Cyclists have a reason for their passion. Some pursue physical fitness, some use bicycles for transportation, and others cycle for pleasure. If you are a cyclist in Los Angeles, California, you are at a higher risk of being struck by a negligent driver or hitting a pothole. If you are injured in a bicycle accident, the law allows you to pursue compensation. However, you will need legal counsel, especially if you do not have a legal background. In this article, you learn about lawsuits involving bicycle accidents in California.

When Can I Sue After a Bicycle Accident in California?

Whether it's recklessness on the part of drivers, treacherous road conditions, or the negligence of pedestrians, knowing when to take legal action can significantly impact the outcome of your case. If you have incurred physical injuries, damage to your bicycle, lost wages, or medical bills as a result of the accident, you may have grounds for a personal injury lawsuit. Seeking compensation for the financial and emotional toll of the accident is within your rights under California personal injury laws.

Before engaging with the driver's insurance company, it is advisable to consult with a personal injury lawyer. They can negotiate on your behalf and ensure your rights are protected throughout the legal process. Many insurance firms only want to pay out as few claims as possible.

When uncertain about the parties responsible for the accident, legal guidance becomes pivotal. Various factors, such as a pothole, cracked cement, or an off-leash dog, could cause your bicycle to crash. Discussing the specifics of your case with a knowledgeable attorney can help in identifying the liable parties and establishing a clear legal strategy for pursuing your rightful compensation.

You also want to be mindful of the statute of limitations associated with personal injury lawsuits in California. Initiating legal action within the specified time frame is crucial for ensuring the validity of your case and maximizing the likelihood of a favorable outcome.

Frequency of Biking Accidents in California

California is renowned for its vibrant biking culture, so there is a notable prevalence of biking accidents. According to data compiled by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA), the frequency and impact of biking accidents in the state are substantial.

For example, in 2015, over 1,000 bicyclists succumbed to accident injuries in the US. Also, bike-related injuries reached close to 500,000. In 2010, bicycle accidents (fatal and non-fatal) caused a whopping $10 billion in lifetime medical fees.

Risk Factors for Bicycle Accidents

Several risk factors contribute to the prevalence of bicycle accidents in California, including demographic, environmental, and behavioral aspects. These include:

  • Age: While cyclists of all age groups face risks, adults aged 50 to 59 and children and adolescents between 5 and 19 are particularly vulnerable. Individuals falling into these age groups should exercise extra caution on the roads.
  • Sex: The disparity in risk levels between males and females, with males being significantly more prone to accidents. For example, male bicyclists are four times and six times more likely to sustain bicycle accident injuries and die, respectively, than female bicyclists. Therefore, there is a need for tailored safety awareness initiatives and precautions, especially for male cyclists.
  • Time of Day and Location: Most fatal bike accidents occur during specific hours, notably between 4 p.m. and 8 p.m., with urban and non-intersection areas serving as accident hotspots with over 70% frequency. Urban cyclists must remain vigilant during peak hours and be mindful of the heightened risks associated with city environments.
  • Helmet Use: Although helmets may not prevent accidents, they mitigate the severity of injuries such as brain trauma or head injuries to a certain extent. Non-compliance with helmet usage significantly contributes to the gravity of biking-related injuries and underscores the importance of promoting and enforcing helmet safety among cyclists.
  • Alcohol Impairment: The alarming involvement of alcohol in over a third of fatal bike accidents highlights the need for stringent adherence to sobriety while cycling. The role of responsible behavior in reducing the occurrence of preventable accidents cannot be overstated.

California has the highest population among all states. Urban environments such as the Bay Area and Southern California experience moderate temperatures throughout the year. This climate attracts many bicyclists, including recreational and professional cyclists and bicycle commuters.

Also, California traffic favors bicyclists. Bicyclists follow the same traffic laws as motorists under Vehicle Code 21200 VC. If you want to avoid the unending traffic in urban areas, you can cycle. However, due to the high volume of traffic, you are likely to be involved in a bicycle accident.

What To Do After Being Hit By A Car On Your Bike In California

Knowing the steps following your bicycle accident ensures your well-being and protects your legal rights. You want to follow a structured and proactive approach to effectively navigate the situation and lay the groundwork for pursuing appropriate recourse.

Collect Information

If you have not sustained severe injuries immediately after your accident, gather pertinent information. If your injuries are severe, have a personal injury lawyer or a loved one help you. You could use the information to significantly bolster your case and strengthen your claim. Collect crucial information, such as:

  • The driver's contact information,
  • License plate number and insurance details.
  • The vehicle's make, model, color, and identification number.
  • The contact information of any witnesses present at the scene.

Use your smartphone to capture visual evidence of the accident scene, including photographs or videos of the damaged bike, any visible injuries, and the area surrounding the collision. Clear visual documentation serves as valuable evidence when filing your claim.

While gathering information is essential, prioritize your safety and well-being above all else. If the situation is volatile or the other party is uncooperative, contact law enforcement authorities immediately to ensure your safety and initiate legal procedures.

