Tracy Bicycle Accident Lawyer
Riding a bike is an excellent alternative to driving. It combines green transportation with endless health benefits, but it can create unique risks for bicyclists. This is primarily due to the lack of physical protection a bicycle rider has if he or she gets struck by a vehicle. As a result, some bicyclists may suffer injuries such as amputations, bone fractures, facial lacerations, internal trauma, spinal cord damage, traumatic brain injuries or even death in some extreme cases.7 Tips for Bicycle Safety
A majority of collisions can be prevented if bicyclists and motorists watch out for each other and follow the rules of the road. Below are some of the safety tips cyclists should exercise while sharing the road with motor vehicles:
- Bicycle Selection and Maintenance: Choose a bicycle that suits you well as bigger bikes can be more difficult to control. Make sure your bike is in good working order before each ride by checking the brakes, tires, chain, and other components.
- Follow the Rules of the Road: Bicyclists have the same rights and responsibilities as drivers on the road. This means that cyclists are obligated to ride with the flow of traffic and must stop for stop signs and traffic light signals. Bicyclists are also responsible for avoiding the use of anything that diverts their attention from the road and traffic such as texting or listening to music with earbuds.
- Helmet Use: Cyclists under the age of 18 years are required by state law to wear a helmet. Although helmet use is not mandatory for older cyclists, it is still recommended for them to wear one since a majority of cyclist fatalities have shown to involve severe injuries to the head. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, 51 percent of cyclists who passed away in 2016 was not using helmets.
- Increase Visibility: Install reflectors and LED lights on your bike to increase your visibility to oncoming traffic at night. Wearing bright-colored or reflective clothing can also be useful when riding during the day or at nighttime.
- Plan Your Travel: Consider taking routes with less traffic congestion and slower speeds to reduce your risk of an accident. The best choice would be to avoid riding with traffic altogether, preferably on a bike path or in a bicycle lane.
- Stay Sober: Alcohol use is attributable to many cycling crashes. Bicyclists who ride while under the influence of alcohol can be arrested as well as charged with a fine and misdemeanor under California Vehicle Code section 21200.5. Those under the age of 21 who ride a bicycle while drunk run the risk of receiving a charge of cycling under the influence in addition to having their driver's license suspended.
- Watch for Road Hazards: Keep an eye out for hazards such as broken glass, dogs, leaves, gravel, puddles, and potholes. All of these hazards have the potential to cause an accident. When riding with family or friends, be sure to communicate and point out any danger ahead to ensure the safety of yourself and your loved ones.
Watch YouTube Video: Bicycle Safety Video with CHP Officer Khan. The following video discusses the responsibilities of bicyclists and drivers on the roads in California.7 Common Causes of Bicycle Accidents
Bicycle crashes are not always avoidable for cyclists and are often caused by driver negligence. Following are the most common causes of these accidents:
- Distracted driving such as talking or texting on a cell phone while behind the wheel
- Driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs
- Failure to yield to bicyclists
- Opening a car door in the direct path of a cyclist
- Traveling in the bicycle lane
- Unsafe lane changes or improper turns
Bicycle accidents in Tracy may also be caused by insufficient road maintenance, traffic signs, and street lighting. Government entities are generally responsible for the upkeep of bicycle lanes and public roadways. When a government entity fails to do so, it can be held financially liable for negligence in the event of a collision caused by a roadway defect such as:
- Cracks or bumps on the sidewalk or road
- Improper roadway signage
- Inadequate lighting for bicyclists riding at night
- Lack of bicycle lanes
- Poorly designed streets or intersections
The types of damages available in a bicycle injury claim may include the following:
- Medical Bills: All past and future medical bills related to injuries sustained in an accident are recoverable. All forms of treatment and care may be considered such as ambulance expenses, hospital stays, primary physician visits, physical therapy, surgery, and diagnostic testing.
- Wage Loss: A bicyclist has the right to recover the loss of earnings resulting from their injuries. This may include bonuses, commissions, and all other wages. If the injuries resulted in permanent disability, a bicyclist can also recover for the value of the reduction in wage loss. This is calculated from the loss of earning power over the remainder of a bicyclist's working years.
