California Bicycle Accident Attorney
Expert Bicycle Accident Attorneys
California has one of the highest rates of bicycle accidents in the United States. Out of the 39.24 million people living in the state, 1.4 percent of those commute to work using bicycles. That's close to 600,000 cyclists commuting every day! California has one of, if not the most, vast cycling communities in the US, including some of our own bicycle accident lawyers.
At West Coast Trial Lawyers we stand in alliance with the cycling community. We strive to protect, preserve, and adhere to our client’s interests with the best legal representation in California. That's why the most seasoned bicycle accident lawyers reside at our firm.
Bicycle accidents can be life-changing, not only for you, but for your loved ones as well. The recovery process may be long and difficult, and can only worsen if you have to deal with insurance companies or the other party’s lawyers.
Having an expert California bicycle accident attorney on your side who will fight for your rights is the best decision a cyclist can make when faced with these unfortunate situations.
California Bicycle Accident Statistics in 2022
According to data collected by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), a total of 455 bicyclists were killed in traffic accidents from 2016 to 2018. The counties with the highest rate of bicyclist deaths included Los Angeles (106), Sacramento (47) , Orange (32) , and San Bernardino (27).
The most common age group of bicyclists who were killed in these traffic accidents were 45 to 55 year olds. Males were found to be involved in fatal bicycle accidents far more times than females. According to the updated 2022 California bicycle accident statistics, 62% of the riders killed in a fatal bicycle accident were not wearing a helmet.
What to Do After A Bicycle Accident
We’ve broken this process down into three critical steps:
- The first and most important step is to seek immediate medical attention if necessary. Whether it's calling 911 or having a good samaritan transport you to the nearest hospital, your health is top priority.
- If possible, gather any evidence at the scene of the accident. This includes taking pictures of any visible injuries as well as any damages done to your property. We highly suggest connecting with witnesses and collecting their contact information in case their official statements are needed later on down the line.
- Contact an experienced bicycle accident lawyer right away! A seasoned attorney will advise you on how best to proceed with your case and will explain the overall process of filing a claim against whoever was responsible for causing the accident.
California Bicycle Laws After an Accident
Some basic California bicycle laws include:
- Helmet laws: All bicyclists under the age of 18 are required by law to wear helmets while riding on public roads. Although not required for adults over the age of 18, we highly recommended all ages to wear a helmet while cycling.
- Traffic laws: Bicyclists are required to abide by the same traffic laws as motorists, this includes stopping at stop signs or red lights, using certain hand signals, and riding with or in the same direction as traffic.
- Bike lane laws: California law requires drivers to give bicyclists at least three feet of space when passing. Bicyclists are also required to use bike lanes when available.
- Lighting laws: Bicyclists must use a white headlamp that is visible from a distance of 300 feet in front and from the sides of the bicycle. Bicyclists must also be equipped with a red rear reflector when riding at night and be visible from a distance of 500 feet. The bicycle's pedals must also have a white or yellow reflector on each pedal, shoe, or ankle visible from the front and rear of the bicycle from a distance of 200 feet.
Here are some more in depth rules of the road many riders may not know, such as:
Bicycles on Sidewalks
Cyclists can generally ride on sidewalks unless there is a local ordinance prohibiting it.
According to California Vehicle Code Section 21206 local governments are allowed to regulate their own operation of bicycles on public sidewalks.
Passing Other Vehicles
Cyclists should keep to the left when passing other vehicles. Cyclists should also give an audible signal before passing, such as using a bell or calling out “passing on your left.”
Using Hand Signals
Cyclists in California are required to use hand signals in traffic.
These hand signals include:
- extending the left arm straight out to signal a left turn
- extending the left arm and pointing upward to signal a right turn
- extending the left arm and pointing downward to signal a stop
In a bicycle accident, if the rider violated California traffic laws, it can be a crucial factor in determining fault and liability. Consulting a bicycle accident lawyer can help you further grasp the possible comparative negligence rule that may come into play.
Due to California’s high number of bicycle accidents, the state is taking steps to improve bicycle safety. In recent years, certain cities have implemented Road diets and bike lanes, increased enforcement of traffic laws, and launched safety campaigns aimed at both drivers and bicyclists.
As a bicyclist, it's important to do your part by following traffic laws and using safety gear like helmets and lights. By working together, we can make California a safer place for bicyclists, pedestrians and motorists alike.
California E-Bike Laws
California Vehicle Code Section 312.5: (a) defines an e-bike as a bicycle with a motor of 750 watts or less and is subject to the same traffic laws as a traditional bicycle.
Here are some of the most important E-bike Rules and Regulations to keep in mind:
Classes of E-Bikes
These are the three classes of e-bikes in California, which are based on the motor's maximum speed and power output
- Class 1: is a Pedal-assisted e-bike that has a maximum assisted speed of 20 miles per hour and a motor that assists only when the rider is pedaling.
