Bicycle accident can be severe and even fatal. Legal issues in bicycle accidents can be different than the issues in car accidents, so these cases demand the assistance of a Los Angeles bicycle accident attorney with knowledge in this field of bicycle accidents law. Although bicycle accidents can occur because of manufacturing defects of the bicycle, negligently-maintained premises, or unsafe road conditions, many bicycle accidents occur after a collision with another vehicle on the road.
Most cars have safety features and are meticulously tested and retested for their ability to withstand the forces generated in a crash. In contrast, bicycles offer no real protection to their riders. It is no surprise, then, that when a car and a bicycle collide, the bicyclist usually sustains greater injuries. Unfortunately, many drivers are unaware that they must share the road with bicycle riders. In 2014 the State of California enacted California Vehicle Code section 21760 which requires a driver of a motor vehicle to keep a distance of at least 3 feet between any part of the motor vehicle and any part of the bicycle or its operator when overtaking or passing a bicycle proceeding in the same direction. Even if you, the bicycle rider, are careful, you may still find yourself involved in an accident that is not your fault.
California also has a bicycle helmet law for persons under the age of 18. According to California Vehicle Code Section 21212(a), people under 18 years of age shall not operate a bicycle unless they are “wearing a properly fitted and fastened bicycle helmet.” Although there is no helmet requirement for individuals who are 18 and older, it is always a good idea to wear one. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration(NHTSA), a properly fitted helmet is the single most effective way to prevent a brain injury in case of a bicycle accident.
According to our Los Angeles bicycle accident attorney, some of the most common causes of bicycle accidents involving motor vehicles include:
Dooring accidents occur when an occupant of a vehicle quickly opens their door, unaware that a bicyclist is approaching. These accidents usually happen so fast the bicyclist does not have time to react and hits the door at full speed. While the damage to the vehicle may be minimal, injuries to the cyclist can be severe.
Sideswiping occurs when a motor vehicle driver is not observant and does not see a bicyclist in a neighboring lane. The motor vehicle driver then switches lanes, and the side of their vehicle collides with the bicyclist. The injuries in these types of accidents can be catastrophic.
A bicycle legally stopped at a red traffic signal or stop sign always runs the risk of being rear ended by a motor vehicle. These types of accidents usually cause the bicycle rider to be thrown off the bicycle and violently collide with the pavement. All bicycles should have a rear flashing LED tail light installed to reduce the risk of being hit by a car, but sometimes the accident is unavoidable by the bicyclist.
The use of hands-free technology is steadily increasing for all types of people, and bicyclists are no exception. It is becoming common to see a bicycle rider wearing headphones or using a cell phone. Distractions such as these take the rider’s attention away from their immediate surroundings and can lead to serious accidents.
Unlike a bicycle rider, a motor vehicle driver has significant protection in case of a collision. Even so, automobile drivers should always be vigilant when paying attention to their surroundings. Failure to do so can result in collisions with bicyclists.
All motor vehicles have blind spots, or areas where the driver is unable to see. To avoid being in one of these spots, a bicyclist should try to always be in the driver’s direct line of sight. One way of doing this is to avoid stopping to the right of a motor vehicle. Instead, it is much safer to stop behind a motor vehicle where the driver has a clear line of sight via their rear-view mirror.
A motor vehicle driver cannot intentionally avoid hitting a bicyclist if they do not see them. Because of this, cyclists should ride during daylight hours whenever possible and avoid riding at night unless they are wearing reflective clothing.
Drivers should always be on the lookout for others and yield the right of way to bicyclists whenever possible to avoid a crash. Motor vehicle drivers should also always come to a complete stop at red lights and stop signs to avoid a collision with a cyclist.
A reckless driver weaving in and out of traffic is much less likely to see a bicyclist and is less likely to stay in their lane. A driver that is speeding is also a danger to anyone on a bicycle. The faster a motor vehicle travels, the less time a driver has to stop should they need to. Finally, a reckless driver that fails to look thoroughly at a crosswalk for bicyclists and pedestrians is more likely to be involved in an accident. When a driver is reckless, they may be held liable to punitive damages. Whether or not a bicyclist should receive punitive damages is a question for an experienced Los Angeles bicycle accident lawyer.
Collisions with motor vehicles are not the only way a bicyclist can be in an accident. Other ways include:
According to the NHTSA, the following are accurate statistics regarding bicycle accidents in the United States:
If you have been involved in a bike accident, you should contact an experienced Los Angeles bicycle injury attorney who is well versed in California bicycle accident litigation and can give you advice on your legal rights and possibilities. You may be able to successfully sue the driver of the vehicle for negligence and obtain compensation for your injuries, pain, and suffering. To prove negligence on the part of the driver, your attorney must prove that the driver owed you a duty of reasonable care; the driver breached that duty; you were injured; and the driver’s breach caused your injury. If your attorney can successfully prove negligence, you will be entitled to receive damages to compensate you for your medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering. Similarly, if your bicycle accident lawyer can prove that the driver acted recklessly, such as in drunk driving cases, they may be able to recover punitive damages as well.
Upon retaining a Los Angeles bicycle accident attorney, he or she will discuss topics with you such as: liability, legal compensation, medical compensation, compensation for lost wages, and traffic laws. Your lawyer will also look at such things as:
Your Los Angeles bicycle accident attorney will explain and make sure you completely understand what your legal options are. Thus equipped, you will be empowered to make the best legal decisions based on your specific circumstances. Bicycle accidents are very stressful and often require severe medical attention. You should not have to go through this tough situation alone. You deserve and are legally entitled to retain a confident and skilled Los Angeles personal bicycle accident lawyer who can discuss your case and the relevant law; deal with the insurance company in settlement negotiations or go to court, if need be; and fight for the compensation you are entitled to.
Our personal injury law office is located in Los Angeles (Century City), California. We serve clients throughout the great State of California and if you are unable to travel to our office, we will meet with you at your home or office.