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Personal Injury Firm in Los Angeles

West Coast Trial Lawyers


Los Angeles Bicycle Accident Attorney

Bicycle accidents tend to happen unexpectedly, but are almost always very traumatic experiences. Due to the fact that a bicyclist has little protection in comparison to a multi-ton vehicle, most resulting injuries will not only be severe but extremely costly to treat. Even when a bicyclist is wearing a helmet and following California’s bicycle safety regulations, he or she is not guaranteed safety on the road. 

If you have suffered injuries or property loss after a bicycle accident, you may be entitled to compensatory damages for:

1) Who Is Responsible for A Bicycle Accident In California?

The short answer is, it depends. However, it essentially comes down to negligence. Below are a few factors a personal injury lawyer will initially consider when determining fault after a bicycle accident:

  1. Who has the right-of-way? Traffic lights are indicators of who has the right-of-way. For example, whoever arrives at a stop sign first will have the right-of-way. However, if a driver and a bicyclist both arrive at a stop sign at the same time, whoever is on the right will have the right-of-way.
  2. Did someone fail to signal? If either a driver or a bicyclist fail to signal, they may be held liable for the bicycle accident.
  3. Was the required lighting used at night? All drivers and bicyclists must use appropriate lighting when driving or riding a bike at night. Failure to do so may incur liability.
  4. What about the bicycle lane? With safety in mind, bike lanes are strictly intended for bicyclists. Any vehicles found driving in or obstructing a bike lane may be found liable.

Please note that Vehicle Code 21209 VC exists to prohibit all drivers from driving within a bike lane. Any driver who injures a bicyclist in a bike lane will most likely be held liable for the accident. 

In relation to bicycle accidents, negligence is usually some form of careless or reckless behavior on behalf of a driver. This means that if a driver caused harm to a bicyclist, he or she will typically be held liable for any injuries sustained, as well as the resulting damages.

Some examples of driver negligence in relation to a bicycle accident include:

  • Speeding
  • Not seeing a bicyclist and making a left turn into that bicyclist
  • Not giving a bicyclist at least three (3) feet of space to maneuver safely
  • Driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol
  • Not paying attention to the road
  • Texting 
  • Disobeying traffic laws or signals

Negligent behavior behind the wheel is not only immoral but is against the law. All motorists have a legalduty of care while operating a vehicle. This means that a driver who behaves irresponsibly and does not use reasonable care while operating a vehicle may be found liable for causing a bicycle accident. 

If you were injured in a bicycle accident because of a driver’s negligent behavior, it is crucial that you are able to prove that his or her negligence was the primary cause of your injuries. The legal standard for negligence in the state of California will consider the following three elements:

  1. The driver owed the bicyclist a duty of care
  2. The driver breached his or her duty of care through negligence, and 
  3. The driver’s negligence was the primary cause of the injuries sustained.

Finally, it is entirely possible for more than one individual to be held liable for causing a bicycle accident. California is acomparative liability state, which means that more than one individual may be found liable, including the bicyclist. Therefore, liability can be divided based on the degree of fault. Damages will also be divided based on the share of fault. Finally, any available damages will be reduced depending on an individual’s degree of fault.

2)What Can I Do If I Was Involved In A Bicycle Accident?

Below are the key steps you must take after a bicycle accident in order to protect your legal rights and obtain maximum compensation for your injuries:

  1. Stay Put. You should never leave the scene of an accident until the police arrive, even if it seems no one has been hurt. 
  2. Call 911. It is crucial to ask the responding officers to complete an official report of your bicycle accident. Make sure to convey all your injuries, no matter how minor. Before you leave the scene, please request the traffic accident information card with the accident report number, as well.
  3. Contact Information For Drivers and Witnesses. Exchange names, addresses, phone numbers, and drivers’ license information with everyone involved in the accident. If there are witnesses, request the same information from them if possible. 
  4. Documentation. Write down what happened, including times and locations, as well as any relevant road or weather conditions. It’s wise to take as many photographs as possible of the accident scene, the damage to your bicycle, and any injuries you have suffered.
  5. Medical Attention. See a doctor as soon as possible. Many injuries do not immediately manifest adverse symptoms, but your health should be your first priority. And unless you see a doctor, the other party’s insurance company will argue that you weren’t hurt at all. A full medical record of your injuries is a critical document in proving the seriousness of your injuries.
  6. Don’t Speak. DO NOT apologize or even suggest who may be at fault. DO NOT speak about the accident at all.  
  7. Consult A Los Angeles Bicycle Accident Attorney. Bicycle accidents involve complex causation and damages issues that are best handled by a skilled California bicycle accident lawyer. If possible, speak with an attorney even before reporting the accident to your own insurance provider. 

3) Who Do I Sue After A Bicycle Accident?

If you were injured or suffered property loss in a bicycle accident, the party or parties responsible for your losses will have to pay for your damages. The first step towards recovering damages owed to you can be accomplished by filing a personal injury lawsuit. Please consult with an experienced Los Angeles bicycle accident attorney as soon as possible to determine whether you are entitled to file a personal injury lawsuit and claim damages. 

