A day out cycling sometimes ends in an unexpected and tragic death. When a motorist collides with a bicycle, the cyclist is at a high risk of being severely injured or killed.
What would you do if your family member died in a crash like this? You may have a strong case for significant wrongful death compensation. Below, the California bicycle accident lawyers at Sally Morin Personal Injury Lawyers answer common questions about fatal bike accidents.
How Common Are Bicycle Accidents in California?
Nationwide, about 2% of all vehicle crash deaths involve bicyclists. In California, it’s twice the national average at closer to 4%, making California #1 in the nation for cyclist deaths.
Cycling has seen a huge increase in popularity among adults since the 1970s. Since then, adult cycling deaths have quadrupled while child cycling deaths have dropped dramatically. Today, 88% of cyclists killed on the road are over age 20, and the highest cycling death rates occur in people aged 55 to 69.
The most common injuries in traffic-related bicycle deaths are head injuries. Wearing a helmet significantly increases your odds of surviving a bicycle crash, but even helmet-wearing cyclists are sometimes severely injured or killed in road crashes.
California law doesn’t require adults to wear helmets, although some cities require helmets by local ordinance. You can still sue someone who causes a severe or fatal bike accident, even if the cyclist wasn’t wearing a helmet or other safety gear.
What Causes Bicycle Accidents and Cyclist Deaths?
Broadly speaking, human error and negligence are the top causes of bicyclists’ deaths in traffic. Here are some of the most common situations where cyclists are killed while traveling.
A motorist or cyclist is distracted by music, a device, food, a person or pet near them, or some other type of distraction, and the motorist rams into the cyclist. The CDC reports 1 in 5 people killed in distracted driving accidents are located outside cars, like bicyclists riding nearby.
Failure to yield
Motorists might misunderstand the rules of the road or refuse to share the road with cyclists as required by California law. Failing to yield to a cyclist where appropriate puts the cyclist’s life at risk.
Cyclists are often rear-ended in traffic when motorists don’t see them or misjudge the stopping distance behind them. This is an extremely dangerous situation for a cyclist, who can be killed by the powerful force of a moving vehicle.
Bicycle dooring accidents occur when a motorist flings their door open and either strikes a cyclist or creates an immovable object in their path. In busy cities with tight roads like San Francisco, dooring accidents are all too common.
Road debris, potholes, construction materials, and many other types of hazards also cause bicycle crashes. Even if a road hazard contributed somewhat to a bike accident, you can usually still pursue accident compensation from a negligent driver.
Does Car Insurance Cover Bicycle Accidents?
Car insurance may or may not cover a bicycle accident depending on what happened, who was at fault, and what type of insurance the cyclist and motorist hold. A cyclist can file a claim against a negligent party’s car insurance company to cover things like medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering.
When two cyclists crash, auto insurance isn’t typically available to cover it. Another type of insurance, like renter’s insurance or homeowner’s insurance, might be applicable depending on fault and coverage.
The best bet is to have bicycle accident insurance coverage in case of a severe accident. If a motorist is involved, their auto insurance may still provide some level of coverage.
Why Do Surviving Families Need Bicycle Accident Lawyers?
After a deadly bicycle accident, the cyclist’s loved ones are left struggling to cope. During this difficult time, you need an experienced California bicycle accident lawyer to help you secure the compensation you deserve.
California’s wrongful death statute allows the family members of someone killed in a bicycle accident to seek compensation the victim could have claimed if they had survived. A bicycle accident lawyer is a type of personal injury attorney with enough bike accident experience to thoroughly understand the legal considerations involved.
Your lawyer can explain how the concept of legal liability applies to your case and help you gather evidence to show who was at fault. If there was negligence or willful conduct, you have good odds of securing wrongful death compensation. The goal is to build a convincing case for economic and non-economic damages, plus punitive damages if there was egregious conduct.
At Sally Morin Personal Injury Lawyers, our results include $500,000+ for bicycle accidents, plus much more in wrongful death compensation. To learn more about your options, please call 877-380-8852 today and request a free case evaluation.