Cycling has both environmental and health benefits hence the reason for the increase in the number of bicyclists in California. Many people use bicycles not only for recreational purposes but also as a means of transportation. Unfortunately, as bicyclists try to share the road with motorists, a surge in the number of accidents has been witnessed. When an accident occurs involving a bicycle, the cyclist is exposed to severe injuries. Luckily, laws of personal injury allow you to seek compensation from the liable person if you sustain injuries. You can also pursue a wrongful death claim in case a family member is killed in a bicycle accident.
At the San Diego Personal Injury Law Firm, we assist cyclists injured in these crashes to seek compensation for injuries and damages caused by negligence. Our attorneys will evaluate the cause of the accident, which will aid in proving liability or negotiating with the responsible party for maximum compensation.
Causes of Different Forms of Bicycle Accidents in San Diego
California has put a lot of measures and infrastructure to help keep bicyclists safe while on the road. Despite these measures and defensive cycling by bicyclists, it’s not possible to avoid bicycle accidents entirely because your safety depends on other road users. However, understanding the reasons why various types of bicycle accidents occur can help you avoid an accident even in situations where a pedestrian, another cyclist, motorcyclist, or motorist would be fully liable. Discussed below are some of the common causes of bicycle accidents:
Hazardous Road Conditions
It is common for cyclists to think that they are to blame for an accident. However, the truth is that dangerous road conditions and networks contribute to bicycle accidents quite often. These crashes occur when the road surface changes suddenly, causing you as a cyclist to lose control over the bicycle. Other times, the sudden change in the road surface can make bus, truck, and standard vehicle drivers lose control over the automobile. Whether it’s you or the other motorist that loses control, if you get in the way of the vehicle or the other way round, an accident is likely to occur.
Similarly, roads are susceptible to wear and tear when used for an extended period. The wear and tear, in turn, cause potholes and cracks, which pose a grave risk to all road users. The entities or individuals in charge of these roads are required to conduct regular repairs and maintenance to ensure roads are hazard-free. However, if these entities fail to conduct regular maintenance, the cracks and potholes increase the chances of cyclists being involved in an accident.
Also, loose gravel, railroads, and sewer grates on the road can cause bicycles to get stuck, which may result in you falling off the bicycle or veering off your path into oncoming traffic, leading to a fatal accident.
Other dangerous road conditions that can cause bicycle accidents include lifted asphalt, destroyed asphalt, and cracked cement.
If the accident occurs on a premise, the owner of the property will be responsible for the condition of the road, which means you can sue them for negligence. Additionally, because most road networks in San Diego are under the authority of local, state, or the federal government, you can file a claim against these agencies for failing to regularly and adequately maintain the roads, designing and constructing poor roads.
There have been several cases of cities paying hefty compensation for victims of bicycle accidents caused by hazardous road conditions. In most of the cases, the authorities charged with maintaining or constructing the roads were aware of the dangerous conditions but failed to take action. For this reason, if you have been involved in a bicycle accident and you suspect dangerous road conditions to be the cause, you should reach out to San Diego Personal Injury Law Firm to help you with the case. The reason being these agencies enjoy a particular level of immunity. Further, you are required to notify them within a particular duration that you plan to file a claim.
Most people attribute bicycle accidents to negligence by motorists. However, this is not always the case because defective bicycles or components can be responsible for causing a collision. If a bicycle or its component breaks or malfunctions, it may result in a crash or make it impossible to control the bike, causing an accident that would have otherwise been avoided.
A faulty bicycle or part can result from many things. It could be the manufacturer of the bicycle who designed a defective bicycle or poorly manufactured components of the bike. The most common bicycle defects include but not limited to:
- Faulty brakes
- Unfitting material or assembly
- Faulty tires
- Faulty carbon fork
- Not meeting the required safety standards
It’s worth noting that some of these defects have resulted in bicycle recalls in the past. Therefore, if you are involved in a bicycle accident where the defect that led to the crash had led to bicycle recalls, you might sue several parties for compensation. Some of these individuals include:
- Manufacturer of the bike or its parts
- The company in charge of assembling the bicycle
- The wholesaler of the bicycles or components
- The retailer of bike or its parts
- The bicycle repair shop if they installed a faulty part
- The San Diego County authorities if the bicycle is from a Hub way
Proving that a defective component or bicycle was the cause of your injuries is not a walk in the park. You will require the skills of a proficient personal injury attorney to eliminate the need to consider other factors as the cause of the accident and focus on bicycle defects. However, to achieve this, you must begin collecting evidence right after the crash. Take pictures of the road conditions, surrounding areas, and the damage done on the bicycle. Pictures of the damage will help prove a bicycle defect was the cause of the crash. On the other hand, the images of the surrounding areas and road surface will eliminate the need to consider other things that may have caused the collision.
