Sacramento Bicycle Accident Trial Lawyers
As automobile traffic continues to clog our roads and freeways, more and more frustrated commuters are turning to alternative modes of travel, including cycling. It’s not just about getting to work faster. The health benefits of bicycling have long been recognized by experts. A good bicycle regimen can lead to better cardio health, lower cholesterol and weight loss.
In California, cyclists have long had the right to share the road with automobiles and enjoy many of the same privileges as drivers. Unfortunately, when automobiles and cyclists collide, cyclists are at a distinct safety disadvantage.
This page was written to discuss some of the basic laws protecting cyclists, as well as what a cyclist should do if seriously injured in an accident. If you’ve been involved in a Sacramento bicycle accident, and have been injured, perhaps you’re unsure of whether you should contact a personal injury attorney. Hopefully this page will help you figure out if calling a trial lawyer with the experience and winning record of Lawrance Bohm is the right move for you.
What California Law Says About Cyclists and the Highway
California Vehicle Code §21200 (a)states the following:
“A person riding a bicycle or operating a pedicab upon a highway has all the rights and is subject to all the provisions applicable to the driver of a vehicle by this division…”
While this section of the vehicle code, as well as other sections, doesn’t absolve bicyclists from acting responsibly, it does mean that cars, trucks and other vehicles are legally required to share the road. All too often, automotive drivers don’t realize this until a collision with a bike rider occurs.
Bicycle Injury Statistics
According to recent statistics maintained by the National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration, there were 818 cyclist deaths in 2015. These deaths accounted for 2.3 percent of all traffic fatalities for that year. Of these fatalities, 96 percent were involved in single vehicle crashes. In 84 percent of these crashes, the cyclist was impacted by the front of the vehicle. Light trucks were most frequently involved in these fatal accidents. In addition to fatalities, 45,000 cyclists were injured that year.
Cars Aren’t the Only Cause of Cyclist Injuries
While many bicycle accidents do result from careless drivers, other dangers lurk on the roads. In May 2017, the Los Angeles Times reported on a settlement the city of Los Angeles reached with the family of a cyclist who was killed while riding in the Eagle Rock neighborhood. The accident involved 56-year-old Edgardo Gabat, who had joined a group of cyclists for an evening ride. Gabat was an experienced rider and was wearing his helmet at the time of the accident. As the group of riders traveled along a stretch of Colorado Boulevard, Gabat struck a 2-inch ridge of raised concrete, which sent him tumbling over his handle bars. He landed on his neck, and was killed.
In their lawsuit, Gabat’s family argued that the city had not maintained the pavement, or posted signs warning of irregularities, despite the fact that the boulevard was designated for bicycles. The city settled with the family for $4.5 million.
Other issues that could cause a bicycle accident include:
- Poorly designated construction zones
- Malfunctioning traffic equipment
- Intersections lacking ample signage
- Tree roots growing under concrete
- Other issues
What to Do if You’ve Been Injured in a Bicycle Accident
Assuming you’re able to move, be sure to get the insurance and license plate information of the driver that hit you, as well as the names and phone numbers of any potential witnesses. Keep any of your damaged equipment (helmet, bicycle, clothing) as evidence.
If you’ve been injured, obtaining medical help should be your main priority. It’s important that you give your physician as many details about your injuries as possible. This information could be very important if your case goes to trial.
It goes without saying that if you were injured as the result of someone else’s carelessness or negligence, you should contact a personal injury attorney.
What Not to Do if You’re Involved in a Bike Accident
If you’re involved in an accident while riding a bike, it’s important that you don’t make any admission of guilt. This is true even if you think you might have done something to contribute to the collision. Remember, you’ve just been in an accident, you could be in shock. Let your personal injury attorney examine the evidence with an objective mind and figure out the best course of action.
In addition to not making statements of guilt, don’t sign anything handed to you after the accident. The only exception to this is a ticket issued by a law enforcement officer.
Finally, don’t make any statements to the at-fault party’s insurance company until you’ve had an opportunity to discuss the case with your lawyer. Remember, the insurance company is not your friend.
Types of Injuries That Occur as the Result of Bike Accidents
Some of the injuries people suffer as the result of a bike accident include:
- Broken bones
- Torn Ligaments
- Internal Injuries
- Spinal Cord Injuries
- Traumatic Brain Injury
When is a Driver Negligent in a Collision with a Cyclist?
Negligence is a term that’s used when a person has a duty to exercise care. In this case, we’re discussing the duty a driver has to look out for cyclists and other roadway obstacles. Negligence could also be used to refer to a city government that doesn’t properly maintain its roads or signs.
California Civil Jury Instructions §700 state the following about driver negligence:
“A person must use reasonable care in driving a vehicle. Drivers must keep a lookout for pedestrians, obstacles and other vehicles. They must also control the speed and movement of their vehicles. The failure to use reasonable care in driving a vehicle is negligence.”
What Can a Cyclist Recover When Injured by Driver Negligence?
While it’s impossible to predict the outcome of any legal action, there are certain types of awards that personal injury victims may be entitled to if they win a lawsuit. These include:
- Pain and Suffering Damages
- Lost Wages
- Medical Expenses
- Attorney’s Fees
- Punitive Damages
It’s important to remember that not all personal injury cases go before a jury. In many cases, a settlement will be reached before a case goes to trial. In a settlement situation, you’ll want an attorney with exceptional negotiation skills.
Contacting a Personal Injury Attorney
If you’ve read this page, hopefully you’ve gotten an idea of just how complex personal injury law can be. These types of cases often bring together a large cast of characters including insurance adjustors, negligent drivers, at-fault attorneys, law enforcement officers, city attorneys, medical experts, and others. Each of these people act with their own unique interests in mind. With a good attorney looking out for your best interests, you’ll have a fair shot at getting compensated for your injuries.
Have you been injured in a bicycle accident? Do you have questions about anything discussed on this page? If so, contact the Bohm Law Group to schedule a consultation. It could be well worth your time and effort to find out how we can help.