Bicycle Accident Attorney Orange County
Bicycles are environmentally friendly, and riding is great exercise. Unfortunately, there’s also a dark side to cycling: accidents. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, automobile-on-bike collisions result in more emergency room cases than any other sport. Most accidents occur at night, and cyclists are more at risk to sustain life-altering catastrophic injuries and fatalities.
If you or a family member is the victim of a car-on-bike accident, it’s best to contact a bicycle accident lawyer to explore your options.
California’s Bicycle Accident Statistics Will Shock You
Californians are big on bikes, and they also get into more cycle accidents than every other state. As cycle-sharing programs increased, so did the number of associated collisions. Between 2016 and 2018, 455 riders died in traffic accidents. That’s more than any three years since the mid-1990s.
Top Types of Bicycle Accidents in California
Car-on-cycle accidents usually fall into one of four collision categories:
- “Right hook” turn
- Car Door
California Bicycle Laws
California’s Vehicle Code VC 21201 addresses bicycle laws and standards. Under the statute, bikes on the road need functional brakes and appropriately sized handlebars. Additionally, for nighttime riding, bikes must have a headlight with a 300-foot range, that people can see from the front, left, and right. Cyclists must also affix a 500-foot-range red reflector to the back and use white or yellow reflectors on pedals.
In terms of distance requirements between bikes and cars, motorists must give bicyclists at least three feet. Drivers are also forbidden from obstructing bike paths by parking or riding in them.
“Take the Lane” Laws
California bicycle laws include “take the lane” parameters, giving cyclists right of way to move into car lanes even if they’re traveling slower than traffic, to:
- Make a left turn or prepare for an authorized right turn
- Avoid roadway hazards
- Navigate a narrowing lane
Outside of those circumstances, bikers must use bike lanes if one is available. Additionally, cyclists may not cross toll bridges and may not ride on freeways or expressways unless they obtain permission from the California Department of Transportation. Depending on the county, sidewalk cycling may also be prohibited. Other cyclist violations include:
- Riding the wrong way on a one-way street
- Disregarding stop or yield signs
- Turning into traffic abruptly and without signaling
What Should I do Immediately After a Bike Accident?
- Gain Composure: If you’re not incapacitated, step one after a bike accident is taking a deep breath, shaking off the adrenaline, and regaining your composure.
- Check Yourself: Even if you can’t feel or see any glaring outward injuries, check yourself for any lacerations, bruises, or contusions. They could be signs of internal issues. If necessary, seek medical help.
- Call 911: If injuries don’t require immediate hospitalization or medical attention, the next step is calling 911. At this point, ready your camera phone.
- Take Pictures: Request that the vehicle driver stay to give a police statement. If they refuse, get a picture of the license plate and, if possible, the driver.
- Get Information: If the driver stays, ask for their name. If witnesses are around, get their name too.
- Tell Your Side: When an officer arrives, make sure your version of events is taken down. Sometimes, the police will take a statement from the driver for the police report and forget about the cyclist.
- Call a Bicycle Accident Attorney: If you’re injured in any way, call an attorney as soon as possible.
The most important rule at a bike accident scene is to never incriminate yourself. Be cordial, but don’t admit fault.
Liability and Fault Standards for California Bicycle Accident Lawsuits and Claims
Both motorists and cyclists must follow bicycle laws, and violating them can invite both criminal and civil actions for both groups.
Negligence is a failure to act with a reasonably expected level of care, and it’s the nucleus of most bike lawsuits and claims. If a party is found negligent, they’re usually held responsible for the accident in question.
But legally speaking, negligence isn’t straightforward.
Negligence Per Se
“Negligence per se” is a legal term that means “inherently negligent.” When a person is inherently negligent in a given situation, the claimant doesn’t have to prove wrongdoing on the part of the defendant; it’s understood.
