Many people prefer riding their bicycles from one place to another either for health reasons or avoid heavy traffic on the roads. Legally, cyclists are entitled to use the same roads as motorists and must comply with traffic laws. However, bicyclists are more vulnerable on the streets than other motorists and often are involved in catastrophic accidents.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 455 bicyclists were killed in road accidents between 2016 and 2018. The use of bicycles as a mode of transport has risen in recent years. As a result, many bicyclists are involved in traffic accidents that leave them with various injuries and property damage.
As a cyclist, you can receive compensation for your damages if you are injured in an accident due to someone else’s negligence. Compensation does not come easily, but with the help of the Los Angeles Personal Injury Attorney, the party responsible for your damages can be compelled to pay.
Bicycle Accident Facts in California
California is one of the highest populated states in America. As a result, many bicyclists on the roads transit to a high volume of accidents involving them. Between 2016 and 2018, fatal bicycle accidents have been steadily rising compared to the mid-90s. During this time, traffic accidents resulted in 455 bicyclists being killed, which is much higher than in previous years. This figure meant four fatalities for every a million people.
Nationally, the fatality rate from bicycle accidents was lower, though increasing. During the same period, the country reported a death rate of 2.6 for every million people. According to various reports, there are multiple causes of these accidents that result in catastrophic injuries or deaths. The increased number of motorists, distracted driving, and a shift from the type of vehicles motorists prefer lately are among the reasons for the increased accidents.
The need for healthier living and environmental conservation has also led to the increased use of bicycles as a mode of transportation. The recovery of the economy has also seen many people buy vehicles that drive on the same roads bicyclists use.
According to the county by county statistics, Los Angeles has led with fatal bicycle accidents. Between 2006 and 2008, reported fatalities were 74, and between 2016 and 2018, 106 bicyclists died on the roads. Sacramento and Orange county take the second and third positions, respectively, with Kern reporting the least fatalities.
The unemployment rate is lowest in California and has seen more people using bicycles to work each day. This has increased vehicles and bicycles' mixing on the roads, making bike share programs more common in most cities. The increasing number of motorists on the roads has also increased the probability of accidents.
Another factor that has contributed to increased bicycle accidents is the use of smartphones. Thousands of Americans meet their deaths on the road due to distracted driving. Motorists that use their phones while driving cannot focus on their driving and other road users and instead place their attention on the phones. Bicyclists also use their phones while on the road, resulting in them being distracted and causing accidents. When motorists are distracted by their smartphones or other things, they will not see a cyclist and hit them.
Another important fact about bicycle accidents has to do with the age and gender of the victims. Between 2016 and 2018, most of those who died from bicycle accidents were men between 45 and 54. All through the years, more men have died following bicycle accidents compared to women of all ages. During the same study period, eight men died for every woman who died out of a bicycling accident.
About 742 bicyclists are involved in fatal bike accidents in the U.S each year. The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) reports that between 2007 and 2018, at least 8,908 riders have died on our roads. The year with the most reported bicyclists' death was 2018, with 857 fatalities reported.
The state of California recorded 155 deaths from bike accidents in 2018. The previous year, the fatality victims were fewer, with 145 deaths recorded, but the injuries were high with a record of 11,116. Between 2013 and 2018, more than 720 bicyclists have been reported dead in California, according to the NHTSA. This translates to 144 fatalities each year for six years.
As earlier stated, California's bicyclist fatality rate was 3.9 for every million people. This rate, although high, is not the highest in the country. Florida leads with a rate of 6.8 for every a million people. Los Angeles leads in the fatality rate in California based on statistics, as earlier discussed. Phoenix also reported a high rate of deaths following bicycle accidents tied with Los Angeles in 2017. Both cities reported 14 people who died from bicycle accidents, with New York leading the nation with 22 fatalities reported in the same year.
Bicycle Accident Facts Based on the Time of Day
Statistics indicate that the time a bicyclist rides their bicycle makes a difference in the risks they face. Anyone on the road during rush hour faces more danger than one using the road during regular hours. Bicyclists also face increased risk if they use their bicycles at dusk or sundown. The highest number of bicycle accidents are reported to occur between 6 pm and midnight countrywide.