- Class 2: is a Throttle-assisted e-bike that has a maximum assisted speed of 20 miles per hour and a motor that can be used without pedaling.
- Class 3: is a Pedal-assisted e-bike that has a maximum assisted speed of 28 miles per hour.
Maximum Speed Limit
In California, the maximum speed an E-bike can travel is 28 miles per hour on public roads. Overall, E-bikes may be prohibited on most freeways, so it's best to pay attention to all posted signs regarding E-Bike usage
Only riders under the age of 16 must wear a helmet.
Riders of Class 3 e-bikes must wear a helmet, regardless of age. Riders of Class 1 and Class 2 e-bikes are not required to wear a helmet, but it is strongly recommended.
Riding on Bike Lanes and Paths
Class 1 and 2 E-bikes are the only classes allowed on bike lanes and paths in California, but riders must stop for pedestrians and use caution when passing other cyclists.
Riding on Streets and Roads
E-bikes are legal on streets and roads in California, but riders must follow the same rules and regulations as traditional bicycles such as obeying traffic signals, stopping at stop signs or traffic lights, and riding in the same direction as traffic.
Riders of e-bikes are subject to the same DUI laws as motorists in California. Meaning it is illegal to ride an e-bike while under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
E-bikes, like regular bicycles, must be equipped with certain safety features, including breaks that allow the rider to stop within 25 feet from a speed of 20 miles per hour, a white headlight visible from 300 feet, a red tail light visible from 500 feet, and reflectors on the pedals and rear of the bike.
Common Causes of Bicycle Accidents in California
Some common causes of bicycle accidents include:
- Distracted driving: distracted drivers on their phones, listening to loud music or other passengers can easily overlook bicyclists on the road.
- Speeding: speeding drivers have less of a reaction time to unexpected situations, which can result in collisions with bicyclists.
- Failure to yield: Drivers who fail to yield to bicyclists at intersections, crosswalks, and other locations can cause serious accidents.
- Dooring: When a driver opens their car door, or leaves their car door open for a prolonged amount of time without looking, can hit a passing bicyclist or cause a collision.
Other causes of possible bicycle accidents in California include:
Lack of Visibility
One of the most common causes of bicycle accidents is a lack of visibility. When a cyclist is riding in bad weather conditions or low light situations, such as at dawn or dusk, there is a steep increase in probability for bike accidents. Cyclists can improve their visibility by wearing reflective clothing and using lights on their bikes.
Poor Road Conditions
Uneven roads or Potholes, debris and other poor road conditions can cause a cyclist to lose control and crash. Cyclists need to be aware of their surroundings at all times and avoid any dangerous road conditions.
Riding Against Traffic
Another common cause of bicycle accidents is riding against traffic. Riding in the opposite direction of traffic can be extremely dangerous and lead to motorists colliding with your bicycle head on. Cyclists are obliged to ride with traffic and obey all traffic laws.
Riding Under the Influence
Riding under the influence of drugs or alcohol is illegal and extremely dangerous. Impaired cyclists may have reduced reaction times and may not be able to control their bikes effectively, increasing the risk of an accident. Cyclists should not, under any circumstance, ride while under the influence and should always prioritize safety while on the road.
Poorly Maintained Bicycles
Poorly maintained or assembled bicycles can also be a cause for accidents. Not replacing your brakes regularly, loose chains, or improperly inflating your tires can lead to major accidents. Cyclists should always maintain their bikes and ensure the equipment being used is in good working condition.
Types of Bicycle Accident Injuries
Bicycle accidents, like most accidents on the road, can range from minor injuries to disastrous long-term damage. These injuries can be divided into three main categories: external, internal, and neurological.
External injuries are the most common type of injury sustained in bicycle accidents. Similar to motorcycle injuries, these injuries range from scrapes and bruises to broken bones and deep lacerations. Road rash is a frequent external injury caused by bicycle accidents.
Internal injuries are much more serious and include any damage to internal organs or the skeletal system. Some common internal injuries are:
- organ damage
- rib fractures or other bone fractures
- spinal cord injuries
- Internal bleeding
Neurological injuries from bicycle accidents are caused when the brain is damaged or comes into contact with the skull due to rapid movement following impact with another object, like a vehicle. These injuries can be vast and include:
- Skull fractures
- Cerebral contusions
- Subdural hematoma & Epidural hematoma
- Spinal cord injuries (SCI)
- Brachial plexus injuries
- Peripheral nerve injuries
- Facial nerve injuries
- Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) injuries
- Vestibular injuries
- Optic nerve injuries
Bicycle accidents can cause significant damage that usually requires medical attention and ongoing rehabilitation. That’s why it’s imperative for those injured in bicycle accidents to not only seek medical attention but to also consult with an experienced California bicycle accident attorney for legal advice.
How Do I Know If I Have a Case for My Bicycle Accident?