For example, let’s say a driver runs a stop sign and plows into a biker. If a cop witnesses the incident and gives the driver a ticket for running through the stop, the driver would be inherently at fault because they violated a motor vehicle traffic law, which directly caused an accident.
In California bicycle accident cases, if you can prove law enforcement slapped the defendant with a ticket, citation, or arrest for an action connected to the accident, then you don’t need to demonstrate the culprit’s negligence; by virtue of the ticket, citation, or arrest, they’re culpable.
Contributory or Comparative Negligence
What happens if both parties are partly to blame in a car-on-bike collision? In California, the amount of fault is directly tied to potential settlement amounts.
For example, if the driver is 75 percent responsible and the biker 25 percent, under California law, the biker will get 75 percent of the compensation awarded for damages.
How to Win a Bicycle Accident Lawsuit in California
Proving fault is the crux of most bike accident lawsuits. To that end, accident victims typically accuse defendants in personal injury cases, which can be individuals, governments, or manufacturers, of the following:
- Careless or distracted driving of a motor vehicle
- Aggressive driving or road rage
- Impaired driving
- An unreasonable lack of situational awareness when exiting a vehicle
- Improperly designing bike lanes
- Ignoring dangerous road conditions
- Making defective helmets
Prevention and Precautions
Many bicycle crashes are preventable! By taking a few minor — but effective — precautions, the chance of severe accidents and injuries decrease exponentially.
What should you do?
- Wear a Helmet: Helmets are only required for people under 18 in California. However, adults who wear them lower their risk of injury significantly.
- Mind Your Bike: Ensure your cycle is in top working order and is equipped with the proper safety devices and reflectors.
- Dress Appropriately: Don’t wear dark or bland neutral colors when riding a bike — day or night. Bright or fluorescent gear is the best option because it makes you more visible to drivers. At night, use reflective headbands and wristbands.
- Follow the Rules of the Road: Judges, juries, and mediators regularly fault bicyclists who violate traffic laws and don’t use hand signals. And don’t forget that local governments may add stricter laws atop the statewide mandates. So before you hit the road, learn the rules!
- Ride Alert: You shouldn’t drive under the influence of drugs, alcohol, or certain medications. The same goes for biking.
- Learn Maneuvers: Cyclists who learn emergency maneuvers — like quick stops, turns, jumping, and dodges — have a categorically better track record of avoiding catastrophes at the last second.
How Much Can I Win in a Bicycle Collision Lawsuit?
Don’t feel greedy or bad for wondering how much you can win in a bicycle collision lawsuit. It’s a fair question since too many accidents lead to life-altering injuries and circumstances. Claimants regularly seek monetary redress for:
- Medical expenses / medical bills
- Physical therapy costs
- Lost and potential-lost earnings
- Emotional distress
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of spousal or parental support
How Long Do I Have to File a Bicycle Accident Claim in California?
You have six months to file a bike accident lawsuit against a government entity and two years against an individual or manufacturer. In rare cases, extensions are granted if the injured party is incapacitated for a period of time, or the injuries don’t manifest until a later date.
The sooner you contact a bicycle attorney, the better. They’ll be able to collect necessary information more readily, and lawsuits that occur in the immediate wake of an incident tend to be more successful.
Contact a Bicycle Accident Lawyer in Orange County California
The law firm of Kubota & Craig has helped countless individuals successfully settle bicycle accident claims and lawsuits. We know how to work with law enforcement, insurance companies, and medical professionals to secure the most favorable results for our clients.
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However you might have found us today, please be reassured that if you are a cyclist who has been injured in a bicycle accident and are searching for a top California bicycle accident attorney, you’ve come to the right place. We can help you.
Get in touch with us today by calling our phone number listed above. It’s a no-pressure endeavor. Let’s talk about your situation and go from there. We’ll determine the validity of your claim — and if you have options, we’ll walk you through it step-by-step.
Our friendly staff awaits your call. So please do not hesitate to reach out to our legal team today to begin the conversation.