Bicycle accidents are not uncommon in Los Angeles, one of the most densely populated cities in the United States. An important number of people living in L.A. are using bikes as a mean of transportation to and from work. The mild climate in California is an advantage for two wheels lovers, either bicycles or motorcycles.
Traffic collisions involving bicycles and cars can result in serious damages on the bicyclist, who is less protected and can sustain serious injuries, especially when traveling through high-traffic areas. Our Los Angeles bicycle accident attorneys can help you if you have been involved in this type of accident in California. Our personal injurieslawyers can assist in matters related to bicycle accidents and motorcycle accidents in L.A. and the surrounding area.
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The Bicycle Law, explained by our Los Angeles bicycle accident attorney
Like in many other cities, bicyclists in Los Angeles are not exempt from observing the special regulation for their category of vehicles. The California Vehicle Code contains a set of laws for persons cycling in California. For example, while riding a bicycle on the highway, a cyclist has to observe all the rules and regulations applicable, including riding on the right half of the roadway.
Some California cities have banned sidewalk cycling in various districts, requiring cyclists to ride on the road. Apart from observing the rules for riding, cyclists in California also have to observe special provisions for signaling their movements. Also, persons who ride a bicycle should not carry any package that might prevent them from keeping, at least, one hand on the handlebar.
According to law, drivers must keep a buffer zone of three feet between them and the bicycle when passing them, of a fee is applicable. Drivers who are unsure of how much space they should allow between them and a cyclist are advised to provide a larger distance. California is the 24th U.S. state to enact a law that allows a special buffer space for cyclists.
Bicycle accidents in L.A.
Although vehicle owners in L.A. are required by law to acknowledge the presence of cyclists in traffic and maintain a mandatory distance of three feet for safety, accidents and collisions between cars and bicycles are not uncommon in Los Angeles.
Types of bicycle accidents can include those that involve colliding with the open door of a parked vehicle (which might not have been parked accordingly), accidents that take place when the automobile takes a left-hand turn or in busy intersections. The California Vehicle Code has a special paragraph detailing the manner in which vehicle owners must ensure that they only open the door of their vehicle after they have checked that it is safe to do so.
The types of injuries in bicycle accidents range from serious to mild ones. Of course, there are cases in which the bicyclist is extremely injured in the accident and he may even have lifelong debilitating problems. These accidents are referred to as catastrophic injuries are it is suitable to seek proper legal counseling in these cases, because of the extreme nature of the injuries.
If you have been a victim of a bicycle accident that was not caused by you, you are entitled to a compensation from the party responsible for the accident. The list below, put together by our Los Angeles bicycle accident attorney, is useful when trying to determine what types of compensations you are entitled to. These are economic and non-economic damages, as follows:
- Medical expenses: all medical treatment related to the bicycle accident can and should be compensated for, also including future medical care for treating those specific injuries.
- Lost wages: the income lost as a result of the plaintiff’s inability to work after the accident can be recovered
- Property damage: this includes the personal property damaged in the accident and can extend to the bicycle itself
- The plaintiff’s suffering: when the accident is especially traumatic, the plaintiff can be compensated for emotional pain and distress.
Our Los Angeles bicycle accident attorney can help you get the most out of the insurance policy. Persons injured in bicycle accidents in L.A. can obtain compensations for both the medical expenses and the expenses of repairing the bicycle or motorcycle.
If the doctor who was treating you further aggravated your injury or cause other injuries and additional pain and suffering through negligence, you can claim compensation based on a medical malpractice case. This would be a separate claim, overseen by one of our medical malpractice attorneys in Los Angeles. You can reach out to us for more information.
Fault and negligence in bicycle accidents in L.A.
The party at fault in bicycle accidents is the one who acted irresponsibly or negligently and thus caused the accident. A driver who was talking on the phone, texting, or was otherwise distracted when driving will be accused of failing to act in a prudent manner, as expected of him in that particular situation.
When proving negligence, the plaintiff can use evidence from the accident, police reports, medical reports and even eyewitness testimonies. It is important to show not only that the driver was careless but also that the accident was indeed the cause of the damages and injuries.
One of our Los Angeles bicycle accident attorneys can help you gather the needed evidence and make your claim for a settlement.
Important issues to consider in bicycle accident cases
If involved in a bicycle accident, it is useful to know what are the main legal issues that need to be considered and addressed. Below we list the most important ones, but keep in mind that each case is different and not all situations will be the same.
- Rear-end collisions: although this term is not quite the same in case of bicycle accidents, because of the fragility of the bicyclist, it still implies that a driver hit the other party from behind; it this is the case, then the plaintiff can argue that the driver did not maintain a safe distance.
- The safe distance: as stated above, keeping a safe distance falls under the responsibilities of the driver; you can use this issue when making your case and one of our Los Angeles personal injury lawyers can help you find out the lawful safe distance in California.
- Know your rights on the car lanes: when using a bicycle as a means of transportation, especially among cars, it is important to know your rights.
- Know your rights on sidewalks: although not directly linked to automobile-bicycle accidents, this can prove useful in other accidents in which where bicyclists are involved.
Because bicyclists also have to follow the same rule as automobiles, sometimes both parties can bear a degree of fault. In this case, the blame will be shared, as described below.
The pure comparative fault rule in California
Plaintiffs in California involved in bicycle or vehicle accidents are still able to receive compensations even if they are also found at fault for the accident. This is known as the pure comparative negligence rule and California is one of the states that use it.