Do Not Admit Fault

Many people quickly apologize after being involved in road accidents, even if they are not liable. After your traumatic accident, refrain from admitting fault or assuming responsibility, even if pressured to do so. Admissions of fault can significantly weaken your case and affect potential compensation.

In personal injury lawsuits, fault determination is a complex legal matter, and the full circumstances surrounding the accident require careful evaluation by lawyers. Hire a lawyer to handle the insurance companies, and when the other motorist becomes aggressive, refer them to your attorney.

Contact a California Bicycle Accident Lawyer

Seeking guidance and representation from an experienced California bicycle accident lawyer is a pivotal step toward safeguarding your rights and pursuing rightful compensation. An adept attorney can review your case, engage with insurance companies on your behalf, and diligently advocate for your best interests throughout the legal process.

By following these crucial steps and seeking timely legal counsel, you can proactively address the aftermath of a bike-car collision in California, ensuring comprehensive support and facilitating a more seamless resolution of the legal proceedings.

Is The City To Blame If Road Conditions Caused My Accident?

Determining liability after a bicycle accident caused by hazardous road conditions in California is challenging. You want to know the potential responsibilities of the city or other relevant parties in seeking appropriate recourse. Under California premises liability law, you can hold property owners and the city accountable for negligently causing your bicycle crash.

Examples of road conditions that could cause an accident are:

  • Damaged road signs.
  • Lifted asphalt.
  • Loose gravel.
  • Uneven sidewalks.
  • Cracked cement.
  • Potholes.

The city could be responsible if the roads are not in proper condition. In contrast, property owners (city, private, or commercial property) could be guilty if they negligently fail to maintain their paved surfaces.

Dangerous Public Roadways

Across California, the prevalence of dangerous public roadways is a pressing concern. The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) reports that over half of the 195,000 miles of California public roadways are in poor condition. Various municipalities, including the City of Los Angeles, have faced substantial financial consequences due to their negligence in addressing dangerous road conditions.

The Los Angeles Times reports that Los Angeles has compensated cyclists and their families millions of dollars in damages for injuries caused by dangerous roads. For example, in 2017, the city compensated 17 plaintiffs over $19 million. Also, about 20% of Los Angeles bicycle lanes stretching over 180 miles are graded as D and F.

Another example involves a tragic incident on Reseda Boulevard in 2017, where a 60-year-old cyclist's life-altering injuries were a direct result of the city's failure to address the hazardous road conditions. The accident left the victim with a broken neck and quadriplegia. The victim received $7.5 million from Los Angeles.

Types Of Damages Available In California Bike Accident Lawsuits

You have the right to receive fair compensation if someone else’s negligence causes you harm in California. Examples of compensation you could receive include:

  • Medical Expenses: The comprehensive coverage of medical expenses encompasses costs associated with emergency medical treatment, ongoing medical care, and rehabilitative services aimed at facilitating the victim's recovery and restoring their overall well-being.
  • Lost Wages and Earning Capacity: Compensation for lost wages accounts for the financial impact of the accident on the victim's ability to work, encompassing both immediate income loss and potential long-term limitations in earning capacity resulting from sustained injuries.
  • Pain and Suffering: Acknowledging the emotional and psychological ramifications of the accident, damages for pain and suffering seek to address the enduring trauma and distress experienced by the victim, providing a means of redress for the intangible toll of the incident.
  • Disfigurement and Scarring: In cases where the accident results in disfigurement or permanent scarring, additional provisions for damages cater to the physical and emotional challenges arising from the lasting impact on the victim's appearance and overall well-being.
  • Loss of Consortium: Recognizing the profound impact of the accident on familial relationships, compensation for loss of consortium encompasses the loss of companionship, support, and intimacy experienced by the victim's family members as a result of the accident.

The various types of injuries you could sustain in a California bicycle accident include: 

  • Abrasions, or "Road Rash." Among the most frequent injuries in bicycle accidents are abrasions, commonly called "road rash." These occur when the skin comes into contact with the rough surface of the road, resulting in painful scrapes and cuts. While often perceived as minor injuries, severe cases of road rash can lead to complications requiring extensive medical treatment and care.
  • Broken Bones and Fractures. The impact of a bicycle accident can lead to the fracture or breakage of bones, commonly affecting the arms, legs, wrists, or collarbones. These injuries can significantly impede mobility and require intensive medical attention, often involving casts, surgeries, and prolonged rehabilitation to facilitate complete recovery.
  • Head and Neck Injuries. Bike accidents frequently result in traumatic head and neck injuries, ranging from concussions to more severe traumatic brain injuries. The absence of appropriate protective gear, such as helmets, amplifies the risk of sustaining life-altering head injuries, necessitating immediate medical evaluation and ongoing treatment to mitigate potential long-term complications.
  • Dental Fractures and Eye Injuries. The impact of a bicycle crash can also lead to dental fractures and eye injuries, inflicting significant pain and impairments that require specialized dental and ophthalmological interventions. These injuries can entail extensive dental procedures or vision correction measures, highlighting the need for comprehensive medical support and rehabilitation.
  • Strains, Dislocations, and Internal Bleeding. Muscular strains, joint dislocations, and internal bleeding are also prevalent consequences of bike accidents, often necessitating prompt medical intervention and ongoing care to facilitate comprehensive healing and prevent long-term impairments. These injuries can significantly impede mobility and overall physical well-being, underscoring the importance of comprehensive medical evaluation and treatment.