The Positioning of the Bicycle on the Road
Your positioning on the road relative to other motorists can result in different forms of bicycle accidents. One of these accidents is dooring. This form of accident occurs when cars park along the street. In case your positioning is inferior during such a time, if a driver parked along the street or close to a bicycle lane opens the door without checking if it is safe to do so, it gives you less reaction time to slow down, swerve or stop, causing you to slam the door. Cyclists can avoid these types of bicycle accidents by positioning themselves away from the edge of the road, especially along streets or parked vehicles along bicycle lanes.
When a dooring accident occurs, the driver of the vehicle whose door you ran into is often to blame for the accident. The reason being the person has an obligation to check the road and ensure it is safe before opening the door.
Your positioning on the road might also result in a sideswiping accident. Motorists are used to denying bicyclists space for passing hence the reason bicyclists tend to ride at the far left because the alternative increases the risk of a dooring accident. Additionally, the law encourages maintaining a safe distance between motorists and bicyclists when overtaking to reduce the chances of a sideswipe accident.
Another type of bicycle accident that can be caused by the positioning of a bicycle on the road is a rear-end accident. The type of collisions involves the driver of a car hitting your bicycle from the back. These accidents are common when slowing down or stopping to avoid a dooring accident or at a stop sign. In case a motorist is following too closely or is impaired to react if you stop immediately, you might end up being rear-ended.
The small size of bicycles also makes them less visible, especially at night, and this is another reason for rear-end accidents. Thankfully, if drivers maintain a safe distance between them and your bicycle, these collisions are avoidable.
Left cross bicycle accidents are also caused by the positioning of the bicycle on the road. These collisions occur when a vehicle and bicycle are approaching an intersection from opposite directions. If the driver misjudges the speed of the bicycle when making a turn or fails to yield, it results in a left cross accident.
It’s worth noting that if a motorist hits you from the right side of the road when making a right turn, a right hook bicycle accident occurs. These accidents are attributable to the failure by motorists to notice a bicycle on the road. Left cross and right hook accidents can be avoided by wearing reflective gears when riding at night, use of headlights and riding further left to allow yourself more reaction time.
Human error or distracted driving is the leading cause of both bicycle and car accidents. Most of these accidents can be prevented if drivers exercise defensive driving or pay more attention to the road and their surroundings. It’s for this reason that drivers are always encouraged to pay attention to the road to avoid accidents.
The main cause of distracted driving is multitasking. With the introduction of vehicle navigation systems and cell phones, drivers might be tempted to take their eyes off the road, which increases the risk of an accident. Things like applying makeup, taking a meal or drink while behind the wheel by motorists can also cause distraction. When a distracted driver swerves, he or she might end up hitting a bicycle, resulting in a severe accident.
Another common cause of distracted driving is tiredness and drunk or drugged driving. If a driver operates a vehicle when distracted, it puts all road users, including bicyclists at risk of being involved in an accident. Drowsiness is common among truck drivers who stay for long hours on the road without rest. Such drivers are likely to fall asleep while driving, which increases the risk of losing control of the truck, thus running into bicyclists riding along the road or on bicycle paths.
On the other hand, drunk or drugged driving impairs the driver’s judgment or reduces reaction time. When this happens, the driver might end up leaving his or her lane into that of a bicycle or be unable to avoid oncoming obstacles like bicycles.
Aggressive driving occurs when motorists exhibit reckless behavior that endangers not only their lives but also the lives of other road users. Aggressive driving by motorists, even when sharing the road with other motorists, increases the risk of accidents. However, bicyclists are put on more danger when sharing the road with aggressive or reckless drivers. Aggressive behavior, in this case, includes things like:
- Forcing bicycles off the road by squeezing the space between them and the vehicle
- Disregard of traffic lights or signs
- Dangerous lane changing
Keep in mind that bicycles lack a protective body. For this reason, even if you encounter aggressive drivers on the road, you should not engage them because when an accident occurs, you are the person likely to sustain catastrophic injuries since your body will act as the barrier between you and the road.
Apart from the bicycle accident causes highlighted above, other things that can cause these accidents include:
- Pedestrians getting in the way of bicyclists
- Cycling team accidents
Things to do after a Bicycle Accident
In the event you find yourself in a bicycle accident caused by any of the above reasons, chances are you don’t know your next move. This can be a massive challenge because the steps you take after the accident will play a pivotal role in determining whether you will be compensated. The amount you will receive if you decide to file a claim against the responsible party will also depend on what you do after the crash. Discussed below are the steps you should take after a bicycle accident:
The most critical step after an accident is seeking medical attention. Therefore, if you have sustained injuries, you should call 911 if you are in a position to do so. However, if you are injured such that you can’t make the call, ask someone to do it on your behalf. EMTs will be sent to the scene if the accident is severe. Besides, the police will be contacted to visit the scene and commence their investigations to determine the person that was at fault. In case you can hang around the scene and wait for the police to arrive, do it. The reason being you will get a chance to share your side of the story.