3.1 Can I Sue The Manufacturer If A Faulty Product Caused My Accident?

Bicycle accidents can often be caused by a faulty bicycle part. An example could be when the brakes on a bicycle suddenly fail and a bicyclist crashes and suffers serious injuries. In this case, neither the bicyclist nor another driver is responsible. However, according to California’s products liability law, the manufacturer who designed and distributed the defective bicycle can be held liable for those losses. 

A products liability claim is different than a personal injury claim, because an injured bicyclist will not have the burden of proving the manufacturer’s negligence in order to file for damages. Strict liability can be imposed regarding:

  • Manufacturing defects
  • Design defects
  • Failure to warn defects

If you were injured as a result of a defective bicycle, you may recover damages by proving that: 

  1. The bicycle manufacturer sold a defective product
  2. The product was already defective when it left the manufacturer
  3. The product was used in a reasonable manner
  4. Injury or harm was sustained as a result of the defective product

3.2 Can I Sue If My Family Member Lost Their Life?

An individual who was killed after a bicycle accident no longer has the option of filing a personal injury claim for themselves. However, their surviving spouse or child(ren) may have the option of filing a wrongful death claim and suing for:

  1. Funeral/burial costs
  2. Earnings the deceased would have earned if he or she survived
  3. Loss of companionship and support

The following individuals may file a wrongful death lawsuit in California:

  1. The surviving spouse
  2. The surviving domestic partner
  3. The children of the decedent
  4. If the decedent’s children have passed, the surviving grandchildren may file

Any individual(s) entitled to the decedent’s property according to California’s intestate succession laws.

3.3 Can I Sue The City For Hazardous Road Conditions?

Not all bicycle accidents are caused by a driver’s negligence or by another driver at all. Poorly maintained roads are a leading cause of many serious bike accidents. It’s important to understand that California premises liability law dictates that a city can be held liable for negligence if they do not properly maintain public roads in safe conditions. 

A serious bicycle accident can easily be caused by seemingly harmless road conditions, such as:

  1. Potholes
  2. Loose gravel
  3. Broken cement
  4. Uneven sidewalks
  5. Faulty or damaged road signs

Finally, all property owners — including commercial, private, and city — can be found liable for not properly maintaining their asphalt or pavement surfaces. Therefore, you may be able to sue for recovery of damages if you were injured by the city’s negligence.

3.4 Can I Sue A Pedestrian For Causing My Bicycle Accident?

You may have a claim for damages against the party responsible for your losses, whether it was another driver or even a pedestrian. If you were injured in a bicycle accident because of a pedestrian’s negligence, it is crucial to prove that his or her negligence was the cause of your injuries. The legal standard for negligence in the state of California will consider the following three elements:

  1. The defendant owed the plaintiff a duty of care
  2. The defendant breached his or her duty of care through negligence, and 
  3. The defendant’s negligence was the primary cause of the injuries sustained

For example, a pedestrian can cause a bicycle accident by:

  • Suddenly stepping into the bike lane
  • Running in front of a bicyclist
  • Walking and texting and not watching the road
  • Not paying attention to bike traffic while wearing headphones
  • Intentionally knocking a bicyclist off their bike
  • Not controlling their dog

4. What If I Was Hit By An Uninsured Driver?

Being involved in any type of accident with an uninsured driver can be a nightmare. However, there are options your bicycle accident lawyer can resort to, such as suing the uninsured driver and going after their personal assets. 

The other option is obtaining uninsured motorist coverage from your own insurance provider, which is often referred to as UIM coverage. UIM coverage can protect you if you are involved in an accident with someone who does not have insurance and is liable for a bicycle accident.

5. Available Damages After A California Bicycle Accident

An injured bicyclist can generally sue for compensatory damages including:

Available damages will typically vary depending on the seriousness of your injuries. The most common types of bicycle accident injuries include:

  • Abrasions
  • Broken Bones
  • Strains or Dislocations
  • Internal Bleeding
  • Concussions 
  • Head and Neck Injuries
  • Dental Fractures

In very rare cases, an injured bicyclist may also qualify for punitive damages. In order to be entitled to punitive damages, an injured bicyclist needs to prove that the defendant engaged in extreme behavior, such as intentionally trying to run over a bicyclist.

Punitive damages are awarded at the court’s discretion and are intended to punish a wrongdoer for his or her deliberate acts of malice.

West Coast Trial Lawyers Is Here to Help

If you have sustained injuries as a result of another driver’s carelessness, you have the right to hold that driver responsible. A bicycle accident attorney at our firm can help you recover financial compensation for the losses you have suffered, including medical bills, property damage, lost wages, and pain and suffering from your injury. 

Call us today at (213) 927-3700 or email info@westcoasttriallawyers.com to schedule a free consultation with our experienced, caring and compassionate legal team.

References

http://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/codes_displaySection.xhtml?sectionNum=21209.&lawCode=VEH

https://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/codes_displaySection.xhtml?sectionNum=21760.&lawCode=VEH

https://www.justia.com/trials-litigation/docs/caci/400/400/

https://www.justia.com/trials-litigation/docs/caci/1000/1001/

https://www.justia.com/trials-litigation/docs/caci/400/405/

http://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/codes_displaySection.xhtml?lawCode=VEH&sectionNum=20002.

https://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/codes_displayText.xhtml?lawCode=PROB&division=6.&title=&part=2.&chapter=1.&article=

https://www.justia.com/trials-litigation/docs/caci/1000/1000/



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