas of law intersect quite nicely, because they allow for big picture thinking, which is a requirement for anyone honing into an area of practice that is new on the scene in the legal community.

By choosing to publicly announce that I practice in the area of Bike Law, I have placed myself in the midst of an area of controversy. Car crashes aren’t controversial. Car crashes involving cyclists are. For the cycling community, I have become an agent of change, justice, accountability and health equity. Detractors of the bicycle and pedestrian movement often comment that with all of the problems in the world, it seems petty that proponents of bicycle and pedestrian facilities make such a fuss over equal access to the roadways. Aren’t there wars, famines and disasters that we should be focused on, they say. Dear Mayor, please focus your efforts on gang violence, rather than bike lanes, may be a more localized retort here in Knoxville. To those critics, I would say, step back and look at the larger picture. Multiple causes that need champions surround us at all times.

The bicycle and pedestrian cause is of utmost importance. Visit an inner-city Bike Collective, where at-risk youths are taught a skill, given encouragement, and if they see it through, a bike which may be the first step to getting a job, which may prevent gang affiliation as their only perceived means of survival. Look at the big picture. My work as an officer of the Court, representing an affluent cyclist who was struck by a car in an area of town far away, has a very real impact on the success of the inner-city bike collective. As a vulnerable roadway user, the affluent cyclist has rights and needs me to fight for his access to justice as well.

Now, let me narrow in. Bike Law is a very specialized area of practice. It is not general personal injury plaintiff’s work. Personal injury cases involving bikes present a host of issues that the typical personal injury case does not. Bike Law requires the ability to operate effectively in the personal injury legal system as it is, while understanding the unique gaps that will need to be filled in to have a successful bicycle injury case, which the cycling community has such a strong desire to see happen.

Regular attendance at state-wide and national bike summits are crucial for any attorney practicing in the area of Bike Law. While it may not seem directly related to filing a personal injury claim, having an in-depth knowledge of transportation planning legislation, the bike and pedestrian policies of a state’s DOT, knowing what community health projects are in the works in a state, and having a working relationship with the coordinators of Metropolitan Planning Organizations, among other things, all help immensely in developing a legal argument to support your injured client. Start with the big picture and narrow in.

Developing a niche practice in an area that is a controversial topic in mainstream society requires a thick skin. A bike lawyer may very well be laughed at. Belief in a cause and confidence in what you are doing means that vitriolic irrational anger, or laughter and skepticism mean little. Jim Sayer, Executive Director of Adventure Cycling Association, was a keynote speaker for the TN Summit. Jim quoted Schopenhauer and said that, “All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident.” He opined that here in the U.S., cyclists find ourselves in the second stage. I am inclined to agree with him. My willingness to have the violent opposition directed my way if it means that I’m getting positive outcomes for my bike law clients, is the reason why I’m so thrilled to be a part of the Bike Law team.

Comments

Is It Illegal to Ride Your Bike on the Sidewalk bikelaw
Peter Wilborn Aug 01, 2022

The laws dictating whether you can ride your bike on the sidewalk differ depending where you live. Different states have different laws on this matter, and local ordinances also vary. Let’s take a look at the legal framework behind various state laws related to cycling on sidewalks. The laws of sidewalk-riding can be very complicated […]

Read More
Ebike crash
Bruce Hagen Apr 26, 2022

DRIVER ON METH KILLS 17 YEAR OLD BICYCLIST, BARROW COUNTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY REFUSES TO CHARGE DRIVER WITH FELONY.   On August 23, 2020, at approximately 8:40pm, 17-year old Obianuju Osuegbu was on her way home from her summer job working at a grocery store. She had earned enough money that summer to buy herself a […]

Read More
Stop as Yield
Brian Weiss Apr 25, 2022

Finally, “Stop As Yield” (the much sought after common sense traffic law for bicyclists) is coming to Colorado in 2022, likely July 1st.   Stop as Yield, aka the “Safety Stop” After the Governor Polis signs the law and the Safety Stop becomes effective, anyone who rides a bicycle or scooter on public roads will […]

Read More
Contributory Negligence
Ann Groninger Apr 25, 2022

It took losing at trial and a long appellate process, but it ended in a blow to contributory negligence in North Carolina. We just won an appeal on a bicycle crash case that happened in 2016 and came to us in 2018. The case went to trial during the spring of 2021. Our client was […]

Read More
Bike accident on sidewalk
Ann Groninger Mar 03, 2022

At Bike Law North Carolina, we’ve seen our share of collisions between bicyclists and motorists at sidewalk intersections. Two recent cases, one which we tried and lost and the other, which settled favorably to our client, highlight the challenges, especially in North Carolina and other pure contributory negligence states (Alabama, Virginia and Maryland).   The […]

Read More
WALLER CRASH
Rachael Maney Nov 08, 2021

WALLER 6 UPDATE: November 20, 2021 The teenage son of Jason and Jennifer Arnold, who, with their permission, was operating his parents’ F-250 diesel truck when he plowed into our 6 clients while they were riding their bicycles on September 25th, 2021 in Waller, Texas, was released to his parents on Thursday afternoon (11/18/21) after […]

Read More
Atlanta Bike Crash
Peter Wilborn Oct 25, 2021

Many of you have heard about the horrific multi-victim crash from October 7, 2021, in which a Chattanooga driver brutally plowed her car into a group of 5 pedestrians as they were crossing a street, causing catastrophic and life changing injuries. In the chaotic aftermath of running a red light and almost killing an entire […]

Read More
Waller Bike Crash Carnage
Rachael Maney Oct 02, 2021

PRESS RELEASE FROM BIKE LAW’S NATIONAL DIRECTOR RACHAEL MANEY In light of the recent Waller Bike Crash in Texas, and in an effort to help untangle and unpack some of the emotionally-charged comments, questions, and inaccurate assumptions being made, we want to update you on the parts that we can share. I hope that this […]

Read More
Brother James
Peter Wilborn Sep 29, 2021

23 years ago today, the world lost my brother Jim. He was killed on his bike by an under-aged driver who blew through a red light. While the years don’t really blunt the loss, they foster gratitude for the gifts left behind. My brother blessed me with so much, but 3 things stand out:   […]

Read More
Load More