If the bicyclist also has some degree of fault, the judge will determine the percentage of fault and it will be deducted from the final settlement amount. California also has a statute of limitations of two years meaning that the plaintiff has two years from the date of the accident to make his/her legal claim.
Types of compensations for bicycle accident victims
Bicycle accidents can happen for a variety of reasons and bicyclists are more vulnerable than drivers to severe accidents. Some common situations include vehicles crossing into bike lanes, crosswalk accidents, hit and run accidents, bikers hitting car doors when opened into traffic and others.
The types of compensations that can be obtained by bicycle accident victims immediately after the accident were briefly outlined above (medical expenses and lost wages being the most common ones). However, the plaintiff can also claim damages for damages that will take place in the near future, as a direct result of the accident (costs that would have not been incurred in the future had the individual not have been subjected to an accident with severe or lengthy consequences). You can claim compensations for:
- future medical expenses: the future medical costs needed for subsequent treatments, after the initial hospitalization period;
- future medical expenses: the future medical costs needed for subsequent treatments, after the initial hospitalization period;
- future lost wages: the amount of income lost as a direct result of not being able to work after the bicycle accident;
Because bicyclists can be subjected to serious injuries, some may also claim compensations for pain and suffering after the accident, especially if the injuries are life-altering, such as missing limbs or paralysis. These types of compensations are harder to quantify, as the suffering experienced by the individual will be a prolonged one (the effects of the accident will carry on for the rest of the victim’s life). There are two general ways in which non-economic damages are calculated and, in both situations, expert advice form a Los Angeles bicycle accident attorney is important. The first option is the multiplier method in which the total economic damages are multiplied by a factor that usually ranges from 1.5 to 5 (depending on the severity of the injuries). This can be a reasonable approach in many cases and out attorney will be able to help you set an amount that will conveniently cover all current and future expenses. The other method is the daily-rate one in which, as the name suggests, the victim receives a daily rate to compensate for the pain and suffering during the time needed to recover from the accident. Understandably, this daily rate will not be awarded for the rest of the victim’s life even if the injuries are lifelong. This is why working with a lawyer is recommended in order to calculate an amount that will most likely cover the costs needed after the recovery period.
One of our Los Angeles bicycle accident attorneys can help individuals submit the claim for economic and non-economic damages. For many victims, obtaining a compensation that does not cover all of the future medical costs is an aggravating factor. On the other hand, working with an experienced lawyer can help them rest assured that they have obtained the highest amount of compensation possible.
We invite you to watch this video about the services provided by our Los Angeles bicycle accident attorneys:
Special considerations in case of bicycle accidents in California
California has a set of rules and regulations in place in terms of traffic rights for bicyclists and the driver’s duty of care towards these traffic participants. It is useful to talk to our team of Los Angeles personal injury attorneys for detailed information about the laws that govern a certain situation. We can help investigate the accident from a legal perspective and by observing the factual evidence.
Bicyclists in Los Angeles should know that the applicable statute of limitations is two years from the date of the accident.
Bicycle safety and accident statistics
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration divides bicycle accidents into two types: falls (the most common ones, also referred to as trips; you can read more below) and serios accidents, collisions with motorized vehicles.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention offers a glimpse into the statistical data concerning bicycle accidents as well as the risk factors. Our Los Angeles bicycle accident attorney lists some of the available data:
- Bicyclists are at a higher risk of crash injury and deaths compared to motor vehicle occupants;
- Deaths resulting from bicycle accidents occur most often between 6 p.m. and 9 p.m. regardless of season;
- According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 846 bicyclists were killed in traffic crashes in 2019, a decrease compared to 2018 when 871 people were killed in these types of accidents;
- More than 1,000 bicyclists died in 2015 and almost 467,000 were injured;
- Data from 2010 shows that these types of injuries resulted in lifetime medical costs and productivity losses of 10 billion $;
- The highest rate of death in bicycle accidents is in adults aged 50 to 59;
- Children and adolescents record the highest rate of non-fatal accidents, more than one-third of all bicycle-related injuries in the US;
- Most deaths occur in urban areas and in non-intersection locations compared to rural areas;
- Men are injured 4 times more often than women;
- According to data from 2017 (provided by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration), in 37% of the bicyclist deaths either the bicyclist himself or the motor vehicle driver had consumed alcohol.
The CDC approved guidelines for preventing the problem of death and serious injury in bicycle accidents remind that the following are very important for bicyclists: wearing helmets and active lighting and visibility (fluorescent clothing, retro-reflective clothing, active lighting on the bicycle). Moreover, certain roadway engineering measures are also important in allowing bicyclists to travel safely (some of the solutions include complete streets that are designed to be convenient for all road users and incorporate bicycle lanes along with other features that combine harmoniously).
As far as other types of injuries caused by riding a bicycle are concerned (except for road traffic accidents), bicycle trips account for only 1% of all the tripping accidents recorded in the United States.
Observing the safety regulations in force as well as the traffic laws (making sure that you, as a bicyclist observe all current norms and take care of your own safety) is important in order to prevent serious or lethal accidents. Many crashes can be avoided if both motorists and bicyclists follow the rules and exercise due care for each other.
Our Los Angeles bicycle accident attorneys will offer you legal representation and adequate legal advice if you were injured in a bicycle accident in California. Please contact us if you need more information about the legal steps necessary in this case.
If you have suffered another type of injury, you can call us with your questions. We assist clients who have gone through many types of injuries, including those sustained by mothers or their babies during childbirth. If you or your infant were injured, our birth injury lawyers in Los Angeles will analyze your case and determine the amount of compensation you can receive if you file a claim.