Can I Sue If My Child Or Spouse Was Killed In A Bike Accident?

The capacity to file a child’s or spouse’s wrongful death lawsuit in California extends to certain family members, including the surviving spouse, domestic partner, children, grandchildren, or any other individual eligible to inherit the decedent's property as per California's intestate succession laws.

Through the wrongful death lawsuit, eligible family members can seek compensation for various elements, including:

  • Burial and Funeral Expenses. These provide the necessary financial support for arranging a dignified and respectful farewell for the departed loved one. This provision accounts for the costs associated with the burial and funeral arrangements.
  • Lost Financial Support. The provision addresses the significant impact of the loss on the family's financial stability. Compensation for lost financial support seeks to mitigate the enduring repercussions of the deceased victim's absence on the family's economic well-being.
  • Loss of Companionship and Support His compensation caters to the emotional toll of losing a loved one; damages for loss of companionship and support encompass the immeasurable void created by the absence of the departed family member's emotional guidance, companionship, and support.

Is A Reckless Driver Responsible For My Bike Crash?

Under California's negligence laws, a driver can be held liable for injuries arising from a bicycle crash if their actions are deemed reckless or negligent. For example, under Vehicle Code 21209, it is illegal for motorists to drive in bicycle lanes. If a motorist flouts these laws and knocks a bicyclist down, causing them injuries, the motorist is liable to compensate the bicyclist.

Elements that establish the basis for liability in a bicycle crash include:

  • Duty of Care. Drivers are responsible for ensuring the safety of other individuals on the road, including pedestrians, cyclists, and fellow motorists.
  • Breach of Duty. Instances of inattentive driving, traffic violations, or failure to adhere to road safety regulations can breach the duty of care owed to cyclists.
  • Causation of Injury. Establishing a causal link between the driver's negligence and the resulting injuries sustained by the cyclist is integral to substantiating the claim for compensation and redress.

The Bicycling Magazine asserts that the prevalent bicycle-car crashes are:

  • When a motorist does not see a cyclist when making a left turn, striking them.
  • When a motorist overtakes a bicycle from the left and turns right in the bicycle’s path.
  • When a driver opens a car door, and a cyclist rams into it.
  • When a driver exits a parking lot and drives straight into a bicyclist’s path.
  • When a motorist rear-ends a cyclist.

Can I Sue If A Pedestrian Caused Me To Crash On My Bike?

You are liable for compensation if a pedestrian’s negligence caused your bicycle crash. Significant causes of bicycle-pedestrian collisions are:

  • Deliberately pushing a cyclist while they are cycling.
  • Making a sudden stop in front of an oncoming bicycle.
  • Listening to music via earphones while walking on a bicycle lane.
  • Walking while reading and texting on your phone.
  • Walking a dog without a leash.

For you to win your case against the pedestrian, you must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that:

  1. They owed you a duty of care.
  2. Their negligence breached the duty of care.
  3. Their breach resulted in your accident and injuries.

Do I Have A Claim If The Driver Claims The Cyclist Caused The Accident?

Often, motorists blame cyclists when road accidents occur, even when the cyclists are not in the wrong. Resolutely abstain from admitting fault even when a driver aggressively blames you. This is because liability is determined upon carefully examining multiple factors and can only be assigned with a comprehensive assessment of the circumstances.

Recognize the application of California's "comparative fault" law, which accounts for shared responsibilities in an accident, enabling the apportionment of damages based on the respective degrees of fault attributed to each party involved.

What Happens If My Bike Is Defective And Causes Me To Crash?

California's "product liability" laws hold manufacturers, distributors, and retailers accountable for injuries caused by defective products, encompassing manufacturing defects, design flaws, and failure-to-warn defects.

Demonstrating the presence of a defect in the bike at the time of purchase, establishing the foreseeable usage of the product, and providing evidence of the resultant injury or harm caused by the defect serve as pivotal elements in substantiating your legal claim.

Gathering comprehensive documentation, including product purchase records, witness testimonies, and medical reports showing the nature and extent of the injuries incurred due to the defective bike, can help build a strong case.

You could receive compensation if you prove that:

  • The manufacturer sold you a defective bicycle.
  • The bicycle had mechanical defects before you received it.
  • You followed the manufacturer's instructions when using the bicycle.
  • The bicycle’s defects resulted in your injuries.

Find a Los Angeles Personal Injury Attorney

Being a cyclist in Los Angeles exposes you to the risk of road accidents. Motorists usually have little regard for cyclists, even though California bike laws exist to protect you. If a negligent driver causes an accident in which you sustain injuries, hire an experienced personal injury lawyer.

At Los Angeles Personal Injury Attorney, we are acquainted with California's legal framework and are dedicated to delivering equitable and just outcomes for our clients. With our guidance, you can chase the compensation you deserve. Call us at 424-231-2013 to begin gathering relevant information and building your case.