California Bicycle Accidents Lawyer & Laws

California is the ideal state for riding bicycles. There are thousands of miles of scenic roads and byways to explore, along the Pacific coastline and into the foothills and nearby mountain areas. There are ample parks to enjoy and plenty of great places for camping out along the way. In addition to general touring via bicycle, many people now are commuting to work on their bicycles and other pedal-powered vehicles. This increase in use is mirrored by an increase in bicycle accidents and fatalities, with California leading the list nationwide for bicycle fatalities.

According to the Governors Highway Safety Association, during the period 2010 – 2012, bicyclist deaths were highest in California, at 338. During that same time, California and just five other states had over 54% of cycling fatalities. During 2013, California again was at the top of the list for pedal cyclist (all vehicles powered by pedals) fatalities, 141, reported by the National Traffic Highway Safety Administration. Adult males accounted for the highest number of deaths and two-thirds of those who died were not wearing helmets.

California Bicycle Accidents Attorney

In the eyes of California state law, bicycles are vehicles, and riders must follow the same road rules as do drivers of motor vehicles, especially when it comes to right-of-way and safety. If you or a loved one were involved in an accident while riding a bicycle, get legal advice immediately from an experienced California Bicycle Accidents Attorney.

There are many elements to vehicle accidents that will affect a Personal Injury accident case, but special details apply to bicycle accidents. The best person to consult about this issue is a California Bicycle Accidents Attorney. They are up-to-date on recent court rulings in similar cases and have helped many others obtain fair compensation for accident injuries.

California Bicycle Accidents

Visibility is a major element of many California Bicycle Accidents. Obviously, bicycles and other pedal-powered vehicles are smaller even than motorcycles. Other motorists often just do not see a bicyclist, especially at intersections. Many bicycle accidents occur when a biker is within or entering an intersection and other motor vehicles are turning. Despite having the right-of-way, if a motorist does not see the biker, they proceed with their turn and the result can be fatal for the bicyclist.

Roads were not built with bicycling in mind; they accommodate larger motorized vehicles best, as there often is no separate bike lane or sidewalk nearby. Cars and trucks are considerably larger and drive at faster speeds, a combination that can be deadly if there is a collision with a bicyclist. When the bicycle rider also is not wearing a helmet, the chance that any accident results in a fatality will increase.

In the state of California, which leads the country in bicycle accidents and fatalities, there are several common factors similarly found in bicycle accidents nationwide:

  • Cyclist death rates increased by 16% during 2010-2012, up from 680 to 722; motor vehicle fatalities only increased by 1% in that same time period. Obviously, the motor vehicle death count was a far greater total, because that 1% was part of a very high number of overall crashes.
  • Male cyclists over age 20 account for the highest number of fatalities, about 74% in 2012.
  • Children have the highest rates of non-fatal injuries, about 60%.
  • Not wearing helmets was a factor in about two-thirds of bicycle accidents.
  • Alcohol abuse factored into 28% of bicycle fatalities.
  • Bicyclists are most at risk of being hit by a motor vehicle in an intersection.
  • Bicyclists who misjudge at intersections and do not yield right-of-way are most likely to be hit by motor vehicles.
  • There are more urban bicyclists today, commuting to work and using pedal vehicles as an alternative method of transportation, thus exposing them to higher risk of a collision.
  • Many riders just do not follow the rules of the road that apply to all vehicles.
  • About 59% of all bicycle crashes only involve the biker, not other vehicles. This happens when the cyclist loses control of the bicycle.

Bicycle Safety Issues

Bicycle accidents are fewer than motor vehicle accidents, and rarely as spectacular, so they do not receive as much notice by the public. Bicycle safety issues apply to all riders, and those who are passengers on pedal vehicles. Safety on wheels applies to all forms of pedal transportation – bicycles, tricycles, and unicycles. The fact that bicycle accidents have increased so much faster than motor vehicle accidents points to the problem of bicycle safety, and that more needs to be done to inform the general public.

Motorists have to recognize that they must also share the road with non-motorized vehicles. At the same time, those who are on non-motorized vehicles should be educated about the risks they take with every push of the pedal when they are near other vehicles, sharing the road or crossing those roads. Right-of-way is one of the most important concepts for drivers of all types of vehicles. Being bigger or faster does not mean you are in the right; in many bicycle accidents, other drivers and the police tend to blame the bicyclist for being at fault.

What to Do – California Bicycle Accidents

What can be done to promote better bicycle safety? Many communities are responding by installation of bicycle lanes. These are supposed to provide a safer area for bike travel next to motorized vehicle traffic. The same problems of visibility and right-of-way continue to lead to accidents however, so it appears the heaviest burden of responsibility must be placed upon the cyclists.

Knowing the risks and preparing for potential problems can go a long way toward reducing accident risks. Bicyclists should follow these general rules of the road at all times:

  • Be aware of other vehicles of all types and expect them to not see you.
  • Wear clothing that enhances your visibility – fluorescent materials for nighttime, bright clothing.
  • Helmets are a must! Protect your head and possibly save your life by always wearing a helmet.
  • Use extra caution at intersections where motor vehicles may not notice you and turn into your path suddenly. Walk your bicycle across urban crosswalks if necessary.
  • Communities can install special bicycle advance green lights that have a special phased segment for bikers only to use at intersections.
  • Ride defensively; learn special
  • Use extra caution at stop signs.
  • Never ride against traffic; ride on the left so you are more visible to other vehicles if you are in traffic lanes.

Personal Injury Compensation

As with other vehicle accidents, you may be entitled to Personal Injury Compensation if you are injured or a loved one was killed in a bicycle accident. Liability is the most important element to prove when there is a bicycle accident. If the biker has violated right-of-way rules, they may be found to be at fault for the accident. If they do not come to a full stop at a stop sign or traffic red light, they also may be found liable for the accident injuries. Not only would they then be unable to pursue compensation for their accident-related expenses, they could be liable for damage claims by the other person(s) involved in that accident.

The first thing to do is contact your California Personal Injury Bicycle Accident Attorney. Collect all information you can from and about the accident, such as photographs of the scene, police reports, witness information and damage reports. Exchange insurance information with the other driver or rider, but do not give any statements to insurance adjusters or anyone other than your attorney about the accident or your injuries. Get medical attention as needed first, but then immediately get in touch with your legal professional. For best results and opportunity for obtaining fair compensation after a bicycle accident, work with a Personal Injury Attorney who has successfully handled California Bicycle Accidents.