California has more bicycle accidents than any other state with 338 cyclists killed in crashes with vehicles between 2010 and 2012 alone, according to a report by the Governors Highway Safety Association. Like many states, California has introduced many laws in an attempt to protect bicyclists sharing the road with vehicles.
The California Vehicle Code contains state laws that specify how cars as well as bicycles must operate. Bicyclists have the same responsibilities and rights as vehicle drivers in California, but there are a few additional rules bicyclists should understand.
Bicyclists Can “Take the Lane”
The California Vehicle Code specifies where cyclists can ride. Under California law, bicyclists can ride wherever they want if they are moving the same speed as traffic. When a bicyclist is moving slower than traffic, he or she is still allowed to “take the lane.” California traffic code states that bicyclists should ride as far to the right side as possible as except in these cases:
- Avoiding a hazard
- The lane is too narrow to share
- The bicyclist is preparing to make a left turn
- The bicyclist is passing
- The bicyclist is approaching an area where right turns are allowed
The bicyclist’s right to “take the lane” is one of the most misunderstood rights of bicyclists and it leads to many accidents. Many drivers and even law enforcement fail to understand this right and prepare for it on the road.
Bicyclists Usually Need to Use the Bike Lane
When a road has a bike lane, bicyclists need to use it if they are traveling slower than traffic. Bicyclists have the right to leave the bike lane when they are avoiding a hazard, making a left turn, passing, or approaching an area where right turns are allowed.
Bicyclists Must Ride With Traffic
A leading cause of bicycle accidents in California is bicyclists who fail to ride on the right side of the road. Bicyclists are required to travel on the right side of the road in the direction of traffic except when riding on a one-way street, riding on a narrow road, when the right side is closed for construction, or to make a left turn.
Bicyclists Can Sometimes Ride on the Sidewalk
In California, each city and town makes its own rules about whether bicyclists can ride on a sidewalk. Los Angeles allows bicyclists to use the sidewalk except when it’s done with a disregard for the safety of others and property.
Bicycles Must Have Reflectors and a Headlight at Night
The California Vehicle Code has rules about reflectors and lights for night use:
- Bicycles used at night must have a red reflector on the back, white or yellow reflectors on each pedal or the bicyclist’s shoes, white or yellow reflectors on the front half of the bicycle, and red or white reflectors on each side of the back half of the reflector.
- A white headlight visible from the front must be used when the bicycle is used at night.
Helmet Laws in California
California helmet law requires a helmet for any bicyclist under the age of 18. The helmet must be fastened and fitted and meet the standards of the American National Standards Institute, the American Society for Testing Materials, or the Snell Memorial Foundation.
It’s also important to note that if a bicyclist does not wear a helmet and gets hurt in a collision with a vehicle, the lack of a helmet cannot be used as proof of the bicyclist’s liability.
Alcohol and Drug Use is Prohibited
Riding a bicycle home to avoid a DUI is insufficient; under California law, it’s illegal for bicyclists to ride under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Research also suggests that about one-fifth of bicyclists killed in traffic collisions have a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 percent or higher, which is the legal limit.
Bicyclists and Pedestrians
Bicyclists are required to yield the right of way to pedestrians in marked crosswalks and unmarked crosswalks at intersections. Bicyclists are also required to yield the right of way to visually impaired pedestrians who have a guide dog or white cane.
Can I Be Found At Fault in My Bicycle Accident?
California now leads the nation in bicycle traffic fatalities despite efforts to increase awareness for cyclists among drivers. In the vast majority of these accidents, there is usually negligence involved when determining who was at fault for the accident. Depending on the circumstances, it may be the driver, the cyclist, or both found at fault. While vehicles are heavier, larger, and more powerful than bicycles and are sometimes at a disadvantage for spotting cyclists, the truth is drivers aren’t necessarily more likely than bicyclists to cause an accident.
Proving who was at fault in a bicycle accident is the same as in an accident involving two vehicles: which party violated through duty of care and behaved negligently in a way that contributed to the accident? Bicyclists are subject to the same rules on the road as cars as well as additional bicycle-specific laws. Drivers can be found at fault for a bicycle accident if they violated traffic laws, but bicyclists can also be found completely or partially at fault for an accident. Under California law, failing to wear a helmet is not considered evidence of a bicyclists negligence, but a cyclist can be negligent in other ways:
- Failing to follow traffic rules like riding on the wrong side of the road
- Failing to signal before turning
- Using a phone while cycling
- Failing to wear front and rear deflectors at night
- Failing to stop at a stop sign
It’s important to remember that bicyclists must follow the same traffic rules as drivers, including stopping at traffic lights and stop signs, signaling turns, and riding on the right side of the road.
Bicyclists can be found liable for an accident if they were under the influence of alcohol, just as with drivers. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, 23% of bicyclists killed in traffic accidents in 2015 had blood alcohol concentrations (BACs) of at least 0.08 percent, the legal limit.
