California Bicycle Accidents Involving Motor Vehicles
Bicycle accidents in the State of California can be caused by a number of hazardous situations. Amid the most dangerous types of accidents, being involved in a collision with a motor vehicle is among the deadliest. According to a traffic safety sheet published by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, there were 840 cyclists killed in traffic accidents in the year 2016. According to the same report, these fatalities accounted for approximately 2% of all motor vehicle traffic deaths.
Bicyclists are vulnerable to a unique set of risks when compared to other vehicles on the road. Riders are generally invisible to drivers of other cars and in fact, many motorists are not used to sharing the road with bicycle riders. A majority of these drivers will also make the assumption that cyclists belong on sidewalks and not on the road.
State Rules and Regulations
Under California’s Vehicle Code, bike riders generally have to abide by the same rules as motorists (CVC §21200). Among other laws, bike users also need to abide by their own separate regulations and this involves the California Vehicle Code §21202. Under this state mandated law, bicyclists have to abide by what is typically referred to as side-of-the-road rules. This means that bicycle riders will need to travel along the far right side of the roadway, or in the bike lane, when not moving as fast as the general traffic.
Unfortunately, issues arise when riders, who are intent on abiding by these types of laws, come across potential hazards situations because of them. Often times, these hazards will lead to accidents that involve:
- Being brushed by a passing truck or car,
- Hitting an opening door of a parked vehicle, and
- Being hit by a vehicle turning right.
In spite of the dangers that could arise from side-of-the-road rules, California laws will generally work to protect bicyclists who share roads with other vehicles. When being involved in an auto collision, cyclists may have the opportunity to seek financial restitution for their injuries.
Establishing Liability When a Reckless Driver Is Responsible For a Crash
As previously mentioned, there are many dangerous situations that could cause a biker rider to suffer an accident.
When a driver is negligent in causing a cyclist to crash, the bike rider can seek financial compensation through a lawsuit. Under California’s negligence laws, negligent drivers are liable for the injuries that where caused by the accident.
Among the many forms a negligent driver can cause an accident, a motorist driving in a bike lane can be held liable for the injuries caused by an accident. As stated in California’s Vehicle Code §21209, motorists are prohibited from driving in designated bike lanes.
In order for an accident victim to seek compensation for injuries sustained, the following must be proved:
- That the motorist owed the bicyclist a duty of care;
- The motorist breached the duty of care by being negligent; and
- The motorist’s carelessness was a significant factor in what caused the bicyclist’s injuries.
For the most part, motorists owe a duty of care to the following: Pedestrians, Bicyclists, and Other drivers.
Motorist negligence can be established by inattentive driving, committing a traffic violation at the time of the incident, or other reckless action. Negligence or traffic violations committed by these drivers can include, but not limited to: Failure to yield, Speeding, Not giving cyclists enough space for safety, Distracted driving, Running a stop light, and Driving under the influence of a legal or illegal substance.
California’s Comparative Fault Law
Even when there are laws that work to protect cyclists, many bicycle riders will face being blamed by the motorist for the accident. If this happens, it is important that the bicycle rider does not admit fault for the accident. Fault in an incident is a difficult matter to solve and legal representation should be considered in effort of avoiding being blamed for the entire accident.
A cyclist who has been blamed for an accident faces paying for his or her own medical expenses, damages to his or her own property, as well as the possibility of paying for the damages and medical expenses of the driver.
In situations where the cyclist was partially at-fault, he or she can still seek financial compensation for any injuries sustained from the accident. Under California’s comparative fault law, the partially at-fault cyclist will be able to obtain restitution minus the percentage he or she was found to be at fault. These comparative fault laws are complex, and even more so when a bicycle is involved. Victims should never attempt to resolve these claims without understanding their rights and responsibilities. Here is a more comprehensive page exploring California bike laws.
Common Injuries Resulting From a Bike-Auto Accident in California
When involved in a traffic accident, there are major differences between a car and a bicycle. Although motorists are not 100% safe in a car, they do have the protection of seat-belts, airbags, and the metal frame of a vehicle. On the other hand, cyclists are vulnerable to catastrophic injuries when being involved in an accident with a moving motor vehicle. Some of the most common injuries faced by cyclists involve the following: Traumatic head injuries, Spine and back injuries, and/or Broken or fractured bones.
Consult the Legal Advice of a Skilled Attorney
When a bicycle vs. auto accident happens, the injuries suffered by the cyclist can be catastrophic. In many cases, the injuries can result in costly medical expenses, property damage, the inability to earn a living, and even a loss of quality of life. If you or someone you know has been involved in a bike-auto accident, consider seeking the legal support of a skilled attorney who has experience in handling bicycle accidents. With the right legal support, it may be possible to obtain the restitution necessary to aid in the recovery process.
Attorney Scot Moga, an avid rider, has more than 20 years of dedicated practice in handling bike-auto collision / accident cases. Mr. Moga was a victim himself and clearly understands your injuries and struggles and is devoted in assisting cyclists who have suffered severe personal injuries as a result of another driver’s negligence. When injured in a bike-auto collision, immediately seek competent legal advice. Mr. Moga always offers a FREE CONSULTATION.