Danger of bicycle accidents, even for the cautious

Dale Ching had been spending less time with his bicycle lately, frequently opting to exercise on an indoor cycle. Two of his friends had recently been in bicycle accidents – one in Troy and one in Burnt Hills – and he was feeling a little wary. 

“As you get older, I think you tend to get more cautious about your health,” said Dr. Ching, an optometrist in Saratoga Springs. “A lot of the cars don’t give us a lot of room. Their mentality is that they see us as being nuisances on the road. Sometimes we get yelled at. Sometimes they crowd us off the road.”

But on his birthday in 2015, he took advantage of a beautiful September afternoon to meet up with a friend for a bike ride. He was on his way home, when his fears became real.

 “I was biking on Route 9, and I made a signal and started a right turn. It was funny, because I meant to keep going straight,” Dale said. “If I hadn’t made that turn for no apparent reason, the car would have hit me straight on, and I guess it would have been a lot worse. I guess someone up there was looking out for me.”

What did happen is that the car behind him passed on the left as Dale was making his right turn, but got too close. Dale was clipped on his side by the rear left fender of a car and thrown to the ground. His bike helmet split apart and he was knocked unconscious.

“So, I was lucky no one else ran over me,” Dale said. “When I woke up, I saw two paramedics standing over me. They took me to Saratoga Hospital, where they did a CAT scan, and they determined I had fractured my hip and had a subdural hematoma.”

Because of the bleeding in his brain, he was transferred by ambulance to Albany Medical Center, in case neurosurgery would be required.

 “This was the first time I’d ever been in a car accident where I was hurt, and I didn’t know what to do,” Dr. Ching said. “I knew the medical bills would be a lot, and I just wanted to make sure those were covered.”

Dale’s son does some occasional work for a local judge in town, and asked him for advice. 

“He said, ‘Contact an attorney.’ His recommendation was that the best personal injury attorney in the area was George LaMarche,” Dale said.

LaMarche was able to contact witnesses to the accident, who confirmed that Dale had signalled his right turn and hadn’t swung wide or to the left. He dealt with the insurance company to make sure the tens of thousands in expenses for the two hospitals, the two ambulance rides, four months of recovery, follow up care and three months of physical therapy were covered.

“I felt a little bit funny at first, because nobody ever wants to talk to an attorney. But this wasn’t just a little bruising. I wasn’t sure if I would have lasting affects or if I would need long term care,” Dale said. “George took care of everything.”