Bicycle Accident FAQ
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The most common causes of bicycle traffic accidents include:
- motorist speeding
- motorist running red lights or stop signs
- drivers making an illegal u-turn
- drivers entering a bike lane or not giving a cyclist enough space when passing
- cyclists being "doored"
- distracted driving or driving under the influence
Why Witnesses Can Make Or Break A Bicycle Traffic Accident Claim
Bicyclists are often treated with suspicion both by motorists and police that may be called to the scene of the accident. So it's imperative if you've been involved in a traffic accident while riding your bicycle that you gather the name and contact information of any witnesses at the scene so that your bicycle accident attorney can help with determining negligence and liability.
What Not To Do After A Bicycle Traffic Accident
Because bicyclists are often falsely blamed for the accident by the motorist and even police, it's imperative you don't make common mistakes that will sabotage your claim. These include:
- arguing over liability with the motorist or the police (just contact an attorney immediately)
- leave the scene without getting the motorists name, drivers license, car and insurance details
- leave the scene without collecting the name and contact information of any witnesses
- leave the scene without documenting the accident area with your cell phone camera (if possible)
- fix your bike without collecting evidence and contact an attorney first
- provide a recorded statement or your social security number to an insurance adjuster (they are NOT entitled to this information, ever!)
- You or a bystander should call the police and make a report, especially if you are seriously injured.
- Try to get the driver’s insurance information, and that of the passenger if they opened the door on you, as well as the vehicle's license plate number in case they drive away after the collision.
- Note the location and take photos of the car and scene if possible.
- A defendant may claim that the cyclist was partially or wholly to blame for a dooring accident because they were too close to the vehicle when the door was opened. So find a personal injury attorney with previous experience winning settlements in dooring cases.
- If you are judged to be partially at fault, California’s comparative negligence rules mean that compensation will still be paid, in proportion to the percentage of fault assigned to the defendant.
Injuries to the extremities are the most common bicycle accident injuries seen in emergency rooms,
- Contusions (bad bruises.)
- Fractures (broken bones.)
- Torn connective tissue (ligaments and tendons.)
- Lacerations (cuts.)
- Abrasions (road rash.)
Head trauma is evident in roughly 60% of all fatal bicycle accidents, and can include:
- Skull fracture.
- Facial or dental damage.
Abdominal injuries common in bike crashes include:
- Fractured ribs.
- Internal bleeding.
- Puncture wounds.
Neck injuries are less common than head trauma in bicycle accidents, but associated spinal injuries can be extremely serious and result in permanent disability.
While the state of California only mandates that minors must wear a helmet while cycling, some localities do require adults to wear helmets.
However, aside from the overwhelming safety advantages of wearing a helmet, because California is a comparative negligence state, wearing a helmet while riding a bicycle may help to shift liability for damages away from you and onto the defendant in the minds of judges and jurors in the event of an accident with serious injuries.
California defines electric bicycles as fully functional bicycles with maximum 1,000 watt motor and 20 MPH unassisted max speed.
California law generally treats e-bikes as standard bicycles instead of motor vehicles, with a few exceptions. Electric bike operators are not required to have:
- Driver's license.
- Vehicle registration.
- Vehicle insurance.
- License plates.
However, e-bike riders are required to be 16 years of age or older, and must wear a properly fitted and fastened bicycle helmet.
Additionally, e-bikes with over 750 watt motors are prohibited on most bike paths and lanes.
- The City of Los Angeles and various municipalities in LA county allow bicycle riders to use the sidewalk.
- Unincorporated Los Angeles County and various other municipalities forbid riding bicycles on sidewalks.
- There are over 80 municipalities in LA county with various sidewalk cycling laws.
- In some areas, legality is restricted by age and / or only in business districts.
- Some municipalities have no laws or ordinances that deal directly with bicycles on sidewalks.
San Francisco forbids anyone 13 years of age or older to ride a bicycle on the sidewalk.
Even to avoid road and traffic hazards, you cannot ride on the sidewalk in San Francisco, although you can move out of the bike lane and take over a traffic lane if necessary.
When Should I Contact A Bicycle Lawyer?
Time is not on your side if you have been involved in a bicycle traffic accident. Over time, evidence washes away, witnesses lose interest or disappear, and insurance adjustors will be working hard to put liability on the bicyclist. Before you fix your bike or speak to anyone, contact a qualified bicycle accident attorney. Click here to get started now with your free case evaluation.
Do I Have Rights On The Road As A Bicyclist?
Yes! Bicyclists have the same rights as motorists on the road as drivers. But unlike in some states, in California bicyclists are not automatically deemed "not at fault" when they are in an accident. It's imperative if you ride your bicycle on the open road anywhere in California that you carefully follow the same laws as motorists.
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