California continues to top the list for bicycle accident deaths in the nation. However, state and local governments are slow to implement safety measures to protect cyclists in California. Therefore, bicyclists need to take extra steps to protect themselves from a crash with a motorist. They also need to know what to do in the event of a bicycle accident with a motor vehicle.
Keep reading to learn more about:
- California Bicycle Accident Statistics
- Who is Responsible for a California Bicycle Accident?
- Steps to Take After a California Bicycle Accident
California Bicycle Accident Statistics
California led the nation in bicycle accident deaths in 2016, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). The state had the second-highest number of bicycle fatalities in 2014, 2015, and 2017.
The California Office of Traffic Safety issued a traffic safety report in February 2018 (Bicycle Injuries in California, 2007 – 2013) that stated bicycle injure rates increased by 21 percent from 2007 to 2013. In 2007, 10,574 cyclists were injured in traffic accidents. In 2013, the number of bicycle accident injuries rose to 13,334. Over the seven-year period, 918 bicyclists died on California roads.
Even though many communities and state agencies have taken steps to improve safety for bicyclists, there are still thousands of cyclists injured each year in bicycle crashes involving motor vehicles. If you are hit by a vehicle while riding your bicycle, are you responsible for the damages? Is the driver of the motor vehicle responsible? How do you know?
Who is Responsible for a California Bicycle Accident?
A bicycle accident with a motor vehicle should be reported to law enforcement officials, just like a traffic accident involving two or more motor vehicles. A police officer investigates the bicycle accident to determine how the accident occurred and whether the driver or the bicyclist’s actions contributed to the cause of the bicycle-vehicle accident. The officer may or may not issue a traffic citation to the motorist, the bicyclist, or both individuals. However, the police officer’s determination is not the final decision.
In many cases, a police officer may not speak with all eyewitnesses at the accident scene. The officer may not have the benefit of reviewing video evidence or taking sufficient time to review all physical evidence in relation to what the driver and the bicyclist tell the officer. In many cases, the bicyclist and the driver have different stories of how the accident occurred. The officer must do his best to determine how the collision occurred to determine whether to cite either person for a traffic infraction.
However, an independent accident investigation may be necessary to identify the factors that led to the crash and assign fault to each party involved in the accident. Assigning fault is extremely important. How much fault you have for an accident determines your liability for damages.
For instance, if the driver of the motor vehicle is 100 percent at fault for causing the crash, the driver is 100 percent liable for your damages. However, if you are partially at fault for causing the crash, you cannot receive full compensation for all damages. Your compensation is reduced by the amount of fault assigned to you for causing the crash.
An insurance company might try to blame you for your bicycle accident to limit liability for a negligent driver. A California bicycle accident attorney can conduct an independent investigation to determine how the crash occurred and gather evidence proving fault.
Steps to Take After a California Bicycle Accident
It can be difficult to know what to do after a bicycle crash. Do you need to call the police? Should you go to the doctor? Do you need a California bicycle accident lawyer to file a claim?
Because each case is different, it might not be possible for you to take all of the following steps after a bicycle crash. However, these steps can help you protect your legal rights after a driver causes a bicycle accident:
- Call 911 to report the accident, even if the driver leaves the scene. You need a written report to document the bicycle crash.
- If someone witnessed the accident, ask that person for his or her name and contact information. Also, if there are bystanders who hear the driver admit responsibility for causing the crash, ask those individuals for their names and contact information.
- Never admit fault for causing a bicycle accident. Saying “I’m sorry” can be construed as admitting fault.
- See a doctor as soon as you can after a bicycle accident. Some injuries may not be immediately apparent after a crash. It is best to be checked by a medical professional to evaluate your condition. You also want a written record of your injuries for a personal injury claim. Delays in medical care can hurt an injury claim.
- Take photographs of your injuries throughout your recovery to document how you suffered and any permanent scarring or disfigurement.
- Avoid discussing your accident on social media or providing statements to insurance companies. Remember, insurance companies may record telephone calls without notifying you that your conversation is being recorded.
- Contact a California bicycle accident attorney to discuss your case. An attorney can be extremely helpful when investigating and pursuing a bicycle accident claim.
Do You Need a California Bicycle Accident Attorney?
If you have been injured in a bicycle crash, talking to a bicycle accident attorney in California can be one of the best steps you take to protect your right to fair compensation from the driver who hit you. Our legal team can help you:
- Obtain copies of police reports and medical records
- Identify parties who might be liable for your damages
- Investigate sources of insurance and other forms of compensation
- Gather evidence of financial losses and other damages
- Calculate the value of your bicycle accident claim
- File insurance claims and negotiate with insurance companies
- Work to lower subrogation claims by health insurance companies, Medicaid, and Medicare
- File a personal injury lawsuit, if necessary, to protect your best interests
To schedule a free consultation with an attorney to discuss your bicycle accident, contact The Thompson Law Office by calling 1-650-513-6111.
We are here for you when you need trusted legal counsel to provide advice, guidance, and support as you continue to recover from a bicycle accident.