- Disfigurement: Bicyclists are likely to suffer severe scarring or disfigurement following an accident. Skin grafts or cosmetic surgery is often required to fix the damage. While these surgeries can be expensive and may not always be entirely effective in reducing the appearance of the scarring, a victim can recover damages for the embarrassment and humiliation related to that disfigurement.
- Loss of Consortium: When severe injuries from an accident cause damage to a marital relationship, the victim and/or their spouse may be entitled to recover for the loss of affection, society, conjugal fellowship, and society. The impairment of romantic/sexual relations may also be considered in this type of damage.
- Pain and Suffering: The right to collect compensation for mental anguish and physical pain resulting from an injury sustained in an accident is considered the most valuable element of a bodily injury claim, known as pain and suffering. There is no specific way of determining the value of this damage as it varies from case to case.
- Punitive Damages: In some cases of accidents involving motor vehicles and bicyclists, punitive damages may be recovered if the crash was the result of a criminal act such as drunk driving.
- Wrongful Death: When a bicyclist suffers fatal injuries in an accident, family members of the deceased may recover damages for wrongful death. These may include funeral and burial expenses, end-of-life medical care, lost inheritance, household services, and future financial support. Those related to the decedent may also recover the mental and emotional pain they have suffered as a result of the loss of their loved one such as loss of affection, comfort, companionship, and more.
Under California Civil Code of Procedure section 335.1, a bicyclist who has been injured in an accident caused by a negligent driver must file a personal injury lawsuit within two years from the date of loss. If the crash was caused by the negligence of a government entity, a claim must be brought within six months or 180 days of the injury-causing incident. If a government entity rejects the claim or fails to respond within 45 days, a lawsuit must be filed within 180 days from the date of rejection. In the case of a minor, the statute of limitations is "tolled" or suspended for a period of time. This means that when a minor reaches 18 years of age, that individual has two years from that date to bring a claim for personal injury.
Those with concerns or questions about filing a bicycle injury claim should promptly contact an experienced personal injury attorney to understand what rights and legal options they have.Bicycle Injury FAQs
Q: I was injured in a bicycle accident caused by a hit and run driver. What now?
A: A bicyclist who has suffered injuries in an accident caused by a hit and run driver is not necessarily without recourse in recovering damages. An injured rider can file a claim against their own automobile insurance policy if they have uninsured motorist protection. This type of insurance usually covers a bicycle, car, and pedestrian accident caused by a driver who has no insurance or hit and runs. If the bicyclist lives in a household with a family member who has uninsured motorist coverage on their car insurance policy, then the victim can file a claim against that policy for losses so long as they are not excluded from the policy.
Q: My child suffered injuries while riding their bicycle. What options do we have?
A: Drivers are held to a higher duty of care in observing children on the road. This means that motorists are obligated to drive more cautiously when there are children riding bicycles in the area. Even if the driver of the vehicle that struck your child was not determined to be negligent in the accident, you may still be able to recover some damages on your child's behalf.
Q: What if I was not wearing a helmet at the time of a bicycle accident and suffered a head injury as a result. Do I still have a claim?
A: A bicyclist may still be able to recover for some head injury claims even if he or she was not wearing a helmet at the time of an accident. However, insurance companies of the responsible parties may dispute your head injury claim by hiring an expert, such as a biomechanic, to testify that the lack of helmet use caused your head injury. It is essential to retain an experienced attorney in these types of cases to protect your best interests.Tracy Bicycle Accident Attorney
I'm Ed Smith, a Tracy bicycle accident lawyer. Any injury or fatality resulting from a bicycle accident is one too many. Those who have suffered injuries or lost someone they love in an accident often require time and money to fully recover from their losses. If this situation applies to you or your family, you may contact me anytime for free, friendly legal advice at (209) 227-1931 or toll-free at (800) 404-5400.
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Editor’s Note: This page has been updated for accuracy and relevancy [cha 6.19.19]