We do not want to frighten anyone or encourage anyone to give up bicycling. Overall, bicycling is a safe and enjoyable activity throughout California. However, we do believe that riders need to be aware of the danger they face each time they ride. We also believe that cyclists should understand their legal rights and the options they have for recovering compensation after a bicycle accident. In this article, our California cyclist accident attorney discusses:
- Current Cyclist Accident Statistics for California
- Legal Rights Protecting Bicyclists After an Accident
- Compensation Available for Bicyclists After a Bicycle Accident
- Bicycle Safety Tips That Can Help Avoid Injuries and Accidents
Current California Cyclist Accident StatisticsBicycle injuries and fatalities have been increasing for several years. Some of the alarming California cyclist accident statistics available to date include:
- 124 pedalcyclist fatalities were reported in California in 2017. California had the second-highest number of bicycle accident fatalities that year.
- According to the NHTSA, California had the highest or second-highest number of pedalcyclist deaths each year from 2007 through 2017.
- Fatal bicycle accidents increased by 8.1 percent from 2015 to 2016 in California.
- From 2007 through 2013, bicycle injury rates increased by 21 percent in California.
- From 2007 through 2013, 87,845 bicycle injuries were reported. San Joaquin had the highest bicyclist fatality rate for the period followed by Sacramento and Fresno.
Bigger cities with larger populations often have a higher bicycle accident rate compared to smaller cities. Larger cities tend to see an increased number of individuals riding bicycles to commute to and from work. Recreation and health reasons also encourage individuals to ride bicycles both in small and large cities. However, even with bicycle lanes and bicycle safety programs, individuals face many dangers when riding bicycles.
Legal Rights Protecting Cyclists After an AccidentIf a bicyclist is injured in a bicycle accident, the person is protected by California’s personal injury laws. By proving that the negligence or wrongdoing of a motorist or other party caused the bicycle accident, a rider can recover compensation for injuries and damages caused by the crash. However, the crucial step in recovering compensation is proving fault.
Investigating a California Cyclist Accident
Proving that another party caused a bicycle accident can be a complicated undertaking. In some bicycle accidents, it is clear that another party caused the crash. For example, a driver may cause an accident by failing to yield the right of way to a bicyclist in a bike lane or a driver may crash into a bicyclist because the driver was texting while driving. However, it is not always clear how a bicycle accident occurred.
A California bicycle accident attorney investigates the cause of a bicycle crash to gather evidence that proves who caused the bicycle crash. Some of the steps that an attorney may take when investigating a bicycle accident claim include:
- Interviewing witnesses and bystanders
- Gathering physical evidence, including photographs, from the accident scene
- Obtaining and reviewing copies of accident reports, police reports, and insurance reports
- Searching for and obtaining copies of videos of the accident, including videos from traffic cameras, red-light cameras, and surrounding surveillance cameras
- Obtaining copies of medical records and discussing injuries with physicians
- Inspecting physical damage to the vehicle and the bicycle
- Consulting with experts and professionals
Depending on the circumstances and facts in the case, an attorney may take many more steps when investigating the cause of a bicycle accident.
Proving Fault for a Bicycle Accident
In most cases, proving fault for a bicycle accident involves proving the legal elements of negligence:
- The driver owed a duty of care to the bicyclist;
- The driver breached the duty of care;
- The breach was the cause of the accident;
- The accident resulted in injuries and damages for the bicyclist.
Since every driver owes a duty of care to operate a vehicle safely to avoid causing a crash, the most difficult step is to prove how the driver breached the duty and how the breach caused the bicycle accident. In some accident cases, it may be necessary to retain an accident reconstructionist or other expert to help prove how the crash occurred and that the actions of the driver were the proximate cause of the crash.
Working with an experienced California bicycle accident attorney is usually the best choice, especially when fault for an accident is disputed.
Compensation Available for Bicyclists After a Bicycle AccidentThe compensation available for a California cyclist accident claim depends on numerous factors. Fault and insurance coverage are two of the main factors that determine whether an accident victim will receive full compensation for damages after being injured in a bicycle accident. You must prove that the other party was 100 percent at fault for the accident to have a chance of recovering full compensation for all damages. If you are found to be partially at fault for the bicycle accident, your compensation can be reduced by the percentage of fault assigned to you for the crash under California’s comparative negligence laws.
Also, if the driver carries minimum liability insurance coverage, the insurance coverage may not be enough to compensate you for all damages. If you carry underinsured motorist coverage, your personal injury attorney can help you file a claim seeking additional compensation. However, these insurance claims can also be complicated and challenging to win.
In most bicycle accident cases, the victims are entitled to recover compensation for financial damages (i.e. medical bills, lost income, & other economic losses). Additionally, they may also receive compensation for their noneconomic or “pain & suffering” damages. Noneconomic damages include physical, mental, and emotional suffering as well as compensation for permanent disability and impairments.
A Burlingame bicycle accident lawyer understands how to document damages to calculate the value of a bicycle accident claim accurately.
Bicycle Safety Tips That Can Help Avoid Injuries and AccidentsWhen you ride your bicycle, there are steps you can take to decrease the chance you might be injured in a bicycle accident. Some bicycle safety tips to remember include:
- Always wear a bicycle helmet and other protective bicycle gear when riding.
- Always obey all traffic laws when riding a bicycle.
- Equip your bicycle with reflectors and lights to increase visibility for drivers.
- Wear brightly colored clothing when riding.
- Avoid riding alone or when visibility is poor, such as at night or in poor weather conditions.
- Teach children bicycle safety rules and ride with children to ensure they follow safety rules.