In California, most accidents occurred during the daytime, accounting for 78.6% of all bicycle accidents. The accidents that occurred at night and with street lights accounted for 15.1%, and 1.7% occurred where there were no street lights. Crashes that occurred at dawn or dusk resulted in 3.8% of all bicycle accidents in California. In 2018, the highest percentage of bicycle accident deaths in California was reported in September at 12% and the lowest in March, accounting for 5%.
Bicycle Accident Facts according to Country Roads, City Streets, and Gender.
The NHTSA reports that 79% of bicycle accidents in 2018 occurred on urban roads and streets, while 21% occurred on rural or country roads. Of these, 3% of the reported bicycle deaths occurred on freeways and interstates, while 63% were on other main roads. 29% of these were reported to have happened on smaller roads all over the country.
Cyclists below 20 years were likely to die from accidents on minor roads accounting for 44%, while those over 20 years accounted for 28% on the same roads.
Earlier, we discussed that more men are reported to die from bicycle accidents compared to women. In 2018, 76% of nationwide bicycle accident fatalities involved men over 20 years, with only 11% representing women in the same age bracket. Between 2016 and 2018, about eight male cyclists lost their lives in California for every woman who died. This report is further supported by the censuses that indicate two times that men use bicycles to work compared to women.
Bicycle Accident Facts on Impairment
One of the leading causes of traffic accidents is impairment. Generally, the law forbids both motorists and cyclists from using the road while intoxicated by drugs or alcohol. Out of about 806 bicyclists, who died in bicycle accidents in 2018, 20% of them had blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08% and above. Unfortunately, this percentage has remained relatively the same for over six years.
According to a report by the NHTSA, the country recorded 782 bicyclist deaths. Out of these:
- 37% or 289 involved alcohol impairment
- 25% or 195 deaths were because of the cyclist impairment
- 7% or 55 deaths were as a result of impairment by the motorists
In California, 154 deaths were reported in 2016. Out of these:
- 57 deaths involved alcohol abuse
- 39 deaths were because of the cyclist's impairment
- 11 deaths were as a result of impairment by the motorist
Bicycle Accident Facts with Helmets
As earlier discussed, the law in California does not require adult riders to wear helmets. This means that when you are above 18 years, you have a choice to ride your bicycle with a helmet on or without one. However, it is always a good idea to wear helmets to enhance your safety. Although having one on will not prevent an accident, it is an important safety measure because the helmet significantly reduces your head's injuries.
According to the national statistics, recorded bicycle deaths for riders without helmets were 61% in 2018. Cyclists that died from the accidents while having their helmets represented 15% of the recorded deaths. Out of all the bicycle accident fatalities, 24% of them were not known if they had their helmets on or not.
Despite the importance of wearing a helmet, more and more cyclists ignore this safety feature and ride without a helmet. In 2017, 11,148 bicycle accidents were reported in California. Out of these, only 2,663 cyclists had their helmets, with 8,485 riders disregarding this critical safety feature.
The vulnerability of bicyclists on the road is the reason for the many deaths reported. However, not all accidents involving bicycles result in death. Depending on the impact, a bicyclist can sustain minor injuries, standard injuries, or catastrophic injuries. Below, we discuss in detail the injuries most bicyclists sustain following a bicycle accident.
Common Injuries in Bicycle Accidents
As earlier stated, bicyclists legally share the roads with motorists, and they are all bound by the same traffic laws. Additionally, both motorists and bicyclists owe each other a duty of care in California. Disregarding the law, among other reasons, can result in a bicyclist being involved in a traffic accident that leads to significant injuries, and in the worst case, death. Some of the common injuries bicyclists incur are:
Lacerations and Bruises
These are deep skin injuries where the cyclist sustains minor injuries to their skin tissue. These are common in cases where the accident was minor or did not involve a significantly forceful impact. The cost of treating these injuries is financial damage to you besides the days you miss work to nurse your injuries. According to California's compensation laws, these damages are compensable by the party responsible for the accident.
Broken and Fractured Bones
An undisputed fact is the seriousness of the injuries most bicyclists sustain following a traffic accident. Bicycles have no protective body that prevents the impact of directly hitting the cyclist. As a result, an impact on your body, even the slightest, can result in broken or fractured bones. Treating these injuries is also costly. Depending on the severity of the injuries, you can spend a long time in hospital; require surgery, among other treatment procedures. Additionally, if you are employed, you will have to miss weeks or months of work, meaning your income for the period is lost. All these are damages that are recoverable in California from the party at fault.