Seek Medical Examination
Remember that many bicycle accidents involve the neck, back, and head injuries. If these injuries are not evaluated by an expert to determine their extent, they can be life-threatening or cause permanent paralysis.
Similarly, whether you feel okay after the accident or not, you should go for medical evaluation because you might be experiencing delayed symptoms. Stay safe by visiting a doctor so that the injuries you might have sustained can be treated before getting out of hand.
After receiving medical treatment, do not sign medical authorization because this will give the opposing party access to your records. The information can be used against you to prove that the injuries you sustained were caused by something else other than the bicycle accident.
Police will not always come to the scene if the accident has not affected traffic flow. It means that you will be the person responsible for gathering information that will be used in your claim. Some of the information that you should record include:
- The license plate number of the car involved in the accident
- The name and contact information of the car driver
- The driver’s insurance info
- The make, year, color and model of the vehicle
- The VIN
- Contact info of witnesses
In case you can’t collect this info on your own, you can request somebody else to do it on your behalf.
Besides, you should take pictures of the scene or record a video of the bike and the injuries sustained. This is strong evidence that will give you an advantage during negotiations.
Don’t Admit Fault
It’s common for people to apologize after an accident. However, your apology might come to haunt you later during the claim because the attorney of the liable party may claim that you admitted fault by apologizing. Even if you are 100 percent sure the accident was your fault, don’t admit it. Instead, request the other party to talk to your injury attorney.
It’s worth noting that engaging the other party without having an attorney present is a mistake. Therefore, right after the cycling crash, reach out to the San Diego Personal Injury Law Firm. Our attorneys will ensure you get maximum compensation for your injuries.
Proving a Bicycle Accident Claim
Sustaining injuries due to someone’s negligence can be frustrating. The frustration will even get worse if the injuries sustained are life-changing. It’s for this reason that personal injury laws allow individuals injured in bicycle crashes due to the negligence of others to seek compensation from those responsible for the accident. However, a claim must be backed by substantial evidence that negligence by the opposing party caused the accident.
The evidence you will need to prove your case includes:
- Images and videos of the bicycle accident
- Police report
- Witness statements
- Testimony by expert witnesses
- Medical reports
The outcome of your claim is based on the kind of evidence that you will present. At the San Diego Personal Injury Attorney, we will conduct a separate and independent investigation and compare it to that of the police. That way, we will find pieces of evidence that will help us win your case. Reach out to us right after the crash so that no valuable evidence goes missing, thus weakening your case.
Damages Available in a Bicycle Accident Claim
Any individual who contributed or was the cause of the bicycle accident is responsible for your injuries. The kind of compensation you will receive depends on the outcome of the accident. If you can demonstrate that your injuries were due to negligence by the defendant, you will be awarded the following damages:
- Loss of property
- Emotional distress
- Occupational therapy
- Lost income
- Medical bills
- Loss of limb
- Loss of consortium
The damages are awarded depending on the extent of the injuries. In case the injuries are minor, you will be compensated for emergency medical care, and for the few days you will miss work because of the injuries. However, if the injuries are severe and life-change, you will be eligible for more damages.
The common injuries associated with bicycle accidents include:
- Road rash
- Dental fractures
- Internal bleeding
- Broken bones
- Eye injuries
If there is a loss of support, companionship, or intimacy between partners, you can pursue a loss of consortium benefit. These non-economic benefits seek to compensate you for losing your partner’s companionship or intimacy because of a bicycle accident.
In case a person dies in a bicycle accident, the spouse or children of the deceased can pursue a wrongful death claim. The persons who register claims on behalf of the deceased victims seek compensation for:
- Funeral costs
- Financial income the victim would have made if his or her life was not ended in a bicycle accident.
- Loss of companionship
The persons who can pursue these damages include:
- A surviving spouse of the deceased
- A surviving registered domestic partner of the victim
- Legal children of the victim
- Grandchildren (if the children of the deceased are dead)
- Any other individual entitled to the deceased’s property as per California succession laws.
Although the money paid to the descendants of the victim doesn’t bring the person back to life, it enables them to live comfortably under the new normal.
Find a San Diego Bicycle Accident Injury Attorney Near Me
Every time you get on the road as a bicyclist, you are at risk of being involved in a bicycle accident. The injuries sustained from these crashes are life-changing and might turn your life upside down. The cost of treatment will be overwhelming for your family to foot hence the need to seek compensation. At the San Diego Personal Injury Attorney, we are devoted to assisting you to receive compensation. Reach out to us today at 619-478-4059 for a free consultation.