A driver may be liable for the accident by:
- Failing to yield to a cyclist turning left or right
- Driving in or obstructing a bike lane
- Passing a bicyclist with less than three feet of clearance
Drivers aren’t assumed at fault in bicycle accidents. According to a study of more than 2,500 accident reports on bicycle accidents in San Diego County between 2011 and 2014, the cyclist was found at fault 56% of the time. Many of these cases involved riding on the wrong side of the road, and violations of right of way involving a bicyclist who cut in front of a vehicle or just rode right through a red light or stop sign.
When drivers were at fault in these accidents, the most common reasons were violations of right of way and improper turns.
Drivers and bicyclists can also share liability in an accident under comparative negligence laws. If a bicyclist is found 100% at fault for an accident, he or she is unable to recover damages for injuries suffered in an accident. If both parties share negligence, any award the bicyclist will receive will reflect this “comparative negligence.” As an example, if a bicyclist suffers $100,000 in damages in an accident but is found 30% liable, the award will be reduced to $70,000.
If you are partially at fault for a bicycle accident, you still have the right to seek compensation. In these cases, it’s especially important to investigate the accident and build your case with the help of an experienced injury lawyer as your settlement or verdict will be reduced based on your comparative negligence.
Contact a Los Angeles Bicycle Accident Lawyer
Bicycle accidents can lead to very severe injuries, many of which can be life-changing. If you have been involved in a bicycle accident, don’t assume that the driver is automatically liable. Liability in these cases must be proved just as with car accidents. An experienced bicycle accident injury lawyer can help you build your case and protect your rights to seek the compensation you deserve.
Can I Only Be Compensated For My Medical Bills If I File A Bicycle Accident Lawsuit
Many bicycle accident victims are not aware that they can receive compensation for their injuries after the bike crash. The settlement of bike accident differs according to the bicycle accident. If you get a bike accident without your fault, you are eligible to get compensation. For you to get the compensation, you need the help of an attorney so to win the case. Determination of payment for a bike crash is only possible when some factors are taken into consideration. Let’s see how the compensation for bicycle accident is figured out.
How is bike accident compensation figured out?
Calculating compensation for a bicycle accident is a complicated process, which depends on damages. Damages are costs and suffering you have encountered as a result of the crash. These can be monitory damages like medical bills or loss of hiring a car when your bike is out of commission. Nevertheless, there are also non-monitory damages such as pain and suffering you get as a result of an accident, loss of life enjoyment due to injuries. Therefore in case you file the claim for bike accident, the argument is looked depending on financial damages and non-financial cost.
Economic losses are simple to calculate because they are linked to the medical bill, wages, and other concrete monitory costs. The losses are limited to the charge that you may pay as a result of an accident, such as repair bills or hospital bill. Economic damages also entail future losses you may encounter as a consequence of the bike crash. For instance, the cost that may deter your ability to work.
Here are some of the monitory damages that you can get compensated:.
• Hospital bill
• Lost salary
• Loss of ability to do household chores
• Destruction or Loss of personal property.
• Expenses of replacement and repair of your bicycle.
• Cost of things that you cannot do because of injuries.
Those damages are usually calculated by considering things like your receipts, pay slip or medical bill.
People lose so much more than finance when they are involved in a bicycle or car accident. Apart from medical expenses and time off work, there many ways that you continue suffering every day as result of a crash. For instances, you may not be able to do your household chores or exercise due to chronic pain. Non-monitory damages are a way of compensating the losses you encounter that are not included on the receipt. The non-economic damages differ from one person to another depending on demands of an individual case.
Non-financial damages include:
• Suffering and pain
• Loss of life enjoyment
• Emotional distress
• Loss of association
With the help attorney, you will be able to understand where your non-financial damages fall into this category.
Pain and suffering might be seen as similar to the loss of life enjoyment. But the fact is that the two terms are different when you apply the law. Pain and suffering entail pain, emotional trauma, and discomfort, because of the bicycle crash. On the other hand, life enjoyment involves negatives effects to your living style or inability to engage yourself with your hobbies.
How can you get a fair compensation?
For you to get fair compensation for your injuries, you need to hire a competent lawyer to represent your case in the court or to the insurance company. Here are two vital factors to consider before hiring attorney for your claim.
Find a lawyer who has experience of bike accident compensation.
When contacting the Law firm to discuss your claim, you should prove that they have an advocate on-board who has the experience of dealing with cases similar to yours. These will help you to save time just in case the firm does have a bike accident attorney who can represent you well. Therefore hiring a lawyer with experience and knowledge of bike accident claims is necessary.
Choose a bicycle crash Attorney with high success rate
The rate of success involves the percentage of some cases that attorney wins. If the value of success is high, that lawyer may have experience and knowledge of bike accident cases. But this not always a valid indicator of the lawyer’s ability. Some advocates take more challenging and risky claims than others. However, it is still a credible criterion to tick off. Ask the attorney you speak with their success rate.
In the event of bicycle accident compensation, file your claims with a competent lawyer who understands how payment is figured from both economic and non-economic damages. Consider the above two factors to choose an expert lawyer.