The crux of almost every personal injury case revolves around determining who was at fault or who was mostly liable for the damages caused by the accident at hand. After being involved in a bicycle accident, we confidently recommend to retain the best legal representation possible. More than likely the other party will be retaining counsel as well in order to cover any possible liability they may have been responsible for.
Undertaking a personal injury claim on your own can be extremely difficult and may lead to the other party winning the case just by simply having a competent lawyer. We highly suggest keeping some important factors in mind, like how much damage was caused after your bicycle accident.
- Am I severely injured?
- What is the value of the property damage caused?
- Are there any medical bills?
- Was the driver under the influence?
These questions are best to be discussed with an expert bicycle accident lawyer who can represent you and determine whether you may have a case against the other party.
Getting Hit By a Car While Riding a Bicycle
Getting hit by a car while riding a bike can be life-changing. Most likely, if a cyclist is involved in a car accident, the rider will be more injured than the driver.
That's why California law requires motorists to:
- Give cyclists at least three feet of space when passing
- Not block any bike lanes
- Yield to cyclists when making turns.
If a bicyclist is hit by a car, the driver of the vehicle can now be held liable for any damages resulting from his or her negligence. Allowing the bicyclist to file a personal injury claim against the driver seeking compensation for any medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, or other damages related to the accident.
However, if the bicyclist was riding in violation of any of the mentioned traffic laws, they may be found partially guilty or even at fault for the accident. California’s comparative negligence rule allows liability to be shared among all at-fault parties involved in the car accident. Meaning, your settlement amount can be significantly reduced if you are found partially at fault.
Regardless, cyclists should never accept any settlements offered by the insurance company without first consulting with an experienced California bicycle accident lawyer.
Hit and Run Bicycle Accidents
In California, hit and run bicycle accidents are taken very seriously by law enforcement officials. There are hefty criminal charges associated with fleeing the scene of an accident involving a bike; and if convicted, drivers may face fines and jail time.
Vehicle Code 20001 VC (c) clearly states a person who flees the scene of a crime after committing a violation of Section 191.5 involving bodily injury shall be punished by an additional term of imprisonment of five years in state prison.
Felony hit and run is no joke in the state of California. As a misdemeanor, hit-and-run cases carry a possible sentence of up to six months in the county jail as well as fines up to $1,000.00 dollars. The good news is, victims of hit-and-run bicycle accidents are entitled to pursue civil claims against the at-fault party through skilled bicycle accident attorneys.
Sadly, there can be instances where the negligent driver is never caught or apprehended, leading to many cases being unsolved. Although unfortunate, victims may still have options available to them, specifically through uninsured or under-insured motorist insurance. These claims can be filed to recover any medical expenses and property damage.
Victims should follow 3 key steps after a hit and run if this is the case:
- Gather any information from eye-witnesses
- File a police report
- Seek medical attention
There will be instances where victims only have these options to pursue if no guilty party is found. Therefore, finding out if your insurance policy covers uninsured or underinsured motorists is critical when filing a claim.
We highly recommend contacting our professional attorneys to receive a more comprehensive breakdown of your possible insurance liabilities and coverage.
We Have Earned $1.5 Billion in Combined Settlements For Our Clients
At West Coast Trial Lawyers, we understand the complexity of bicycle accident claims and have built a reputation for providing clients with experienced legal advice throughout California. With over $1.5 billion in combined settlements for our clients, you can be sure that your case will be taken seriously and handled professionally by the best bicycle accident lawyers on the west coast.
Here are just some of the benefits to working with us:
- Our team has years of experience handling bike accident cases and understands what kind of evidence needs to be collected to prove liability.
- We prepare all paperwork related to filing an insurance claim or lawsuit so you don't have to worry about it yourself.
- Our attorneys help navigate any disputes between parties involved in the accident, including insurance companies which may not have your best interest in mind
We strive to take away as much stress from our clients as possible by keeping them informed every step of the way during their case’s progress. At West Coast Trial Lawyers, we believe in justice for those who have been wrongfully injured. Ranked #1 personal injury firm in Los Angeles, where If we don't win, you don't pay.
Contact Us Today
If you have sustained injuries as a result of someone’s negligence or deliberate acts of malice, you have the right to hold the guilty party responsible for your losses. Our California bicycle accident attorneys at West Coast Trial Lawyers can recover compensation for the losses you have suffered.
They know what they're doing, very well. Not only did I not make a single phone call from the day I hired them, but I also received calls from their case managers and paralegals who want to make sure my treatment was going well. They whole team took care of me. Thank you WCTL for taking full responsibility of my case and getting me an amazing settlement.
I can say with confidence that this team is the best in the business. . . . Dean took the time to really listen and hear me out. He assured me that he was going to move mountains because he believed in me, and he ended up doing just that. I’ve never met a more focused and passionate attorney in my life. If you’re looking for a firm that treats its clients with the utmost respect and care, calling WCTL is a no-brainer. I wouldn't think twice about working with them again in the future.