Updated: Nov 28, 2020
How a Personal Injury Attorney Experienced in Bicycle Accidents Can Help
Most cyclists in California are aware of the dangers of bike travel and most of the time they take the necessary precautions to prevent injuries. Despite all the precautions, bicycle accidents do happen causing injuries.
A California bicycle accident lawyer can help you after an accident by getting the maximum compensation possible from the driver’s insurance company on your behalf.
A Los Angeles Personal Injury Attorney with experience in bicycle accidents is helpful because he/she knows the law and can pursue all the legal avenues to get the compensation you deserve.
Bicycle accidents are very common in California because of the busy roads. Distracted drivers speeding while driving commercial trucks, and buses are the main causes of bicycle accidents in California. In many cases, they fail to to see cyclists when they are riding in a designated lane or sharing a traffic lane.
In fact, in Los Angeles County alone there were over 1,396 collisions involving bicycle accidents in 2019. While drivers are well protected by seat belts, airbags, and a metal chassis, cyclists only have a helmet to protect themselves in the event of an accident.
It’s no surprise that bicycle-related injuries lead to nearly 500,000 emergency room visits per year and hundreds of fatal accidents.
More than 260 cyclists died in California in 2019 alone.
California Law Pertaining To Bicycle Drivers
Section 21200 of the California Vehicle Code states that bicycle drivers have the same rights and responsibilities as individuals driving other types of motor vehicles. This means that a bicyclist is subject to the same traffic laws such as driving under the influence, giving pedestrians the right-of-way, and traffic signals.
There are a few special conditions that apply to the interactions between motor vehicle drivers and cyclists on the road.
Effective in 2014, California requires that all drivers give bicycle drivers at least three feet of space when sharing the road. In addition, no one may block a designated bicycle lane by stopping. One law which many drivers fail to comply is that cyclists have the right to “take the lane” even if they are moving slower in traffic under the following circumstances:
When making a left turn,
When avoiding obstacles in the road,
When a lane is too narrow to share with other vehicles, and
When getting close to a corner where a right turn is authorized.
Bicycle drivers must also be aware that California law requires that all cyclists ride with the flow of traffic unless passing, while making a legal left turn, riding on a one-way street, riding on a road that is too narrow, or when the right side of the road is closed due to construction.
Who is Liable for a Bicycle Accident in California?
Depending on how your bicycle accident occurred and what lead to the accident, people driving a motor vehicle can be responsible because of reckless driving, failure to properly stop at a stop sign or crosswalk, hit and run, or driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
If you were hurt after a bicycle accident as a result of a driver’s negligence, California law allows you to sue the driver's insurance company in court to compensate you for all your injuries.
This type of lawsuit is frequently referred to as a “personal injury” lawsuit.
Most personal injury lawsuits include a legal claim for negligence which is defined as the failure by someone to act with the level of care that a reasonable person would have exercised under the same or similar circumstances.
When your Los Angeles Personal Injury Attorney proves that a driver’s negligence caused your injuries and other losses, such as time away from work, you can secure a court order that requires the driver to pay you for all your injuries, pain and suffering.
If the driver responsible for causing the bicycle accident was issued a traffic ticket or charged with a criminal offense in connection with the accident, this can be clear evidence of negligence. Under a legal theory called “negligence per se,” you do not need to prove that the driver should have acted differently under the circumstances.
How Can Cyclists Prevent Bicycle Accidents in California?
Based on our experience with numerous bicycle accidents in California we recommend the following steps to be taken:
Be familiar with the rules of the road: Cyclists should be aware of the laws that apply to bicyclists where they ride. The California cycling laws discussed above are uniform across the state. However, individual cities may have specific rules governing bicycle riders.
Wear a helmet at all times: All minors under the age of 18 in California must wear a helmet when riding a bicycle. Helmets are not required by law for adults in most California cities, however, they can prevent serious injury or death in the event of an accident.
Make sure your bike is well equipped: Cyclists should equip their bikes with mirrors to help then while changing lanes. Cyclists who ride in dark conditions should also install front and rear lights on their bicycles. Blinking lights are also highly recommended because they are inexpensive and enhance your protection while riding your bike.
Wear bright clothes or a fluorescent vest: Cyclists should wear bright clothes or fluorescent gear to make themselves more visible to other drivers. Cyclists who like to ride at night should always add reflective tape to their helmet.
Always signal when turning or braking: Cyclists should always use proper hand signals to indicate when they will make a turn or brake.
Always be alert of your surroundings: Do not use earphones or talk on a cell phone while riding. California law specifically prohibits wearing earphones that cover both ears. Cyclists should stay alert and aware of their surroundings at all times and pay attention to any vehicles and pedestrians around them.
How much is my bicycle accident case worth?
The value of a bicycle accident claim in California depends on a variety of factors and can vary significantly from case to case. The compensation depends on the following factors:
The severity of your injuries;
The costs associated with you medical treatment and whether you require ongoing treatment in the future;
Whether your injuries caused you to miss work and lose income;
If your injuries caused any long-term or permanent impairments, disfigurement, or disabilities; and
The amount of physical and/or emotional suffering you experienced as a result of your injuries.
An experienced Los Angeles Personal Injury Attorney in California can review the circumstances of your individual case to determine what your claim may be worth. Just because you filed a claim in court does not mean you will go to trial.
In fact, most accident cases are settled through negotiations that happen before trial and out of court. Your Los Angeles Personal Injury Attorney will seek out the best way to resolve your case in the most favorable way possible.