No matter where you live in California, you probably see people biking as a healthy and/or environmentally friendly alternative to driving a car. Biking has become a popular form of exercise and mode of transportation in California and in many other parts of the country. Unfortunately, it can prove fatal when a collision occurs between a bike and motor vehicle. Most bicyclists are well aware of such potential dangers and take precautions to avoid them. Sadly, not all drivers do the same and bicycle accidents remain a fairly frequent occurrence. In 2018 alone, there were more than 47,000 pedalcyclists injured and 857 killed in motor vehicle traffic accidents across the United States, with 155 of those deaths occurring in California. If you are injured or a loved one is killed in a bicycle accident where another person was at fault, you have the right to file a lawsuit against that person and pursue compensation for your losses. Call our personal injury firm today to see if you have a case. Our experienced bicycle accident attorneys are standing by, ready to help.
- Common Causes of Bicycle Accidents
- Bicycle vs Auto Accident Scenarios
- Open-Door Accidents
- Unexpected Reversals
- Left-Hand Turn Accidents
- Merging and Lane Changes
- Motorists Overtaking Bicyclists
- Intersection Collisions
- Poor Roadway Design or Conditions
- Types of Bicycle Accident Injuries
- Who is Liable for Bike Accident Injuries?
- How Can a Bicycle Accident Attorney Help?
Common Causes of Bicycle Accidents
Many bicycle accidents are caused by rider error. A cyclist may be distracted and collide with another bike or take a turn too fast and end up falling and suffering minor injuries. However, in some cases, other parties – such as motorists – are to blame for a bicycle accident. In these situations, the bicyclist may have a claim against the driver that caused the accident.
Bicycle vs Auto Accident Scenarios
California Vehicle Code (CVC) Section 22517 requires motorists to check for traffic before opening their car or truck door to ensure the safety of other road users, including bicyclists. Unfortunately, many motorists and passengers still open their car doors without first looking for traffic, which can lead to injuries – or even death – if a cyclist crashes into the open door.
Bike accidents sometimes happen when drivers fail to look for cyclists when backing their vehicles out of side streets or driveways onto the road. Under California law, motorists are legally required to exercise proper caution when entering onto a roadway and a bicycle accident caused by an unexpected reversal could result in a personal injury or wrongful death claim against the driver.
Left-Hand Turn Accidents
Under CVC 21801, drivers are required to yield the right of way to oncoming traffic (motorists and cyclists included) any time they are making a left-hand turn. Unfortunately, some drivers fail to see or properly yield to bicyclists, thus causing or contributing to a bicycle accident.
Merging and Lane Changes
Bicyclists can also get injured – or even killed – when motorists attempting to change lanes or merge into traffic fail to check their side or rearview mirrors for oncoming cyclists.
Motorists Overtaking Bicyclists
CVC 21200 clearly states that bicyclists have the same rights as motorists on the road. They are permitted to travel on most roadways and on some highways in California, so long as they obey the law and move along with the flow of traffic. However, some drivers get frustrated driving behind cyclists and may attempt to pass them without providing adequate space (at least three feet) between their vehicle and the bicycle, thereby increasing the risk of an accident.
Intersections are where bicyclists are most at risk of being involved in an accident with a motor vehicle. In fact, only about 11% of bicycle accidents involve a collision with a motor vehicle, but of these, 45% take place in an intersection. These accidents typically occur because of drivers who either underestimate the speed of a bicycle, forget to watch out for bicycles when making turns at intersections, or simply fail to see bicycles because they are smaller and less visible than other motor vehicles.
Poor Roadway Design or Conditions
Defective road design or unsafe roadway conditions such as potholes, projecting objects and debris can also cause or contribute to bicycle accidents. In such instances, the organization or government agency responsible for designing and/or maintaining the roadway may be held liable for any damages that occur as a result of a bike accident.
Types of Bicycle Accident Injuries
Any time a bike accident occurs and a motor vehicle is involved, regardless of what caused the accident, the cyclist is at greater risk of injury due to his or her high level of physical exposure. Bicycles lack the protection that motor vehicles provide drivers and their passengers and riders are therefore more vulnerable to serious injuries in a collision with a motor vehicle. Some injuries commonly sustained in bicycle accidents include:
- Sprains and strains
- Dental injuries
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Spinal cord injuries
- Head and neck injuries
- Back injuries
- Internal organ damage
- Bone fractures
- Road rash
Although many bike accident victims seek medical treatment and are able to recover from their injuries in a matter of days or weeks, others are killed or left with permanent, life-altering injury or disability. The most severe bicycle accident injuries can result in costly medical bills, a loss of earning capacity, lost wages and pain and suffering for both victims and their loved ones.
Who is Liable for Bike Accident Injuries?
The at-fault party, or the person or entity responsible for causing the bicycle accident, can be held liable for the victim’s losses, but in order to recover proper compensation for these losses, the injured bicyclist will have to prove negligence. In order to win a negligence claim, the bicycle accident victim must be able to show that:
- The at-fault party (the defendant) owed the victim a duty of care,
- The defendant breached that duty,
- The breach directly caused the victim’s injuries, and
- The victim suffered damages as a direct result of the injuries.
How Can a Bicycle Accident Attorney Help?
If you are injured in a bicycle accident with a motor vehicle, you may be entitled to compensation from the driver’s insurance company. Unfortunately, actually recovering compensation for a bike accident claim can be extremely difficult. Insurance companies often deny legitimate claims, delay payment or go out of their way to make the process complicated enough that the injured party eventually gives up. If you are injured in a bicycle accident with a motor vehicle, trying to argue your case or negotiate with the driver’s insurance company may not be the best use of your time, especially if you are severely injured. Entrusting your case to an experienced personal injury attorney can significantly improve your chances of success in recovering the compensation you deserve. Our skilled personal injury attorneys have years of experience representing bike accident victims in court and we can assist you in pursuing fair and timely compensation for your injuries and losses.