Traumatic Head and Neck Injuries
It is known that bicyclists suffer some of the most traumatic injuries when involved in a traffic accident. One catastrophic outcome is when you suffer significant damages to your brain and neck. A bicyclist, especially one with no helmet, can suffer serious injuries to their head and neck. As a result, their brains no longer respond to signals from other parts of their body before and are left in a vegetative state. Injuries to the head and neck can be so severe that you will be unable to do the normal things you did before the accident.
Some victims of bicycle accidents require constant medical care that is costly. Having a caregiver take care of your needs around the clock is expensive and frustrating. According to the compensation laws of California, all these costs are compensable.
Following a bicycle accident, you can sustain injuries to your internal organs or have internal bleeding. Unfortunately, these injuries are not obvious, and if you do not go to the hospital immediately following the accident, the injuries may not be discovered and are often catastrophic. After a bicycle accident, even when you can only identify bruises or lacerations, it is critical to have a doctor examine you and eliminate any other injuries that are not apparent. Treating internal injuries is a delicate and expensive procedure, and the financial damages, as a result, are compensable as well.
Spinal Cord Injuries
These are other common types of injuries with bicyclists. Because of the lack of a protective body for cyclists, they would often land on the road or vehicle with their bodies when they are hit. Injuries to their back due to the impact are severe, leading to full or partial paralysis. This is a catastrophic injury that alters your life forever, meaning you may never ride again or do the things you once did without assistance.
Facts that Affect Your Compensation Following a Bicycle Accident
California is a fault state, which is true of bicycle accidents. If you are involved in a bicycle accident, the party at fault or responsible for the accident must be established for them to pay for the damages. However, if you are the reason for the accident with a pedestrian or a motorist, you will be held liable for the accident's damages.
Bicyclists that use the roads are held by the same traffic laws that govern other motorists. If you violate the traffic rules, you may be found fully or partially liable for the damages that arise. Some of the factors that are considered when determining the party at fault or exonerating you from blame include:
- If you followed California's vehicle code – Generally, adult cyclists are held by the same code of responsibility and duty on the road. This means bicyclists must obey traffic signs and lights like other road users, according to VEH 21200.
- Riding against traffic is one of the leading causes of bicycle accidents. According to VEH 21650, a bicyclist must ride in the same direction as other traffic. However, if you are moving in the opposite direction, you are prohibited from riding the bicycle, but you can walk it. If it is established that you disregarded the law, you may be held responsible for the accident's damages.
- The side where you ride on the road matters. If you are riding fast like traffic, you can move in the traffic lane. However, if your speed is lower than that of the traffic, you must keep the extreme right to avoid possible accidents. The law makes an exemption for a bicyclist that desires to overtake or is planning to take a left turn. According to VEH 21202, if riding on the extreme right poses a danger to a pedestrian,
- Using bike lanes is considered when establishing fault. Although, as a cyclist, you can use the same roads as motorists, if the route you are on has a bike lane and you are moving at a slower speed, you must use the bike lane. According to VEH 21208, there are specified times when you can leave the bike lane. If an accident occurs and established you were in the wrong, you could be held accountable for the damages.
- Accidents also do happen at crosswalks. According to VEH 21455, cyclists must stop at and not in the crosswalk. If an accident occurred while you were in the crosswalk, you would be held accountable for it.
- If you are riding your bicycle at night, having your lights on and your bike fitted with reflectors is critical to your safety. If you have none of these, and you are hit, the motorist can blame you for the accident because you were not visible on the road.
The laws discussed here, among others, are critical to your safety and are used to establish fault in an accident. Failing to adhere to these laws can negatively affect your compensation claim, besides exposing you to a greater risk of an accident.
Find a Bicycle Accident Attorney Near Me
Bicycle accidents are some of the most serious accidents, with high fatality and injury rates reported nationally. In some cases, the injuries sustained in bicycle accidents are also catastrophic and require expensive treatment. If you or a loved one is involved in a bicycle accident, you can receive compensation for the injuries and damages suffered. At Los Angeles Personal Injury Attorney, we can help you pursue your damages and ensure you receive your rightful compensation. Call us to discuss your case in greater detail at 424-231-2013.